“For once, he’s got you on logic.” Riding a platform of reiatsu down to the ground, Ishida adjusted his glasses. “Orihime. Is everything all right over there?”
“Just finished!” Beaming, Orihime ran towards them. “They’re all fine, we got here fast enough- oh.”
“Hey.” Ichigo waved at her.
Weird. Why did Orihime look upset?
“We should tell Tatsuki that Fenris will be available again,” Ishida observed, heading toward Orihime and the gate. “That will simplify matters. We have enough problems with the Hollows. We don’t need another daiyoukai thinking Karakura’s free territory.”
Orihime jerked her gaze away from Rukia, back to Ichigo. “You couldn’t shift? I thought – your brother said your magic got strained, and we should just give you a little time to rest….”
“Really, really strained,” Ichigo admitted, scratching the back of his head. “We didn’t want to worry you guys. He didn’t – what I had to do, I don’t think you could have fixed. We had to get Rukia’s sword out of me. Putting things back the way they were would have just started the whole mess all over again.” He smiled a little. “Better now. Promise.” Though he hadn’t tried shifting to Fenris since he’d found the old man-
:You can,: his sword murmured. :I am the core of your power, and you have found me. You will not lose me again.:
“Good,” Ishida nodded. Offered Orihime his arm. “Shall we?”
“Two shinigami,” Chad rumbled, falling in beside her. “They should talk about patrols.” Looking over his shoulder as they walked a stunned sorceress out, Chad winked.
What was that about?
And then he didn’t have time to worry about it, because they were alone. Together. With Rukia looking at him, awed and angry and hopeful at once. What did I do?
:Survived,: the old man murmured. :Gently, Ichigo. She has lost more than you know.: