Based on manga chapter 349. Ishida's POV.

It doesn't hurt.

That's what you keep telling yourself as your fingernails claw the strange surface of the dome to keep from flying back any further from the blow, and you steady yourself on one knee and only one hand. Your chest is pounding, and you can barely see for the sweat streaming down your face, but it doesn't hurt, not really, because the shock of your left hand not being there is so overwhelming that it doesn't seem quite real.

But you know it is. You saw it happen, snatched off by the demon Espada's wicked tail, so there's no need to look now, even if your left arm is swaying, the phantom of your hand trying to reach for a Seele Schneider. You're already dizzy with blood loss when you hear Inoue-san call your name. The horror in her fraying voice hits you harder than the blow that snapped off your wrist, and even though the pain is trying to crush you now, you shove it back and tell her not to worry, to heal Kurosaki, because even if you don't want to admit it, you know – you've known since the day he fought the Menos – that he's the strongest. He's the only one who's got a chance against this monster.

You don't look at what's left of your bloody arm. You don't look at Inoue-san even though you want to, and you don't dare look at Kurosaki because you can't bear to see that hole blown clear through his body – no heart, no lungs, no spine – and worse, you don't want to see his face, blank, unscowling, more vulnerable than you've ever imagined it could be. There isn't time to do any of those things – there isn't even time to say goodbye – as you pull a Seele Schneider from your belt with your right hand and whip it down to activate the blade.

Power surges up your arm, the reishi heating your heart like a furnace, and your legs push you forward into a new attack. Before, you've always kept your distance because that's what archers do, but you can't use your spirit bow any longer. Not with only one hand. You're not an archer now; you're just the only thing standing between your nakama and long-winged darkness, and all you can do is buy them as much time as your failing body will allow.

There's a tiny part of you that could almost laugh at this; a part of you that wishes Kurosaki were awake – alive – enough to see you plunging headlong toward an opponent you cannot beat; the same way Kurosaki has done so many times while you gaped in disbelief and yelled that he was an idiot. In your mind's eye you can picture him, huge sword clutched in both hands, howling as he collides with an impossible enemy, but you don't say a word. The only battle cry you have is the sound of Inoue-san screaming your name as you charge the Fourth Espada, one slim, blue, soul-sharp blade against black wings, black tail and the impenetrable armor of those grave-cold turquoise eyes.