"My, it must be the end of an era, the day when even a God could bleed has come and my master has yet to be released from Hell" the Demoness spoke in her sickeningly sweet voice that sent shivers through everyone present. Her eyes roamed over all before her, taking brief glances at the states of all those around. She could see that most of them were haggard and worn out. What it was that had caused such states of being she had no clue, but she did think that she had missed out on something evidently fun.

Her eyes moved over the prone form of Sado who was lying next to the kneeling woman that the Demoness recognised from Hueco Mundo. "What have you done to my pet? I don't want a man that can't even look after himself" she spoke in a disgusted manner that caused Matsumoto to look at her in evident fury.

"Shut up you shameless bitch!" Matsumoto screamed from her kneeling position to which the Demoness only got a smile on her beautiful face. It was ever so fun to taunt those who had such sensitive emotions. She moved forwards and loved the way in which everyone in front of her tensed at the sudden move that she had made.

"Oh I love playing with you people; this is why I came back so soon, I never got my fill in Hueco Mundo" the Demoness spoke as the grin on her face could only increase in size. She had only taken one step yet already everyone had tensed and seemed like they were ready to fight her. They were quite clearly in a world of their own because they were still over 200 years too young to even try to harm her. Those that held that power were lying on the ground right now and she could not quite locate the other one.

Her eyes continued to dance over all of those arrayed before her. Human, Shinigami and Arrancar, there was such a diverse spread of races before her that she never thought she would have met in the past yet here she had it in front of her. Finally her eyes settled over the one that she had been looking for.

"Zakabe-Kun, you seem to be unnaturally aware and without injuries, tell me have you not been fighting? If that is indeed the case then I may have to score you off my list too" the Demoness spoke in a disappointed manner, with her eyes even shining in sadness. Sera grabbed onto Zakabe even tighter as if to affirm that she was not going to lose him to anyone, and especially not some strange alabaster white woman that so suddenly appears. The Demoness saw this and licked her lips. "No, I can taste it in the air, you have been fighting, your strength has been so great that you sustained no real dangerous injuries, you have moved up on my list Zakabe-Kun" the Demoness spoke huskily.

She lost her interest in looking at him as she then went about looking for the entire reason that she was there in the first place. Sure she had wanted to have some continuation of the fun she had in Hueco Mundo but she actually had a reason to come to the Soul Society in the first place. Finding who it was that she had been searching for she sighed heavily with her shoulders drooping and bringing a palm up to her face.

"Since he appears to be incapable of staying awake, please tell Grimmy-Kun that he has only one month and a half left until he will be too late" the Demoness spoke dryly as she turned away from all of them. "Also, tell him to hurry up because I so desperately want to have both you and Sado-Kun in Hell with me, Zakabe-Kun" the Demoness spoke suggestively as she looked over her shoulder at him. Zakabe only stared back at her with a blank look, he could not figure out what it was that she was planning nor what she was talking about, but he knew that it had something to do with Hell.

With her message being clearly heard and her time limit being up she had to walk forward and into the flaming gate that appeared before her. "Don't keep me waiting" the Demoness concluded without looking at them at all and stepped through the flaming abyss that made up the walkway she would have to take. The flaming gate only remained for a few seconds before swirling and then evaporating into nothing.


With the threat out of the way for the time being and everyone counting their luck for missing what could have really tipped off their worst day, everyone allowed their bodies to feel the sense of relaxation for the barest of moments before pandemonium broke out again.

Hundreds of Shinigami stormed into the area. They were all drawing their Zanpaktou and pointing them towards the invaders that had destroyed much of their home. The Arrancar plus some humans were surrounded on all sides by the far more numerous Shinigami. Zakabe growled at the oppressive atmosphere that they suddenly found themselves within. He let go of Sera and stood in front of her and looked towards the direction of where the Captain Commander was currently still standing over Ichigo.

"You can all try to harm us but I will warn you right now, there is nothing you can do to stop me from saving that man" Zakabe proclaimed to all of the Shinigami before him. They all got the message loud and clear. Fight him and die or let him past and survive until Captain Commander kills them, truly a trick question. Zakabe awaited their reply, as they all seemed to think about their resolve he then watched as they all looked up at him with their faces all a mixture of unsure determination.

Zakabe knew that even without the number advantage that the Shinigami held over them they were in a bad situation. All of his allies were either injured or had been in battles that had tired them out. Having given into his hatred he had of course accumulated just as much fatigue and pain as they had but he had to stand, he would not allow Ichigo to fall into the hands of the enemy. He would never lose a brother again.

Zakabe cast his hand out to the side and with that action the Zanpaktou that had been discarded the moment Sera had kissed him was back within his hand. Uryu, having not had to partake in any battles besides that fight against Zakabe thus far stood forward too. Even though it may be against every fibre in his body to fight alongside a hollow and even an Arrancar at that he would not allow his friends to be put in any form of danger. That included Ichigo.

Amongst the Shinigami facing them there was Rukia, Renji and a kneeling Matsumoto that seemed to be looking around themselves in confusion. Renji was especially confused because he wore the white clothing of the enemy yet they said nothing to him.

They all stood in pregnant silence for a long time, both sides just waiting for their opponents to make the first move. Zakabe wished for the first move to be made against him which would then leave him enough time to work out an effective counter to whatever it may be that he would have to face. He knew that the odds were not looking good and was grateful for the human that seemed to be willing enough to support him.

He could see movement on his other side and to his surprise and happiness he could see Sera standing beside him too. With that she proved to him that she would follow him to Hell if she had to, he had known that she would, truth be told he knew that a long time ago but he had never wanted it that way. He only ever wanted her to be happy and he had honestly thought that with Zurak she would have been. However fate makes fools out of everyone and he was not going to give up this happiness that he had only recently managed to acquire. He had always tried to find the happiness for others in the past, now it was time for his own happiness to take over.

"Don't worry Zakabe-Kun; I'll stand by your side too" Sera spoke gently to him before she took his left hand into her right and smiled up at him. He smiled back at her before releasing her hand; he would require his own for the necks that he would have to strangle.

"Let's go" Zakabe said as he was about to move forwards. The second he took his step though there was something in his way though, right in front of him was the very reason that one of his closest allies was currently on the ground. He was the reason that Ichigo had screamed out in such horrific pain, by his hand Ichigo had suffered so much.

"Shinigami" Zakabe hissed out in nothing less than hatred. On each of his sides both Uryu and Sera had prepared themselves for the worst. Although his hatred was raging within his system Zakabe knew that if he was to take on the strongest Shinigami in existence alone then he would undoubtedly lose both the fight and possibly his life. He was not going to give that up; he had to live on for the sake of Sera.


In a move that none had anticipated including Yammamoto himself Zakabe had leapt high over them and blasted outwards with Sonido right in the direction of Unohana. "DO NOT TOUCH HIM!" Zakabe roared at the gentle captain who looked up at the impeding Arrancar in fright, she was only doing what she had been asked to and healing Ichigo, why would the Arrancar go quite so aggressive after knowing this?

She was forced to stop her healing of Ichigo in order to take a hold of the situation she was now in. Ichigo was in no state to be left unattended and he would have to have her procedure reapplied very soon or it would then lead to Ichigo's state worsening and the possibility of him dying would increase ten-fold once again. She was saved the hassle of having to do anything with Zakabe as a form stood in front of her and crossed Zanpaktou with the Arrancar that was closing in on her.

"You!" Zakabe hissed at the man who had stopped his swipe. Standing right before him was the very reason he had given into his hatred. Zaraki Kenpachi. Zaraki looked for lack of a batter term, completely wasted. There were only a few pieces of clothing that still covered him. Any clothing he had on his torso was gone and his body was completely lined with bruises and cuts from his fight with Zakabe.

"If you follow through with that then you won't leave here alive" Zaraki spoke to him plainly, there was no longer the hint of fearlessness or any form of brutality in his words, he was stating a fact. Zakabe growled at him angrily.

"If I don't fight and rescue him then I will die here anyway" Zakabe answered back with a hint of anger in his voice. Zaraki looked at him through eyes of understanding. They were almost one in the same, they fought through their problems, fighting on until they came up to a stronger opponent, that was why Zakabe was willing to fight even now, it was entirely understandable the he would not trust those that had just fought them.

"Yet even if you do not die and save Ichigo, he shall die" Zaraki said in a chillingly composed voice. There was no way that this could be Zaraki Kenpachi, the man who barely thought about what he was doing. The man who only ever thought about his next fight and how strong his opponent would be, there had to be some kind of mix up. Zakabe looked at Zaraki in shock, true he had believed it best to get Ichigo out of there but if he was to die because he would be too slow was not something Zakabe had taken into account.

Unohana took the opportunity afforded to her by Zaraki and turned around the restart her healing of Ichigo. She had to admit that it was a gruesome sight to see a body this damaged. She had seen some horrible things in her past but this was truly beyond much of that, but it was not just his physical appearance that had her cringing at him. He was hollow, empty and without it seemed anything it seemed to keep him alive. She could feel nothing from him, there were no Shinigami powers, and there were no fabled hollow powers. There was absolutely nothing left of the man who could turn Soul Society upside down.

For the first time in his life Ichigo Kurosaki had finally run out of spiritual pressure, and it looked as if it might be the only time in his life that he would get like this. Despite her many attempts to put spiritual pressure into him it was like it was all just being siphoned away from him.

"Then what do you suppose I do?" Zakabe asked the barbaric turned composed captain who was still holding his Zanpaktou at bay. Zaraki looked directly into the sapphire eyes of Zakabe and gave his answer.

"Let Unohana-Taicho handle it, she is the foremost healer in Soul Society after all" Zaraki answered as a blur suddenly appeared on his shoulder. Zakabe looked up to see a small form hanging over the large captain's shoulder. It was a little girl that had pink hair and the same Shinigami uniform that the lieutenants had.

"How the hell do I know that you Shinigami won't just try to kill him because of his weakened state?" Zakabe asked not entirely sure if he should listen to what this Shinigami said, he had almost killed Sera after all. It was at this time that the little girl that had landed on Zaraki's shoulder looked at Zakabe and smiled at him only the way a child could.

"Re-Chan won't hurt him and Ken-Chan won't let anyone hurt Ichi-nii" Yachiru chirped happily from Zaraki's shoulder to which Zakabe found he wondered if possibly they were telling him the truth. After all the Captain Commander had immediately ordered the healing of Ichigo the second his spiritual pressure had vanished so it could only mean they were trying to keep him alive right? At the same time though could he honestly trust this person who had come too close to killing the woman that he loved?

He withdrew his Zanpaktou from Zaraki's and took a step back; he wished to assess the situation. If he was attacked within the next ten seconds while he thought he would discredit what Zaraki had been saying and once again attempt to save Ichigo. If they were doing as they said however it would be mutually beneficial as it would mean that Ichigo would be healed and they may find out what it was that had caused his condition to plummet. The fact that they only had Sachi in Heuco Mundo who was quite so proficient at healing and even at that she got really tired if she had to work for long periods of time, it helped to allow Ichigo to be healed here.

It occurred to him that there was more to the picture than he was truly seeing. That female creature had appeared before him twice now and on both occasions had indicated an interest in him going to Hell, although he could guess one reason as to why that was he was also able to understand that there was something that she had told the blue-haired man that was still lying on the ground. He knew that there was something important the man knew and he needed that information soon. Yet this once again left him at the mercy of the Shinigami, he would need them to heal the blue-haired man too.

His avenues were slowly disappearing before him, through his hatred for his lifelong enemies and his need for urgent help he was seeing only few possible routes left, and not many of them were ones he liked. He replaced his Zanpaktou back into its scabbard and turned away from Zaraki despite every fibre in his body saying that was a bad idea. With a quick application of Sonido he had placed himself once again in between the Captain Commander and his group of allies.

He stared at the aged face of Yammamoto to see that the man at least seemed to hold no malice at that moment and time. "If I am to allow your people to heal Ichigo then I have some demands be met" Zakabe said in a controlled manner, this was his first attempt at democracy after all. Yammamoto looked at Zakabe with a bit of a surprised expression; he never did think that he would see the day he could talk to a hollow out of a situation like this one.

"What would these demands consist of?" Yammamoto asked while resting his hand upon the staff that had covered over his Zanpaktou once again. Yammamoto had actually been surprised when Zakabe had managed to outmanoeuvre him and almost attacked Unohana a moment ago, he was just glad for Zaraki's durability and his ability to intercept the attack in time. It was times like this that he truly felt old, he also knew that he would have to hand over the title of Captain Commander soon enough but he still had to wait for someone who held the same strength as he did to take over the mantle.

"First of all is I would like that myself and my allies can stay close to Ichigo at all times, I know that you shall probably move him to the fourth division barracks and wish that we can accompany him there, we shall not become a problem so you need not worry about that" Zakabe answered slowly and Yammamoto found this to be understandable, then again if they were to become a problem he could always have some other captains watch over the fourth division just in case.

"Is that the last of your demands?" Yammamoto asked sceptically, of course he knew there was more to come but he did not know what kind of things this hollow would try to ask of him, the first one was reasonable enough but he did not know where the hollow's limits would be. Zakabe looked over to where Grimmjow was lying on the ground and then over to where Matsumoto was trying to help both her captain and lover.

"The only other things that I ask are that you heal both the blue-haired man and the injured human, other than that I have nothing else to ask, I shall personally stay and send back my subordinates except Sera. Unfortunately I have no control over the others here so I cannot exactly promise anything from them" Zakabe finished and Yammamoto once again found himself exceedingly surprised at the mentality of the hollow that he was talking to. The things that it was promising were the likes that he had never imagined a hollow would ever say nor even try to follow through on. Although Yammamoto could tell that this hollow was different, there was something about it that set it apart from the rest.

The four Arrancar all looked more than annoyed that they were being sent away. The leader of their group took a step forwards and called out to Zakabe's back. "Surely you joke Zakabe-Sama, if you are to be attacked then who shall help you?" he spoke in a concerned manner and Zakabe had to smile at the thoughtfulness of his subordinate.

"Worry not, I send you back as a sign of trust but at the same time, if my tracker in Hueco Mundo turns off then mobilise all Arrancar" Zakabe answered over his shoulder, the lead Arrancar took in those words and finally understood what Zakabe was saying. In Hueco Mundo there were tracker monitors for Zakabe that would tell the Arrancar the condition of their king, they would have had one for Ichigo but as their deity they saw little need for something on a creature so strong. 'How ironic that is' Zakabe thought to himself as he imagined what would happen if Las Noches was to know that Ichigo was so close to death.

The Shinigami went into uproar as Zakabe had said those words, he intended to attack them. Yammamoto on the other hand once again took interest in the tactical mind of the hollow. It was like he was talking to a hollow that had even more strength than Zaraki and also had a fair amount of intelligence too. The less hollows that were in Soul Society also meant that there was less chance of problems occurring and if the hollows that stayed were to behave themselves the he was only slightly troubled by their staying. It was certainly a leap away from being completely against it.

"Very well, I accept these terms" Yammamoto's voice boomed over all others that shouted their objections, silencing them. Never did they think that they would see the day that the Captain Commander would agree to anything put forward by an Arrancar, there was quite clearly something deeply wrong if he was to accept these terms. Zakabe turned around to his four subordinates and nodded his head at them. With their order being issued the four regretfully opened a Garganta and stepped through, the gate slamming shut behind them.

Zakabe then turned around fully and looked to those that were not so directly under his control. Tatsuki and Kyota were the only ones left standing that he had no sway over, he could not oppress them with strength nor could he make them do anything. "I know that I hold no sway over either of you ladies but I ask that you please abide by these terms?" Zakabe asked as softly as he could to the two women who looked surprised by his almost pleading tone. Kyota would have happily done it anyway, the safety and health of Ichigo hung in the balance and with Sachi out of it just now they only had the healing division of Soul Society to rely on.

Tatsuki was taken aback mainly by his sudden change in manner towards her. Before they had even come to Soul Society he had hated her beyond any reproach it seemed. Almost like he wanted to kill her quickly and dispose of her but just then he seemed almost desperate for her to help him. This was her childhood friend and the man that she had been slowly falling for that they were talking about here so of course she would go along with it if it meant the life of Ichigo could be saved.

Zakabe felt a wave of relief crash over him as he receiver nods of affirmation from both Kyota and Tatsuki and then turned his attention to the other human who had been read to stand beside him and Sera to fight off the Shinigami. "What about yourself, Quincy?" Zakabe asked the man who simply looked back at him; he moved his glasses up the bridge of his nose before giving his reply with closed eyes.

"I shall abide by these terms but it is not because I like you, it is because my only interest just now is to save Orihime" Uryu answered back coldly to which Zakabe felt slightly annoyed at his word choice but was grateful all the same that he would at least go along with the proposals he had made. Zakabe then turned back to Yammamoto with a smile on his face only to see that Yammamoto had a troubled look on his own.

"Why is Inoue Orihime not amongst you?" Yammamoto asked the only person still standing that he could ever remember being with the orange haired woman with the extraordinary power of rejection. Uryu looked at the Captain Commander in scepticism; surely he would know that she was not amongst them, if it was Soul Society that had her he was sure to be in on it.

"She has been stolen from us" Uryu answered back. "That was the whole reason that Soul Society was attacked, it was believed that you would have taken her" Uryu finished as Yammamoto's eyes opened and his face registered nothing but shock and possibly a great deal of fear. It all made sense to him now. Not just that Ichigo would suspect them of taking her since he had never truly trusted them and after being a hollow entity it would only make sense that they be viewed as his enemy. What chilled the body of Yammamoto was that he had a bad feeling about who it was that potentially had Orihime.

"Soul Society never held Inoue Orihime, but if I am correct in my assumptions then it is far worse than I can even imagine" Yammamoto admitted to the Quincy. That threw everyone for a loop, the Captain Commander sounded afraid, terrified almost. "All fourth division members! Focus healing the blue-haired man! We need him alive!" Yammamoto yelled to all of the Shinigami assembled. After a moment a few Shinigami moved through the ranks after receiving the order.

"Shinigami, what is the problem, where is Orihime being held?" Zakabe asked to the venerable Shinigami that looked to him after being spoken to, that same almost terrified face still present.

"There is a possibility that she is being held within Hell, for what reason I do not know but I do know that it cannot be a good thing" Yammamoto responded quickly as he watched the few Shinigami attending to the downed Arrancar. Zakabe was completely stumped, why would she be in Hell? What possible reason could the denizens of Hell require a woman for; although when he thought about it less than enjoyable images came to mind.

"Then we must go to Hell" Zakabe pointed out to which Yammamoto looked directly at him.

"It is not so easy as that, there must first be a gateway to Hell made which is no easy task, something that only Kisuke Urahara has ever been able to accomplish, on top of that we must affirm with that man exactly what that Demoness was talking about" Yammamoto answered when he looked at Grimmjow, that man knew something especially by the way that the Demoness had been talking, he only wished that the Arrancar was still standing and able to tell him.

"For now we must be patient" Yammamoto finished with finality and could see that it was not good enough with the Arrancar. He was glad to see that the Arrancar at least accepted it, be it very grudgingly at that. Yammamoto having finally managed to overcome what could have been a very troubling situation took the time to honestly think about what was happening.

In the end all that it could really boil down to was that in the last century or so he had managed to piss off the Soul King or something because all of the difficult shit had been happening in the last century. The Vaizards, Urahara, Yoruichi and Tessai then with Ichigo and his group, after that was the betrayal and eventual war with Aizen, finally being brought around again to where they stood now.

Truly things were not going to calm down before he stepped down from the mantle of the Captain Commander.


Mindscape

There was nothing in front of him. There was nothing behind him, nothing at all for him neither to see nor to even think about. All that there was that could even be described as anything was the blank canvas of white that expanded in all directions. Trying to find any bearings that he could he tried to stand up straight only to find he had no balance at all, or more to the fact that there was no floor or anything to stand upon.

Where was he? What was he doing here? Why was he here? There were all the questions that ran through his head as he tried to piece together why he would be in such a blank and unforgiving place.

You have lost sight of whom you are, Ichigo came a unisex voice from all around him. He could not pinpoint where the voice might come from because it came from all different angles at once, as if he were within the voice itself.

"What are you talking about? What do you mean who I am?" Ichigo asked out looking around the blank white space for any indication of where the voice might be.

You are not a man that I am willing to give my power to any longer the voice answered and this time Ichigo could pinpoint where the voice was coming from. Turning around he came face to face with a man with long flowing red hair and wearing white clothing. Flashes of fights with Byakuya and Yammamoto bulldozed through his head as the image of the beautiful man before him sparked memories.

"What is this?" Ichigo asked through clenched teeth while holding his head in pain. Each image that he could see was like a spike being rammed through his head. The man who stood opposite him did not have any real emotion upon his face; if anything it was the same look that Byakuya had, one that had neither interest nor care.

This is your brutality, this is you whenever you allow your emotions to take over, this is you at your worst, and this it would seem is the true you the voice answered in an emotionless fashion while Ichigo continued to hold his head in pain due to the images that were screaming through his head. I will not work for a master who can be so easily swayed from his path the voice continued on as the man looked to Ichigo in a somewhat disgusted and sorrowful way.

"What are you talking about? I was never swayed from any path!" Ichigo argued back through clenched teeth. The red haired man took in those words with a pinch of salt and had appeared behind Ichigo in an instant and delivered a harsh strike to the back of his head.

Don't give me any of that shit! The voice shouted out in absolute fury. At the sudden fury in the voice Ichigo found his head snapping up to look at the red haired man and could see the anger obvious on his face. You strayed from your path the second you gave in to your rage! Did you even bother to think of the outcomes! The voice continued on. Ichigo found he was surprised, despite not remembering who the red haired man before him was he knew that his voice had never been that loud in the past and it was indeed intimidating.

"I don't know what you are talking about! " Ichigo tried to argue back only to find that the man opposite him did not seem to be listening to him at all.

You do know exactly what I am talking about, you gave in to your rage and completely forgot about her, didn't you? The voice asked. Ichigo felt a pang in his chest as he finally realised what the man was talking about but he had to have it wrong. At that moment all of what had happened assaulted Ichigo's senses without any mercy and forced him to his knees. The red haired man watched in satisfaction as the memories that he had withheld from Ichigo suddenly rushed him at one time. If he was to learn his lesson then he would have to learn it the hard way.

As Ichigo seemed to regain his senses his breathing became haggard and pained. "I never forgot about her" Ichigo spoke out through his heavy breathing. The red haired man walked over to Ichigo and leaned down so that his head was just over Ichigo's.

Do not joke with me! I know your heart and soul! You cannot lie to me! You forgot about her and gave in to your hatred! The voice continued in absolute rage, something Ichigo still found very scary. I was happy to grant you my power so long as you used it for a greater cause than yourself, yet in the end you so selfishly took it to use in your anger! The man continued in his rage.

Ichigo went to try and argue but was stopped when the red-haired man raised his hand to stop Ichigo. Exactly what do you think is the reason you have the power that you did? What possible reason do you think I had in order to permit you to use any amount of my power? The man asked and left Ichigo to stare at him in confusion, to that question he had no real answer, he had never been told why, only that he was better than Aizen.

Do not get so conceited! The red-haired man cut out through Ichigo's train of thought. I gave you my power because of that woman, that woman made you a better man than any others I have ever come across; your care of her was what kept you strong! He continued on as he moved closer to the downed Ichigo, stopping just before him.

"What are you talking about?" Ichigo asked, finally able to voice his curiosity and confusion. The red haired man gave him a heated gaze before it softened slightly and his anger seemed to evaporate.

I am talking about Orihime Inoue, the woman you love. She was the well you took your power from, why do you think your hollow reacted on the roof of Hueco Mundo? It was not for fear of its life, it was your will taking over the hollow. Your will was so strong that even in that state you forced Shiro to recognise her as something to protect. The red haired man talked as if the things he spoke about were a fond memory, like that was all they ever would be, memories.

It even continued on after you died and became a hollow, you knew for a fact that the name Inoue Orihime was belonging to one you had to protect. The red haired man looked off into the distance as if able to see something that Ichigo could not see. Then when you finally awakened my power you went on to solve every problem before you to reach her again, healing Sachi and Kyota, saving Zakabe from his loneliness and then going on to see her again. Ichigo at that time you had full access to my powers, you could have done absolutely anything you could have wanted to.

"Why are you telling me this now?" Ichigo asked as he finally managed to get to his feet once again and look into the eyes of the beautiful man in front of him. Honestly he never knew that the word 'beautiful' would ever describe a guy from his perspective but this guy done it.

We only miss that which we had once it is gone the red haired man supplied in answer. I have taken all of your powers from you so that you can no longer be a danger to all around you, no longer shall you be a danger to any realm. With that the red haired man turned around and began to walk away, his body beginning to dissolve as he got further away.

"Wait! I have to save Orihime!" Ichigo tried to argue to the back of the red haired man. This only caused him to stop and look over his shoulder.

You have plenty of strong allies and friends; they should be enough to rescue Orihime from Hell. The man replied before he began walking again, before he entirely disappeared he waved his hand over his shoulder. Sayonara Ichigo, until the next time our paths cross. The man called out before his entire being was completely gone.


Soul Society

Ichigo was catapulted from his dream and found his eyes opening to the roof of a large room. From his position lying on his back he could tell that he was in one of the buildings of the Soul Society, probably after being captured by the Shinigami. He felt a wave of uselessness and disgust wash over him as these thoughts plagued him.

To be in the hands of the enemy was detrimental in every way for him. It had to mean that all of those he had brought with him had been defeated, killed or captured too and another wave of uselessness assaulted him. This also meant that his plan of saving Orihime was hindered; he would find it exceedingly difficult to escape from here without his powers. That did not mean he would not try, and even without his powers he was going to save her.

He sat up from his lying position only to find that there were some surprising things waiting to be revealed to him. First of all was that both of his hands were being held tightly and on closer inspection he could see that the hands belonged to Tatsuki and Kyota respectively. The next surprise that he found was that there was also Sera and Zakabe sitting upon a two-seater, Sera leaning into Zakabe as they both slept sitting up. The final surprise was that on the other three beds within the room there were the sleeping forms of Grimmjow, Sado and Sachi.

He did not even bother to begin thinking about these surprises because his head hurt enough as it was and he didn't want to push it too far. At least everyone in the room was sleeping just then.

"So you do finally wake up, Kurosaki?" Ichigo heard of to his right and looking over the sleeping form of Kyota found the stoic Quincy archer sitting on a chair with his right leg crossed over his left and his arms crossed.

"How long have I been out?" Ichigo asked sheepishly while keeping his voice down, by the way everyone looked it seemed that they were all shattered, and despite his curiosity as to why they were all in a Soul Society building and not in a prison cell or such, he looked to the Quincy still rather sheepishly. Uryu seemed to be completely unfazed by Ichigo's sorrowful eyes and rolled his own before giving his answer.

"The better part of an entire day" Uryu answered curtly as Ichigo's eyes widened in surprise, he didn't think he had been out for that long, maybe a couple of hours but then again when he had been hit from the Captain Commander his world went obsidian black and then he woke up in shining white. Then more questions started to flood around in his head.

"What happened? Why are we here? And why is Grimmjow here?" Ichigo asked in quick succession which caused Uryu to release a heavy sigh. Why did he have to be the one that was awake just now? It would have probably sounded better coming from someone like Sado or that Zakabe man since they were closer to him. Yet one was completely spent and sleeping off his fatigue while the other had fought until he dropped, so their conditions were understandable.

"Well the shortened version is that you and Zakabe lost your minds and fought Byakuya and Zaraki until you had beat them, then set about fighting with each other" Uryu began as he made himself more comfortable in his chair and moved his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "After that the Captain Commander showed up and split you and Zakabe apart, he fought with you while we all tried to hold Zakabe back long enough for Sachi to heal Sera" Uryu continued as he indicated the girl in the other bed sleeping as he said her name.

"After Sera came back and stopped Zakabe which brought him back to his sense we all watched as the Captain Commander tried to fight you and eventually drove you into the ground, where you screamed in pain and passed out" Ichigo nodded at that bit, he remembered the screaming in pain and the passing out bit, it was after that that he was confused about.

"After you had passed out the Demoness from Hueco Mundo showed up and said that Grimmjow had information he had to tell us, from what I gathered it involves Hell and 6 weeks' time" Uryu continued seeing Ichigo nodding along as he spoke. "Finally after that Zakabe and the Captain Commander conversed and came to the compromise that has led to where we are now" Uryu finished which lead Ichigo to get interested in the compromise.

"What were the terms?" Ichigo asked softly, hoping that his voice and Uryu's would not wake anyone up. Tatsuki moved slightly by his left hand but when he looked at her he only looked in time to see her settling down again, back to sleep.

"That he would send away his retinue and that he and Sera would remain here until you healed, other than that is was up to the rest of us to comply, which luckily for you we did" Uryu responded quickly and again Ichigo found himself only capable of nodding his head. Uryu knew he had left out some things like Zakabe almost killing Unohana but thought Ichigo did not need to know that just now, all he needed to know right now were the things that directly affected him now.

"Does that mean that so long as we adhere to Soul Society then we should be safe?" Ichigo asked uncertainly and Uryu actually had to look at him to make sure this was indeed still Ichigo. This didn't sound much like the confident man he had known in the past, this man seemed almost scared and unsure.

"As long as we do not do anything to become a problem to the Shinigami then yes we should be fine" Uryu answered him and could not miss the wave of relief that seemed to crash over the eyes of Ichigo. His level of worry just went on to confirm to Uryu that there was something wrong with Ichigo if his confidence was completely shot too.

"Ichigo?" Ichigo looked up surprised because Uryu was never one to use first names and it was definitely a first time that he had ever said his name. The surprise and confusion on his face were as plain as day and Uryu continued on despite realising his slip up too late. "What happened to you?" he asked finally. Ichigo's eyes became downcast and Uryu noticed the way that his shoulders seemed to sag at the mere mention of something having gone wrong, yep Uryu knew he had something there.

Ichigo moved from his sitting position and moved back to his lying down position once again. "I'll tell you once everyone is awake and able to hear me, I don't want to have to repeat myself" Ichigo answered in a very dejected sounding voice. Once again Uryu was thrown off by the way Ichigo was acting, there was definitely something off if Ichigo was acting like this.

Yes, Ichigo was troubled by something and Uryu knew for a fact that he would keep it in and let it eat away at him. He knew he was not the person to try and talk to Ichigo though; he was not close enough to try and get through to the orange/red haired man. He would simply have to wait until everyone was awake to find out what it was that was bothering Ichigo so much, although he had almost no doubt that it had to do with his absolute lack of any spiritual pressure in his body.


Well there you guys go, I hope I came away from the last few chapters of fighting well here. After writing fights for so long it was hardtop try and tone it all down once again and admittedly I'm not too donfident I did it that too well. So in that case please let me know what you thought about this chapter as it should hopefully help me to do better in the future. As always R&R please and I'll see y'all later =] - Varrukh