This story is canon up to volume 404 of the manga or episode 300. This is a different take on how things could have ended with Aizen.
It will mainly be a romance story following Ichigo and Orihime (my absolute favorite pairing in any manga!). Let me know what you think of the story. I will be finishing my other work in progress, A Continuing Threat, before I really get into updating this one.
I hope you enjoy this first part of The Pain of Remberance.
Disclaimer for all chapters of this story: I do not own Bleach nor any of its characters. This story, however, is my own work.
Ichigo watched, stunned, as the attack his father, Urahara, and Yoruichi had dealt to Aizen was easily deflected and they were thrown away. Since fusing with the hogyoku, Aizen had become so powerful Ichigo didn't know if they were going to be able to defeat him. It was just as Gin had said, he was scared. He was scared of the power he felt coming from Aizen. Gin had taunted Ichigo mercilessly, urging him to flee and accept the destruction of the town. Ichigo couldn't even find his voice to tell him to back off.
Watching the three former shinigami struggle to get back up only reinforced his helpless feeling. He couldn't even move from his spot and he had no idea where Gin had went to. He told Ichigo he wasn't interested in fighting a weakling and shunpoed away leaving Ichigo to watch the battle with a sort of detached fascination. Yoruichi struck at Aizen again but he countered and threw her into a nearby building. Urahara fired a kido spell at Aizen and rushed over to her side. As she fell Urahara caught her and transported the both of them over to where Ichigo stood. Isshin soon joined them and they watched as the blast from the spell disappeared. Aizen walked out of it now with a white mask covering his face completely. The hogyoku was clearly visible in his chest.
"You're attempts to reach me are pathetic. I am far above your meager levels of resistance. You can't even touch me anymore. Urahara Kisuke, I have mastered the hogyoku which you created and now it bends to my will. I wonder if I should just kill you all now or let you watch as I destroy Karakura town and create the King's Key." Aizen taunted as he hovered above them. "Well, ants are crushed everyday under the feet of those greater than them."
He fired a large burst of energy at them. Ichigo saw Urahara raise Benihime in an attempt to shield them from the impact. His eyes closed on instinct and he was surprised to not have felt anything from the blast. He didn't think Urahara's blood mist shield would have been able to withstand the impact of Aizen's power. He opened his eyes to find himself and the others safe behind a golden barrier.
He whipped his head around to find the owner of that familiar voice. She was running up behind them, her bright auburn hair flying behind her. The white outfit forced upon her in Hueco Mundo still gracing her figure. The top of it was still torn around the shoulders and chest from the beating she had suffered at the hands of the two female arrancar.
"Inoue? What are you doing here?"
As soon as she got to them she called out her Soten Kisshun to heal the four of them. She left her barrier up in front of them in case of another attack but as she looked for Aizen, she saw him standing with his back to them farther away than before. "Kurotsuchi-san was able to open the garganta again and brought us here. When we arrived, Byakuya-san said he couldn't feel Aizen's reiatsu so he opened a senkaimon to Soul Society and Kenpachi-san went with him to search for him. I was helping Unohana-san treat everyone's wounds when I felt your reiatsu. No one is in danger of dying so she told me I could leave to find you."
"Inoue, do you not know how dangerous it is? You shouldn't be here!" Ichigo yelled at her.
She lowered her head at his anger but she wouldn't be sent away, not when they were all wounded. "I'm sorry Kurosaki-kun but I was so worried. I hadn't finished healing you before you left. When Ishida-kun and I got to the others and you had already gone I got so scared. I knew you would still look for Aizen even with only half of your reiatsu."
Ichigo immediately felt horrible for yelling at the gentle woman but this was no place for her right now. With Aizen's level of power he didn't know if he would be able to protect her if he attacked again.
"Wow Orihime-chan. All of my wounds are already closed. Your faster at healing than anyone I've ever seen!" Isshin said.
"Oh! Kurosaki-san." She turned her surprised face to him. She had been so focused on getting to Ichigo that she had only spared his companions a glance. His father had not actually registered in her mind until he had spoken. "You're...a..." she lowered her eyes to take in his shinigami garb. Her brows puckered in confusion for only a moment more before an understanding light shone in her eyes. "Well that makes sense."
Isshin smiled at the gentle woman and let out a small chuckle. "You can roll with the punches well can't you?"
"Like I say women handle things better than men." Yoruichi said.
"Thank you for your assistance Inoue-san. I believe we are all okay now." Urahara said and she called back her powers. The small group stood behind the barrier looking at Aizen.
"What are we gonna do?" Orihime asked. Even to her own ears her voice sounded thick with fear.
"I honestly don't know." Urahara said quietly. "He's fused himself with the hogyoku now. Everything we throw at him is useless."
Orihime turned to look at the former shinigami. His face showed the great tension everyone was feeling. This was so unlike him that it frightened her. Urahara and Yoruichi always had some answer, some plan to follow, that to see them watching Aizen start to walk away with such hopelessness in their eyes brought her face to face with the reality that they may actually lose this fight. But to lose this war would mean...
She turned to look at Ichigo. She could only watch his face for a moment before she had to turn away. Seeing him share the same look as Urahara made her want to weep and this was not the time for it. If she gave into her tears right then she would break and she wouldn't be able to pull herself together for a long time. For the moment, she took all her problems, all of the horrible things that happened in Hueco Mundo, placed them in a box and shoved them far back into her mind. They could be dealt with later.
If there was a later.
This just couldn't be happening. How had things gotten this way? What could they do?
Aizen was powerful before he left Soul Society but he wasn't unstoppable. She was sure that if he didn't have the hogyoku Urahara, Yoruichi, or Ichigo could deal with him. She hadn't seen his father fight but his reiatsu was very powerful and she was sure that was a captain's haori on his shoulder, so he would probably be able to hold his own against Aizen as well. The problem was the hogyoku. Since it was fused with Aizen there was no taking it away from him...right?
Maybe there was a way.
She knew her power was nowhere near the level of the four people standing beside her but what power she did pocess was completely different from what they had. What had Aizen called it?
The power of rejection.
He was right in that aspect. When she 'healed' people all the injuries they possessed, including the injuries made to their clothing, was removed. It was as if nothing had happened. Aizen wasn't injured but if she turned her Soten Kisshun on him...
"Guys, is this possible?" she asked her powers within her mind.
"It is Orihime-san. But I have to warn you, this would be the most dangerous and powerful thing you've ever done. If you aren't sure you can do it, if you aren't absolutely determined to do it, I would tell you to not even attempt it." Shun'o said.
Ayame continued. "Sorry Orihime-san, we don't want to sound rude or disrespectful but concentrate and feel his reiatsu. It's plain to see that the power of the hogyoku has allowed his own powerful reiatsu to bend it and control it as he wants to. Since it has finally been released it would probably try to fight your own power to reject it."
"I can feel it and you're right. But guys, if I don't do this everyone in Karakura is going to die! More than that, if he succeeds in making the King's Key every living thing and every soul would be in danger!" Orihime exclaimed.
"Listen woman we know. It's your decision but know this, you will more than likely die in the process."
Orihime didn't say anything to Tsubaki's revelation. Not surprisingly, it was an easy decision for her to make. When she left the living world with Ulquiorra, she had already accepted her death. She said her goodbyes, even though she wished she could have seen everyone face to face, and walked into that garganta knowing she would never see any of them again. When Ichigo and the others came to rescue her she didn't know what to feel. Her heart had been confused because she had left for them. She had willingly given up everything because she wanted them to be safe. Yet, she was also happy. Knowing they had cared enough to come for her, risk death for her, touched her very soul.
She was so lonely when her brother died. She had no other friends and people tended to bully her. Tatsuki was the first real friend she ever made. After receiving her powers, she became close friends with Ichigo, Sado, and Ishida. The past year had been the happiest one she'd had in four years. If she allowed all of her friends to die because she was afraid of death then she would be the lowest form of coward there was. And all those innocent people...how could she face them in the after life if she didn't do absolutely everything she could.
Her brother raised her to be a loving, kind person and she wasn't about to let him down now. She only wished she could have seen Tatsuki one last time. A single tear made it's way down her cheek as she though of her best friend.
"You're going to do this then?" Shun'o asked.
"Yes. I'm sorry everyone, I realize this will be the end for you as well. I'm truly sorry about that."
"Tch, don't be woman. To go down in battle is every warrior's wish." Tsubaki said.
"Thank you. Thank you so much everyone. Hinagiku, Baigon, Lily, we will have to change the shield a bit. If I don't keep Kurosaki-kun back he's going to try and stop me."
"We can do that Orihime-sama. Whatever you want we can do. Everything depends on the conviction in your soul and right now, I feel like we can do anything." Lily said.
She took a few deep breaths to get herself ready. She had to do this. Everything, literally everything, depended on her rejecting the hogyoku from Aizen's body. Even if she couldn't reject the object completely, if she could remove it from his body than Urahara could seal it again. There really was no reason to think about the things she would never do because she had already been through that. The twelve hours Ulquiorra gave her were spent reminiscing and lamenting her loss.
Well, there was one thing she could do.
She didn't do it before. She had told herself it wasn't right and had given in to her sadness at the last moment. But...this would be it for her. Couldn't she have a single moment of selfishness? She was going to give up her life for everyone else. Even death row inmates got a last request didn't they? Besides, if she didn't have the courage for this how could she stand face to face with Aizen?
She turned to face him and called his name softly. Her face must have betrayed some of her emotions because he looked at her with such confused eyes. Beautiful, golden brown eyes that she would never see again. She walked right up to him, grasped his face softly between her hands, and kissed his lips.
She thought she heard someone behind him gasp but she shut everything out except for the feel of his warm lips on hers. She was surprised he didn't pull away but she figured she must have shocked him badly. She had felt him stiffen the moment her lips touched his but at least he didn't pull away. She kept the kiss chaste and when she pulled back she looked into his impossibly wide eyes and told him directly this time.
"I love you Ichigo."
His eyes widened even further but before he could do anything she quickly stepped back and ordered her santen kesshun to cover them. The normal triangular shield expanded and formed a dome similar to her soten kisshun over the four shinigami. The dome covered them completely, all the way to the ground, and she was satisfied with the results. She turned her back on them so she didn't have to look at the wild expressions they all wore.
"Inoue-san what is this?" Urahara asked
"Orihime-chan, what are you doing?" she heard Kurosaki-san ask.
She didn't answer them. Shun'o and Ayame came to her left side while Tsubaki sat on her right shoulder.
"He's making his move woman. You'd better hurry." Tsubaki told her.
She looked out and saw Aizen opening a senkaimon. He was headed for Soul Society.
"Tsubaki-kun, destroy that please." She knew she no longer needed to recite her chants to activate her powers. She could feel her connection with them and it was stronger than ever. Unbeknownst to her, a soft golden glow covered her entire body. She watched as Tsubaki streaked through the sky and just as Aizen was about to step into the portal, Tsubaki flew through it, destroying the gateway. Aizen turned to look at her and she knew she would have only moments before he approached.
"Inoue what the fuck are you doing? Get out of here now!" She could hear Ichigo banging on her shield.
She kept her eyes on Aizen but spoke over her shoulder to the people behind her. "Urahara-san, if I am not able to destroy the hogyoku when I remove it from Aizen's body please destroy it quickly or at least seal it."
"I...I...understand." he replied. His brain was slowly coming to grips with what was happening. He wanted to stop her. He want to rush out of the barrier she had set up and pull her away from this mess; but he could feel the power radiating from her shield and he knew that even with his most powerful kido spell or attack from his benihime, he wouldn't be able to bring it down. That knowledge was only reinforced by the fact that Ichigo was banging at the shield with all his might but it did not even shake under his assualt. He had told her to stay out of this war because he was afraid for her. She wasn't a fighter and he was worried she would be hurt by her inability to kill someone. He had also feared Aizen would want her powers. Unfortunately, he had been right about that. She had been taken and it was partially his fault. He had his suspicions but he did nothing to help keep her safe. Now she was going to sacrifice herself to save them all. Three powerful former captains were standing under the protective shield of a human girl and they could do nothing.
"I won't be able to kill him so I need you all to be ready to fight him when it's over."
"Inoue, I swear to the kami if you don't lower this shield right fucking now I'll start slashing at it with Zangetsu and if I take off someones limb so be it."
Even though his voice was so angry she couldn't help but smile at his words. He would never purposefully endanger his friends and she knew it. He was beyond mad at her but she also knew it was born out of fear. He might not have a full grasp on her intentions but he could see she was walking into the proverbial lion's den and he wanted her safe and away from there. His concern touched her heart as it always did.
Aizen was slowly walking towards her and she knew she needed to move away form the shield but she had one last thing she needed to say. This time, she couldn't keep the tears out of her voice.
"Would you please tell Tatsuki-chan that I...that I loved her so very much. In my heart she was my sister." with that said she began walking to meet Aizen.
"Inoue! Inoue! Orihime come back here!" Ichigo screamed praying that maybe if he used her given name he could get some kind of reply from her. Just what the fuck did she think she was doing? Did she really think he was going to just let her walk off to face down Aizen? Obviously not; that's why she put up her shield. But when had it gotten so strong? No matter how much he beat it, pushed at it, stabbed it...it never wavered. Regardless of the fact that beating it wasn't working he continued to do so. He had to get to her. She was walking to her death!
His pounding on the barrier stopped as his heart and mind stuck on that statement and came to a horrible realization. She knew she was walking to her death. She was doing so willingly. That's why she put up the barrier to stop them. That's why she had...
She kissed him. She loves me? That was hard information to process. It couldn't be true. There was no way she could be in love with him...right? But her eyes, when she said it her eyes were so sincere. Her touch had been so gentle and though the kiss was chaste he felt like she had poured her very soul into it. He couldn't say anything or do anything when she had kissed him. It caught him so completely off guard. He never knew...never had any idea that she felt that way about him. Plus, he had nothing to say to her in return. He cared about her, a lot, but he had never even given a thought to love. Not just with her, but with anybody.
He shook his head to ignore all of that because none of it mattered when she was outside of the barrier walking towards that monster.
Orihime kept her head held high as she walked towards Aizen. She stopped when she was just a few feet from him. She could vaguely feel his reiatsu and that scared her more than anything. Normally if she couldn't feel someones reiatsu, especially being so close to them, it was because they were either dying or close to running out of power; but neither of those was the case for Aizen. He was only getting stronger and the fact that she had to concentrate just to feel his reiatsu the little bit that she could, was most certainly not a good thing.
"Don't falter now woman. Remember what is riding on this. If we're going to go down let it be done fighting and not cowering in fear." Tsubaki's voice rang inside her mind.
She smiled at the strength in his voice; he was right. Everything depended on her ability to remove the hogyoku and she knew how evil Aizen was. If she showed even a speck of fear he would use that to bring her down. He had been playing mind games with her from the moment she met Ulquiorra in the senkaimon and she knew it. She wouldn't be stopped, she wouldn't allow her heart to waiver. Aizen was so keen to put on a fake face and confuse everyone, perhaps she should do so as well. She allowed her smile to grow in size and she waved to him.
"Hello Aizen." the white mask he wore kept her from seeing his reaction but his head tilted ever so slightly to her greeting.
"Inoue Orihime, just what do you hope to accomplish here?" his voice maintained the same neutrality he had always spoken to her with.
"What do you mean Aizen?" she forced herself to speak calmly and keep her head high. She watched him closely.
"You should leave Orihime. You aren't like those fools behind you. You know your power is insignificant to my own and you don't rush blindly into battle. I will still have use for you when the King's Key is made so go back to Hueco Mundo and await my return."
"I'm afraid I can't do that Aizen. I can't allow you to destroy Karakura town. It's my home. The people I love are there and I will do anything to keep them safe." As she spoke Shun'o and Ayame rushed away from her and covered Aizen in their golden light. He made no move to stop them, he had not moved at all since stopping to face her. Orihime had thought he might not. Right now he saw himself as a god and a god would not be afraid of the powers of a human girl.
She heard him chuckle behind the mask. "Orihime, I admire the astounding courage you have shown to come face me alone...but, this little charade is over." He lifted his hand to touch her golden shield, probably thinking to simply brush it aside and continue on his way. Even though his face was hidden, there was no hiding the utter surprise he felt when the barrier sent an electric shock to his hand forcing it back.
"I told you Aizen, I can't allow you to destroy Karakura town." no smile graced her face now. Her voice was filled with determination and the glow encasing her body grew even brighter.
"And just what do you think you are going to do woman?" Aizen's voice now held a tone of anger to it.
"Something only I can do." Orihime released her reiatsu and focused it's power to her dome. She could already feel the massive power of the hogyoku trying to push her away. She clenched her teeth and concentrated harder. Aizen said nothing for a moment, he simply studied her, trying to decipher what she was doing. She didn't try to destroy the orb right away; instead, she focused on separating it's power from Aizen's. She knew the moment he felt the first tug at his bond with the hogyoku. His shoulders stiffened, his head snapped up, and his reiatsu began to rise.
"You little bitch." He began pushing at the barrier again, each time his hand continued to be pushed away by the rejecting power the golden dome possessed. She was already beginning to pant from the exertion of pushing her reiatsu against two such powerful forces but she didn't stop.
"That's it Orihime-san, it's working!"
She heard Shun'o exclaim. It was slight, but she could already see the cracks beginning in the white mask Aizen wore. Shun'o and Ayame moved closer to Aizen, warping the barrier until it was pressed close to his body. His arms were now pinned down to his side and he could do nothing in retaliation but spew obscenities at her. She ignored the filth that flew out of his mouth and smiled slightly as the white mask cracked and shattered revealing his angry features for everyone to see.
She heard the shouted words of encouragement from behind her but she didn't turn to acknowledge them. She never paused in her task, only pushed herself harder to end this.
"Sweet Kami she's doing it." were the only words heard whispered by Yoruichi as the group under the barrier watched in utter disbelief at the scene in front of them. Isshin had placed his hands on his son's shoulders to try and help him calm his anger after Orihime had begun speaking to Aizen. Just as Urahara did, he realized he wouldn't be able to break her shield. They were helpless to do anything but watch as she confronted the evil man. Ichigo had stopped screaming and smashing at the barrier but the tension never left his shoulders.
When the group saw the cracks forming in Aizen's mask their fear turned into shock. They couldn't believe she was doing it. Aizen, the man who had eluded Soul Society for nearly a year, the man who had defeated countless shinigami including the captain commander himself, was having his power stripped from him by a human girl. When the mask shattered and Aizen's face came into full view Isshin let out a loud laugh.
"Give it to him Orihime-chan!" he screamed to the girl. He threw his arm over his son's stunned shoulders and watched her with a huge smile on his face. They would have to fight Aizen soon but she was making it possible for them to win this war. Absolute fear for his daughters lives had been gnawing at his gut but now the feeling was replaced by the hope this beautiful woman had given them.
Ichigo could only watch the scene with his mouth hanging open. He couldn't believe his eyes. Was this powerful woman in front of him the same gentle creature he had rushed into hell to save? He had never seen Orihime show such a display of power and determination before. She was actually pulling the hogyoku from his body. Without that power to aide him, Ichigo was confident he could win against Aizen. He felt Zangetsu's power flowing into him and he found comfort in it.
Orihime felt the sweat pouring down her temples. She was getting so tired but she refused to give in to her body's desire to rest. She had known this would be harder than anything she'd ever done before but she failed to realize just what it would entail. Pouring her reiatsu out at a constant high rate was wearing her body down. Her muscles ached, her breathing was short and choppy, as if she'd been running for hours, and her head was pounding. She ignored it all though. All she concentrated on was tearing the hogyoku's hold from Aizen's reiatsu. Whatever the orb was made of seemed to have a conscious desire of its own and now that it had been awakened, it had no intentions of being subdued again. She was winning the battle though. Aizen's reiatsu was returning rapidly to the great crushing force she had felt when he was still in Soul Society. She could now easily distinguish between his and the hogyoku's power.
Aizen was no longer shouting obscenities at her. Instead, a malevolent grin now split his face as he watched her struggle. "I underestimated your power. You've done well Orihime, I will acknowledge that. Perhaps I should have let Szayel do a few experiments on you but that is neither here nor there. Regardless of your magnificent display of power here...you're time is up. You've reached the level of what is possible for a human. Your fragile body simply can't take anymore of this level of power. When you fall from exhaustion I will fully merge with the hogyoku again." her wide eyes met his and he chuckled darkly. "Oh don't worry, I won't kill you. I'm going to keep you around. When I've completed my task I plan to spend some time exploring every little thing about your powers."
As much as she didn't want to believe his words she knew they were true. She could feel it within her own body. No matter how hard she tried she couldn't focus her powers enough to cut the last few threads of power that tied the hogyoku to Aizen.
Think Orihime, think! You can't stop here! Everyone's lives depend on you!
Tears of frustration burned her eyes. She didn't know what to do. She was so close and to wind up like this...
"Orihime-san." Shun'o called to her. "There is a way."
"What Shun'o-kun? Tell me what I can do!" she pleaded.
Her power turned his face to her and she was surprised at the sorrow in his eyes. "We need a more powerful connection with the hogyoku. If we can get that than we can tear it from Aizen's body."
She walked closer to Aizen. A more powerful connection with the orb? Would just grabbing it work? The only way to know was to do it but as she got closer she began to feel a pain over her body like she was being pierced with thousands of needles. She grimaced and turned her head to Shun'o in confusion.
His sad eyes bored into hers. "I'm sorry Orihime-san, but this is the only way to completely remove it from his body. You're going to have to grab the hogyoku but...but..." his voice broke off on a sob.
"He's trying to tell you that your mortal body isn't going to be able to handle the power that thing puts out." Orihime looked to her shoulder where Tsubaki was answering for Shun'o. His voice was level but he wasn't looking at her. He only stared straight ahead at the brightly shining orb that was partially out of Aizen's chest. "It'll probably rip you to pieces, literally." he finally turned his eyes to her and she was so shocked to see them filled with tears. "It's gonna hurt like hell Orihime."
She kept her hands out in front of her, directing her power to the Soten Kisshun, so she simply lowered her head a placed a gentle kiss on the top of Tsubaki's head. For once the normally angry fairy didn't rebuke her affection. "Thank you Tsubaki-kun. Thank you for being my strength." she graced him with one last brilliant smile before turning her attention back to the orb. Ignoring the stabbing pain it brought, she walked right up to his body. As she brought her hand up to hover directly in front of it the pain intensified so sharply the tears began rolling down her face. Already she felt as if the muscles in her fingers and hand were pulling away from the bone. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before thrusting her hand out and closing around the hogyoku.
The sound of her almost inhuman cries of pain tore across the area bringing Ichigo to his knees. He watched in horror as Orihime threw her head back and screamed over and over again. Blood began to pour from her arm as her flesh literally melted away from the hand that clasped the hogyoku. Aizen's screams of outrage were drowned out by the cries of anguish from the healer. She held her hand tight around the hogyoku despite the torture it was bringing her and Ichigo could see she was pulling it from his body. His hands gripped the side of his head as he felt his hollow began pushing against the constraints of his soul. The internal struggle he fought only became harder as he heard Orihime empty the contents of her stomach violently before a cry of pain and despair tore from her throat.
"Change places with me Ichigo. You don't have the power to stop her cries but I do."
Ichigo clenched his eyes shut as he fought back his hollow. He couldn't lose control, not again. He struggled violently against his evil counterpart trying to get control.
"Come on Ichigo. You know I'm more powerful. When you couldn't do anything against that pathetic Espada I crushed him. Let me out. I'll rip Aizen's head off and stop that woman's screaming."
"Back off! I don't need your help."
His hollow's dark laugh sounded in his mind. "Yes you do. You're weak Ichigo. You can't do this alone."
The strong grip on his shoulder gave him strength to shut out his hollows cries and he turned to face his father who was kneeling next to him.
"Ichigo, get a grip on him son. It's almost time to face Aizen and you need to be in control. Get yourself together...for Orihime-chan." Isshin watched the black fade from his sons eyes and felt the dark layers of his reiatsu recceeding. Soon, his reiatsu was once again normal and a determined look came over his face.
Ichigo stood up beside his father and the four shinigami came together to watch Orihime once again.
She could no longer scream. Her throat was nearly closed with the pain and swelling from her earlier cries. Now all she could do was let the tears pour unbidden down her face from the mind numbing pain. Tsubaki had warned her it would hurt, he told her it would rip her to pieces, but her innocent mind couldn't comprehend the full truth of his words.
Now, as she watched the flesh fall from her arms and her blood puddle at her feet, she felt as if she had aged a hundred years. There were no words to describe the pain she had suffered. She marveled in the fact that she had remained concious during the ordel. Even within the saftey of her mind she was broken. Coherent thought had long since left her and she was reduced to only the most basic of words.
This was all her mind could do and her powers cringed with the pain she suffered. Shun'o and Ayame wept openly as they continued to focus the power coming from her soul into finishing what they began. Even in her near unconscious state, Orihime still poured her soul's power into them to break the bond between the orb and Aizen.
"Kurosaki Ichigo, it is nearly complete."
Ichigo looked down to the tiny power of Orihime's that spoke to him.
"When she pulls the hogyoku free she's going to collapse. Her power had been completely drained and she won't be able to do anything but pass out." Hinagiku explained.
"Aizen will be free of the Soten Kisshun and you know he's going to go for her. Be ready to stop him, please?" Lily implored.
"Let me out of this barrier already. Let me get to her." Ichigo said.
"We have to follow her orders. She wanted us to keep you in here until the hogyoku was freed from Aizen's body. The shield will fall the moment she does. That is all we can do. Please Ichigo-san, don't let him reach her." Lily said.
"Ichigo, you focus on Aizen. Let me tend to Orihime-chan." his father said.
Ichigo tightened his grip on Zangetsu and readied himself. His father would be the best one to go to Orihime. She needed a doctor now more than anything else. He wouldn't allow Aizen to even touch Orihime. He could feel his hollow in his mind but he wasn't trying to take control; he was melding with the dark, angry emotions coursing through Ichigo. That was fine with him. He would use whatever power available to him to make Aizen pay for every crime he had committed.
But for making Orihime bleed...he was going to enjoy doing it.
After what seemed like an eternity of torture, Orihime felt the last thread of power within the hogyoku break and her body fell back. The orb was closed tightly in her fist.
Her eyes remained opened and even though her brain couldn't process the images properly she saw a blur of black streak in front of her and heard the clashing of metal. She felt someones hands gently probing her body and she could hear the words spoken but their meaning was lost on her at the moment.
"She's in shock. I've got to get her to the hospital. Kido alone isn't going to help her right now."
"Go ahead, Urahara and I will stay with Ichigo."
"It doesn't look like he's going to need the help though."
"Yeah, I've never actually seen him fight with the mask on. It's pretty damn frightening."
Orihime felt her eyes finally close and the sounds of the battle were dulled out by the rushing of blood in her ears.
"Shit, she's seizing. Yoruichi help me!"
"I don't know what to do!"
"Grab her feet, Kiskue open a senkaimon now!"
All the words became nothing more than incomprehensible sounds and everything went black.