I’m not going to be alone. A rush of relief, followed swift by heavy sorrow. But Ichigo…. “The twins-”
“My daughters,” Isshin said frankly. “They’ll be shinigami after they die. Count on it.”
Oddly comforting. “Ichigo’s friends?”
“After all this time around the two of you? Same boat.” Isshin gave him a considering look. “Though with Orihime training up as a pretty good sorceress, I bet she’s not kicking off this world for a good long time.”
Likely. “But they’re going to lose people they love,” Loki said softly. “They all will.”
“That’s life.” Isshin looked into the distance. “I knew I’d only have a few decades with Masaki. I still loved her.” A deep sigh. “Life hurts, Loki. But it’s all we’ve got.” He glanced upward, where two precious girls were sleeping. “And sometimes? Life is damn good.”
“Yes.” Loki closed his eyes, feeling outward for the bonfire of Ichigo’s power. “Yes. It is.”
If you would protect all souls, Rukia’s voice echoed in his memory, strike the Hollows from behind!
The old man’s longsword didn’t have the reach he’d gotten used to with Rukia’s powers. On the other hand, it didn’t have the length to get tangled up in ceilings, either. Chasing half a pack of mini-Hollows through the high steel of a half-built office building, that last fact was kind of important.
She’s not trying to do this alone. Ichigo slashed through another cold-blooded mini-evil, far too much like Shrieker’s little friends for comfort. Good.
Chad was keeping the main Hollow busy, dodging gray tentacles to land a bone-rattling punch. Too bad this Hollow didn’t seem to have bones, bouncing away like a cheap rubber octopus. Orihime was a soft golden glow down by the construction site’s gate, healing hapless late-shift workers even as she held a Someone Else’s Problem around the skeletal building. Ishida had found a good perch on an exposed girder, green-blue arrows sizzling out to herd most of the mini-evils down and back toward Rukia-
God, she’s… wow.
He’d seen her dance barefoot with Saeki’s red-and-bone scythe, short white kimono flowing in freezing winds. This? This was better.
Like willows in the rain.
He’d hated the rain. For years. But Rukia was all supple shadows, blade dancing through mini-Hollows, steel silver as catkins in the city lights-