Alrighty, Chapter 9 is up! Giant thank-you's all around for all those lovely followers, favorites, and reviews. You guys are so amazing!

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach :( I do, however, own Ashwina and all the twists that accompany her wonderful presence.

Enjoy!


Chapter-9

"We're lost."

"Shut up, no we're not. That stupid dandelion head just decided to disappear underground, how's that my fault, Homes?"

"You're the one giving directions."

"You know, I thought you were a pretty rad dude, Chad. I'm starting to think I jumped the gun on that one."

"Hn."

Huffing loudly, I just threw my hands in the air. The useless chain clanked around before turning invisible again. It lead us straight to a sewer cover. A fucking sewer cover. "So, he's underground, let's just go after him."

"He's probably above ground already."

"OR he could still be bathing with rats in foul water, let's just go down and check." My patience was starting to wear thin. We had been repeating this argument for at least fifteen minutes now, I'm well past being over it.

"He's heading for Rukia, she's not underground."

Gripping my bangs in an attempt to not strangle the shit out of the brat, I snarled up at him angrily. "God dammit, Chad! What the fuck is wrong with you? You scared of the dark or somethin'? He's probably just lying down there in a depressed little ball doing nothing but whining about how lost he is. All we gotta do is just drag him back up and be on our jolly good way." The kid just looked up at the wall, his only showing eye narrowed slightly. A small bead of sweat was working its way down over his temple, before suddenly streaking straight down his face and to his neck, where his Adam's apple bobbed jerkily. "Holy shit," I couldn't help it, a laugh was already working its way up and out my mouth. "Are you scared of the fucking dark?"

"Small space." My laughter immediately cut off as I stared up at him curiously.

"Big guy doesn't like small spaces, huh?" He seemed genuinely embarrassed in his own Chad way, keeping his eyes straight ahead with a bored expression as he nodded once. That one eye, though, was like a little beacon of emotion. "Alrighty, you're probably right, man." I shrugged, watching as he visibly relaxed from the corner of my eyes. "He's too uptight to stay in a sewer for that long. Let's get a move on, then. That idiot's bound to be cutting something up around here." I started walking away, pulling a cigarette out while he just grunted before following behind me.

"Wanna play 20 questions?"

"Hn."


3rd Person P.O.V.

"She's so nonchal'nt, it's creeeepy~ Don'cha think, Cap'n Aizen?" Ichimaru Gin turned to his companion, smiling widely at the bespectacled man. Aizen's glasses glinted against the screen's light, a small smile on his face. He merely nodded, watching her like a bug in a jar, as the girl and the tall human boy walked along the street. The silver haired girl was smirking up at the teen, a cigarette held between her lips. "She's the key, Gin. The last piece to the puzzle, and she's right here in our grasps." The video feed paused and zoomed in on her face, as she seemed to be squinting carelessly right in the camera's direction. "To think, she came right to us without barely a prod. How wonderful."

"Pretty kind o' her, might as well 'a wrapped hers'f in a bow." Aizen chuckled lightly, obviously in a pleasant mood. "Yes, now all that's left is to capture her. Such a magnificent creature, and she doesn't even realize her own potential. It's quite sad, isn't it, Gin?" The video began playing once again, showing that the two were closing in on the Ninth division. Gin focused on the screen, watching as they dodged yet another patrol unit. His thin smile dropped, mockingly. "It's brin'in tears to mah eyes." He wiped a finger across the bottom of his eye before smiling brightly.

Once again, Aizen chuckled before standing straight. Tosen Kaname, who had been silently listening to the side, straightened as Aizen began to turn. "If only someone could rectify that," Aizen sighed in mock wistfulness, his smile turning cold as he walked away. "Come, Kaname. We have many things to see to." Kaname nodded once, following a few steps behind his leader. "As do you, Gin."

"Yes, Cap'n." Gin's smile stretched, thinning out until his lips nearly disappeared. He stared up at the screen, a sinister air forming in just that expression. "Seem's our meetin' came soon'r den exp'cted, eh Bounty Hunter?"


Ichigo's P.O.V.

Hanataro poked his head above ground, looking around quickly before pushing the cover up. "All clear, come on up." He climbed out of the exit quickly before Ganju and I clambered up the ladder. "Waaaaah," Ganju took in a deep breath, hanging onto the edge of the exit as we pulled our way out. "It feels like an eternity since I've last breathed in fresh air!" Inwardly, I agreed 100%.

"This is as far as I can take you, there isn't a way to go directly beneath the tower." Hanataro smiled tiredly at us. "Look, up there is the Senzakyuu!" I looked up, my eyes widening at the sight of the tall buildings. There, nestled in the center, was Rukia's cell. 'It's so close...I'm almost there, Rukia.'

"We're so close, it sure looks enormous. We'll probably have to fight our way to it from now on..." Ganju's voice suddenly became background noise. My gut twisted as my instincts screamed at me; there was an enemy close by. I stepped forward, cutting Ganju off with a wave of my hand. My eyes instantly focused on the stairwell, watching as the dust began blowing away. "Someone's there..."

Instantly, both Hanataro and Ganju stopped, focusing on the staircase as well. We all held our breath, watching as the dust slowly cleared away. A figure in black stepped down the last few steps, still hidden by the windblown cover. Finally, it cleared, revealing red hair held high in a pony tail.

Shock ripped its way through my core. It was him, the guy who had taken Rukia.

"Long time no see," he reached up, pulling the sunglasses up to reveal his face completely. "Remember my face?" His brown eyes narrowed into a glare which I gladly returned.

"Abarai Renji."

"That's unexpected, you even remember my name." Renji smirked mockingly, his eyes glaring right into mine. "You have a pretty good memory." The irony of his statement was lost, though. The tension between us was almost tangible as he continued his approach. "Thanks for the compliment."

My gut was clenching in anticipation as he neared. Subconsciously, I knew this probably wasn't the greatest thing to happen, but dammit I want to beat this guy. He's part of the reason Rukia's even here. I know they are at least acquaintances, the familiarity between them was completely noticeable that night. Yet, here he is, just waiting out her time on death row. 'All of them are. No one in this place seems even a bit fazed, as if executing people is just an every day event. It's sickening.'

"I'm really surprised. I always thought that you had been killed by Captain Kuchiki's attack." I started forward, more than ready to meet this guy with my blade. "I don't know how you survived, but it's very impressive, which is worth complimenting." Finally, he began to draw his blade. "However, it's all over now! I've said it before, I will kill the one who stole Rukia's power." I couldn't help but think how twisted this guy is, saying he'll kill me for Rukia, but will sit back and willingly let her die. What a load of crap. "If you're still alive, then Rukia's power can not be restored."

"Back then, didn't you take her away because you wanted to kill her?! What's the point of saying that now?!" He didn't answer. I tightened my hand around the hilt of my zanpakuto, more than ready for this fight to begin. I didn't have to wait long.

Without hesitation, we were rushing at one another, blades drawn. "I must keep going forward!" Rukia's face flashed before my eyes, the same face she had shown me when ordering me not to follow her. I know now, she was just trying to save my life. However, I can't let her. Rukia's life is precious, just like everyone of my friends. I won't be the cause of another lost life. 'I will take you down, Renji, and I will save Rukia!'

"That depends on if you can defeat me! Come, if you have the guts. Don't you like risking your life?" Hot fury lit my blood, rushing through my entire body. We crashed together, blades evenly countering the other. I snarled into his face, anger filling me to the brim and pouring freely. 'I'm gonna beat this guy!'

We jumped apart, upsetting dust all around, and then I leaped, sword raised to draw blood. Our blades clashed, screeching against one another. I put all of my weight into it, pushing us farther and farther until Renji's back smacked into the wall. He snarled down at me, obviously surprised by the power behind my attack. Our swords struggled against each other, one trying to over power the other.

"Oi, Kurosaki Ichigo..." I met his glare, curious as to what he wanted. His face was determined, yet there was something there, deep in his eyes. "Let me ask you, how do you plan on saving Rukia?"

"How to save her?"

"Even if you defeat me now, there's still eleven Vice-Captains, and above that, there's thirteen Captains. Unless you defeat all of us, there's not way you can save Rukia. Are you sure you can do that?"

"Of course!" I didn't even think about it, there is no questioning on whether or not I'm sure I can do it. I have to do it. There is no questioning whether I will or won't do it, nothing can dissuade me from saving Rukia. "How many Captains there are? How many Vice-Captains there are? What the hell does it have to do with me? I'll fight 'em no matter what! If they dare try to stop me, then I'll defeat all of them!"


Ashwina's P.O.V.

"Shit! Book it, Chad!"

Once again, we had run smack dab into a patrol unit. Unfortunately, this one had seen us, and they were fucking persistent. I sprinted around another corner, listening as Chad's heavy footsteps echoed directly behind me. My heart was beating a hundred times a minute, I could feel it throbbing throughout my entire body. "Come on, we gotta lose 'em. That's too many for you-"

I suddenly stopped, Chad and I both pausing as the familiar pulsing of Ichigo's energy vibrated through the air. It was escalating quickly, and it was angry. He was definitely in a fight, a real fight. I turned to face Chad, my eyes wide as the patrol quickly diminished what little distance was left. "We gotta get out of here. Ichigo's in trouble-"

"Go," Chad's voice was low, but still clearly decisive. He suddenly turned, already dropping into a defensive crouch. "Kid, I can't just leave you. There's too many of them." He didn't turn, just shook that thick skull of his. "Go, you'll reach him in time." I sighed, internally debating it. He was right, I could jump there within minutes. But I don't want to leave my little guppy giant. Suddenly, the patrol was on us, swords raised and ready. Chad's arm activated, already powered for a fierce strike as he punched straight down. The ground blew apart, scattering the men back.

"GO!" His one brown eye locked onto me, demanding I leave, begging me to trust him, and hopeful that I'll find Ichigo in time. Groaning, I just threw my hands up in surrender. "Fine, but you better not die, got that?" He just gave me that adorably lame thumbs up before turning back to face his opponents. A straggler spotted me, his eyes widening in recognition before shouting to the others to restrain me. I took that as my cue, quickly jumping away.

I kept going, focusing on Ichigo's energy while trying in vain to push away that nagging little thing I like to think might be my conscience. 'You better not fucking die.' My feet barely made any contact before I quickly moved on, closing in on Ichigo by the second. I could see the battle area, dust exploding into the air with each release of his energy.

A groan worked its way from my throat when I finally recognized who the other Reiatsu was. "Fucking ginger, how did I not realize? OF course, he would want a round two."

Finally, I reached the area. Taking a few deep breaths, I took in the scene below. Two guys stood off to the side, one Ganju and the other, their hostage from earlier. Ichigo faced off against Renji, holding him against the far cliff side, their swords met in a cross between them. Slowly, I approached the area, coming up beside the two bystanders to watch the fight as well.

Ichigo and Renji seemed to be having a nice little heart-to-heart at the moment, so I turned to my new comrades. "So, what's the score?" They both leaped at least three feet into the air, the little one clutching his chest in fright while Ganju glared daggers at me. "Where the hell did you come from?!"

"Well, that's pretty fucking rude. Shouldn't you be happy I'm here, you know in case that idiot needs help or something?" I stuck my tongue out at him, ignoring his mumbled curses. The little one was looking at me weirdly, though. His eyes all big and shiny while this stupid little grin pulled at his lips. "Hey, I think you picked up a defective one, what's wrong with it?" I snapped my fingers in front of his face, but was quickly distracted when Ichigo suddenly got sent flying.

His body soared through the air as Renji raised his zanpakuto, his reiatsu spiking incredibly. "Roar! Zabimaru!" The blade suddenly extended, with wicked blade teeth running along the bottom. Ichigo countered it barely, causing it to bunch up against his own sword. It retracted quickly, before suddenly shooting forward. This time, it held strong and sent Ichigo straight into the building next to us. The little one screamed while Ganju rushed to stand beside him, both their eyes wide with concern.

"Ichigo-san?"

"Seems like you thought you understood my abilities after just one fight with me," Renji started forward, his blade retracting from the broken wall. "Let me tell you, when Vice-Captains and Captains go to the living world, in order to not cause unnecessary disturbances to the souls, we have to wear a power suppressant. Right now, my power is five times stronger than when we last met!" I scowled at him, stepping towards the destroyed building to drag Ichigo back out. "Doesn't matter how strong you are. It's close to impossible for you to beat me."

"So, you're saying right now, this is your real strength?" We all froze, waiting while Ichigo struggled from his crash-site. "To me, your attacks are totally ineffective. Thank you very much for the information. If there's eleven more guys like you," my jaw literally popped open, hanging a little when he finally emerged. "Then I think I'll be able to handle them!" I really wished I could have enjoyed him being all heroic and lame, but the idiot's face was covered in blood! I started forward instantly, prepared to steady him if he started to fall.

"You bastard."

And then I snapped.

"Shut the fuck up, Jesus Christ, do you ever close that thing? Honestly, every time I see you, it's nothing but useless chitter chatter. You're worse then fucking Space Cadet. MY GODS, Ichigo. How have you not killed this idiot, yet?!" I huffed obnoxiously, crossing my arms while glaring at the little bastard. It took a few seconds for me to realize that I had a lot of shocked eyes on me. Slowly, I turned to offer a smirk at the bleeding teenager, who's mouth was opened in surprise. "Ashwina?"

"Sup, you seem to be having quite an adventure."

"Where the hell have you been?! I thought you were dead or worse, someone was actually insane enough to try and lock you up." Shrugging lightly, I rubbed the side of my head with a little laugh. "Well, it's good to see you too, Dandelion Head." He started to step forward, eyes narrowed dangerously as he pointed at me, but stumbled slightly in his poor attempt at walking. "Whoa, you're losing a lot of blood there, you good Dude?"

"Stop moving, so I can head-butt you," he swayed slightly, his eyes narrowing even more.

"I'm not moving, you idiot. You just got your head knocked into a building." I frowned, turning to glare at Renji, who glared right on back. I smirked a little when he tightened his grip on the handle of his sword, clearly anticipating me to attack. "Nice tats, by the way." He raised an eyebrow, obviously unprepared for that before nodding just a bit. "Hn." I turned back to face Ichigo, raising a hand in truce as I began approaching him.

Once I got close enough, I gripped his arm tightly. "Ichigo, are you able to continue?," my voice was quiet, and my eyes were focused on the crushed walls. "If not, I can get us all out of here now. Just tell me, you don't have to figh-"

"Yes, I do. I'm fine, just let me finish this guy, then we can go get Rukia."We locked eyes then, my eyebrow raised while his narrowed in determination. Finally, I released his arm and nodded. "Right, then go kick some ginger ass!" His eyes lit up while he gave a hard nod, turning to focus on his opponent again. Smirking, I began to step back, but was suddenly pushed away, Ichigo's arm still outstretched as moved into a shaky defense. Renji had suddenly leaped, his released zanpakuto already mid-swing. Ichigo quickly brought his own sword up, ready to block the incoming attack.

"IT'S OVER!" Zabimaru crashed into the remainder of the structure, destroying it instantly as debris flew in every direction. Catching my footing, I leaped back quickly, dragging the little on with me. We stopped a good distance away,watching as Ichigo suddenly burst forward. He ran along the rooftop, dodging the extended blade as Renji took off after him. The little one seemed to be having a panic attack just watching the fight, so I ruffled his hair. "Relax, he got this." He didn't seem too reassured, but nodded anyways, a light pink dusting his cheeks.

My gaze, however, quickly found its way back to the ongoing battle. I continued observing, following Ichigo's every duck and weave with my eyes while Renji attacked relentlessly. I pegged him to be a lot of talk, but Gingy really did have a bite when he wanted to. I'll give him that, at least. He has spirit, although what his spirit is fighting for, I couldn't tell you. He seemed conflicted, as if his own spirit wasn't sure what the purpose behind his wild attacks might be. That's all they are, though. Strategized wild attacks, nothing more or less. Ichigo definitely had more skill, he just lacked in experience. That's why these fights are so crucial for him. With every defeat or win, he grows, learns, and hones his skills into an even greater force.

Ganju and the little one flinched when Renji got in another brutal hit, bringing Ichigo to his knees. He and Renji were talking again, still trading blows, or at least on Ichigo's end, blocking unsteadily. "Calm down, you two. Ichigo will win, so just sit back and watch the show." They both looked at me as if I had just murdered their puppies and ate the still beating hearts. I shrugged, falling to my butt with my head resting on a bent knee. "Or just stand there, doing nothing but worrying like mother hens. Seriously, Ichigo's gonna win, there's nothing any of us can do except watch anyways."

"You just called this a show!" Ganju pointed an accusing finger at me, but I just shrugged, not really finding any reason for him to be so upset. 'Other then me kicking him...' "

First, you call me ugly and kick me-" Called it. "-now you're calling this bloodbath a show?! You're one sick lady." Ganju just glared down at me, picking the little one up by the back of his uniform when he tried to sit as well. "Stay away from her, she's crazy." Rolling my eyes, I focused back on the fight, just in time to see Ichigo rush in on Renji. He swung down, attempting to cut the Vice-Captain, but missed when he had quickly dodged to the side.

Then, Renji got him. I mean, he really got him, bad. He had slashed quick and merciless, nearly cleaving Ichigo's shoulder from his body. I stiffened, my stomach dropping at the sight. I fought back the sudden urge to draw his blood, narrowing my eyes as Ichigo fell to the ground with blood spraying from his wound. Renji slowly approached the now downed Ichigo, muttering something to the orange-head. He began to raise his sword, his reiatsu suddenly climbing violently. Unconsciously, my body had moved, standing and ready to sprint into the fray.

"You can't rescue Rukia, because I am going to kill you right here!" I struggled forward as his reiatsu lit the sky. It ran straight up and down, forming a column of energy. Suddenly, he swung down, hard. My arms were held straight back, struggling uselessly against the nearly intangible gauntlets restraining me. Useless and more than panicked, I watched the killing blow descend on Ichigo's head.

"ICHIGO!"


Ichigo's P.O.V.

I flew back, skidding hard against the rocky floor. "You ran away," Urahara looked confused, watching as I hauled myself back up. "Bastard, you were going to kill me! If I didn't run, I would be dead already!"

"Of course I was. I was trying my best to get you. I'll keep going after you, until you have no where else to run..." He was talking so calmly, as if the conversation wasn't even about his attempt at murdering me. Slowly, he approached the giant crevice in the ground, the scar I had created in the beginning. "Because I will have to prepare you to be able to reproduce that attack, whenever necessary."

"Yeah right, that was just a lucky hit," I could feel the sweat trailing down my face. This guy is crazy.

"Then you'll train until you can!" He pointed at me, his face completely serious beneath that bucket hat. "You've learned how to unleash the power of your zanpakuto, and you've also learned the basic fighting techniques. You have the talent, but you are only as good as a Third or Fourth seat Shinigami right now. Vice-Captains and above are at a whole different you want to fight someone like them, you must be able to fully utilize your zanpakuto."

I couldn't help but feel a bit overwhelmed at that. I have no idea how I had even made that attack, and he wants me to reproduce it? "That's easy for you to say, I was under pressure. I don't even remember how I did that..."

"I know." Those gray eyes, unnaturally serious, flashed from beneath his bucket hat as he began to approach me once again. "That's why we're doing this. That's why..." Suddenly, he lunged, sword poised for another killing blow. I raised my zanpakuto, blocking it. However, shock ripped through me when I realized the tip of his own blade was buried inside of my own. He had cut my sword! "I'll keep pushing you until you have no where to run, so you can remember how you did it."

And then I was flying, my body soaring through the air uncontrollably before crashing into a boulder. "Ooh, that look like it hurt. Dollface, I think he might need some medical assistance." Ashwina, our 'referee' was laying around on a high cliff face above my new spot. "You're right, MED TEAM!"

"Not yet," Urahara's voice echoed lightly, stopping them as I struggled to sit up. Digging the giant blade into the ground, I slowly used it to pull my weight up. Finally, I was on my knees, dragging in deep breaths as the dust began to settle around me. "Heads up, Dandelion Head!" Ashwina's warning barely registered before Urahara was suddenly bearing down on me. He swung suddenly, blasting me away and deep into the neighboring cliff.

I skidded across the dirt, creating a groove in the smooth surface before coming to a stop right next to the silver haired girl. She just stared down at me with this blank look, a piece of candy hanging limply from her mouth. "Check that, now that looked like it hurt."

Stuggling, I began to heave myself out of the ditch. "What's going on? As soon as I get a little serious, you're completely overpowered. Is that all you've got? How disappointing!" Wide-eyed, I could only stare at the shop keeper as I struggled to regain my breath. "I'm really disappointed. "Kurosaki-san, in your sword, all I can see is 'FEAR'."

Ashwina gave my shoulder a light squeeze, making me glance over at her. She just nodded at me, her eyes drilling into my own before she looked back up at Urahara. "When you're dodging, you're 'afraid of getting hit'. When you're attacking, you're 'afraid of hitting me'. When you're protecting someone, you're 'afraid of them dying'. Your sword is filled with fear!" He slowly raised his sword until it pointed straight into the air. "It's pathetic! You can't give into fear in a fight! It won't help at all."

"When you're dodging, think 'I won't let you hit me'! When you're protecting someone, think 'I won't let you die'! When you're attacking, think 'I'm going to cut you'!" Ashwina suddenly stood, her scythe materializing in her own hand as she raised it high into the air as well. She looked back at me, her face still serious as I slowly got to my own feet. "See? See that in our blades? Do you see our determination? Do you see 'I'm going to cut you in half'?"

I stared at Urahara's blade, then at Ashwina's. It sounded like the crazy gibberish of an old man, but I could see it. I could feel it, deep within my soul. They're blades were prepared, resilient and fearless. They will cut you in half, they will protect you, they have no fear of being cut. I dropped my eyes, staring at my own blade, feeling the determination settling deep in my heart. 'I will cut them, I will protect them, they will not cut me!' Slowly, my sword raised high into the sky as well, the tip pointing straight up.

Ashwina's eyes seemed to glow with a deep pride, her lips twitching into a smirk while Urahara stared me down. "So, you are capable of it after all," he smiled at me, a rueful and sad smile. "The determination." Simultaneously, we reared our swords back, and Ashwina dropped her arm to watch. Energy gathered around both blades as we stared one another down.

"Don't ever forget it!"


"ICHIGO!"

Ashwina's cry echoed through the air, shocking my system into overdrive. My hand shot up instantly, the descending blade cutting deep into the flesh. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Renji." I could feel his shocked eyes on me, defiantly I raised my head to meet his stare. "I will now put all of my will, into defeating you!" Instantly, he jumped away as I stood, swinging my zanpakuto around in an arc.

"Fucking booy-yah! Show him what you've got, don't hold back, Dandelion Head!"

To be honest, her cheer didn't even register at first. All I could see was Renji, and my blade slicing through his like butter. The sunglasses on top his head split apart, as well as his hair tie. All I could focus on was him and nothing else. His blood suddenly erupted, a long gash from his shoulder to his waist splitting wide open.

Still, he stood, glaring defiantly and enraged at me. Deep in those eyes, I could see his anger, at himself. He had lost, a fight he had clearly planned on walking away from victorious. I had ripped that from him, and now, he was filling with regret. Stubbornly angry regret.

"Now that I think about it, I was probably just scared. Because I...damn...I really am a tramp down to my bones, I hate myself." He forced his body into stepping forward, head hung as blood stained the ground below. "I bark at the star, but I don't have the courage to jump and grab it." He sounded like a crazed man, rambling on, but I had no words to say. He was my enemy, and that's all I know about him.

Astonished, I could only watch as he stepped again, finding enough strength to grab the front of my shihakusho. "I never once won...against Captain Kuchiki," his head was hung, breaths coming out in pained gasps, even so his words were strong. "Ever since Rukia left...I trained every day, but I still failed. He is too strong."

"Fighting to get Rukia back...is nothing but an impossible dream to me." His grip tightened, but I remained strong, waiting for him to finish an obviously important message. "Kurosaki...I'm probably shameless for doing this, but I have to ask you..."

"Please, you have to save Rukia!"

Once again, Renji Abarai shocked me. I had thought, from the beginning, that he didn't care. That Rukia's death meant little to him. It seems I really was oblivious to him, but...

"Yeah..." I will save Rukia, because she really is a precious person.


Ashwina's P.O.V.

We watched as Renji finally gave into his wounds. His knees buckled, and he dropped, face first into the dirt. Then, without warning, Ichigo followed. The other two ran for him, Ganju reaching him first as I slowly followed.

"Oi! Are you okay, Ichigo? Answer me!" This guy really is thick.

"He's unconscious, moron. We'll have to carry him out of here." I stepped next to him, casting a quick glance over the unconscious teen before moving to Renji. Kneeling, I checked his pulse quickly. A faint thump was all I got before standing. There was already the commotion of an approaching patrol. "Let's go, the cavalry is coming." Ganju nodded, already hefting Ichigo over his shoulder, while the little one quickly ran back toward the demolished building. "Come, we'll go back underground to heal Ichigo-san!" I cast another glance over Renji, frowning deeply before turning to follow the others.

'Not a bad guy, just on the wrong side. They're always on the wrong side.' Sighing deeply, I jumped down the sewer entrance. The little one quickly shut the cover before leading us down to a small alcove in the wall. Ganju laid Ichigo on the ground carefully before stepping back to watch. I leaned against the outer wall, keeping an eye on the passage for any followers. There was a faint green light behind me, causing my eyes to stray. The little one was leaning over Ichigo, his hands glowing as they passed over his wounds. Quickly, I turned away, my stomach dropping even lower.

'Pretty useless, letting the poor kid nearly die...I'm such a fucking joke.' I listened quietly while the two behind me conversed, lighting a cigarette to hopefully dispel the sick feeling rising in my throat. Ganju suddenly took the opposite corner of me, leaning back casually with a nod in my direction.

"Healing powers, huh? I thought you guys used herbs or something."

"Yes, the other shinigami can only use their power when they're fighting, but we, the Fourth Division, have healing powers. Although this is the only skill we know." Little one sounded just a wee-bit bummed at the end there. "There's nothing wrong with being a healer, man. Shit, anyone can kill, but saving lives, that's a gift. Be proud, little dude." Unfortunately, I glanced back, catching the wonderful sight of Ichigo's deep skin knitting back together. "That's gross."

Ganju snickered at me, that is until he looked. Suddenly, I wasn't the only one looking green around the gills. "How his condition?," Ganju covered quickly, training his eyes on the opposite wall quickly. "Not very good. However, I will definitely heal him. Please, give me some time." My eyes quickly squeezed shut when Ichigo's breathing became heavier. "I just need one night, and I can completely heal him."

"One night, huh? That's a long fucking time to stay in one place, little dude." I caught Ganju's scowl, looks like I offended the 'Self-Declared Number One Shinigami Hater', oh well. "I know, Bounty Hunter-san, but no one will follow us down here. Please, believe in me and give me time. Ichigo will be alright if he has time." The little one was staring up at me, those big eyes wide and pleading. 'Oh gods, he has a perfect puppy-dog face...'

"Yeah yeah, I never said I didn't believe in you. Pretty sure you know more than me, anyways," I waved him off, already turning away from those devilishly pathetic eyes. "I'm going to patrol, just keep that idiot alive."

"Yes...I definitely will." I just waved, already walking away.

'Don't you dare even think about dying, Ichigo.'


Third Person P.O.V.

The ten Captains of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads instantly quieted, waiting and watching as their leader took his position in front of them. They were still reeling from the fact that, not only Third Seat Ikkaku Madarame, but also Vice-Captain Renji Abarai were single-handedly defeated. That's not even counting the handfuls of lower ranked and unseated shinigami currently residing in the Fourth Division.

"Right now, during this Emergency, the Thirteen Divisions are already short one Vice-Captain. Now is not the time to hand the missions to the lower ranking shinigami. Also, I won't question about Ichimaru acting alone earlier!" The Third Division Captain instantly perked up. "Thanks." He was ignored, however, as the Captain Commander kept rolling.

"All higher officials, including Vice-Captains, must have their zanpakuto at all times, and you are permitted to fight with everything you've got in the battles. Please inform those not in attendance!" Slowly, Captain Commander Yamamoto's eyes peeled open, revealing the slate gray irises steeled with years of violence. "Everyone, we may soon begin an all-out war."

The ten Captains, each face varying from quiet resolve to pure blood-lust, nodded. They were ready, and each willing to draw the blood of these intruders. Without a doubt, these Ryoka will be stopped.


And that's a wrap. As always, reviews and the such are welcome.

Until next time

GhostDoor out baby~