Authors Notes: Just a little what-if scenario where the fate of many will be decided by the actions of the few.
Disclaimer: Bleach and all characters pertaining to it are the property of Tite Kubo.
Blood. There's so much of it, sheeting from her broken body. No, this can't be real. No way. She's too strong for this to be real. It's impossible. Her breath comes in ragged gasps, more blood gushing from the gaping wounds. Only her spine keeps her whole; she's all but torn in half. Her eyelids flutter; she's beginning to lose the fight for life. He raises her face to his, peppering her lips with small, short kisses; each one bringing them to the very last. He traces her face with his fingers; familiar yet disturbingly different.
"I-chi-go," she gasps, barely above a whisper.
"Shh, don't talk, conserve your strength." God, he's scared. Why in the name of all that's good didn't he learn how to use Kidō to heal? Hell, one of his best friends is one of the best healers in the whole of Seireitei. "You can't leave me, not now. Not when it took us so long to find each other." She smiles, forcing her destroyed body to obey her will.
"Be strong...Ichi-go, my only...love. I will alw..."
His eyes open wide. No, NO! She's not gone; he won't accept it.
"Orihime?" No response. He shakes her forcefully. "Orihime, please..." His thoughts blaze back to the past; to their wedding, the Shun Shun Rikka flitting over their heads; Shunô, Ayame and Lily holding her train; to days spent just sitting together, her head resting against his chest; his arms around her waist.
A tear fell from his nose, caught on her eyelash and fell down her cheek as though she herself were grieving.
"ORIHIME! PLEASE...SAVE RUKIA!"
Rukia, the love of his life lay dead before him, devastating injuries all over her form. Ichigo held her hand in his, kissing her again and again willing her to wake.
"Please, come back. Come back. I can't live without you..."
"Then don't." A sharp voice from behind him. He could feel their spiritual pressures; Orihime and Uryû. His hope rising, he turned to her...to find himself facing the pulsing blue reiatsu of Uryû's arrow.
"What, what the hell is this? Rukia is...you need to..."
"We know all about Rukia, Ichigo," sneered Orihime, uncontained glee in her voice.
"After all," stated Uryû, "This was all part of our design."
"What are you two babbling about?" Ichigo challenged. "Please Orihime, bring her back...bring Rukia back to me."
"Sure," Orihime giggled, "Why not?" She raised her hand and prepared to release her Shun Shun Rikka. "Tsubaki, Koten Zanshun, watashi wa kyozetsu suru!" she called shrilly, her eyes wild, her murderous intent evident. The Lone-God Slicing Shield raced toward Ichigo faster than he could block it and his sword arm was cleaved aside.
"How is it, Kurosaki?" Orihime imitated the haughty manner of the Quincy. "Does it hurt? Are you in pain?" Her voice fluctuates rapidly, as though she is unsure what tone of voice a homicidal maniac would adopt when revealing their master-plan.
How could Ichigo be in physical pain? His heart had just died; what was the loss of an arm compared to the loss of his soulmate?
"You know Orihime," Uryû smiled, "Perhaps we should allow Kurosaki to rejoin his precious Rukia. Then again..." With that, he turned his sights upon Rukia's corpse, a twisted and wicked grin on his face.
"NO!" Ichigo screamed.
WHOOSH! The Quincy arrow pierced Rukia, disintegrating her soul.
Ichigo watched helplessly as the soul of his best friend, his only love vanished in a blast of light, lost forever. His teeth ground against each other, his rage was beyond anything he had ever felt. They took Rukia away, I'll kill them...I'm going to kill them! "I'M GOING TO DESTROY BOTH OF YOU!" He flash-stepped toward Uryû, intending to rip out his throat. Revenge will be mine!
"Santen Ketsuhun, watashi wa kyozetsu suru!" The Three-God Shield formed its perfect defensive wall around Uryû preventing Ichigo any further progress.
"You'd dare stop me? You'll fall along with him!" Ichigo changed direction and started rushing toward Orihime, death and despair chasing his every flash-step.
"KUROSAKI!" Uryû had his arms outstretched. In both hands he held the same object.
Two Quincy Crosses?
Uryû slapped a skewed grin on his face he pressed both Quincy Crosses together resulting in an explosive outburst of reiatsu.
What the hell kind of power have you gained Uryû?
His bow was now a perfect circle which contained smaller circles, 15 in all leading back to Uryû's arm. Branches extended from the outermost circle at regular intervals with smaller branches extending from them, tapering to a point at the end of each.
"Behold, the technique I have honed for just this moment, to utterly destroy you, Kurosaki Ichigo! Normally, with two I can fire 2400 arrows simultaneously. With this technique however, I refine all those into one super-powered arrow, which no Shinigami, Hollow, Arrancar or Vaizard can ever hope to survive. Into the abyss, Kurosaki Ichigo!"
WHOOM! The release of the arrow was like a 100 jumbo jets revving their engines simultaneously. Ichigo flash-stepped as fast as he could but the arrow stuck with him. It's like a damned homing missile!
"Give it up Kurosaki." Amusement was written all over the face of the accursed Quincy. "This arrow will follow you to the ends of the earth. It is special, I have made it link with your reiatsu. No matter where you go, no matter how far, no matter how fast, it will catch you and DESTROY YOU!"
No, it can't end like this! I must have vengeance for you...
Even as Ichigo was thinking this, a tunnel of white light appeared before him, and at the end, bathed in the most brilliant light...Rukia...
Perhaps it would be best to be totally destroyed too. Without you, there is no me. We are one and the same. Even should I die normally and be reborn, you never will be. All my lives will be empty and meaningless. Rukia...this way we will be together...and apart...for always...
Showing no fear, Ichigo stood firm in the path of the arrow. As it struck him, he felt his consciousness drift apart, and there...in the distance, his Rukia, smiling beautifully...Come, Ichigo...
KABOOM! A resounding explosion echoed for miles, as Orihime and Uryû stood together behind the Santen Ketsuhun. He took her hand as he used Hirenkyaku to bring them to where Ichigo had fallen. Not a trace of his body remained and his massive reiatsu had instantly dispersed.
"It's over then?" Orihime breathes as she squeezes the hand of the Quincy warrior standing by her side as he always had.
"Yes, it is over. Now that the strongest Shinigami is defeated, the rest will fall with relative ease." He took both of her hands in his, smiled that irresistible smile of his and placed his lips on hers. Just like always, a wildfire of passion exploded between them, both clinging to the other, for to be separated from each other would truly be hell. He pulled back, kissed her sweetly one more time, then...
"By the honour of the Quincy, I vow that the Shinigami will be no more!"