Careless Wonder

A girl with strange light red hair, borderline pink, appears out of nowhere from Ichigo's past and demands that she speaks with his father... and why is Urahara looking for her? Ichigo/oc

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9. Chapter Nine: Because Of You

Careless Wonder

Chapter Nine: Because of You

She was bored. No, more than bored. She was extremely irritated and fed up. If Yamamoto didn't kill her she knew she would die from her boredom.

They placed her under confinement, they did a good job of it, too. They locked her up in some jail cell with no bed… nothing. The cell she was in was bare and all she could do was lie on the ground, her arms and legs sprawled and her eyebrow twitching with utter annoyance.

How long had it been now? Three hours? Four? She didn't know. If felt like an eternity to her. She wasn't use to lying around and doing nothing. Even when she was alone she had something to do…

Footsteps echoed throughout the jail cell, walking down the hall presumably toward her confinement. She continued to lie on the ground with her hands behind her head and her left foot crossed over her raised knee. When the footsteps stopped in front of her cell she continued to lie there with her eyes closed, not acknowledging the presence.

"You've been summoned," a deep, almost uncaring, emotionless voice called out and getting her attention immediately.

She opened her eyes and looked over at the soul reaper who was sent to retrieve her. He was a captain, the white haori a dead, and obvious giveaway. He had long black hair and these weird, almost looked like a silver barrettes, in his hair. His expression was no different from how he addressed her. She pushed her body up until she was standing on her feet and facing the captain.

"Let's get this over with," she sighed and walked forward when he opened her jail cell. When he closed it she glanced around her, her face showing her surprise. "You're the only one to retrieve me? Thought there would be more of you just in case I tried to bolt or something."

He turned back toward her, his face never wavering from his non-caring, almost arrogant expression. "I didn't deem it necessary to waste the time of others to retrieve you when I'm more than capable of handling you myself." He turned forward toward the exit and began walking. "Come. We don't want to keep everyone waiting."

She glared at the back of his head but followed after him. He was arrogant. "I highly doubt that." She was arrogant, too. She scratched her now bare arms with irritation, she tore the sleeves off a while back. She hated sleeves.

He turned his head to glance at her before turning forward and opening the door to the outside world. He stood to the side for her to walk through, she did so without looking at him. When she heard the door slide closed, she began to speak without turning to face him. "What's your opinion about me and this matter?" She shoved her hands into her pockets waiting for him to speak.

He walked passed her not waiting to see if she was following or not. "I don't have an opinion about your predicament nor do I care. The truth will come forward with or without your cooperation." He suddenly stopped almost causing Aria to run into him. "But Ichigo Kurosaki sees you as a friend."

When he didn't elaborate any further she opened her mouth to say something but he began to speak again, almost like he already knew what she was going to ask. "Ichigo Kurosaki has earned my respect through his past actions. With that said, his opinion greatly reflects of what I think."

He continued walking and she followed close behind. She thought about what he said and it troubled her. Ichigo seemed popular with all the soul reapers there. He had a lot of respect and it showed greatly with everyone around him.

They continued walking with silence until they came up to a building with closed doors, (where the captains meet). He opened them and turned to let her walk in first. She would have thought it to be gentlemen like, but she knew he was doing it for other reason.

All thirteen captains, including the head captain, were present. They stood in two rows and at the end was Yamamoto. All were looking at her when she entered, there were other soul reapers present as well. She recognized one to be Hisagi who stood behind a captain with short white hair and broad muscles. Next to Hisagi was another soul reaper girl with green hair who was looking at her with interest and wonder. She assumed those were the lieutenants accompanying the captains.

Every single soul reaper was looking at her making her cross her arms and shift from one foot to the other in discomfort. Someone cleared their throat to her right. She looked over and about fell down with complete and utter shock to see Kisuke standing near the wall with Ichigo next to him. He was waving his hand and had a goofy grin plastered on his face. Ichigo just had his trademark scowl with his arms crossed in anger. He was still mad about what was happening. She wondered how they let both of them in on this… interrogation. Kisuke must had pulled a lot of strings.

Wait, was he even allowed back in the soul society? Oh yeah, they did defeat Aizen and saw everything was his doing of past events that caused Kisuke's banishment. She wondered when they worked that out. Maybe that's why it took three hours…

The arrogant black haired captain walked past her and into his own spot among the captains. She walked forward her face set to a stern, emotionless expression as she stopped in the middle of the captains looking up at Yamamoto expectantly.

He was eyeing her the whole time she was walking and when she stopped and looked up at him he couldn't help but notice the similarity she had with her mother. Her angular chin and big yet stern eyes was what she must had inherited from her father. The shape of her eye was more similar to the mother, but the look and angle she had them set gave him an eerie déjà vu, like he seen them before on someone else. He didn't dwell on it for too long, he had business to deal with.

"Aria Diederich," his booming voice roamed around the room, getting everyone's attention immediately. "Do you know why you've been confined and summoned in today's events?"

"It's about my Zanpakuto, Sukui," her voice was firm and unwavering.

"And where is this Zanpaluto…" before he could finish, two Zanpakuto's appeared on her back making an "X" shape. He stayed silent as he studied her Zanpakuto.

She reached up and grabbed her white Zanpakuto with her left hand. The captains that did not know her tensed, some had their hands on their hilts waiting for her to make the mistake of striking first. She rolled but continued to reach for it, her hand grasping the sheath near the hilt and lifting it up over her shoulder to the front of her body. She held it in both hands examining it like it was the first time she ever saw it. It was a beautiful Zanpakuto, everything was white, the sheath, the hilt, the metal that framed the end of the hilt in an oval shape. The only thing that wasn't white was the blade itself, it was the normal grey hue that every unreleased Zanpakuto sported.

She put it in her right hand, looked at it one last time, and threw it at the head captain who caught it with ease. "You can have it."

Yamamoto caught it with his left hand like it was planned. He brought it to the front of his body and examined it himself. He looked up at her almost like he was waiting for more, for some kind of rebellion from the teen in front of him. She didn't speak as she eyed the old man. "I'm glad you found everything in the better interest of the soul society. I didn't want to waste the life of someone such as yourself, but I have one more question to ask of you." She noticed her tense but he continued nonetheless. "Were you aware of the fact that your mother, Wakana Yuki, was accused of treason and stole this sword away from the soul society and retreating to the world of the living?"

Aria stayed quiet as she thought about what he said. If she told them the truth would he think she committed some kind of treason, too? "Yes," she finally admitted. "I was well aware of the fact."

"And has it ever crossed your mind to right what she wronged."

"Nope," she was extremely blunt.

His eyes opened, no longer slits as he stared down at her. "Are you mad?" she asked, he noticed the slight smile tugging on her lips.

He continued to stare down at her, contemplating her words. "Is there a reason I should be?"

"Yeah, there is."

The sword in his hand began to shimmer, a light enveloping it. He looked down at it with wide eyes as he felt the weight disappear from his grasp. He looked up and saw it appear on her back again. "Are you mad now?"

"What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed.

"Sukui doesn't like to be held by others, he can only… tolerate me. With that said, he doesn't like to leave my side. At least, until I die and he finds a new master, which I wouldn't doubt that is what he wants."

Yamamoto, yet again, continued to stare at her, masking any emotions he was feeling at the moment. "Hm," he finally broke the silence. "No matter what is done that Zanpakuto will not leave your side?"

"Yes, not even if you bind it with kido."

"That's unfortunate. Things would have been simpler."

"So what happens now?"

He studied her, his gaze stern and unmoving. She stared back with a similar expression. She showed no fear or anxiety, either she didn't care that she may lose her life soon – or she was overly confident of her own abilities. His eyes moved to her two swords on her back; the swords were like twins, each curve, stitching, and length were exactly identical. The only thing different was the color. Like Yin and Yang. Light and dark. Salvation and destruction.

"Urahara Kisuke, step forward," his voice called the once former captain. Aria's eyes widen with worry when she turned around and watched Kisuke walk toward her. She looked over at Ichigo and noticed him scowling. He knew what was going to happen. She hated being left out of the loop.

Kisuke stepped next to her, he gave her his usual goofy grin and she just glared at him. What the hell did he do?

"Upon an agreement with Urahara, instead of the death sentence of your refusal, you will be put under constraints, sealing away your ability to use the sword to your own desire. If you somehow break your restraints, you as well as Urahara Kisuke will be sentenced to death."

"WHAT?!" Aria yelled making some jump around her and causing an increase of tension that was already thick in the air. "I'm NOT going to be chained up like some kind of animal!" She was fuming. She didn't care about what little thread she was balancing on from being restrained and executed.

Kisuke put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her, but she shrugged it off glowering over at him when she took a step back. "This was your idea, wasn't it?" she wouldn't allow him to answer or explain himself. "Ever since day one you always wanted to keep me under your control!" she turned around like she was going to leave, but the captains near the entrance stepped in her way. One was Sajin, he stared at her with sympathy and worry.

She glared at all of them, her teeth grinding together. "This was a mistake. I shouldn't have come here, I shouldn't have asked for help…" she was speaking loudly, but it seemed she was only voicing her thoughts. Ichigo stepped into her sight, he also stared at her with sad eyes. She was glaring at the ground, she looked over at his feet when he moved. She knew it was him and her glare only deepened. If she tried anything would he help her? She – didn't want to chance it. She couldn't allow herself.

She turned around, she hung her head in defeat but her hands were still clenched into tight fists. "Fine. I'll do it. Just as long as I get you all off my back."

Some of the tension was released, she could even hear sighs throughout the room. Two people walked over to her, but she didn't dare look up to see who they were.

The next half hour was filled with two people chanting Kido… or whatever binding spell they had in store for her. She didn't care to listen, all she could hear was static. She felt the restraints already pulling on a certain part of her spiritual pressure and closing it off. This was a low hit to her pride. She did in fact feel like a chained up animal, something close to a dog.

"You are free to leave," Yamamoto finally said. She didn't acknowledged him when she turned around to leave. She heard Kisuke call her name, then Ichigo, but she ignored them both. She didn't know which one was worse, death or something close to imprisonment for the rest of her life.

When she was out she continued to walk forward but was stopped when a strong hand gripped her shoulder. "Stop, can you just wait a minute!" Ichigo voice almost fell to deaf ears, but after a second she finally comprehended what he said. She stopped like he said, but she wouldn't allow herself to turn and look at him.

"I didn't have a choice," it was Kisuke now speaking. His voice sound genuinely sad. "After hearing of your situation I came here immediately to speak to the Head Captain. This was the only way to keep you alive."

"I didn't ask for your help," she said rather calmly. Kiskue instantly knew that voice. She was beginning to shut out the world yet again. Her barriers that Ichigo unknowingly broke were now slowly forming again

"You didn't have too. When someone cares about another they'll go to extra lengths to protect that someone. No matter what the consequences are."

"I didn't ask you to care."

"Aria…"

"No," her voice was still eerily calm, but she said the word quick, giving it a sharp tone. "You only assumed. I came back because I thought I could change what was going on around me. After Aizen was imprisoned, I thought I didn't have to hide anymore."

"Dammit Aria, don't you understand what he sacrificed just so he could protect you?!" This time it was Ichigo speaking, his anger clear on his voice. "You're acting like a child! All you are doing is confirming to old man Yamamoto that you don't deserve the power that sword holds. And to tell you the truth, I agree with him based on the way you are acting now. Grow up!"

Kisuke almost slapped his palm to his face when he saw Aria tense up. Ichigo took it too far.

Her hands were turning white from the pressure she was squeezing into them. Then, she let the fists go, the color coming back to them. Her arms slumped down, her eyes turning from the deep hatred glare she was hiding from the two to her normal scowl, and then… relief?

"Your right…" she finally said.

Kisuke fell over, not believing his ears. He let the tears fall from his eyes as he stood back up. "That hurts my feelings you know. You'll listen to him but not me?"

She turned around and gave them a tired look. Behind them was Sajin, Shinji, Hisagi, and Unohana. Her face turned beat red and she quickly turned around to walk away, but Ichigo reached out and grabbed her collar with an annoyed expression. Her feet moved against the ground as she walked but she wasn't moving.

"Please just let me go die under a rock," she groaned.

"Not a chance."

She stopped moving and swatted his hand away, not liking in the least bit how close his hand was to touching her.

She crossed her arms becoming serious again. "Fine, but how the hell did you know of my predicament, Kisuke."

Kisuke pulled out his fan and covered his smiling face with it. "Your bracelet does more than track," his voice held a lot of amusement.

Aria's face grew red, the reddest Ichigo had ever seen displayed on her face. All Ichigo could do was sweat drop as he watched the smoke literally fume out of her ears. "You're a PERVERT Kisuke Urahara!" Before Kisuke had time to react, she kneed him in a very unpleasant spot, and when he recoiled forward his face made contact with her knee again. When he feel backwards she crossed her arms and glowered down at him. "If I find out anything else you forgot to tell me, next time I won't go easy."

Shinji and Hisagi looked at her with wide eyes. "That's her going easy?" Shinji commented, his eyes bulging when she glared up at him.

Unohana watched the scene unfold before her. Once Aria was done speaking she stepped forward to say what she wanted to say awhile back. "Aria," when Aria gave her attention she continued. "You said your Zanpakuto, Sukui, didn't care that you lived or die, am I correct?" When she nodded she continued. "I don't believe that is true." When Aria gave her a quizzical look she elaborated. "When you stabbed yourself in an attempt to pierce your heart from stopping your hollow side, Sukui immaterialized around your heart, now allowing the blade to pierce it. It seems he does care if you live or die if he willingly gave the effort to save you."

Aria looked away from her, her face showing she was deep in thought. When she looked back up she smiled slightly, "I didn't think about that… thank you." Unohana simply nodded and started to walk forward and away from the little circle. Sajin seemed to follow suit, but stopped next to Aria to put his hand on her shoulder and nod. She returned to nod and he continued to walk.

He stayed after to see if she was going to be okay… why?

She was still pissed off that a piece of her had to be sealed away because they were afraid of what she may do with that power, or what others may do if they got ahold of her. She thought it to be stupid if they actually thought that about her, she would have done something long ago if that was her intentions.

Thinking now on how she acted in there… Ichigo was right, she was being immature and childish… and Kisuke was risking his life for her. She couldn't just ignore that.

To tell the truth, she was having a hard time comprehending the behavior of the people she's grown close to. She – wasn't use to the behavior, and she didn't think she would ever get used to it. She was beginning to believe that she was better off alone. At least she didn't have to wrap her mind around all of the confusing things going on around her.

~*~

Aria sat on the almost barren ground with her legs crossed and her eyes close with concentration; her two swords were stabbed into the ground in front of her. Her brow was sweating as she concentrated to clear her mind and listen to any inner voices within herself.

Surprisingly, she heard nothing. Not even that God forsaken hollow side.

Strange.

"Come on…" Shinji whined from the right of her. "We've been sitting here for an hour. What the hell is taking so long?!"

"Shut up! Let me concentrate!" Aria shot back, her eyes constricted and her lips set to a fine ling as she looked over at the blonde with annoyance.

"This is torture," he continued on whining causing Aria's brow to twitch.

Aria was trying to hollowfy. Yes, today was the day she was going to defeat her inner hollow. She had two options: Either defeat her hollow and be free of her burden, or die a horrible death from her hollow consuming her and everyone had to kill her hollowfied self. Yep. She was so ecstatic! Hopefully you realized that was sarcasm.

She was surrounded in a kido box some fat guy with pink hair created. It was unique, something she never saw before.

There were a lot of soul reapers around her, waiting for her to turn. The 'original' party, as Shinji put it, were there, two of them were captains, not including Shinji. Their names were Rojuro Otoribashi, and Kensei Muguruma. Under Kensei was Mashiro Kuna who is a lieutenant next to Hisagi. The rest of the Vizards apparently stay in Karakura town doing whatever it is they do.

And then there was the others that actually volunteered to help out if needed. Those people were: Sajin, Hisagi, Toshiro, Rengi, Rukia, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Rangiku. Kisuke was there too, he was standing off alone with Ichigo discussing something out of her hearing range. Most she thought were there to just watch and enjoy the show. She definitely knew that Yumichika guy wouldn't get involved.

Shinji was lying on his back and looking up at the sky with boredom. He hated waiting. "How hard can it be to call out your hollow? You made it sound like it pops out whenever it feels like."

"The only time it ever popped out of nowhere was when I use my shikai or got badly injured. If it just popped out randomly I wouldn't be here discussing this with you, smart ass."

"Then use your shikai!"

"Believe me, you don't want me to."

"Come on, you have five captains here, I doubt you're going to hurt anyone with us around." Aria stayed silent. Shinji turned his head over to look at her.

Her head was downcast, her eyes squinting with a troublesome look. Was her shikai really that bad! Shinji wondered.

"Aria," Kisuke called out, his left hand cupped over his mouth like it would carry his voice further. She turned to her left to look at him and Ichigo. "Just use your Shikai, the first one, of course. I'm pretty sure we can handle that one."

"The first one?" Ichigo asked, looking over at Kisuke for answers.

Kisuke had his face covered from his fan. He glanced sideways at Ichigo, all joking aside. "Her black Zanpakuto, Hakai, has two forms. The first one is just raw power, nothing special about it, but the other one…" he paused as he thought back on a memory. "Let's just say that form is a totally different class of Zanpakuto."

"Oh?" Ichigo blinked and then looked back at Aria as he thought about Kisuke's words.

"Come on you big baby!" Kisuke yelled, egging her on. "Stop be a chicken and just do it already."

Aria's head snapped to look at Kisuke, her eyes red with rage. "Fine!" she finally yelled, standing up and grabbing her black Zanpakuto in her right hand. "Just be prepared, unlike last time, in my Shikai form I'll be ten times stronger."

She glanced at everyone as she watched them get up, ready for whatever was going to happen next. "If we… I get out of this alive, don't tell me I didn't warn you."

She breathed in deeply and uttered her shikai release words. "Decimate, Hakai."

Her voice was calm when her Zanpakuto formed into a sword that was thick and had random curvatures throughout the sword. The end near the hilt was skinny, but it curved and almost swirled out making it thicker near the top; the length stayed the same.

She just stood there, looking down at her released Zanpakuto. Everyone stared, waiting for her to turn.

It was quiet.

Too quiet.

"Okaaaay," Shinji drawled and rolled his eyes. "So where's…"

He couldn't finish the sentence when suddenly a white substance sputtered out of her mouth making Aria gage and fall to her knees. Her two-tone voice already heard as she swore to herself. It covered her whole face immediately, no skin could be seen, it was beginning to move down but the lower it went, the slower it grew.

Her head cracked back and forth as she began to yell for whatever reason.

"Shinji…" Hachigen's strained voice called to him. He looked over toward the large, pink haired man seeing he was sweating, straining to keep the kido barrier up.

When he looked back toward Aria, her body was no longer hunched over, she was bent backwards, her mouth wide open as she screamed an inhuman scream into the sky declaring that she was no longer in control. He also noticed Hachigen's kido was fluctuating, he could see the energy she was pouring out, flooding the inside and pushing against the walls.

"Hiyori…" he was trying to call her over to begin fighting Aria… but the kido broke, and out came the hollow energy Aria was secreting.

She was right. Releasing her Shikai made her stronger than ever before.

Aria's body shot up into the air almost like she was trying to escape, but Sajin appeared in front of her, being the first to react to Aria's transformation. She screamed that hollow screech as she swung her sword toward him, he made to block but before her sword could make contact with his, a force that he didn't understand began to push against him and as her sword grew closer, the stronger the force became. His body was flung back, cuts appearing all around him as he crashed to the ground with a growl.

This was different than her last transformation. The hollow that consumed her was fighting on instinct, there was no thought in its attacks.

~*~

A breeze caressed through Aria's tide up hair, slowly swaying back and forth against her back. She slowly opened her eyes already knowing what she was going to see. The surrounding area was barren and black, dark clouds swirled above her in a never ending funnel as lightening lit up the sky soundlessly.

Her inner world use to be a beautiful meadow with bright blue skies and colorful flowers covering the green flooring as far as the eye could see. But now – now because of her misery and sorrow and regret, it only showed ruin, like a blaze surrounded and burned everything and left a blackened, barren in its wake.

"So you finally decided to come?" a shrill, familiar voice asked behind her. She turned around, her eyes landing on a double of herself that was almost completely white. But its eyes gleamed yellow surrounded by a black sea. "So, you finally came to surrender. It's about God damn time. I was getting tired of waiting in this pathetic place. The mood was putting me down." Its smile said otherwise.

Aria lifted up her released Hakai, pointing it at the hollow soul. "You know why I'm here."

She wouldn't allow her hollow to speak any further as she kicked forward and sliced her vibrating sword at the hollow. It brought up its sword to block; when the two blades collided the ground underneath them crumbled around them and a small crater formed underneath their feet. Aria grit her teeth, the two swords almost identical, besides the color, sparked against each other, the shockwave of the first hit already passing.

Her Zanpakuto was unique. Not only did it have two released forms, but both were completely different, not relating in the least to each other. This released form was raw power. It vibrated in her hands, pulsating with power. Every swing created a shockwave, cutting through everything in its path. Her opponents had to fight her from afar because as soon as they get close to her sword the vibrating power it excretes with will cut through anything, almost like its had a barrier of sharp blades surrounding it. The closer they got, the more cut/damage they had to endure.

Her second release… well, she hated it. It was too sadistic for her own liking. Now she only hoped Kisuke had the brains to tell everyone of her power.

For some odd reason, she was sure he forgot.

~*~

After Sajin went down, the hollow turned in the air, bringing its sword across its body, swinging it and creating a giant invisible shockwave that made a very loud booming noise, much like thunder, toward the un-suspecting soul reapers below.

"Get out of the way! Move!" Kisuke yelled as he jumped as far away from the aimed area when he saw her set up for the attack. Everyone did as they were told. When the shockwave hit the ground, large chunks of earth crumbled up and created a cloud of dirt in the surrounding area.

Ichigo covered his face when the dust caught up to him. He landed on the ground and coughed as some dirt crept into his lungs. As the dust began to dissipate, his eyes grew wide at the huge crater where he was originally standing.

And that shikai was supposed to be her weaker one? Dammit. If only he wasn't losing his spiritual energy he would be able to fight Aria's hollow side with only a little trouble. She wasn't as powerful as Aizen.

"Watch out! IT's about to fire a cero!" someone warned.

Behind the dust, almost obscured by it for most, the hollow had its mouth wide open, creating in front of it was a ball of red energy. Before Ichigo could react the hollow let the blast go, all anyone could see was a bright red light barreling toward them, making everything shake around them.

The cero blast came closer and closer to Ichigo, not giving him time to react. He covered his face with his left arm, but knowing deep down that that wouldn't help at all.

Right on cue, Kisuke appeared in front of Ichigo, his own red light flashing from his sword, swinging it into the cero blast stopping it from going any further.

When Ichigo realized he didn't get obliterated, he opened his eyes to see Kisuke standing in front of him. "I owe you one," Ichigo promised.

Kisuke turned to look at Ichigo, but as soon as he took his eyes off the hollow it appeared behind him, its sword in mid-swing. Ichigo's eyes widen, Kisuke noticed and turned in the last second slicing his own sword faster, the crimson blast sliced through the air and across her chest. Blood splattered out as the hollow was thrown back, landing and skidding across the ground.

"What the hell, Kisuke! We're not trying to kill her!" Ichigo yelled, not believing that he saw Kisuke purposely attack and hurt Aria's body.

Kisuke turned to look at Ichigo, smiling, "Did you forget that when you guys are in that hollowfied form, you have instant regeneration powers? Besides, she can't feel it." He turned back around to see the hollow get up, the part where Kisuke sliced through was bubbling and smoothing out, almost like the attack didn't penetrate it. Her shirt was almost torn off. But now they could see her hollow hole slowly forming in the middle of her chest. Once it's complete, she won't be able to turn back. "At least, I don't think she can feel it."

"Kisuke!"

~*~

Aria was in a duel of a lifetime. The swords of the hollow and hers clashed, causing shockwave after shockwave of energy, destroying anything in its way. Aria was cut up in a few places, mistakes she made that the hollow exploited. The thing knew her every move.

Another perfect hit from her swords sent her flying back with a slight grimace. The hollow flipped back and pushed itself against the air using flash step and propelled itself forward, its sword poised for her chest. Aria instantly blocked, both of their swords vibrating against one another making almost like a scratching noise against a chalk board.

"Why don't you just give up!" the hollow questions, its wicked smile growing.

Aria glared at it but didn't say anything.

"What? Cat got your tongue?" It brought its sword down again, over and over again causing Aria to back up and block every attack. Each time it hit the shockwaves would clash against her body, making her grimace as she felt a rib possibly crack from the force. Even though that Zanpakuto belonged to her, its powers hardly affected her, but with continues blows she had to endure, it adds up.

Aria gave almost all her strength to push the hollow away. It jumped back to avoid a swing from her, landing not too far away from her, but didn't lunge forward to continue its assault.

Her legs began to shake. She collapsed on one knee from exhaustion, glaring at the hollow before her. This wasn't working. She had to think of something or she was going to lose the battle.

The hollow began to cackle as it looked upon Aria. "Pitiful. Well… it looks like your time is up."

Aria gave her a questionable look, her eyebrow raised from confusion. Then suddenly, something erupted below her. She tried to jump away but white chains erupted from the ground and wrapping around her in a vice like grip. "What the hell?"

"The transformation is complete."

The chains began to drag her down until she was lying on the ground. More chains tore through the ground, wrapping around and squeezed her so tight she could hardly breathe.

"What do you mean the transformation is complete?" Aria said through clenched teeth as she slowly sucked in air.

"Your body belongs to me now. You completely hollowfied."

~*~

All the soul reapers in the vicinity took turns one after another to attack the hollow. Toshiro tried his best to freeze the hollow in its place in hopes to keep in still for a time being. Five soul reapers were injured, if it kept up more will be hurt and someone may end up losing their life. No. As long as he was there he wasn't going to allow that to happen. As long as he was capable of moving, he will protect anyone in need of protecting. He won't allow what happened to Momo happen to anyone else… He will forever curse Aizen for what he did to her.

His musing stopped when he noticed the aura shift around Aria. The hole in the middle of her chest began to open completely, and when it did her whole body was now transformed, her aura was now completely one with the hollow.

She lost the fight.

Everyone noticed instantly, their eyes shifting from one another.

Ichigo and Kisuke stared up at it, not believing what they were seeing. "No… this can't be happening…" Ichigo whispered, his eyes shaking with guilt and despair. "Aria!" he called out, almost like he was expecting to see the hollow respond to him. Instead, it continued on its assault, blocking and cutting through the air with its Zanpakuto. He looked over at Kisuke, looking for answers but all he saw was him looking down at the ground, eyes wide with hurt and lose.

No.

This couldn't be happening.

Ichigo pushed himself off the ground. He flew into the air near where the hollowfied Aria was standing in the air. When he stopped he noticed that Toshiro had called his Bankai into play. Sajin was nearby looking at Aria solemnly.

"We have no choice," Toshiro said with little emotion. "She's a hollow now, it's our duty to rid of any hollows that are a threat to the soul society and the world of the living."

"What the hell are you talking about!?" Ichigo basically shrieked, looking at all of them like they've gone crazy. "She's still in there fighting. We made a promise to help her through this!"

Sajin's sad eyes moved to Ichigo's. "She made us promise to end her life if she failed. She didn't want you to know because you would object to the idea."

Ichigo couldn't believe what was happening. They were planning on killing her. They were going to kill Aria. Aria whom he promised to help save her from her torment, from her fear of losing to the hollow once and for all. Now… now he was going to break that promise…

Ichigo opened his mouth to object but stopped when he felt someone grab his arms from behind. When he looked he was surprised to see Shinji with his hollow mask on. "What are you doing? Let me go!"

"She also made me promise to hold you back. I'm sorry Ichigo." Others appeared around him. He looked at all of them in disbelief.

This couldn't be happening.

"What the hell is wrong with everyone!?"

~*~

Aria pushed with all her might to get up, but she was failing miserably. The hollow laughed at her pathetic attempt to stand. "So," it began, its voice slithering around her making her cringe. "How does it feel to be held down by the chains of fate? Just except it, you're a hollow now. You can't break through those chains, no matter what."

It took everything she had to turn her head and glare at the hollow who was towering over her now. "Of course, I wouldn't mind seeing you strapped here for the rest of eternity, but I find your face extremely annoying," It brought its sword up over her chest and smiled sadistically. "Buh-bye now, nice knowing you."

The blade pierced though her chest and into the ground below her.

~*~

All of the captains and remaining soul reapers that wasn't keeping Ichigo at bay were now attacking the hollow. It screeched through the air as it avoid attacks and assaulted anything that caught its eyes. They were making more blows to it than it was to them.

"Let me go!" Ichigo growled as he strained to get away from everyone that held him.

"Ichigo," Shinji tried to reason. "It's over, there's nothing we can do now. Aria isn't in there anymore. Can't you see that?!"

"God dammit Ichigo," Hiyori growled as she had a firm grip around Ichigo's waste. "Stop being an idiot and open your eyes! She's done for!"

"No!" Ichigo continued to push and pull his way to freedom but was failing miserably. Damn his energy lose. "She's still in there, I can feel it! Let me go!"

"And what are you going to do when you get to her? She's only going to attack you. If she is in there she won't be able to hear you!" Shinji added.

This made Ichigo falter, hesitate from breaking free. "I have to try," his voice was low and stern. "It's better than standing around and doing nothing. I made a promise and I plan on keeping it. Now, let me go!"

"I'm sorry Ichigo, even if that was true you are no match for her in your current state."

A scream was heard from the hollow, a different one than from when it attacks. Everyone looked up and saw the hollow front spraying with blood as it began to fall to the ground.

Ichigo's eyes were wide with shock, as was everyone else's. When her body hit the ground with a loud thud Ichigo screamed her name. Then…

"Bankai!" That caught everyone by surprise when he pushed them back with his energy and launched forward toward Aria's body. Once there he kneeled over her as she laid on her back almost lifeless like.

"Aria!"

The hollow opened its eyes, gleaming up at Ichigo as the wounds on its stomach began to regenerate. It lashed out at him, tearing the front of his outfit but narrowly missed his flesh when he flung himself backwards.

"Ichigo!" Numerous voices called out his name.

The hollow stood up and looked over toward Ichigo with its sword in hand.

~*~

"Aria!" Aria heard Ichigo calling her name. She opened her eyes and looked for him, but she could feel her vision blurring.

She was done for. Nearing death was making her hear things.

"You're still alive!" The hollow laughed. "Well, let's fix that" It brought its sword up to pierce her one last time.

"ARIA!" this time it was loud, like he was yelling in her ear.

'Ichigo… he's calling for me…' Aria weakly thought. She began to think back to the hill where she became friends with Ichigo, where he promised to help her. To see through it till the end.

'Ichigo… Ichigo… Ich…' She opened her eyes again. In front of her was a flower. A single yellow flower growing from the ashen dirt. When she heard her name again, another one began to grow.

Hope.

It was hope!

Ichigo was giving her hope! She couldn't give up! Not now, not ever!

She pushed herself off the ground, the chains tightening to keep her down, but she only pushed harder with her new found strength. She brought her hand up and caught the sword that was aimed to pierce her chest once again.

"What the hell!" The hollow sounded completely surprised. "How the hell are you still moving?!" It roared.

She was now in an almost standing position. She looked up at the hollow and smiled. "Because…" she gasped out, her voice sounding raspier than normal. "I have hope." She looked down at the two lone flowers and smiled. "And I also have a friend who would kick my ass if I failed."

The chains broke free as she yanked the sword out of the hollow's hands, turned it quickly and plunged it into its stomach. It keeled over, looking up at Aria with wide, bewildered eyes. When it sunk to the ground, she did the same. She looked at the hollow straight in the eyes. For the first time ever she saw her hollow side look at her with defeat and anger.

"This isn't over," it began as it started to disappear. "I'll be back, I'll take over when you become weak again, when your soul shatters. I'll be…" before it could finish it completely disappeared, the sword falling to the ground.

Aria sat on her knees and looked up toward the sky to see the storm began to disappear, showing her a dark blue sky. She smiled, closing her eyes as she felt the breeze pass by her. It smelled different this time, but she didn't know why. "Well… it's a start."

~*~

Ichigo watched as the hollow slowly walked to where he sat. He could hear others yelling for him but he couldn't hear a single word they were saying. He watched as the hollow made its way in slow motion, its sword rising at its side.

Suddenly, the hollow stopped a couple of feet away. Ichigo heard something hit the ground. When he looked down he saw it was her sword, turning back into a normal katana.

It feel to the ground, knees hitting dirt with a loud thud. Ichigo looked up and watched the mask material around her head crack and break apart, revealing Aria's closed eyed face. She began to fall to her right in which Ichigo hurried over and let her body slump against his with her head in his chest. The rest of her mask like material broke apart and vanished from her body revealing her slightly pale skin.

Ichigo could cry right then if he could as he looked down at her with a large smile, relief flooding him. Slowly, her eyes began to open. She blinked a couple of times and looked up at Ichigo, blinked some more, and smiled one of her rare genuine smiles.

"You did it," Ichigo breathed out a sigh of relief, his smile never leaving his face.

"Yeah… thanks to you." She closed her eyes and sighed. "Right when I thought it was over I heard you call my name. Then I remembered the promise we made together." She lightly chuckled as she thought about it. "I couldn't break that promise…"

Ichigo smiled grew… then… his face turned completely red, his eyes bugging out of his head when he realized Aria was lying against him with no shirt on. Thankfully, she was turned to the side and her arm was covering her breasts, but the idea of it made him grow even redder.

A green cloak was laid across her body, Ichigo looked up to see Kisuke kneeling over them with a smile. They both looked down at her now sleeping form.

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