If Ichigo had thought about it, he never could have pulled it off. But if there was one thing facing off against Zaraki Kenpachi had taught him….
Sometimes, thinking was overrated.
Ishida would never have defended himself this way. But as the Quincy was out of it enough to consider death the only remaining option, Ishida could stuff it. Ichigo pushed past that awful resignation, forcing other-muscle and bone to move. Forget trying for distance to use a bow; dodge in closer, and touch the dark amulet at his throat to shift-
We’re back on Earth.
The amulet only triggers for a shinigami.
Oh shit, I just killed Ishida-
Cold burn, thrusting him out of the Quincy’s mind.
And Ichigo was there, Zangetsu unleashing a dark moon of cutting force almost without thought, splitting the monster into two bleeding, very dead halves.
Too easy, Ichigo thought, breathing hard as the hybrid of githyanki, warped ghost, and who-knew-what started dissolving into alien slime. Wasn’t paying attention to me. Ishida startled it?
Probably the last thing the Quincy had managed. Damn it. Ichigo scrubbed knuckles at burning eyes. Took a deep breath, and started spiraling out from the bubbling slime, in search of-
Don’t kid yourself. If you can’t feel him, you’re looking for a body….
Black fluttered in the settling dust.
Ichigo stopped cold. Scrubbed his eyes again, ’cause shadow-granted night vision or not, there was no way he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. No. Way.
On one knee near a battered pine, Ishida reflexively brushed dust off his shihakushou, cat-neat as ever. And froze, hands caught in folds of silky black shadow, blue eyes widening-
One flash-step, and Ichigo hauled him up by the front of his shinigami uniform. “Eyes on me, Ishida. Here and now.”
Pale, Ishida swallowed. “But-”
He was not looking at the zanpakutou tucked into Ishida’s obi. Definitely not. ‘Cause if he looked, Ishida would look, and he really didn’t feel like chasing down and knocking out a freaked-out should-be Quincy tonight. Ishida was damn fast. “It’s dead. You’re alive.” And I am not losing you to shock. Not after you got through everything else Seireitei and Aizen could throw at us.