“I’m not a shinigami!”
“Maybe not tomorrow, after we pound on Sandal-hat’s head and get him to change you back,” Ichigo allowed. “But right now – yeah. You are. And you’re one of mine. I can’t not help. You know that!” And grabbing Ishida’s shoulder was the wrong move, he knew it as soon as he did it, but-
He’s one of mine. Like Chad. Orihime. Tatsuki. Rukia – though I’m not sure if she feels that tug toward us. Like….
“Renji went after his own captain for Rukia,” Ichigo stated, stepping back. “Rangiku took on Gin to protect her captain. Captains Ukitake and Kyouraku… once one of ’em went up against Yamamoto-Genryuusai – the Commander-General – only hell would’ve kept the other one out of it. Maybe you don’t feel it-”
If he hadn’t been watching, he never would have seen Ishida flinch.
“Or maybe you’re-” scared, “-upset ’cause you do.” Ichigo shook his head. “If you can’t form your bow-” and there’s no way he’s going to use that zanpakutou, not unless I pull one of Sandal-hat’s tricks and beat him into it, “-you’re walking Hollow bait. And you know it. Orihime is safer than you. Tell me to stay out of your mess, fine – you think she’s going to let you walk off to be eaten? That is not. Going. To happen.”
Ishida’s jaw worked. For a moment Ichigo knew he’d gone too far, said too much… or somehow, not enough.
“…You have an annoying habit of rubbing off on people.”
Not going to sigh in relief. Nope. Ichigo raised a challenging orange brow. “Yeah?”
Ishida’s lips thinned. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Must not tear idiot’s hair out. “Fine. Don’t. But-”
Ishida raised a hand for silence, black brows creased in a frown.
Bastard’s magic sense is still better than mine. Not that Ichigo needed magic to hear the yells of the approaching Watch. Ishida might have gotten to a fairly quiet spot before he cut loose, but somebody had heard the explosion. “No time we gotta go-!”
Which was probably meant to be a protest, Ichigo knew, grinning like a maniac as he hauled Ishida by the collar into the surreal blur of flash-step. Hey, Yoruichi had done it to him – and when you couldn’t pay back, pay forward.