Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or have any rights to it.

Yamamoto fiddled with his beard uneasily as Soi Fong finished her report of what had occurred in the living world. On the one hand, he was glad that Ichigo had warmed Soi Fong's heart; the captain of squad two was definitely more pleasant to be around as a result, though that really didn't apply to her lieutenant. However, the Vizards were all bitter about what had happened to them before they wound up in the living world, and they all shared either a hatred or distrust of soul reapers in general. The head captain wasn't sure if he could still trust them, taking into account that it was central forty-six and not himself that had banished them, and he hoped Ichigo wouldn't turn against the soul society based on what they might tell him.

"This is a most unusual development," said Yamamoto, not indicating any sort of emotion in his tone. "I hope Kurosaki has an exit strategy in case he doesn't find what he is looking for, though it was probably a wise decision to ask the experts when it came to his inner hollow."

"Are you worried that he might turn against us?"

"No…or at least not based on what I know of him. Besides being close to you, Kurosaki understands the need for soul reapers. He would also realize that all roads lead to Aizen."

"Pardon?" Soi Fong didn't know what had caused the Vizards to leave the soul society and couldn't follow what he was saying.

"I suppose you don't know then. We've uncovered information about Aizen's behavior when he was still a lieutenant. He had used his zanpakuto to deceive all of us, and conducted experiments with hollows. Those studies culminated in the Vizards, who used to be soul reaper captains and lieutenants at the time. They were able to escape, along with Kisuke Urahara, who had mistakenly been charged responsible for the experiments. Your master, Yoruichi helped them escape."

Soi Fong's eyes widened as she pieced everything together. "So that's why she left!"

Yamamoto nodded. "The sad part is that none of this became known until after Aizen's defection. Before that, we thought that it was a closed case. We're still not sure how deep Aizen's treachery goes, and I'm sure that if Ichigo knows the full story, he will not change his position. If anything, it will increase his drive to defeat Aizen."

Soi Fong nodded, deciding to wrap up her conversation here. "That is all I have to report."

"Very well, dismissed."

The meeting ended, and Soi Fong went back to her usual routine as a captain, though she was noticeably nicer about it. However, Omaeda didn't enjoy any of it, partly because he knew the cause, and partly because it didn't apply to him. She was still as harsh as always, as far as he was concerned.

As time passed, Soi Fong received news of an espada attack on Karakura town, and was relieved when she found out that they were successfully repelled. However, what concerned her was the fact that Orihime had been captured. The entire attack was a diversion to get attention away from her.

Soi Fong knew that Ichigo would plan a rescue mission to bring her back, and that his friends, Uryu, and Chad, would be there with him. She hoped that the head captain would let her got to Earth to help Ichigo.

"Please head captain," said Soi Fong. "Ichigo will try to get into Hueco Mundo on his own to rescue his friend. They'll need me there to help them."

The old man sighed. "I suppose there's no choice. Though there's a reason I called back Captain Hitsugaya's group. We cannot allow too many soul reapers to be off on missions. We need to be ready to anticipate and counter Aizen's moves."

"What do you have planned?"

"I've ordered Urahara to build a Garganta; one that will allow captain level soul reapers to cross over into Hueco Mundo. He said it would be ready soon, so I suppose that is how Kurosaki and his friends plan on getting in. His group will not be strong enough to defeat the espada on their own, so you should get down there as soon as possible. He will probably be impatient about entering the Garganta."

"I'll hurry, and thank you." After exiting the captain's room, she broke into a run. She was in a hurry to get to the living world so she could catch Ichigo before he left for Hueco Mundo.

Ichigo paced around Urahara's shop, anxious to spring into action. Chad was waiting with him, and Uryu was on his way. Urahara said that they would be able to leave once everyone was there, but Ichigo wasn't the most patient person when lives hung in the balance.

"Damn it! Why's this taking so long?"

"Urahara said that Uryu is not allowed to talk to soul reapers anymore. His father forbade it," said Chad.

"Yeah, but how hard could sneaking away from him be? He's probably busy at his hospital."

"We should be patient," replied Chad. "They'll come."

Ichigo was about to continue pacing, when Yoruichi entered the training area. She had a broad grin, telling Ichigo that there was some good news. "You'll want to go upstairs Ichigo. There's a surprise waiting for you."

"Huh?" Ichigo decided not to question her, since he had nothing better to do while waiting for Urahara and Uryu to arrive. He walked past his former master and climbed up the stairs to the ground floor. Once there, he went to the shop's main entrance, freezing as his eyes landed on the person standing in the doorway. She looked over at him and smiled.

"Hello Ichigo. Look's like we got to meet up after all." She began walking over to him, smiling at his surprised expression.

For Ichigo this was a pleasant surprise and he quickly made his way over to her and enveloped her in a hug. "I missed you Soi Fong."

"And I missed you two," replied the captain, returning the hug in the process. "How did your training go?"

"I did it. I was able to beat back my hollow, and now I can gain control of its powers."

"Did the Vizards try to stop you from coming here?"

"Nah, they were neutral about this whole situation. They just let me go." He pulled back to get another look at her. "How about you? I hope your lieutenant isn't too much of a pain."

"He's just a nuisance sometimes, but it doesn't really bother me anymore. He knows his place and is usually behaved, though I do catch him slacking off now and then."

Ichigo chuckled, which was something he hadn't done in a long time. "So how did you manage to come here again?"

"I heard about what happened to your friend, Orihime. The head captain knew you would go after her in Urahara's Garganta, and he said I should come here and go with you."

"That's great," replied Ichigo as he gave her one of his rare, sweet smiles. "It'll be great having you with us. There's no way those espada will stand a chance against us."

She wagged her finger at him playfully. "We mustn't get cocky." However, she quickly moved out of Ichigo's grasp as Urahara appeared with Uryu. Ichigo, off course, understood why.

The former captain looked surprised to see her. "Well, captain Soi Fong, I didn't know you were coming. So what brings you here?"

"I'm here to help Ichigo rescue his friend. The head captain sent me."

"Oh…that's shocking…well I guess we should get started then." He turned to Ichigo with a smirk. "I'm sure you've been raring to go."

They went back down into the training area, and Urahara fired up the Garganta. After saying goodbye to Yoruichi and Urahara, their rescue mission began. Uryu, and Chad leapt into it first, followed by Ichigo and Soi Fong.

Ichigo knew that they were entering a place that even a soul reaper captain would have trouble surviving, in. He was truly grateful that Soi Fong had decided to come; he could tell that she had asked Yamamoto to send her here.

"Thank you," said Ichigo.

"For what?" asked Soi Fong.

"Everything. Thanks for helping me train, and coming here to help me. I trust you, and I'm glad that you've supported me."

"That means a lot," replied Soi Fong as she ad Ichigo held hands. "You've made me feel happy, and loved. From now on, we can fight together."

Ichigo looked like the happiest man on Earth. He wouldn't have cared if everyone he had ever known was listening and laughing at him, though he was still grateful that Uryu and Chad were too far ahead to hear them.

As they progressed through the Garganta towards Hueco Mundo, Ichigo felt a wave of confidence that no amount of powering up could've given him. From now on, he and Soi Fong would fight together, and they would be stronger together than alone.

Soi Fong felt inner warmth inside her as she held Ichigo's hand. He was there for her in a way the Yoruichi never was. Though she didn't hold a grudge against her old master for leaving so suddenly, she still didn't like being left behind and in the dark. However, before he left, Ichigo had told her where and why he was going and promised that they would see each other again, and here they were now.

They were both in need of a companion they could count on, and they ended up finding one in an unexpected way. As they reached the end of the Garganta, they felt confident and ready to take on even Aizen himself. They both silently vowed to make it through this. They will survive.

I hope this chapter was long enough. For the ending I wanted to set up the fact that they would fight as one from now on, or something along those lines. I don't really feel like moving farther into the plot, so I thought it would be good to end it just as they're going into Hueco Mundo, and leave the rest up to the reader.