Author notes:

Version 1.3 of chapter 1. I've decided to do a rewrite off my earlier chapters. Once those are done I'll continue on chapter 5.

This used to be chapter 1 and 2. But I've joined them together into one chapter.

It was time to train. The daily run of the karate club was a chance for Tatsuki to reflect on everything that had been happening. For a while now she had been aware that strange things were going on, strange things that were centered on her childhood friend, Ichigo. He was able to let his spirit leave his body. This spirit form then used a giant sword to fight all sorts of monsters. And there were others who were in on this secret too. At first she believed she was just imagining things, daydreaming, or something. But not anymore. Now she was sure. Ichigo was involved in something supernatural. Something that he was keeping from her.

About a week ago a new student called Hirako had joined their class. She had had a strange feeling about him from the start and those feelings were confirmed later. Earlier today she had heard him talk with Ichigo about Ichigo's powers and how he'd lose all his friends. Things seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. Ichigo, Orihime, Chad and Ishida had all been acting strangely distant for a while now. Something was wrong. And none of them were willing to tell her what was going on. This frustrated Tatsuki.

She wanted to help them. Ichigo and Orihime more than the others. She had always been there for her friends, she had always tried to help them. Then why now were they keeping everything from her? It made her feel useless and lonely.

A loud bang focused her attention on her present location. At the center of the park, where there had been a large patch of green first, there was now a crater. "Did a meteor hit?" Kiyahawa, one of the other karate club members, asked. Tatsuki instantly knew that is hadn't been a meteor that had struck the ground. It was something far more malicious and dangerous. The other people here started to gather around the crater, curious as to what had been the cause for the small explosion. Tatsuki was the only one who could see two men when the dust lifted.

They were both dressed in white and had strange broken skull masks attached to their heads. One was huge and muscular, while the other had a lean build. Somehow they reminded her of the weird creatures that she had seen Ichigo fight. The large one took in a deep breath and when he did, Tatsuki felt as though the ground disappeared under her feet. Everywhere around her people were falling while their spirits were pulled from their bodies.

Much to her despair the same happened to her club mates. She held out a hand to the first that fell. "Suriu." She said in a shaky voice. The dark haired girl looked to her side as another fell to the ground. It hurt. This power that was pulling at her soul, seeing all her friends die. It hurt. In the end, Tatsuki also hit the ground, unable to keep her eyes open. She opened her eyes later. She didn't know how much time had passed, but it could not have been more than a minute.

The world was spinning around Tatsuki and she had the taste of acid in her mouth. Using her left arm she managed to push her upper body up from the ground. Even this simple task was almost impossible to perform, it felt as though the air itself weighed down on her. "Wh… what happened here?" Nobody else was moving. Had everyone except her died? If she could she would have cried.

Suddenly the larger of the two white dressed men was standing right in front of her. For some reason, she couldn't look away from him. Maybe it was due to his unusual size, but deep down she knew there was another reason her eyes were locked. Her mind was still trying to figure out why the giant had suddenly teleported here. As the giant started to speak she couldn't quite make out his words. She did however realize that this man was going to kill her. And that he was also the one who had killed all her club mates and everyone else her in the park.

At this point Tatsuki's body started to give in entirely. Everything faded into nothingness. First her vision, then the touch of the grass she was laying on and finally even the bad taste in her mouth. It was as though all her senses had stopped working. Even in this state she could somehow sense Orihime and Chad. She was aware that they were here.

'Orihime. Why had she come to such a dangerous place? Was she here to rescue me?' Slowly she felt herself slip out of consciousness. 'No, I don't want this. I don't want all off you to get hurt because off me. I don't want this. I don't…. No!'

"Reject!" Orihime shouted as she fired Tsubaki. For once she wanted to be the one to protect everyone. She wanted to save Tatsuki and Chad and help Ichigo. But all those hopes were shattered a second later. Yami merely caught Tsubaki and crushed him easily in his hand. "What is this? A fly?" The bully asked.

Yami, the giant man had broken first Chad's arm then her Saten Kusshen and now even Tsubaki. It slowly dawned on her that there was nothing she could do to protect them. Chad and Tatsuki, she had desperately wanted to keep them safe. For once she wanted to be the strong one. But in the end, she wasn't able to do anything alone. She had failed. "Tsubaki-kun. How?" She whimpered as Yami loomed over her.

"What should I do Uluqiorra? This one knows some strange tricks. Should I tear off her limbs and bring the rest back to Aizen-san?"

Ichigo. She found herself wishing that he was here to save her. Knowing that she wanted to be saved frustrated her. Was this all she was good for? Could she only pray for Ichigo to show up and save her? She was distraught and felt humbled. Back when she was little she had been saved by Tatsuki dozens off times. And now that she wanted to return the favor all she could do was hope that Ichigo would come to save her life.

An emotionless voice returned her to her cruel reality. "That's not necessary. Kill her Yami." Uluqiorra answered uninterested.

"Ok then!" Yami replied excited, bringing his hand down to crush Orihime. His hand never struck Orihime, for his punch was blocked at the last moment. The Arrancar looked surprised when he looked down to see the black haired girl that had been on the ground before. Her fist had somehow managed to stop his hand from reaching Inoue. But this amazing act only seemed to be a fluke. Tatsuki looked like she was about to die on the spot, her expression blank and her body possibly moving on instinct.

Orihime watched Tatsuki, shocked that her friend was even able to move. "Tatsuki." She whispered as Yami pulled his hand back and grinned even wider. "Tatsuki what are you doing!" The redhead was in a panic, she and Chad didn't have the strength to beat this creature so Tatsuki shouldn't even stand a chance. Inoue was reminded off all the times the dark haired girl had been there to save her. How she'd scare away the bullies every time. But this time there was nothing Tatsuki could do. She shouldn't have come to save her.

"I don't know. My body just moved by itself." Tatsuki's weak response came.

"Your soul probably tastes better than those other ones." Yami stated as he prepared to take in another deep breath.

"Tatsuki!" Orihime shouted in panic as the martial artist struggled to stay on her feet.

"Sorry, Orihime." This time Tatsuki couldn't manage to keep her spirit within her body. Her body let out a gasp before her presence slipped out of her body. Her eyes went blank and she sank to her knees. 'What a stupid way to die. This was just disappointing.' She'd think to herself. 'Ichigo and Orhime, they both still needed her. Leaving them now, this all felt wrong.'

Tatsuki's face hit the ground and Yami raised his right leg up intend on crushing her body next. This time it was a young man with red hair to stop his attack. His sword pushing Yami's foot back.

Orihime stared at Ichigo's back and she could feel his rage. "Kurosaki-kun." She said.

"I'm sorry I was too late." Ichigo answered, a bitter tone to his words.

Orihime glanced over to Tatsuki's motionless body and then back to Ichigo. "No. I'm the one who is sorry. I…I.." Tears started welling up in Orihime's eyes. "Ta… Tatsuki."

Ichigo wasn't sure he was willing to believe Tatsuki was really gone. He had kept on telling himself that everything would turn out alright. If she was really de... He couldn't even think about it without feeling his stomach turning upside down. There had to be a way to fix this, a way to put things right.

He glared at Yami who appeared to find all of this slightly amusing. "Don't worry Inoue. I'll fix this. But first... I need to deal with these two." He gripped his sword with both hands and called forth his reiatsu. "BAN KAI" He shouted as his reiatsu exploded up into the air. The wind rushed past him as he found himself engulfed by his own energy, the vortex did not last long and soon it calmed down. These two were going to pay. "Inoue." He spoke in a level tone. "Take Tatsuki and leave." It was an order, not a request. "Ok." Came a soft weak reply from Orihime.

Meanwhile Yami found himself wondering whether they had finally located their target. He scratched his head as he inspected the orange haired kid. "Did he say bankai? Hey Ulquiorra... is this the guy?"

Ulquiorra sighed softly before he responded. "Yeah. It's amazing how your senseless ruckus lured him out so effortlessly. The orange hair and the black bankai. Yes, he is our target Yami."

Now that Inoue had moved back, he could focus entirely on these two. He would have to keep the big one alive, he could be the key to saving Tatsuki's life. But that didn't mean that he couldn't make him regret ever hurting any of his friends. "LUCKY!" Yami shouted as he came at Ichigo, one fist ready to launch a punch. "I've saved us the time to track you down!"

The Shinigami pulled up his sword and simply blocked the punch with his sword, the stone under his feet crumbling due to the force of Yami's strike. This was enough to give the giant pause as his eyes widened in shock. "You're going to give me back the soul you just ate." Ichigo said. "But first. Since you're the one who ripped off Chad's arm. I'm going to take your right arm too."

He leaped forward and flipped over Yami making a lightning fast attack against Yami's right arm. The arm went right off and fell to the ground, leaving the Arrancar in shock. This time even Ulquiorra was impressed.

Ichigo landed on his feet and charged the large man again. He made two quick strikes at Yami's left shoulder, cutting deep into the Arrancar. Deep enough to injure him severely, but not deep enough to actually kill him. Yami appeared to be out of breath and it looked as though he wouldn't offer much more of a challenge. "Now. Give me back Tatsuki's spirit. Or with my next attack I really will finish this." Ichigo warned, pointing his sword at Yami.

"Damn you. You little shit!" Yami shouted back. Ulquiorra smiled lightly and asked Yami if he wanted to switch with him. This angered the large Arrancar even more and he screamed out with rage. "SHUT UP!"

Ichigo took a step forward, not yet impressed.. "Now give her back. This is your last chance." Yami grinned before he laughed.

" Give her back? Even if I could, I wouldn't. Your friend is dead. And soon you'll join her." Yami grabbed his soulcutter, ready to draw his weapon. But Ichigo was more in shock about what Yami had said. Was Tatsuki really gone? Was there nothing he could do to save her? Damn it. There had to be a way!

Ichigo watched Yami draw his weapon, slowly the realization dawned on him that he had lost her. He felt despair, he felt utterly beaten. It became worse when Ichigo noticed how much these two were like Hirako, how much these two were like himself. Hirako's story about how he would end up hurting the people around him, it all seemed to be coming true. A shock went through his body as he felt his hollow self start to feed on his negative emotions.

This was the worst possible time. If nothing was done, he was going to lose her forever. ' Go away! Listen to what I want! I need to save her!' He was screaming inside his mind as Yami approached him. Ichigo was unable to defend against the giant as he brought his leg down on him and floored the substitute Shinigami. Blood spilled from his mouth, he couldn't even strengthen his muscles against the blow anymore. In just a few seconds, Ichigo had lost all his strength.

"Kurosaki-kun!" Inoue shouted as she came running to help him.

No, not anymore. I don't want to lose anyone else. "Stay away!" Ichigo shouted in desperation only to see her being swat away. "Inoue!" He screamed before he was struck down by Yami again. The giant kept pummeling down on him and all the while, the orange haired boy did nothing but take the punishment. He felt beaten. With Tatsuki dead he just couldn't find the same strength that he had before.

He knew that if he didn't stop Yami, he would also end up losing Chad and Inoue. But there was nothing he could do as long as the hollow inside him was resisting him. "It's over little shit! I'm going to crush you into a bloody pulp!" Yami finally shouted. Ichigo only looked up slightly. At this point he wasn't sure he even cared anymore. He couldn't take all of this. If only he could have saved them.

Just as Yami was about to deliver the final attack, Urahara appeared to block the attack. Yuroichi appeared shortly after. Yami wasn't able to do too much against Urahara and Yuroichi and the two easily fought him back. While they were fighting, Ichigo watched, a dull look in his eyes. He had never felt this bad since his mother had died. He felt hurt, weak and broken. All he did was replay his steps through his mind. What could he have done to be here just a few minutes earlier. A few minutes had been all he would have needed to save everyone.

As the fight drew to an end, Yami was fought back and Ulquiorra stepped in to sound the retreat. They cut a tear into the very air, creating a path for them to return to Hueco Mundo.

Ichigo realized that if Yami left, he'd lose Tatsuki forever. "No!" Ichigo shouted, finally pushing back to his feet. "Urahara-san. They've taken Tatsuki. You can't let them go. Stop them, please." All he could do was beg the shopkeeper. At this point he couldn't fight himself. Urahara merely tipped his hat down as the two Arrancar stepped through the tear, unopposed by either him or Yoruchi.

Ichigo stared at Urahara as he stood there. "Damn it!" Ichigo turned and ran towards the tear himself. But after a few steps one of his knees gave way and he fell down.

As the portal closed he could hear Ulquirro speak. "My mission here is over. I will report to captain Aizen that the 'fake' Shinigami he is so interested in... is just a piece of trash. Unworthy of his attention." Ichigo lowered his head and gritted his teeth, his fingers dinging into the ground as tears started to mix with the blood that covered his face.

Time passed. After the events of that day Urahara had taken care of all of them and had their wounds treated. But the mental scars off having lost Tatsuki were far deeper. The shopkeeper tried to reassure them that there was still hope. "Everyone else died when Yami consumed their reiatsu. But Tatsuki's body is still very much alive. This means that somehow her spirit has not been destroyed. As long as that hasn't happened we might still be able to rescue her. I'll work night and day to figure things out. Just be patient for now."

Ichigo had dragged himself back to school after this. But his mind wasn't on school at all. He was thinking about Chad, Ionue and Tatsuki. It wasn't until some old friends from Soul Society showed up that his spirits would begin to lift. One person in partciular was able to get him back to normal. Rukia.