A/N: This is a songfic based on the song "Gingerbread Coffin" by Rasputina.

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or the song.

Rukia, Renji, Uryuu, and Chad stepped out of the garganta created by Urahara. "Did you succeed?" Urahara asked cheerfully, turning around from his work to face the heroes. Their forlorn faces told him everything. Last out of the garganta came Ichigo. In his arms was Orihime, unmoving and eyes closed. Blood covered the white gown she wore.

Urahara and Yoruichi gasped. "No…is she…" Yoruichi couldn't say the word.

"She isn't dead…yet," Ichigo practically growled.

Rukia bowed her head. "She's too far gone."

Urahara nodded solemnly. He was actually expecting this outcome. "Did you recover the hougyoku?" he asked.

Uryuu glared at him while fingering the glowing, fully-awakened orb in his pocket. Uryuu didn't want to lie, but they had made a decision, and he was going to stand by it. "No," he responded.

Urahara looked at him quizzically then nodded. "We have a lot of work to do then, if Aizen still has the hougyoku."

"Right." Ichigo shifted Orihime to a more comfortable position in his arms and then headed for the exit.

Renji, Chad, Uryuu, and Rukia followed. Before Rukia could ascend the stairs, Urahara grabbed her arm. Studying her expression, he said, "There's nothing you can do for her now."

Rukia jerked her arm out of his grasp. "I know."

Ichigo, Renji, Chad, Uryuu, and Rukia sat in the Karakura Town Park, hidden by a dense patch of trees. They sat in a circle, illuminated by thick candles. In the center of the circle lay Orihime, slowly dying of blood loss.

We found an old doll that was out in the grass
She had special powers, we said a black mass

Uryuu turned to each of his companions. Getting their nods of approval, he pulled the hougyoku from his pocket. He held it over Orihime, and each member of the circle put a hand on it as well.

We sat in a circle all holding hands
The doll-bed held together with old rubber bands

Each friend closed their eyes and focused their reiatsu on the glowing orb. Bright, colorful light burst from each of them and rushed to the hougyoku.

She'll rise
She'll rise
She'll rise

The hougyoku began to glow brighter until it shone more brilliantly than the candles. The different colors of their unique reiatsus swirled within the orb. When the sphere was so full of dancing colors that it seemed as though it would explode, the energy began to condense in the center. In the middle of the hougyoku, a dense ball of reiatsu quivered.

Below the orb, Orihime's breaths became shallower as her blood continued to soak her white gown.

Oh, lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
She's so pretty all laid out in white

With a loud bang the hougyoku focused the energy on Orihime. A bright orange light shot from it and hit Orihime in the chest where her heart was. Orihime gasped and convulsed as orange electric currents traveled through her body.

Lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
When we need her she'll rise to the light

The members of the circle had to turn away as a scream tore from their friend's dying lips. It was a scream of pure agony.

We looked down at the ground and into her eyes
Passed around an old tea cup filled up with dead flies
Surprise, surprise

A miniscule dark hole began to form in Orihime's neck. She lifted her hands and clawed violently at the hole, as if she was attempting to rip it open. Her screams never diminished as the hole grew larger.

We brought but not used a collection of knives
We'd remember this moment for all of our lives

In a few seconds, her screams had stopped. The friends turned back to Orihime. Tears clouded Rukia's eyes, and the boys were attempting to look stoic while fighting tears of their own.

Before them lay their friend. Blood still stained her dress, though the wound was closed. Bits of bone replaced the hairpins her brother had given her. These and the hole in her neck were the only visible relics of her violent transformation. Until she opened her eyes, that is.

She'll rise
She'll rise
She'll rise

In place of her normal gray eyes full of caring and hope, now there were two yellow orbs. She had the bloodthirsty eyes of a hollow, of an arrancar.

Lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
She's so pretty all laid out in white

"Or-Orihime?" Rukia said tentatively.

The newly-formed arrancar turned to the shinigami, a bemused look on her face. "Rukia…" she breathed, her voice raspy and hoarse.

Lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
When we need her, she'll rise to the night

In a flash of movement, Orihime had her hand around the female shinigami's throat. Rukia was gasping for air, and Orihime had the countenance of an amused child. Orihime gripped Rukia's throat even tighter. Rukia began to lose consciousness.

Lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
It's a flickering, beautiful sight

Ichigo and Renji jumped to their feet. Renji looked to Ichigo for instruction, but Ichigo appeared just as frightened and confused as he was. "Rukia!" Ichigo yelled. He pulled out his zanpakuto. "Orihime! What are you doing!? Let Rukia go!"

Orihime smiled placidly. A burst of light erupted from the remnants of her hollow mask and zoomed toward the substitute shinigami. Ichigo tried to defend himself with his zanpakuto, but the new Tsubaki easily broke through the sword and sliced the boy in two. Rukia went limp in her hand.

Lay her down in her gingerbread coffin
When we need her, she'll rise to the night

An hour later, Orihime stepped casually over the massacre. She stooped and picked up the still glowing hougyoku. Grinning happily, she pocketed the orb.