Disclaimer – I do not own Bleach. The fanfic contains spoilers for Manga chapters 354 and 355. Don't take what I write as fact as much of it is conjecture that has been bouncing back and forth in my mind and I couldn't get out.

Irony of Isshin

The child prodigy knew better then to judge someone's power by their outward look or lack of change in their outward appearance. However, as pain suddenly and quite unexpectedly seared through the right side of his body, traveling from his shoulder blade to his hip, Hitsugaya Toshiro felt as if he had possibly misjudged his own ability. He could also feel the blood in his body attempting to rush out all at once.

The female Espada's words about his level of ability also stung, as it seemed like she had really been playing with him this whole time. Briefly the thought flashed through his mind about how he had possibly ever come to be a Captain in the first place, or how he could have ever in any possibility protect those whom he cared most about.

Halibel watched as the boys Bankai shattered, partially due to the fact that he had just been separated from his zanpaktou, which had gone flying with his severed right arm. She looked into his eyes carefully, not sure if what she saw was just from the shock of the sudden attack, or if there was actually fear in the young captain's eyes.

Toshiro felt his body suddenly begin to plummet, as he lost control of his reiatsu. Snow began to fall haphazardly around him as his body rushed to the ground below. The air rushed by him, stinging his whole body, but expesully the part where his insides were exposed. He knew, or at least thought he knew, that he was going to die.

His eyes went even more wide as he saw Halibel raise her hand to take aim at him with cero to finish him off. As he saw the blast go off, he closed his eyes and braced for the pain he would feel when the blast hit him, or the ground did, whichever came first.

However, neither of these things came. Instead, he heard the sound of the cero being split apart and felt someone suddenly pressing him close to their body, their right arm wrapped around his chest and unfortunately where his own right arm used to be. This caused him to hiss in pain.

"I'm sorry little one, I didn't mean to hurt you further," came a warm, somehow familiar voice of an adult male. The other arm carefully went under his legs around the knees so that the other arm could easily readjust so that it ran down his spine to support him. "Is that a bit better Shiro-chan?"

This caused Toshiro's eyes to shoot open to look up at the face with a grizzled beard and a very warm smile. "Taicho… Isshin Taicho?"

"Shush… conserve your strength, you'll need too," the man suddenly smirked. "Didn't I tell you before its Taicho or Isshin, not both Shiro-chan? Or you could call me otoosan; I wouldn't mind that one at all. And since I'm not a captain any more…"

"Baka, Taicho, baka," Toshiro wished to say something about how he would never call the old man that, but didn't feel like saying this at this point, nor was there really time for such things.

"I don't like being ignored," the female Espada commented, frowning at the two.

"Deal with it for a bit," Isshin stated as he set the small boy down close to where his severed right arm and sword had fallen.

"I don't think…" the woman started, but found herself interrupted by Isshin.

"He may have been my former subordinate, but it is still my job to take care of him. You will wait until I finish here." Isshin commented, causing the Espada to allow him to do what he planned on doing. She also found that she was curious as to what he was trying to accomplish. Isshin then placed a Kido barrier around the boy to protect him. "Hold out until I get back and I'll treat you to natto and watermelon."

"As if you could keep your promises," Toshiro thought to himself, turning away from looking the man in the face. However, this caused him to see his arm, which in turn made him feel like gagging. When he turned back, finding that the former captain had leapt into the air, to confront the Espada.

"Are you angry that I harmed the child?" the woman asked.

"Are you thinking that my skill will drop because of that?" Isshin commented, a smile on his face. He pulled out his sword, allowing for the two of them to come to blow with their swords. She then pulled back to release the same attack that she had launched at Toshiro, however found Isshin's sword going through her neck. "Apologies, but this is your last battle."

Isshin then landed a few feet away from the Kido barrier, and then moved his way inside. The white haired boy had become paler then he usually did. Isshin shook his head, not at all happy with the situation. "I am sorry I didn't arrive a few minutes earlier."

Toshiro then watched as the goat bearded man gently picked up his right arm and maneuvered it so it was right next to the boy's body, again causing the boy to want to throw up. He knelt down next to the boy, speaking up as he attempted Kido on the boy. "I don't know if I'll be able to save your arm. Hell, I don't know if I'll be able to save your life."

"It's all right," the words came from lips greatly pained. "Just don't let me die alone."

"Look, I am going to do my best so that you can live," Isshin sighed. "I also promise I won't leave you alone again… not like before."

"My body feels cold and numb," escaped suddenly from the boy's lips, which were beginning to turn blue. His left hand reached up and grabbed the front of the former captain's shingami uniform.

"That coming from you is saying something," Isshin muttered, his voice sad and his eyes closing for a few seconds, trying to concentrate on his Kido. When he opened them, he found that the boy's eyes had glazed over. His chest stopped moving. Isshin carefully closed the boy's eyelids and then gently brushed some of the hair away from the boys face. "Sayonara, Hitsugaya Toshiro. Always be one of my little ones, even though you hated me saying that."

Carefully and gently, Isshin crossed the small arms across the boy's chest as best as he could with the one arm detached the way it was. A sigh escaped his lips as he did so, as one equivalent to Karin and Yuzu's age shouldn't have to die in wars like this, but having been a shingami for a long time, he knew things like this happened even in the living world.

He then unclasped his haori from the metal ornament on his left shoulder, spreading it carefully over the small form, covering it completely. A huge cross, the number ten, could be momentarily be seen. However, blood soaked into the white cloth, partially obscuring the symbol from view.

Isshin then went and picked up Hyorinmaru, carefully carrying the sword over and lying it over the boy's body, helping to further obscure the symbol from view. The hilt was towards Toshiro's head. After completing this, he went near by and sat down, pulling out a box of cigarettes.

"Well, Shiro-chan, I'm keeping my promise and not leaving you alone here. I hope you don't mind, but I have the habit of smoking now only on the anniversary of my wife's death. I remember how much this annoyed you when you were my lieutenant."

"You're probably wondering why I never came back twenty years ago. Let's just say I had some problems with Aizen and had no way of coming back, no way of saying goodbye, apologizing for not being able to tell any of you. That whole matter is the one thing I actually regretted about not being a shingami any more since twenty years ago."

"I married someone here. Well, obviously because I just told you about my wife's death. I didn't talk much about the past and she tended not to ask much about things after I dropped them. But you…. you little one, she couldn't help but ask about. One might say it was always in her nature to be a mother type."

"You would have loved her too, perhaps not appreciate any attention she might have given you. However, she might have gotten you to actually open up some, even get you to admit you liked her, she was that kind of person. She would have also welcomed you with open arms and open heart too. I always had wished you two could possibly meet."

"Masaki… isn't it ironic? I couldn't save you with my powers gone, I couldn't save someone else with my powers back," Isshin sighed, letting out a puff of smoke. His mind traveled to the different fluctuating spirit energy around him. At first he felt Hinamori and Matsumoto to be faint in comparison to what he knew them to be, then he felt them suddenly regaining strength.

He blew another puff of smoke as he felt the movement of people towards him. He also knew that if they got close, one of them would end up mentally breaking if she tried to pull. With that, he tossed his cigarette butt onto the ground, grinding the butt in with the soul of his sandal. As a certain one got close, he intercepted the one that he needed to while the another stopped still shock on her face.

"Ran-chan, I'm glad to…" Isshin suddenly found Matsumoto's fist coming in contact with his face, knocking him backward, allowing Hinamori to get out of his grip. Isshin quickly moved, grabbing her again. "I'm sorry Momo-chan, but you can't see him."

"We came to help Hitsugaya-kun," Hinamori sobbed. "It is none of your concern as you left so long ago. I won't forgive you for leaving him like that."

"Matsumoto… please don't let her see him," Isshin commented, his face stern. Matsumoto's eyes suddenly found the cloth covered form and shunpooed over, her hand reaching to pull off the cloth, sadness written all over her face. "It might be best not to see that."

"I need to know," Matsumoto mouthed, though she had to turn away as she moved the cloth from the body. "I see you attempted to perform healing Kido."

"What do you mean by try?" Hinamori's eyes suddenly went wide and she went and tried to struggle with the older man. "Toshiro-kun… Shiro-chan!"

"Otoosan?" came another voice as Ichigo appeared on the scene, having followed the two female shingami with Orihime on his back.

"Momo-chan? What's wrong?" Orihime asked right as she got off the orange haired teens back.

"Please… heal Shiro-chan like you healed us… please…" the fifth division lieutenant sobbed out, Matsumoto suddenly grabbing her tight, grabbing her from the former captain as she shunpooed away from the body, as Ichigo suddenly punched Isshin in the face.

"Otoosan, you have a lot to explain!" Ichigo narrowed his eyes at the man.

"Momo-chan… please don't get your hopes up," Matsumoto commented, her eyes filled with sadness, burring the other lieutenant's face into her chest. It was around that time that Ichigo caught sight of a cigarette on the ground.

"You were smoking again, weren't you?" Ichigo commented.

Orihime meanwhile lifted the cloth off of the body slowly. "Poor Toshiro-kun. I'll try my best."

She carefully moved the cloth away so that she could focus, then shouted out loud. "Soten Kisshun, I reject!"

Isshin watched as Ayame and Shuno formed from the clips in her hair. A small shield formed around.

"Aren't you going to…" Ichigo though stopped pestering his father about answering his questions. "Toshiro…"

"Now isn't the time to answer your questions Ichigo," Isshin commented. "You need to go and help some others who really need help."

"What about you?" Ichigo asked.

"I made a promise I wouldn't leave him alone," the man sighed. "I am going to keep that promise."

Ichigo nodded his head, then disappeared. Hinamori pulled away from Matsumoto, collapsing to her knees. "Do you think that your promise means anything? After you disappeared twenty years ago!"

Matsumoto meanwhile stood in Momo's line of site of Toshiro. A bit of time passed, then they heard Orihime speak up, dejection in her voice, not to mention also a tone of lecturing. "Toshiro-kun, don't move! You aren't healed yet!"

"Shiro-chan!" Momo suddenly broke from her kneeling position, still sobbing hard and fast. She in turn hugged the small form close to her body.

"Hinamori-san, I can't breath," Toshiro commented weakly, his whole body still cold.

"Otouto, otouto, otouto," she muttered into his white hair as she held him tight. His eyes suddenly caught sight of the bloody haori. He suddenly stood up, picking the cloak up from the ground, Momo still holding onto him tightly. His cheeks flushed pink from the attention she was giving him, more so then usual due to his extra paleness. His cheeks were also pink to standing up when he wasn't quite ready, his body shaking as he stood.

"Inoue-san, would you please return this to its normal state?" he suddenly asked.

Orihime nodded her head, a smile on her face. Her two little friends came out and went to work. When she finished, Toshiro pushed Hinamori's hand off. Momo gave him a concerned look, but he shook his head. "This is between me and him bed wetter Momo."

"Oi… you still use that name for your sister?" Isshin suddenly commented, only to receive a glare from the white haired youth as he walked over to the man. He then held the cloak up to the man.

"Taicho…" he stared, pausing for a bit. "Truth be told, I hate you and I am mad at you for many things. However, I also don't hate you and I'm in some ways not mad at you."

Isshin carefully moved the cloak from the boy's hands and placed it back into the original position. He then switched to his other personality and went to hug Toshiro, "My son forgives me!"

This caused Toshiro to bring up one of his knees, anger flaring in his eyes. He made contact with Isshin's stomach. His eyes then went wide, "shit."

Matsumoto shook her head as Isshin hugged the young Taicho closely in his arms, his head buried in his grip. Two hands were pushing on his chest and a muffled sound came forth. The tenth division lieutenant suddenly brought her hand into Isshin's face. "Taicho might have misjudged his aim due to the fact he's grown a bit since he's seen you, however, I have not."

"Ahh…" Isshin commented. "I had better go and see if I can be of any help. I believe that it is getting close to the time to fight those three."

"I…" the young captain spoke up, only to have a hand placed on his head by the man.

"Stay… you're injuries still need to be healed. Keep Orihime safe and make it so that she can get to any others that need healing,"

Toshiro didn't answer as he looked away. When he looked back, Isshin was gone. He then went and sat down so that Orihime could finish. Momo had a look filled with anger, so he spoke up. "It's all right Hinamori. This is between him and me. Plus, he owes me natto and watermelon, so he'll be back."

"I don't want him to come back," Hinamori muttered.

Author's note – I figure… Isshin had to get practice embarrassing his children somewhere. Keep in mind, this is written before Isshin's former captainship is revealed and many people have differing opinions of which division he was captain. I'm leaning towards tenth. One of the ones not possible… fifth division. I also know this will be AU, but I couldn't get this out of my head.

4/30/09 - There is nothing wrong with bringing characters back to life, so long as it is feasible in the storyline. Uliqui-chan got killed off two chapters ago, so assume Isshin had some time to smoke that cigarette of his, giving time for Orihime and Itchigo to get to the others and then to Toshiro.