Things seemed to be going downhill. Aizen and his army of Espada were winning, and many, if not all of the people on Ichigo's side were badly injured, including himself. Orihime had reached her limit to healing people and passed out some minutes ago.
Ichigo held the gaping wound in his side as he looked at his comrades. Orihime, Chad, Rukia and Matsumoto were laid out unconscious; Ishida, exhausted and nursing a leg wound watched over the four invalid fighters. Hitsugaya was in a similar state to Ichigo, but for him it was an injured shoulder that caused his entire arm to be useless. Yumichika was nursing several bruised, cracked, and broken ribs as he bandaged Madarame's many wounds. Chad, his head wrapped in bandages, was standing guard and helping Ishida ward off any attacks on their wounded and/or unconscious friends. Renji was lucky enough to be unmarred, thanks to the last of Orihime's powers, he was just extremely exhausted.
"We could use some help." Renji huffed.
"Gee, you think?" Ichigo hissed sarcastically.
Renji glanced at their enemies and his eyes widened. "Ichigo…!"
Ulquiorra was firing up a cero.
The substitute shinigami swore and moved to shield his friends.
Everyone turned their heads from the bright flash, when they turned back their eyes widened. A new shinigami stood between Ulquiorra and Ichigo, apparently having deflected the cero. None of them recognized the man. He was obviously Captain level to have deflected a cero.
Ichigo's vision blurred as he studied the man's back, trying to put a name to their savior.
Matsumoto groaned as she stirred awake. She pulled herself up enough to lean on her elbows and glanced around. "Taicho?" She groaned.
Hitsugaya glanced back to see what his subordinate wanted only to see she wasn't looking at him, but their newest ally.
The black haired shinigami laughed heartily and sheathed his zanpakuto.
Ichigo's head perked up, he recognized that laugh, but it was impossible.
The man turned toward Ichigo and his friends and grinned, giving a thumbs up. "Just in the nick of time."
Ichigo suddenly felt better, and his spirit pressure flared. "Goat-chin!" he growled.
Isshin widened his eyes and jumped sideways, narrowly missing Zangetsu's swing.
"Ichigo, what are you doing? He's on our side!" Renji scowled.
Grimmjow snorted. "He's finally lost it." He chuckled.
One well aimed kick caused Zangetsu to fall from Ichigo's hand, but that didn't stop the Vizard as he aimed a punch at the older man's jaw. Isshin dodged easily and swept Ichigo's feet from beneath him, Ichigo groaned as he hit the ground.
Isshin laughed and rested a foot on Ichigo's arm, the one closest to reaching Zangetsu. "I've got years on you boy."
Ichigo hooked his free arm behind the man's knee, causing him to buckle and hiss as he landed on his tailbone. "Dinner's a seven, right?" Ichigo smirked.
"Good boy, as long as you remember." Isshin chuckled.
"What the…?" Renji and everyone else blinked in confusion. Even Aizen seemed perplexed at the situation.
"Taicho, what are you doing here?" Matsumoto chirped, more awake now.
Isshin grinned at the busty woman. "Hey Ran-chan! I came to help my boy." He grabbed Ichigo and pulled him into a hug.
"Quit rubbing your chin on me, old man!" Ichigo yelped and pushed at the man's chest in a futile attempt.
Isshin laughed heartily and held Ichigo closer.
"Wow, Taicho, congratulations." Matsumoto chirped seriously, grinning at the man.
"We shouldn't be hugging on a battlefield! Get off me, Goat-chin!" Ichigo scowled and swung at his father, frustrated when the man dodged easily with a laugh he began reaching for Zangetsu.
Isshin whipped a piece of paper out of his shirt and cuddled Ichigo's head with it. "Misaki-chan, where did I go wrong?" He made a great show of weeping over the picture and his son.
"Arg!" Ichigo cried in frustration. "Renji, do something!"
"What?" The redhead shrugged.
Ichigo growled, his fingers scraped the ground just short of the wrappings on Zangetsu's handle. "Damn you, Goat-chin. If you're this useful, why aren't you home watching Karin and Yuzu?"
"Oh they're fine, I left them with Keisuke." Isshin muttered into Ichigo's hair. "Son, did you get new shampoo? It smells good."
Ichigo's face blossomed red in anger and embarrassment. "You left them with hat-and-clogs! And quit smelling my head!" He swung blindly, and missed horribly. Ichigo heard someone snicker and scowled. "Shut up, Grimmjow!"
"Why should I, Shinigami? I was expecting a good fight, but a good shows' good enough." The blue haired Espada snickered. "It's strawberries and vanilla, by the way. Kid reeks of it."
"Ah-ha!" Isshin exclaimed. "Thank you, it would have driven me crazy."
"Alright, everyone stop smelling me!" Ichigo screamed, flushing brighter. He grumbled something about the voice in his head that no one heard before stretching to reach Zangetsu again.
Renji snickered behind them. "Strawberries? Don't you think that's a little cliché, Ichigo?"
"I'll fucking kill you all!" The Vizard hissed, his voice doubled slightly and one of his eyes began to bleed black.
Isshin tightened his hold around his son's neck with narrowed eyes, satisfaction crossed his face as Ichigo choked and the black receded.
Ichigo coughed. "Why aren't you around to choke me more often?" He rasped sarcastically.
Isshin grinned and petted Ichigo's bright orange hair. "Can't hold the world on your shoulders, son."
"Why are we just standing here chatting?" Aporro asked suddenly.
A portal opened suddenly.
"Waiting for our ride." Isshin grinned.
Taking the hint Chad and Renji scooped up the three still unconscious fighters and jumped through the portal, Ishida not far behind. Yumichika helped a protesting Madarame through with a non-too-gentle shove, while Matsumoto and Hitsugaya helped eachother.
"Coming, Taicho?" Matsumoto chirped.
"On my way!" Isshin grinned. He bounced to his feet and slung Ichigo over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes with much protest from the teen. He grabbed Zangetsu with his free hand and waved to Aizen and the Arrancar as he jumped through the portal, it sealed up behind them quickly.