Part 19 Pieces

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Ichigo scowled down at his empty bed eyeing his old button-down shirt-Lucy had commandeered it for sleep-with disdain. The blond he searched for nowhere in sight.

He should be used to this by now, ever since this month started Lucy had scarcely spent time with anyone but Natsu. Was rarely even home when his family returned from school. The thing was, though, he could not adapt to this latest development. After all, why would she not force Natsu to attend training when he was desperate to activate his zanpaktou?

He simply could not wrap his mind around her actions, she had missed over sixteen training sessions traipsing around Karakura with Natsu instead of perfecting her abilities. Not to mention he was finally going to take her out for the evening. He felt she needed the break since her sobfest last week; how was he supposed to do that when that specific person was who knew where?!

Screw it. Ichigo thought. If Lucy did not want to spend time with him-something in his chest tightened at the thought-then who was he to make her.

Instead, Ichigo ripped off his clothes-plain dark wash jeans and white button-down in exchange for a loose white T-shirt and sweatpants. His hand snatched up Lucy's abandoned book-this one was called Hopeless-and began to try to see what was on her mind.

In some ways Lucy was predictable emotion-wise; she read certain books during certain moods. When she was feeling depressed or lonely books with sad plot lines or characters made their appearance. Or if she felt happy sappy romance would be in her hands. Every single one of her moods had a certain type of book. This one was no exception.

Hopeless-as he soon figured out-was about a girl who felt nothing during intimate-makeout-sessions until she meets a boy who seems familiar to her-and quickly falls in love with him. Only to figure out they were best friends in a past life before her adoption and suppressant of horrifying memories as a young girl. With her boyfriend she can feel everything she couldn't before, he helps her through all of her issues.

So Lucy was trying to find herself in a new world while attempting to absorb her past actions in a foreign setting. She needs someone to help guide her to acceptance; someone that was either him or Natsu. Maybe even both.

He could see where him, Natsu, and Lucy fit in this cast of characters. Lucy herself was the main female protagonist-obviously-who needed help, Natsu was her best friend who helped endorse everything while leading her to discover a new self-the person she was in Fairy Tail, while he was the person to guide her in order to somehow mesh the two together. Which explains why she went to him on Friday, clung to him, after her nightmare; he was her new guiding light.

Ichigo-admittedly-might have been reading too much into this-however-given this was Lucy they were talking about proved to be safe rather than sorry. He lay in his bed reading Hopeless while waiting for his Lucy to come home from wherever she disappeared to.

Lucy-unknowing of Ichigo's conflicts with her-helped Natsu to his feet after spending several hours sparring. What he had been wearing-standard black kimono and hakama-dangled in jagged strips down his body. Lucy's own shihakusho not faring much better, not quite like after her battle with Ulquiorra but close enough.

Blood stained any exposed skin on their exhausted bodies. Akuma-in his bankai form-lay on the floor not far from where Natsu had landed.

"Alright, kiddies." Ginjo's voice came from where he still sat with his tumbler and a bowl of popcorn half empty.

"Now that you are exhausted-your stamina is in the pits-we can activate your true Fullbring. Since you had Soul Reaper powers given to you at some point we were able to draw whatever you had out with your Fullbring training in the hopes of fusing the two together. Make no mistake, Natsu, you will gain powers stronger than regular Soul Reapers-not like Miss Lucy or anything, she's on a different level much like yourself. Activate your Fullbring, Natsu, it will be complete."

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