Zangetsu’s fists clenched. “Aizen, Gin, Tousen – they are our enemies. I know their spirits’ signs. They will not be allowed here.” Deliberately, he relaxed. “And they would be unwise to attempt it. This is your mind. A visit here is an act of trust.”
“Probably why Uryuu’s sword isn’t coming out,” Ichigo groused. “Let’s go find her-” His mind caught up with his mouth, and Ichigo stared at his zanpakutou. “How do I know it’s a her?”
Zangetsu shrugged, and set out on the invisible trail of chill and copper. A trail that soon became all too visible, in scattered hailstones; black ice frozen around drops of blood.
“Aw, no,” Ichigo muttered under his breath as they picked up the pace. “No, no, no-”
She was still breathing when they found her.
Ichigo didn’t blink at hail-combs in pine-branch hair, the ominous bone staff, or the princess’ robes woven with all the hues of storm wind; just dropped to his knees by her shivering body, applying trained pressure to the seeping wound on her chest. “What’s going on? Who hurt her?”
“He’s rejecting her.” Zangetsu knelt as well, sharing power and the warmth of sanctuary with a firm grasp on her shoulder. So cold. “Hold on, storm-born lady. Hold on….”
“Listen to him,” Ichigo said fiercely, pinning storm-gray eyes with brown. “You’re not going to die… damn it, where’s Rukia with healing kidou when you need her!”
“You’ve listened when Rukia healed you,” Zangetsu reminded him.
“Yeah, lots of times, but you know I’m no good with kidou! Almost got us all killed just trying to hold that shield spell in the cannon-”
“I know,” Zangetsu said deliberately, “what you don’t know you know.”
Ichigo froze. Looked up at him, eyes wide. “…Help?”
A/N: If you’ve heard Leslie Fish’s “Hymn to the Nightmare”, you know where I got the imagery.