Well, I actually had the first third of this chapter done ages ago, but couldn't find it in me to write on it… then I read the latest chapter of Like Shinigami, Like Quincy by Blackmage23 and I kicked myself into gear today and cranked out the rest of the chapter and proofread the whole thing today, over six hours or so.

If you're reading this Blackmage23, thanks for the motivation and if you guys know of any other good Bleach stories to read, please let me know, as without an anime, I'm running purely on manga and fanfic motivation for Bleach.

*Manga spoiler*

That being said, I've been waiting since the Espada/Shinigami fights to finally see Shunsui's Bankai and I can't wait to see what it does next chapter, especially considering how cool it looks right now.

*End of spoiler*

Also, I set up a pat reon, so check that out if you want.

Lastly, my last exam will be a month from now, so when that is dealt with, I will be writing and updating stories a lot more often than I am now, when I can only really get, at best, ten or so hours a week to write.

Well, that's all for now so enjoy the chapter.
SSJ3 Kyuubi Gohan.

Disclaimer – I don't own anything from the Bleach anime/manga. All I own are my original characters and plot twists.



'Hollow, Inner Hollow or Zanpakutou talking'

"Hollow, Inner Hollow or Zanpakutou thinking"



Chapter 2 – Sweets

Ichigo tossed and turned in his sleep that night. He couldn't fall asleep for more than fifteen minutes, before waking up again. Whenever he managed to fall asleep, he would see complete darkness, with a single bit of light in the centre of his vision, which he never reached, no matter how fast he ran to catch it. After four hours of this, Ichigo wrote off sleep as a lost cause, and since it was Sunday, decided he might as well use his time productively.

Ichigo changed into an all-black tracksuit, quietly made his way downstairs, careful not to wake anyone, laced up a pair of white sneakers and went outside. As he stretched to warm up in the cold weather, Ichigo smiled. In a way, it probably made sense for his Bankai to have been speed-based, as even normally, Ichigo was pretty fast. Setting off at a slow jog, which would have been a sprint for most, Ichigo frowned as he tried to make sense of his dream.

The closest thing he could compare it to, was when Ganju had given him a hint to control his Reiatsu, before they invaded Soul Society. It made Ichigo hopeful that his powers may come back, but then again, his last Getsuga Tenshou, was final. Very final. Ichigo picked up speed, trying to vent his frustration somewhat, at his newfound powerlessness.

After what happened with Grand Fisher, Ichigo always tried to be as strong as he could, so he could protect those close to him. He understood power went hand-in-hand with responsibility, but he had already accepted the responsibility and thus, needed power. Power to protect his sisters. Power to protect his friends. Without that power, Ichigo felt weak.

Gritting his teeth in annoyance, Ichigo ran at his max speed, something Ryou Kunieda, the fastest human in his school, would have approved of. It honestly annoyed Ichigo immensely. It is one thing to want power and to never have had it, but, Ichigo, had had power that surpassed all reasoning at one stage. Dropping from that to nothing… stung.

As Ichigo paused to take a break, he noticed that the sun was starting to rise. Knowing that with that, Yuzu and Karin would be waking up soon, Ichigo started to head home at a leisurely pace. During his walk, Ichigo couldn't help but think of his new neighbours. They were both rather strange to Ichigo. It might have been a lingering doubt in his mind, mostly because of how Bambietta approached him, but he felt somewhat suspicious of them and didn't know why. For some reason, that thought, was seemingly met with disapproval by his mind… almost as if something inside him didn't agree with that statement.

"I wish the old man was still with me…" Thought Ichigo mournfully, before sighing.

Ichigo finally arrived home and noticed that while the sun was rising, everyone was still asleep. Carefully, Ichigo went back upstairs and grabbed his towel, before heading to the shower. After showering, Ichigo wrapped his towel around his waist and walked out, passing by the mirror over the sink. In a flash, Ichigo was back in front of the mirror and looked at himself intently. For a moment, Ichigo swore he saw old man Zangetsu looking back at him. Ichigo sighed and rubbed his forehead in annoyance, before heading to his room. As he neared it, Ichigo was slightly annoyed to see his father standing outside the door, no doubt preparing to wake his son up.

'Not today old man, you can't wake me up if I didn't sleep.' Said Ichigo dryly, as Isshin turned to face him.

'Aw man! Here I was thinking this would be a great day to restart our timeless tradition and you're already out of bed.' Whined Isshin dramatically.

'Is that what you call me throwing you out my window?' Questioned Ichigo, with an exasperated glare.

'Well, I have to make sure your reflexes stay sharp.' Defended Isshin.

"For what?" Thought Ichigo in annoyance.

Aside from the supernatural, no one could touch him at all. He was fast, athletic and had excellent reflexes, which carried over from his Shinigami training.

'Is that why you've been doing this for God only knows how long?' Asked Ichigo curiously.

'Of course! My delinquent son needs to be alert at all times!' Exclaimed Isshin, with a goofy grin.

'Was that because you knew what I might become one day?' Asked Ichigo seriously.

Isshin's grin disappeared at this, becoming a serious frown.

'Well, I had suspicions, that one day something might happen, but it isn't like I always thought you would become a Shinigami.' Said Isshin.

'What else could I have become?' Questioned Ichigo, to which Isshin carelessly shrugged.

'No idea, you and Masaki were always close, maybe you would have been something she wanted you to become instead of a Shinigami. I just wanted to make sure that you'd be ready for things no matter what happened.' Confessed Isshin honestly.

'Hmm… I suppose you'll just have to try again tomorrow then, won't you?' Asked Ichigo dryly.

'Of course, I need to keep you on your toes after all!' Exclaimed Isshin, regaining his usual childlike exuberance.

'Keep it down will you.' Muttered Karin, as she opened her door and glared at Isshin.

'What is it my dear daughter?' Asked Isshin dramatically.

'You're too loud.' Growled Karin, closing the door in Isshin's face.

'How cruel Karin, to your only father.' Mock-wept Isshin, leaning against the door.

Ichigo simply walked around his bipolar father and entered his room. Walking into his room, Ichigo made his way over to his bed and looked out his window, it was probably about seven or so now, given how high the sun was. Looking over to the house next door, Ichigo blinked in surprise for a moment, before swiftly moving away from the window. It was with much embarrassment, that Ichigo realised, that Candice, who had been looking out her window as well, had noticed him. Normally, that wouldn't have bothered Ichigo, his clothes did have a habit of getting destroyed when he fought, and he didn't mind that at all. What he did mind, was seeing that Candice herself, was also clad in only a towel and had noticed him in his similar state of apparel, before winking at him.

After Ichigo had regained himself, he quickly closed his curtains, before getting dressed.

-line break-

'Ah, what better way to start the morning than to tease a prude?' Questioned Candice happily, as she came downstairs, wearing another pair of the same clothes she had worn yesterday.

'Really? That's a good morning for you?' Asked Bambietta, with a raised eyebrow.

'Hmm, not normally I suppose, but a blush that can be seen from metres away makes me proud. Clearly, I'm the best.' Said Candice haughtily.

'More like you show the most skin.' Mumbled Bambietta.

'Considering that you talked with him for longer, but I got the better reaction out of him, I think it is clear I'm better.' Quipped Candice thoughtfully.

'Hmm, if you say so.' Said Bambietta dismissively.

'Well you're testy this morning.' Commented Candice.

'Testy? Please. If I wanted to, I could have Kurosaki eating out of the palm of my hand in a few days. I'm going with a subtler approaching instead though, so he doesn't get suspicious.' Retorted Bambietta.

'Well, if you want him eating out your hand, you're wasting your time.' Remarked Candice cheekily.

'And Liltotto calls me a slut.' Muttered Bambietta, but Candice heard her.

'Aw, don't be jealous Bambi, you're just like me after all, but I have fun differently than you do.' Chirped Candice.

'In any case, do you have any ideas for today? I mean, he calls me stalker already and I don't really want to make that true.' Asked Bambietta curiously.

'Really Bambi? Asking for my opinion? I'm flattered.' Said Candice.

'Well, if Gigi is to be believed, you are good at having fun with your subordinates.' Teased Bambietta.

'Tch, I resent that! Damn zombie sadist giving me a bad rep.' Growled Candice.

'Oh, so you mean you haven't done anything at all?' Asked Bambietta curiously.

'Nothing too… final, if that's what you're hinting at.' Huffed Candice.

'Huh, so I guess that means I'm the only one who… finishes off… my playmates. Interesting.' Said Bambietta thoughtfully.

Candice snorted.

'Yeah, but I doubt they enjoy your finish.' Said Candice dryly.

At that moment, their doorbell rang.

'Expecting someone?' Asked Candice suspiciously.

'No.' Said Bambietta firmly.

The duo went to open the door, alert in case they were attacked. They weren't.

'Hello, I heard you're new to the neighbourhood!' Said a girl with, short, light brown hair, with short bangs hanging over the right side of her forehead. She also wore a red hair clip on the left side of her head and her eyes were a dark brown colour.

'Uh yes, we are.' Said Candice in surprise.

'Oh, sorry if I startled you. I'm Yuzu Kurosaki and I live with my family next door to you. I make it a point to welcome all our new neighbours.' Said Yuzu bashfully.

'So you're Yuzu… guess Ichigo wasn't joking when he said you had a thing for greeting new neighbours.' Said Bambietta thoughtfully.

'You know big brother?' Asked Yuzu in surprise.

'Hmm, yeah, I suppose we do, Bambi saw him sitting by a lake and tricked him into coming here. He didn't even realise she was his new neighbour.' Answered Candice.

'Thought I was a lunatic from the looks of it.' Muttered Bambietta, which caused Yuzu to giggle.

'In that case, you two should come over for dinner today, I'm sure it would be a surprise for Ichigo.' Proposed Yuzu.

Candice and Bambietta shared a look before an understanding passed between them.

'Sure, why not.' Agreed Candice, with Bambietta giving a nod.

'Great! I'll make something special for dinner today then, come by around six or so.' Said Yuzu excitedly.

'You cook?' Asked Bambietta in surprise.

'Yep, breakfast, lunch and dinner.' Said Yuzu happily.

'Uh, aren't you like twelve though?' Asked Bambietta.

'I'm actually eleven, just like my sister.' Answered Yuzu.

'Wow, that's impressive, Bambi over here can't cook to save her life.' Candice teased.

'Hmph and you can?' Snarked Bambietta.

'Actually, I can, I'm not just called Candi because I'm sweet; I'm an excellent baker.' Retorted Candice, sticking her tongue out playfully.

'I've known you for years and now I find out you can bake.' Commented Bambietta, with a frown.

'Where do you think Liltotto gets all her sweets from?' Asked Candice rhetorically.

'…I never thought about it to be honest.' Said Bambietta.

'If you'd like, you can come over and help me prepare, it would be nice to have some company in the kitchen.' Suggested Yuzu, reminding the two that she was still there.

After another look passed between the two Wandenreich members, Candice responded.

'Sure, it could be fun.' Said Candice, to which Yuzu squealed in joy.

'Ok, please come by at five then to help, I'll figure out a way to get Ichigo out of the house until its ready.' Said Yuzu.

'Well, I think Bambietta could help with that, couldn't you Bambi?' Suggested Candice, giving Bambietta a playful nudge.

Bambietta gave her an exasperated glare, before sighing.

'He's going to keep saying I'm a stalker.' Muttered Bambietta in discontent.

'Ok, I'll see you both later today then.' Said Yuzu, giving a quick bow, before heading home.

After Bambietta closed the door, she fixed Candice with an odd look.

'So you can cook?' Asked Bambietta curiously.

'Yup.' Replied Candice proudly.

'Hmm.' Hummed Bambietta noncommittally.

'Don't worry, with your penchant for blowing things up, you'd probably be a menace in the kitchen, instead, just be a good stalker while I woo Ichigo's family.' Said Candice proudly.

'Well, I suppose if you can, that might help… but remember, their dad is a Shinigami, a former captain at that.' Warned Bambietta.

'Don't worry, he won't feel a thing.' Said Candice seriously.

'Alright, I'm going to go change… on second thought, all my clothes look like this anyway, I'm going to go out.' Said Bambietta, opening the front door again.

'Have fun, stalker Bambi.' Mocked Candice, before Bambietta closed the door with a huff.

Not wanting to give too much support to her new namesake, Bambietta decided not to go to the Kurosaki household, but instead, decided to explore the town more and scout for any potential threats.

Due to her assignment, Bambietta knew about the other two Quincy in Karakura Town… well, active Quincy at least. Technically, there were actually five Quincy in Karakura and if things worked out, one of them might even become their ally. That was her mission after all.

Surprisingly, Bambietta found herself back at the lake where she found Ichigo. She stopped momentarily, to look out across the lake. Although Reishi balanced itself out in the environment over time, significantly excessive, or concentrated bursts of Reishi, left traces behind. Bambietta could feel it, a Quincy had encountered a hollow at this point and the Quincy had lost.

"Hmm, I wonder if this is where Ichigo's mother met her end… given the feel of things, she had her powers taken at this very spot… which no doubt is the reason she was killed by a hollow. No Quincy would be taken out by a simple hollow. Especially not a Kurosaki." Thought Bambietta, before walking off once again.

As she made her way through town, she noticed that the air was rather rich in Reishi, especially for a place in the human world. However, among all of that, there were a dozen or so concentrated sources of it, one which bumped into her as she had been distracted.

'Oh, I'm so sorry! I was just really excited about being able to finally get a triple glazed chocolate doughnut that I wasn't paying attention.' Said a bubbly girl, who was currently on her bottom, just like Bambietta.

'It's fine, I was distracted as well.' Said Bambietta, as she quickly stood up and dusted herself off.

'Oh that's good. I mean not that you were distracted, but that you're okay.' Said the orange haired girl.

Bambietta studied the girl for a minute as she rambled. She looked normal enough, but she could feel the unique power she possessed.

'Oh, but I'm sorry. I'm Orihime Inoue, nice to meet you.' Finished the girl.

'Bambietta Basterbine.' Said Bambietta.

'Wow that's such a unique name! You could call yourself BB, or BB gun, especially if you learned how to do trick shots or something.' Gushed Orihime, causing Bambietta to laugh softly.

'I don't know about a gun, but I'm pretty good with a bow.' Said Bambietta in amusement.

'Really? So is Uryuu. You could have contests with him. I could stand there with an apple on my head, and you could take turns trying to shoot it off.' Said Orihime excitedly.

"This girl… is really chipper." Thought Bambietta, amused at the busty girl's attitude.

'So, did you say something about a doughnut?' Interjected Bambietta.

'Oh that's right, there is a really good bakery down the street, and I was on my way there. Hey, since we both bumped into each other, why don't you come and have one with me? I'll pay as well, since I feel bad for bumping into you.' Said Orihime, as she cutely stuck her tongue out and scratched the back of her head.

'Sure, I wasn't doing anything anyway.' Said Bambietta, before the easily excited girl gave a small squeal and quickly ushered the dark-haired girl to the bakery.

-line break-

'Hmm, what to do, what to do?' Muttered Candice, as she sat with her legs draped over an armchair, as she had previously.

'Well, he thinks Bambi is a stalker, but not me, so I might as well track him down.' Decided Candice, before hopping off the couch and heading to the door. Stepping outside, she felt his presence still in his house, to which Candice quirked an eyebrow in surprise.

"Guess Bambi had something else she wanted to do." Thought Candice.

After her short walk to the Kurosaki residence, Candice knocked on the door and waited.

The door was opened by a different girl than the one that had greeted them previously, and stood in stark contrast. Dark hair, dark eyes and a rather unenthusiastic expression.

'Uh, who are you? Are you here for a consultation?' Asked Karin, with a raised eyebrow.

'Consultation? I am in the right place, aren't I?' Questioned Candice in confusion.

'Look lady, we get enough weirdos over here as it is, one of them even lives here.' Started Karin, before another voice interjected.

'Oh Candice, what are you doing over here?' Asked Yuzu, as she popped out from the kitchen.

'Who?' Asked Karin, as she looked back to her fraternal twin.

'She is one of our new neighbours Karin.' Explained Yuzu.

'Yeah, although what's this I hear about a consultation?' Asked Candice, with a raised eyebrow.

'Oh, our house also doubles as a clinic.' Explained Yuzu cheerfully.

'I see… is Ichigo home?' Asked Candice.

'I think so. Big brother, there is someone here for you!' Shouted Yuzu.

After a few moments had passed, Candice could hear footfalls making their way downstairs.

'What is it, Yuzu?' Asked Ichigo, as he walked down the stairs, rubbing his forehead, a little disgruntled at his lack of sleep.

As he moved his hand away though, he saw Candice looking at him in amusement.

'Yo, strawberry.' Said Candice, with a cheeky grin.

'What do you want? Besides, I already told you it doesn't mean strawberry.' Grumbled Ichigo.

'Big brother, that was rude.' Chided Yuzu.

'Sorry.' Said Ichigo sourly, more so for his little sister's sake, than for actually feeling sorry.

'Uh huh, I had come over hoping to speak with you, but if you're going to be standoffish, I guess I'll go.' Said Candice, feigning disappointment.

'Of course big brother will speak with you.' Said Yuzu, speaking for Ichigo.

'Fine, fine. Yuzu, I'll be back later. Karin, don't let goat chin get too carried away.' Said Ichigo, before walking over to Candice.

'Well, in that case, let's go.' Said Candice, as she started to walk off, expecting Ichigo to follow after her, which he did, after closing the door behind the two of them.

'Who was that Yuzu?' Asked Karin suspiciously.

'I told you already Karin, one of our new neighbours. She came with her sister to Karakura yesterday.' Explained Yuzu.

Karin stared at Yuzu for a moment, before looking at the door Ichigo had just left through.

"Be careful Ichigo." Thought Karin, unsure why she felt something strange from the green haired girl.

-line break-

'So, what do you want?' Asked Ichigo, as the two Quincy walked, even if one didn't realise he was one.

'Well, believe it or not, but I know pretty much no one in this town and I was bored, so I figured, why not talk with my new neighbour? You were right about Yuzu by the way, she came and greeted us this morning, really nice girl. Your other sister though… she was a bit more abrasive. Do you have a lot of strange people come to your house or something?' Answered Candice.

'That's why I was telling you about my hair yesterday. Some gang members I beat up skulk around the clinic sometimes and Karin doesn't like dealing with them. Sometimes if I'm not home though, she takes them out herself.' Explained Ichigo.

'Really? That's surprising for an eleven-year-old girl.' Commented Candice.

'How did you… never mind, Yuzu probably told you guys. But yeah, Karin is tough. Between me and her, rarely anyone messes with us at home.' Said Ichigo.

'I see, so she takes after her brother. What about Yuzu, she doesn't seem violent at all?' Asked Candice, as the two reached a park.

'Yuzu? Yuzu couldn't hurt a fly; she is the most innocent girl I know.' Responded Ichigo.

Candice hummed at this, but didn't say anything else, as the two made their way to a park bench and sat down.

'So back to these gangs… don't you worry about them at all? It sounds to me like you're more annoyed by them than anything.' Prompted Candice.

'Please, the gangs are nothing, it's the upperclassmen at my school who are the most annoying.' Muttered Ichigo.

'Why is that?' Asked Candice curiously.

'Tch, this one guy has bleached blond hair and told me to stop bleaching my hair, as he doesn't want anyone to copy him. I told him this is my natural hair colour, but he wouldn't take no for an answer, so I forced him to, with my foot in his face. The problem with that, is the instructors at school think I'm going around picking fights because of the gangs, which regularly try to start trouble with me, and think I'm the one starting trouble at school. That's why I said unique hair colours can cause problems. Not like it should bother you too much though.' Explained Ichigo.

'Ah, I wouldn't mind. Like I said, Bambi and I are tough. If what you've said about Karin is any indication, you should know that girls can kick ass, just as much as anyone else, and considering where me and Bambi come from, we are both tough enough. It was either that or get brushed aside.' Retorted Candice.

'If you say so. I'm not doubting you girls, but it can get annoying after a while.' Said Ichigo.

The two sat there for a little while longer, before someone started to approach the duo.

'Well, well, if it isn't bleaching Kurosaki.' Crowed an annoying voice.

'Ugh, buzz off, you blond wannabe.' Groaned Ichigo in annoyance.

'I told you to stop bleaching your hair kid? Stop trying to steal my style.' Growled the bleached blonde boy of average build.

'Yeah, you tell him Yamada.' Added one of the two teens flanking Yamada.

The two boys to either side of Yamada, had slightly bulky builds and both possessed black hair and dark eyes. Together, the trio made a classical, brains and brawn operation. The trio all wore dark blue jeans and white short sleeved shirts, clad in simple brown shoes.

'So I'm guessing this happens often?' Questioned Candice, getting a soft sigh from Ichigo and causing the trio of annoyances to notice her.

'What's this Kurosaki? Finally found a girl who likes your ugly hair? Although, given her ugly bleached and dyed hair as well, I guess you two make a nice match.' Taunted Yamada, before laughing, his two cronies smirking in response.

Ichigo was prepared to flatten the trio and move on with the rest of his day, only to feel a hand grip his right thigh rather tightly.

'Ichigo, remember what I said about Bambi and me? Well, let me demonstrate.' Said Candice, in a quiet growl.

Candice stood up and walked over to the trio.

'Eh? What do you want girl? Decided to ditch the loser and get with a real man?' Asked Yamada lecherously.

'Yep, I decided that it was time I ditch the loser and leave here with a real man.' Said Candice calmly, her expression giving nothing away.

'Well then.' Said Yamada coolly, as he made to wrap his arm around Candice's shoulders, only for her to grab his arm and dislocate his shoulder.

'Augh! You bitch!' Shouted Yamada angrily, before Candice swung her right leg into his rib cage, sending him careening to the ground.

'Oi! You can't do that!' Shouted one of the goons, as they both charged Candice.

Ichigo prepared to step in, only for Candice to somersault over the two and kick one in the back of his left knee, dropping him, before she followed it up with a left elbow to the temple, which knocked him out. Before the other goon could respond, Candice had spun around and despite her slender frame, launched the goon into the air with a left uppercut, which dislodged one of his teeth, while also knocking him out.

Candice dusted off her hands and turned to face Ichigo, who was looking at her in shock.

'There, all done.' Said Candice cockily.

Ichigo noticed Yamada creeping up on Candice from behind and was about to shout out a warning, only for her to swing her leg back and slam it into Yamada's family jewels, before giving a quick spin and launching the back of her right fist into his right cheek, knocking a tooth out of his jaw, while also sending him into unconsciousness.

'Like I said, all done.' Repeated Candice cockily, as she turned back to face Ichigo.

Ichigo didn't respond, but recomposed his features.

'Now let's go and leave the loser behind.' Continued Candice, with a smirk, as she beckoned for Ichigo to follow her with her left index finger.

Ichigo promptly stood up, before walking over to Candice, as he examined the downed thugs.

'Wasn't that a bit much?' Asked Ichigo curiously.

'Nope. Besides, isn't this what you do?' Responded Candice.

'Well yeah, but I usually leave them conscious so they can leave.' Said Ichigo.

'Oh, in that case.' Said Candice, with a malicious smirk, before stomping on all three in their respective stomachs, until all were conscious.

'There, problem solved. Now let's go. I wanted to talk with a real man, not a loser.' Said Candice loudly.

'Bitch.' Muttered Yamada, only to feel Candice give him a swift kick to the nuts again, causing him to roll around on the ground in agony.

'Alright, let's go.' Said Ichigo, causing Candice to smirk, before the duo left the downed trio behind.

'I guess you weren't joking about you girls being able to take care of yourselves. I bet you two would get along with Tatsuki.' Commented Ichigo.

'Hmm, who's that?' Asked Candice curiously, as the two wandered through town.

'She's one of my oldest friends and one of the best martial artists in the country.' Answered Ichigo.

'Hmm, I don't know, I don't like the idea of getting my hair all messed up in a fight.' Hummed Candice thoughtfully.

Ichigo looked at her in disbelief for a moment.

'Says the girl who just downed three losers.' Muttered Ichigo.

'Says the girl who just downed three losers and didn't get a single speck of dust on her or mess up her hair.' Commented Candice cheekily.

'So… considering how you went off the deep end back there, I'm guessing you like your hair a lot.' Spoke Ichigo curiously.

'Of course, I don't spend almost an hour every day making myself look the best for nothing. I mean, you saw for yourself after all.' Said Candice teasingly.

Ichigo blushed a little at his early morning memory, of seeing Candice in nothing but a towel.

'Wow, you really are a prude… or I'm really that gorgeous.' Snickered Candice.

Ichigo chose not to respond.

'Jeez, relax would you Ichigo. I don't bite, unless you want me to.' Continued Candice.

Ichigo remained silent, which caused Candice to laugh heartily.

After a few more minutes of walking, Ichigo had noticed that he had unconsciously led the two to his school.

'So this is where you go to school? Not too shabby I suppose.' Commented Candice, as she examined the structure.

Ichigo merely gave a noncommittal grunt, before leading Candice away, who promptly followed.

Ichigo and Candice walked for a minute, before a large group of thugs stood in their way.

'So… I guess you weren't joking about this being a common thing.' Commented Candice in amusement.

'*sigh* Everyone thinks that if they beat me, they will instantly be the top dog around here. What annoys me, is I really don't care, but they all can't take a hint.' Groaned Ichigo.

'Oi Kurosaki, I've got a bone to pick with you. Your sister beat my little brother's soccer team, so now I'm going to beat you.' Declared the black clad thug in the centre.

All the thugs were wearing black pants and leather jackets, with a few carrying wooden baseball bats.

'Really? In that case, Candice, you sit this one out, this is personal.' Said Ichigo, cracking his neck.

'What's the slut going to do? Try and blow us away.' Laughed one of the goons.

'Okay, you can have him.' Said Ichigo, causing Candice to grin.

'With pleasure.' Said Candice, as she licked her lips.

The two charged the thugs, who were initially cocky and fully assured in their victory, which went down, with ever thug Ichigo downed, coupled with the screams of pain coming from the gang member who had insulted Candice.

One of the thugs crept away, stealthily sneaking up behind Ichigo and pulling out a switchblade as he did so. He smirked triumphantly, as he went stab Ichigo in the back, only to suddenly find his face planted into the ground, before he drifted off into blissful unconsciousness.

Ichigo looked back and saw a large dark-skinned teen.

'Thanks for the help Chad.' Said Ichigo, before he jabbed the last thug standing, directly in his face, dropping him.

'No worries.' Said Chad.

The two turned to Candice, when they heard a high-pitched squeal from her direction. The squeal had come not from her though, but rather, from the thug who was currently whimpering in submission, as she twisted his arms back while pressing her foot into his back.

'Um Candice, I think his going to faint soon.' Commented Ichigo, with a sweat-drop, as he saw the thug looking as though hell had descended upon him.

'Fine.' Sighed Candice, as she let go of the thug and walked over to the pair, but not before planting a swift kick to his ribs, leaving him on the floor in a whimpering, groaning heap.

'So who are you?' Asked Candice, as she studied the large teen, towering over both her and Ichigo in height.

'This is Chad, he is one of my best friends and we frequently put down gangs like this together. He doesn't like fighting, which some of them tried to take advantage off, so we agreed to help each other.' Explained Ichigo, with Chad giving a small nod.

'Nice to meet you.' Said Chad, with a curt nod.

'Candice Catnipp, nice to meet you too.' Said Candice, as she returned Sado's nod.

'So what's new Chad?' Asked Ichigo conversationally.

'Not much, the usual I suppose.' Said Yasutora, causing Ichigo to give a sad smile.

'Yeah, the usual.' Muttered Ichigo sadly, causing Candice to look at him searchingly.

'What about you Ichigo? How are you adjusting?' Asked Chad.

'I'm fine, I guess. I got new neighbours yesterday, so I was showing one of them around.' Said Ichigo, gesturing to Candice.

'Yep, and it seems Ichigo here can't catch a break giving how many weak thugs keep trying to fight him.' Commented Candice.

'To be fair, you took out the last group yourself, not me.' Said Ichigo, getting Chad's eyes to widen slightly.

'Yeah well, there were only three and they weren't even a challenge, but then again, I doubt any of these guys would have been a challenge either.' Said Candice, nudging a downed goon to her left, who merely groaned in response.

Chad's head jerked almost imperceptibly to the left, which Ichigo missed but Candice noticed, feeling the presence of a hollow in the distance.

'I'll let you go for now, Ichigo. See you at school tomorrow.' Said Yasutora, before heading off, leaving the two alone again.

Ichigo gave a small frown. He couldn't be sure, but it seemed as though Chad was in a hurry to leave, which made him think it might have something to do with the supernatural. Ichigo gave a small sigh at this, before starting to walk off. Candice narrowed her eyes in interest at Chad's back, before observing Ichigo, as she followed after him.

"I wonder… it looks like Ichigo wants his powers back… but why he wants them is the important part… not to mention, the fact that he already has some powers, even if he doesn't realise it." Thought Candice calculatingly.

'What's wrong strawberry, don't tell me you got bored beating up all those thugs?' Asked Candice teasingly, as the two walked away from the downed thugs.

Ichigo frowned at being called strawberry, but didn't otherwise react.

'What's the matter, hmm strawberry?' Persisted Candice, leaning closer to Ichigo so he could feel her arm against his own.

'Nothing, and stop calling me strawberry.' Muttered Ichigo.

'Come on Ichigo, it helps to talk about things… or, if you want, we could do other things to take your mind off whatever is bothering you.' Purred Candice, causing Ichigo to blush.

'If you dragged someone into a mess you started and then couldn't help them any longer for some reason, what would you do?' Questioned Ichigo.

'Hmm, well that depends. I mean, why can't you help them? It might all just be in your head. You in fact might be able to help them, but you might just not think you can.' Responded Candice.

'What do you mean?' Asked Ichigo.

'Well, if you get familiar with doing things a certain way and then find out you can't do that anymore, you might not realise that there are other ways to do the same thing.' Explained Candice.

Ichigo pondered on this fact for a moment, before finding he couldn't think of another way to do the things he could before.

'Ichigo, if you want to do something, like really want to, you just have to set your mind to it and keep trying. I mean, I didn't get this beautiful and strong by sitting on my ass all day, no matter how pretty it is.' Teased Candice, with a wink, which caused Ichigo to give a small smile.

'Thanks I guess.' Said Ichigo, as he gave a small smile to Candice.

'No problem. That's what friends are for, right?' Responded Candice.

'Yeah.' Said Ichigo, before becoming quiet again.

The two continued their walk back home, with Ichigo leading Candice up to her driveway.

'I'll see you later Candi.' Said Ichigo, as he started to head home, before pausing after a few steps.

'And thanks again.' Said Ichigo, before he walked to his house and entered, leaving Candice behind.

Candice smirked at this, before heading to her house as well and entered it, finding a slightly worn out Bambietta inside.

'What happened to you?' Asked Candice curiously.

'Met a girl who was way too energetic. If she didn't have so much Reiryoku, I would have just ignored her, but I needed to scout a little. She proved rather helpful… if not a little tiring.' Explained Bambietta.

'Ah that's too bad, especially since I got to spend hours with Ichigo and already made more progress with him than you.' Said Candice, in mock sadness.

'Sure, I bet you just teased him for a bit.' Said Bambietta, indicating she wasn't impressed.

'Oh I did plenty of that, don't get me wrong, but I also beat up a bunch of losers in front of him and we fought a gang together and then we talked about his situation, even if he didn't realise I knew what he really meant and he acknowledged me as a friend. I think I'm forgetting one more thing though… hmm, oh yeah and he called me Candi. Too bad, stalker, I'm winning.' Said Candice cheerfully.

'What? Candi, come back here and explain everything in more detail!' Shouted Bambietta, as she chased her fellow Sternritter.

'Sorry, Bambi, but I need to get ready to go help Yuzu soon. Good luck catching up.' Said Candice mockingly.

Bambietta stared up the stairs after Candice disappeared.

'It is on Candi!' Shouted Bambietta, as she started to brainstorm ideas, to improve her standing with Ichigo.