Shoot the hostage might work on cowboy cop shows, but not when your bad guy was a near-indestructible steel hairball and his hostage was a quivering, fragile chouchinobuke. Ichigo had had to get in close – and getting anywhere near that razor hair was an invitation to pain.
But all he’d been able to think, as he bled in Rukia’s arms, was that damn it, Loki better be keeping the girls safe with Kon, because a hurt Hollow was a hungry Hollow and that bastard was getting away–
He’d recognized the voice. The feel of a zanpakutou unsheathed. The shiver in the whole world, as the monster that was a Hollow was finally put to rest.
And not even bleeding to death had been enough to numb the shock of, Dad’s a shinigami?
Isshin was. Though he’d apparently managed to hide that from Rukia. Which, Ichigo had to admit, was the most impressive thing he’d seen his dad pull off yet. Until the night she’d left, Rukia Kuchiki had been convinced Isshin was nothing more than just another crazy, ghost-blind mortal.
Until she was taken, Ichigo told himself now, Zangetsu’s wordless prod bringing him back to where they were. “Okay. So… things have changed. Which means we need information, right?” He waved at thatched roofs. “This many houses, there’s got to be people, right? Where is everybody?”
“Maybe they all went to the beach?” Orihime suggested. “It’s a pretty day!”