Ichigo wasn't expecting his fellow Shinigami back until nightfall, so when Izuru threw the window open and fell onto the bed, covered in blood and crying hysterically, it was only natural he was greatly concerned.

"Izuru, what happened?" Ichigo abandoned his textbooks and moved to Izuru, putting his hands on the blond's shoulders. "Are you okay?"

Izuru shook his head, raising his hand to bite at his nails. "I-I...! U-ukitake-san...!"

"Izuru, tell me what happened." Ichigo knew something was seriously wrong if it involved the white-haired Captain; Ukitake was extremely powerful and with Shunsui there to back him up, they should have been unbeatable.

"U-ukitake-san..." Izuru choked on a few sobs before he tried to continue speaking, "...Ukitake-san... The Hollow got him... T-there was blood everywhere...! Kyōraku-taicho... Kyōraku-taicho doesn't know what to do, and... Ise-f-fukutaicho can't... get a hold of Fourth...! W-we can't even open a senkaimon! I tried! I swear, I tried my best...!"

Ichigo had heard enough to gather what had happened. "Where are they now, Izuru?"

"C... Construction site..."

Ichigo nodded. He searched for where he had dumped Kon the night before, finding him underneath the bed and shoving him in a backpack. He slung the bag over his shoulder and grabbed Izuru's hand, pulling him through the window and towards where he knew the other Soul Reapers to be.

Fifteen minutes later~~

When Ichigo and Izuru returned back to the construction site, Kurosaki was horrified to find that the steel structure had been ruined during the fight and now lay in a crumpled heap, unrepairable; only a fight of extreme power could have left such destruction in a place built to withstand damage.

Ichigo ran towards Shunsui's side, seeing him and the other two Shinigami back in their Gigai, sitting towards the back of what once was the building site. They were mostly hidden from the view of the street which was lucky, seeing as many people had crowded around, pointing and muttering while police tried to clear them away, saying it was too dangerous to be around.

"Kyōraku-taicho!" Ichigo called as he and Izuru came to his side. "Kyōraku-taicho, we need to leave before someone finds us here."

Shunsui turned to Ichigo with eyes that had clearly cried too much in a short time. He shook his head. "I-I can't move Juu-chan..."

"Ukitake-taicho has suffered a severe blow to the head and his body is broken," Nanao cleared up. "We... cannot wake him up..."

Izuru sobbed, knowing what the woman was about to say. He didn't want to hear that having been in a gigai, Jūshirō may have suffered a wound severe enough to... to put an end to his life...

"People are all over the place," Ichigo said, wanting nothing more than to stay here and try and help the Captain, but this was more important. "You can bring him back to my clinic; my family will help him; I promise. We just... We can't stay here."

Shunsui nodded, clutching his best friend tighter. He stood up and reluctantly followed Ichigo, ducking out of sight of civilians.

Once they arrived back at Kurosaki Clinic, Ichigo lead the brunet straight to a patient room. He helped Shunsui lay the pale man down on the bed and moved to get his dad.

Shunsui turned to Izuru, a fear in his eyes that the blond knew had no place being there. "You've got to help him, Kira-fukutaicho... You were in the Fourth once... Please..."

The tears that Izuru had managed to abate started up again as he shook his head. "...I... can't... It's too severe... I've tried... I don't have that level of skill..."

"Kira-fukutaicho, you need to try!" Nanao all but begged. She waved her denreishinki in the air as if to emphasise her point. "I've tried on all of them, but I just can't get through to anyone!"

Izuru cried harder, wanting so badly to help but just feeling as if there would be nothing he could do. Low self-esteem was nothing new with him but right now, neither Shunsui nor Nanao had the patience to deal with it.

Nanao raised her book and whacked the blond over the head. "Kira-fukutaicho, you are a Lieutenant of the Gotei Thirteen! If your skills as a Shinigami were not valued, you would not be in the position you are in now! You've been in three different squads but most importantly, the medical division! Try again!"

Izuru shook his head and slid down the wall, dropping to the floor. He pulled his knees up to his chest and buried his face in them, rocking back and forth slowly.

Ichigo chose this moment to return with his dad who promptly ushered everyone out of the room. Though it took several demands from Isshin and encouragement from Nanao, Shunsui eventually left, though he'd have given anything to stay in that room with his best friend. This was worse than any of the attacks he had sat with Jūshirō through and the very real threat of losing him forever was hanging over all of their heads.

Izuru sat with Ichigo, crying into his hands while Nanao comforted her Captain as best as she could. No one knew what was going to happen, and they could only hope that Jūshirō would be okay.

Several hours later~~

When Isshin returned from Jūshirō's room the next morning, he wore a grim expression. He was silent for a few seconds as he thought of how to approach this subject, but decided that the truth was the way to go.

"I've done the best I can," Isshin said, his voice soft as he addressed everyone waiting on the white-haired male. "His head injury is severe and he still has not woken. There's no telling when – or if – he will wake up, but... if he does, I suspect some serious mental damage. His body has been destroyed and the very real possibility that he may never be able to move his body again is high. Please, be prepared for the worst."

Izuru and Shunsui were silent as they processed this information, Nanao knowing not to say anything despite the fact she felt like crying.

"You may sit with him if you'd like," Isshin offered. "It may bring him comfort if he wakes up with familiar people around him – if he wakes up."

Shunsui didn't speak as he stood up and moved to his best friend's side. Izuru was hesitant, not wanting to see his boyfriend in such a state and instead insisted he wanted to return back to the Soul Society.

"He needs you, Izuru," Ichigo tried to encourage. "You can't just leave him like this. How would you feel if the positions were reversed?"

"He's stronger than I am!" Izuru tried to justify. "I-I... I'm so weak...!"

"No, you're not!" Nanao exclaimed, coming to her friend's side. "You're not weak! You've been through hell and back, Kira-fukutaicho. At least come and say goodbye to him..."

With a shake of his head, Izuru fled, leaving Ichigo and Nanao behind. The two looked at each other, but neither of them chased after him. They knew Izuru needed to be alone.

"He should have gone to a hospital..." Nanao whispered, knowing that a hospital would have been better than just a normal clinic.

"Yeah, but think about everything a hospital would put us all through..." Ichigo muttered, knowing the questions that would have arisen and the way they'd have found nothing out on Ukitake's condition. He knew his father had done the best he could, but it was a miracle in itself that Isshin had been able to help at all with the extent of the damage – Jūshirō's body had been so managed, bones poked through his skin and muscle was visible through huge tears.

Yes; it would take a long time for Jūshirō to recover from this – if he could recover at all.