The morning noise awoke me from my pleasant dream slowly. A bird had somehow decided to stay in the tree by my bedroom window during the winter this year it seemed. Not that I minded, really. It always seemed to wake me up right on time for my morning classes. Although on my days off it kind of sucked but oh well. I stretched out slowly and winced at sudden small pains on my body. My cheeks colored instantly as Masaya's arm snaked around my bare side and pulled me closer to his body. I had slept with Masaya last night.

TMM: College Years XII



Blushing, I sat up in bed and moved the blankets to my chin to cover myself. I looked at my new lover and felt my cheeks color at what all we did last night. His back had eight scratch marks in it that I had made during a… particularly frantic part of last night, and his neck and shoulder had more than a fair share of hickies scattering them. Me on the other hand; I had small marks down my neck and covering my chest as well as a few in an area I was sure to never tell anyone about.

Masaya stirred lightly, making me move backwards a little. My tail sprang to life and decided to twitch out behind me as he made a show of sitting up and stretching. I couldn't help my eyes from looking over his toned body and let out a playful "Mryow!" in appreciation of it.

He blushed a little and gave me a cute lop-sided smile in return. "Good morning, Ichigo."

"Morning." I scratched one of my ears shyly. "Ummm…." A grin came to my face.

Seeing my shyness, he couldn't help but laugh. "Wanna be my girlfriend?"

"He asks after stealing my virginity."

"Hey, I think it was given happily."

My cheeks grew hotter, but I returned his playful flirting. "Oh? What makes you say that?"

"Well you was the one who was screaming."

"I did not scream!"

"Ichigo, your neighbor pounded on the walls."

"Did they?" I brought a hand to my mouth. The two of us looked at each other a moment before slowly starting to snicker. A moment later we were chuckling, then laughing all out before I hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Masaya."

"For what?" He asked, running a hand through my hair.

"I dunno. For everything I guess." I tightened my grip on him. "For being there for me… You know."

"Hey, don't mention it." His hand lifted up my chin and gently claimed my lips in a soft kiss.

When that led into another kiss, which lead into another, I found myself leaning back down on the bed slowly, taking him with me. "This time…I'm on top." I winked at him playfully.

Masaya opened the door to his apartment slowly and took a step in; trying to be quiet enough not to wake his room mates with his early arrival back to their home. His two living partners were awake, however, and currently on the couch in the living room waiting for him.

"Where have you been man?" Mark asked angrily over a mouthful of captain crunch. "I texted you like nine times last night looking for you!"

"Yeah!" Darren added in, slightly angry as well. "You said you were going to make sure Ichigo got home all right, and when you didn't come back I messaged her and she never answered either! We were worried sick about you!"

"Umm…." Masaya scratched his cheek and took a few steps in. "I stayed over there last night…"

"We went and knocked on the door! No one was there!"

Masaya blushed lightly. "Ahhh…. We were… asleep…"




Mark stood up and pointed at him. "Holy hell, you got laid didn't you?"

Darren stood as well, holding back his tears. "Congratulations man!" He turned to Mark. "He's growing up so fast!"

"So come on man, did she make a lot of noise or what?"

"Um, I'm right here!" I yelled at them, stepping from behind my boyfriend. "Do you quite mind discussing my love life like that? What makes you think we had sex anyway?"

"Because your faces are red, you're hair is completely messed up, and Masaya for once is in a good mood in the morning."

I sniffed. "I'm taking a shower." I walked past the two boys and toward Masaya's room. Luckily their apartment had two bathrooms in it, one on each side. Since it was originally meant for four people, each two shared a bath. Masaya was lucky enough to get one all to himself since their music room was next to his. "Masaya-dear, will you make me some waffles?"

"Sure." He waved at me. "Towels are in the hamper," he scratched his cheek lightly. "I, kind of, haven't done my laundry in….two weeks."

I sighed. "Figures. I'll find a clean one." I closed his door just in time to hear Mark scream out something about Darren owing him five dollars because Masaya wasn't in his third year of college when he lost his virginity.

I adjusted Masaya's shirt around me slowly, trying to get it to fit without revealing two much of my shoulders. I had it tied at the waist to show off my stomach and a new cute kiwi belly button ring charm. Luckily I had left a few pajama pants over here from when I stayed the night on the couch and done their laundry for them. I made it a point to stay at least once a week to make sure they took care of themselves.

Looking at the doorknob, I swallowed. My tail was behind me and my ears were in plain view now. Masaya had told me that the guys were already sure I was a mew mew but never did anything to prove it because they were worried about my privacy. The deal was that Masaya would tell them while I was in the shower and would put a tie around the doorknob if things didn't turn out good.

Fortunately for me, there was no such tie, so the guys must have accepted me like Masaya tried convincing me of this morning. Swallowing, I reached for it and felt my tail spaz out behind me in anticipation.

Opening it up, I stepped into the living room where everyone was in the kitchen cooking together for a change. Darren seemed to be cutting up some strawberries while Masaya was making some batter, leaving Mark to actually make the waffles. When they realized I was in the room, all three looked at me.


Darren seemed fascinated with my ears, but only grinned at me. Mark, however, walked over to me and looked down to my head. "Ichigo….. You know I love you like a sister, but I just have to do this."

I sighed and rolled my eyes, knowing instantly that he was going to want to touch/rub one of my cat ears. "Go ahead."

But instead of feeling his hands on my ears, he suddenly broke into a song. "I want chicken, I want liver, meow mix, meow mix please deliver!"

I gaped at him a moment before laughing. I was stupid to think even for a moment that this group of guys would out cast me because of something like this.

"So Anyway, Ichigo… If you don't mind me asking… What exactly is going on anyway?"

I hopped onto the barstool and watched them cook for a moment, trying to decide how to word it. "I'm not entirely sure. All that we know so far is this group of people who…"

The story went on through breakfast with a few questions along the way. Mostly they were worried about me changing while Masaya was worried about me fighting. Mark seemed to be worried about me not changing back from my 'battle phase' form. When my genes were so excited they actually started turning me more and more cat-like. Every battle made me stronger, faster, and sharper. I never really thought about it since I could always keep it under my control. Personally I wasn't too worried about it.

After breakfast, we all took time to actually clean up the kitchen and the mess they made (After a lot of protesting). Then we decided on a movie to watch while talking about nothing in general. It seemed as if they forgot I was a mew mew after only a few hours and everything was just as it had always been.

Only now I didn't have to wear a cap all day long.

My classes just seemed to drag by on Monday. Mainly because Kish was absent for my first two classes, leaving me with nobody to talk to. I hoped the poor guy wasn't sick; the flu has been going around lately. Moreover, the people coming to the bar at night have been a little slow lately because of it. Although I wasn't really worried about the business aspect of the bar and grill, it still kind of worried me when it wasn't as packed as normal. Maybe I should ask Ryou about it.

Speaking of Ryou, I never did manage to talk to him yet. He still thought what happened Saturday was a flaw of his ship and not the fact that there were supposedly two more mew mews that were against us right now. I would have to break it to all of them before or after work, depending on if Ryou brought it up or not.

I opened the door to his bedroom without knocking and walked up behind him, resting my arms on the back of his computer chair. "What'cha doing?"

"Sending an order out to have my ship repaired and inspected. I'm really sorry about the other day."

"Don't be," I flopped onto his bed and scooted back on it enough to cross my legs. "The damage done wasn't because of bad maintenance."

"…What do you mean?" He stopped typing and swirled his chair to look over at me.

I looked down. "It was…Zakuro."

"I don't understand, she fell too?"

I gave him a small grin. "No, I mean she was the one who did it. She's a Mew mew."

Ryou opened his mouth to ask me what I meant, but closed it. After thinking for a few moments he tried again. "What do you mean? The only ones injected were you, Pudding, and Lettuce."

"And Zakuro, with one other. Kisshu did it. Zakuro had some sort of dog ears or something. Maybe a wolf or a fox, I'm not sure. They were gray"


"She also said something about going back to normal. I'm guessing she can't get rid of her ears or tail either…"

"So Kisshu turned our own plan against us…" He leaned forward and put his face in his hands. "Great, just great. What are we supposed to do now?"

"I invited Zakuro to come to the bar and talk sometime. Kisshu said that he lied to them or something like that. I don't know much; just that he's deceiving them somehow."

"All right… I'll think on this, you need your nap?"

I nodded. "Yeah, and a cigarette. You have one?"

He gave me a lopsided smile.

"Good work today, Ichigo," Lettuce bowed to me as she passed by on her way to the changing room.

"You too, Lettuce!" I smiled and waved before hopping up on the bar. I would change a little later. "Ryou, make me a strawberry daiquiri, please?"

"How about one for me as well?"

We both turned to the door, where Zakuro was leaning against the door frame. A shorter girl was next to her, arms crossed over her chest and looking at me in a way that clearly said that she would rather be anywhere in the world than where she was. "Zakuro! You came!" I hopped off the bar and took a few steps forward, only to have the girl she was with step in front of her and put an arm out. "Hey, I'm not going to attack you…"

"We'll sit here," Zakuro said as she walked to the bar and sat on one of the barstools. After sitting down, she took off a name-brand style baseball cap and sat it on the bar. I also removed my standard issue hair band and sat it on the bar as well before hopping up on a barstool myself, a few down from them. "Ichigo, this is Mint." She motioned to the girl she was with. "I believe Ryou already knows her."

"Hello Mint." Ryou greeted her with a light nod. "Would you like a drink?"

"Most certainly not. I don't see how you even work here, Ryou. It's smelly and such low-class."

I snorted, but kept my comment to myself. She must be that rich kid Keiichiro mentioned to me earlier. Zakuro's assistant.

My drink was given to me and a sister of it was placed in front of Zakuro. "So," Ryou began, hopping to sit on the bar. "Ichigo tells me that you fought against her."

Mint stood up to say something, but Zakuro motioned for her to calm down. "Yes. We fought. Or more like I fought. Ichigo didn't attack me."

"You're not our enemy!"

"Ichigo." Just the way Ryou spoke my name, made me quiet down. "Zakuro, you're an intelligent lady. Why are you with Kisshu? You know he's the one invading the earth."

"I wish to be turned back to normal. His actions do not affect me. The military can stop him easily. I am not worried about him taking over the earth by himself."

"And if more people follow him? The Chimera have been on earth for a while now. He can make and control them at will."

"It did not concern me until I was brought into this mess. I wish to be fixed and then take my leave from it. You are the one who made me the way I am so I will fight you until I am changed back."

"That doesn't make any sense!" I protested before Ryou made me silent again.

"How did I do anything? I am responsible for Pudding, Lettuce, and the device made for Ichigo."

"That device also turned me."

"So you cannot make your ears go away?"


I sighed and took a long sip of my drink. Zakuro at least seemed to be enjoying her daiquiri. We came off as non-hostile to them it seemed.

"I can probably help you." Ryou hopped off the counter and walked over to her, despite Mint's obviously disapproval. "Ears like Ichigo's. Tail too." He walked around her as she calmly sipped her drink. "May I take your pulse?" Zakuro held out her right hand, palm up, for him. I watched amused as he counted her beats for a minute. "Just as I thought, it's fast for a human."

"Mmhmm." She looked over at him. "Kisshu promised me that I could change back. I just have to take out your team for it to happen."

"Why don't you let me try?"

Zakuro stood up. " 'Try' and 'Can' are too different things. Thanks for the drink, Ryou. We'll be on our way now."

"Zakuro!" I stood up and ran over in front of her. "Please, let's talk about this! Don't go, I don't want to fight against someone like me! Please!" Her eyes almost seemed to get moist a moment before her body suddenly hunched forward. I gasped and ran over to her as her hands went to her head and a scream rang out from her mouth. "Zakuro!"

"Get away!" Mint threw me away from the girl and pulled out some sort of device from her purse. A moment later the air shifted around them and they teleported way.

"What…was that all about…?"

I shivered lightly as the wind blew around me on my walk home. Ryou's jacket offered warmth to my body but my legs were freezing and my hands felt like they were going to fall off, even in my pockets. I guess I should start driving to the bar in the mornings instead of walking to classes. That way I could drive home at night instead of freezing my butt off in the steadily dropping temperature

"So you're the one getting in our way…"

"What?" I turned around quickly to see who had spoken to me, but no one was there.

"So slow!" I felt a knife blade pressed against my neck and my left wrist and grabbed and twisted behind my back. "I don't see how Kisshu hasn't beaten you yet."

"Who are you?" I asked softly, scared the blade would cut into me if I spoke any louder.

"Me? I'm Tart. Nice to meet'cha."

In his introduction, I felt a little slack given to me. It wasn't much, but I still managed to use my agility to rip my right arm up to grab his wrist and lean backwards at the same time. I spun over him in a back flip and threw him into the air at the same time. Tart steadied himself as my feet touched the ground.

I had to dodge to the side to avoid his jump kick, spinning my leg out to connect with his head.

My attack never landed.

Instead I found my legs kicked out from under me and the world falling as I tumbled down onto the ground. A fist connected with my stomach before I even landed completely, robbing me of my breath. Rolling over, I tried to breathe air back into my lungs, but my hair was grabbed and pulled upwards.

I could barley make out the figure of someone who looked no older than seventeen or eighteen. My head jerked to the side as his fist connect with my cheek. I felt tears swell into my eye, but I still managed to lunge forward and swipe down with my hand to rip clean through the light armor he wore and cause four long gashes appear on his chest.

Tart bit back a scream and lashed out with his knife again. Now ready for him, I sidestepped quickly and wrapped my arm over his and jerked to set him off balance while at the same time bringing my other hand down to the back of his neck. The move should have knocked him unconscious, but a searing pain in my side quickly informed me that whatever race the aliens were, they obviously didn't have the same weaknesses as humans.

I let Tart go and found his fist in my stomach again, making me double over. A second later my body was forced back as another blow landed on my face. A third was directed at me, but it was dodged and counter attacked. I punched him across the face with my left hand and then in the chest with my right.

I grabbed his hair and rolled around; slamming his face into the nearby wall of the alleyway I was in. Pulling him back from it, I did it again, this time bringing my knee to his stomach. He gasped out, allowing my to bring my hands together and slam them both down onto his back.

Tart hit the ground and yelled out, grabbing my foot and pulling on it hard. I toppled over and tried to get my act together, but Tart took to flying, dragging me by one leg as he did so. I have no idea how fast he was going, but I was actually skidding on the ground as he went out of his way to slam me into things.

Screaming in pain, I bent my knee quickly and managed to sling myself forward enough to grab the wrist that had a hold on my leg. Pulling on it, I brought my other hand to his arm and pressed my nails into his skin before ripping back on it

A hot sticky liquid flared against my hand and leg as he screamed and let me go. I landed hard and skidded several times before rolling to a stop. I couldn't see out of my right eye and I felt more dead than alive. I could hear Tart breathing angrily in through his nose and out of his mouth. It was clear he was in a lot of pain, but also obvious that he could still go on by the sounds of his steps getting closer.

Pressing up, I managed to get to my feet before getting kicked and sliced with his knife. Another swing came at me, but I blocked it and clocked him across the head, sending him reeling. I collapsed down and desperately tried to remember how to stand before he came back.

"That is enough." A new voice came in, making Tart stop in his tracks. "Tart, report back to base immediately. There is no need to fight if nothing is gained from it."

"Shut up Pai, I can take this one on!"

"In your weakened state, she could kill you if she uses her powers. The point of a surprise attack is to win before they can adjust to what's going on and attack back."

I was panting now, finally standing. "Strawberry bell…" A small jingle on my wrist came from my bell as the energy grew in it. "Ribbon…." The energy grew more and I felt it engulf my hand. I don't know how exactly I could manifest this energy like this, but when I battled for a long period of time, my genes took over and allowed me to do so. If I could only hit him with this, it would be over… "Strawberry…"

"Let's go."

"Che, fine."

I saw both aliens disappear and the energy in my hand slowly dissipated into nothing. Soft white puffs of fog came from my mouth as I panted, hunched over clutching my side. I knew at least one of my ribs was cracked, and I had a searing pain completely down my side where his knife had done its job on me. Looking around, I tried to ignore the pain and access where I currently was. Fortunately my apartment wasn't far off so I decided to go there. If I was too bad, I could call Ryou to come patch me up.

I collapsed against my door and panted a moment while I tried to fish out the key from my pocket. After what seemed to be hours, I finally managed to find it on my key ring and slide it into the slot.

I barley remembered how to close my door and didn't even bother with the lights. Stumbling into my room, I went to the section that had my vanity and somehow managed to illuminate that area. My blood stained cloths were removed and I collapsed to the floor panting in pain while trying to patch myself up. I had never had a battle quite like that one, and hoped I never would again. After such a long eventful day, not sleeping much, and then a full day of classes and work, and more stress with Zakuro… I was surprised I fought as well as I did. I may not have scored any lethal blows on him but I was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to wield his knife again anytime soon.

I bit back a scream when I touched my side and finally allowed myself to look at it. Immediately I wished I hadn't. My stomach turned and I felt sick at the sight of my own blood down my side. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered to clean the would and wrap it tight, not changing the bandages again until the bleeding stopped.

It was a long process and I almost reached for my cell phone to call for help, but I didn't want to. I was attacked because I was alone out on the street. I didn't want anyone else to get hurt on their way to me.

Finally I declared myself done and leaned against the wall, panting heavily. A little sloppy, but all-in-all I was pleased with myself. Holding a cold pack to my eye, I managed to crawl over to my bed and fall into it, not even bothering to try and pull my covers up before letting myself pass out in exhaustion.

"Ichigo! Ichigo!" Something was shaking me. "Ichigo! Wake up! Ichigo!"


"Ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, mother- OW!" I pushed away the person shaking me awake and curled on my side. "Owwwwww……."

"You're awake!"

"Of course I am…" I breathed in through my nose to try and calm myself. "The way you was shaking me, I 'm surprised I'm not dead!"

"I'm sorry… Are you okay?"

I gently tested moving, glad to feel my wounds mostly closed up. I was about to tell whoever it was that woke me up that I felt like life had caught me in bed with it's only daughter, but after realizing it was Masaya, I rethought my words. "Yeah, I'm fine…"

"You don't look fine. You look dead!"

I snorted. "Doesn't every girl when they first wake up?"

"Ichigo…." His voice softened and the next thing I knew he was laying on top of me without putting his weight on me. "God, Ichigo, I was so scared…When you didn't come over for breakfast I came to get you…There was some blood on your door and when I opened it up, it trailed all the way here…"

I hugged him back gently, trying to calm down my breathing. "I'm okay. Just a rough night…Is there really blood trailing here?" I looked over his shoulder and say that there was, in fact, noticeable blood stains from the door to my bathroom, to my bed. "Man, I hope that comes out…"

Masaya sobbed and pulled me closer to him. "I don't like this…"

"It was just a small battle. Really honey, I'll be fine in two days." We pulled apart lightly. "Really. Two days. Good as new. I heal like you wouldn't believe." I smiled at him through my lie. I knew I probably wouldn't even walk straight after two days, let alone be healed. I gave myself a week to be in even remotely good fighting status again. "But you know what would really make me feel better?"

"What?" He wiped his eyes and tried to smile at me.

"Some bacon and eggs. And some French toast. A large glass of milk too, extra cold."

He looked down at me, and I looked up at him. We stayed this way for a few moments before he finally let out a worried laugh. "You never stop thinking about food do you?"

"Nuh-uh. Cook for me?" I gave him a cute look.

"Yeah. I'll clean up this up first. I can bleach your sheets to get those stains out, but the carpet….we'll hope for the best."

I nodded and with his help set up. "I should change my bandages. I didn't put any disinfectant on them last night. I just wanted to stop the bleeding."

"I'll run you a nice bath. Let you clean and relax. Then we'll worry about everything else." He slowly helped me get to my feet, but I had to literally lean all my weight against him to remain standing. "Can you make it?"

"I don't think so…" I blushed lightly. "Can you… take a bath with me?"

"Yeah," He answered right away, more worried about me than anything else. I couldn't help but try and hug him a little bit. He was such a caring person.

"I told you, I'm fine," I protested to my boyfriend as he opened the door to his apartment. "You don't have to go this far."

"About time," Mark greeted us, annoyed. "I was waiting for you to get back before I-holy hell, what happened to Ichigo?"

"I'm fine." I snorted at him. "Masaya just wants to carry me, that's all."

"Shush." He walked over to the couch where Darren was hurriedly shoving things onto the floor to make room for me. "Just lay here. I'll make you breakfast now."

I pouted up at him and moved my slightly damp hair out of my face. For some reason it annoyed me slightly that he was treating me like glass, but at the same time I was flattered. I understood why he was worried. I mean, I'd be crying if I found my friend laying in bed with blood on them. But still, I wasn't a baby!

I looked over at Masaya, who was starting to gather items while sparing me worried glances occasionally. Slowly a small smile came to my lips and I closed my eyes. He must really like me to worry like that. Mark and Darren kept shooting looks over at me, but kept things to themselves. They were probably waiting to talk about it over breakfast.

"So, did you tell her yet?" Mark asked his friend while trying to duck under his arm to get a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator

"It's not the time."

"Tell me what?" I pondered aloud, leaning up gently to see them. "What you guys talking about?"

"Go on man, tell her!" Darren encouraged Masaya playfully. "It's an honor man!"

"What is it?" I asked again, pouting. "Tell me!"

"You guys suck." He turned over to me and offered a small smile. "Ichigo isn't really into Kendo anyway."

That wasn't really true; I just felt a little awkward going to watch his practice because of what happened the first time I did it. That, and I was normally at work while not in classes. "What's up?"

Mark pounced his friend, draped an arm over his shoulder and used his other hand to poke his cheek. "Masaya here is going to fight in the kendo tournament! Only one can enter and he was voted in!"

"You ruin everything, you twit."

"Oh wow! Congratulations!" I smiled at him and went to go give him a hug, but I quickly remembered why I was laying on the couch and decided it would be best to just stay there. "I'm proud of you."

Masaya scratched his cheek lightly in embarrassment.

I had a long day at their apartment, being pampered every moment and having three guys basically wait on me every moment I was awake. Most of the time there I was asleep, only having a fog of consciousness in between hour or so naps. After I talked all three of them out of taking me to the hospital or at least a small clinic, they finally settled on keeping really close tabs on me and my wounds. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as I thought it was last night. I couldn't walk well because of a cracked rib and not because of the long gash on my side where his knife contacted with me. Even though that was still a main reason I couldn't stand up straight.

As for everything else, I was more beat up than wounded. I didn't think I would be able to go to classes tomorrow, let alone work. Five or six days from now I should be in normal condition to walk around and do my every day things, but I was scared to death of another attack coming before a few weeks went by.

After painstakingly making my way up the stairs I stopped at the top to catch my breath a moment. Masaya had walked me to my apartment building but I refused to let him carry me again, and sent him back on his way.

I noticed then that someone was standing at my door. After a moment of trying to focus on him, I realized it was Kish at the same time he turned to walk down the stairs at the other side of the hallway. "Kish!" He heard my call and stopped, looking over his shoulder.

"Kitten!" He quickly ran over to me and wrapped his arms around me gently. "Are you okay?"

"I'm, uh, fine… How did you know I was hurt?"

"It was on the news about a few students getting attacked. I saw it was on the way from your work to your home."

I blinked. No way could news have gotten out that fast. But, how else would he know? "Thanks for caring…" I shivered a little as his hold tightened on me slightly. "Kish… you can let go now…"

"I'm sorry…"

"For what?"

He pulled back and tried to give me a smile. "For troubling you so much."

"You're not troubling me at all. If anything I'm troubling you. I haven't done much on the report at all and you're always supporting me in classes…" His facial expression got really sad a moment before smiling again.

"That doesn't matter; I enjoy reading about the past. More importantly, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine." I sighed. "Just for a little bit, I don't want to hear that every few moments."

"Sounds good. Umm, I guess you're not in the mood to do the report then."

"No, no, I need something to take my mind off of things." I smiled at him and put my key into the lock.

I never really just flat out skipped a whole day of classes before, but I felt like I kind of deserved to today. Waking up in the morning to the sound of my bird friend chirping didn't really do much for me. My body was past the straight pain part of the battle and now lapsed into the whole body ache. Only my side was still seriously hurt, but everything else felt like I would die if anyone touched it.

Crawling out of bed, I gingerly walked over to my vanity mirror and lifted my shirt up to see my side again. What greeted me was an ugly bluish black bruise covering most of it where I hit a trash can or something when my attacker was flying while dragging me.

I then remembered why I was dressed in the morning already. Kish has crashed over here last night after studying till way into the morning. After opening my door and peeking into the living room, I couldn't help but smile. Kish had somehow fallen off the couch at one point in the night and apparently didn't wake up from it. Instead he had drug the covers from the couch to cover himself. One leg was still on the couch and his head was titled back lightly, snoring very loudly.

My head shook lightly as I put on a loose hair band as I made my way into the kitchen to start looking around for some food to cook. It was times like this that I was glad I kept my apartment clean. When over at the guy's place it would take me ages to find anything at all to cook with. Here, everything had its own place.

Kish awoke a few minutes later and sleepily sat up to look around. Moments passed and he slowly realized he wasn't at his place and then remembered that he stayed with me. Kish picked up his tinted glasses and his cap and slid them both on before standing. He yawned slowly before stretching out with a loud pop in his back. I winced lightly at the sound, making him laugh before hopping up on one of the two barstools for the island in my kitchen. "Morning Sunshine. We skipping classes?"

"I am, I dunno about you. You can't make your first one so you should stay for breakfast at least."

"I can stay all day with a pretty girl like you."

My cheeks colored. "K-Kish, you're embarrassing me."

"My apologies." He put his cheek in his hand and leaned onto the counter while smiling at me.

I never got around to telling anyone about what happened to me besides Masaya and his room mates. I know that this was kind of an important matter, but I was really too tired to really do anything about it. Mark said he was going by the bar a little later in the day for lunch along with Masaya. Originally I had planned to call Ryou and tell him I wouldn't be at work that day and explain everything that had happened but sometime along the way I had fallen asleep and had a blissful dream of an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. It was interrupted while I was on my third course by my cell phone blaring out the OC theme song.

Mumbling to myself I reached for it and flicked it open. "What is it Ryou?"

"Are you okay? What happened? Why didn't you tell any of us? Where are you?"

I sighed. Apparently Masaya made it to the bar and was questioned on why I wasn't there. Fortunately enough, the girls knew I was crushing on him in the first place and that he knew we were the mew mews. Unfortunately for me, though, Masaya was still worried about me and probably told them everything. Now I couldn't just give them a cute look and say sorry.

"Don't you think we needed to know about you?" Ryou was almost yelling into his phone. He was probably up in his room for some privacy. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine."


"Meh. I was sliced up my side, knocked around a bit an thrown into every inanimate object that was in the three block long ally way."

"How is the cut? Is it deep?"

"Kind of. Probably will bother me for a week or so."

"Can you come in? We should check it for any type of poison."

I rolled my eyes. "Ryou, it happened like a day ago. I think if I was poisoned it would have killed me by now." I mentally kicked myself after saying that. I could have killed myself by not calling them. I surprised myself at how smart I was sometimes. "But seriously, just give me today and tomorrow off to rest. After that I should be fine."

"Okay, but only if I can come over later today to check up and examine you."

"That'll work. Can I sleep now?"

"Yeah, uh, sorry for snapping."

"Remind me to mark the day down that you apologized at the right moment." I grinned.

I heard a small scoff. "Yeah, you're fine." The phone clicked off then and I smiled. It always made me feel better by making him mad at me.

A few days passed quickly for me, being nothing more than blurs of my bed sheets and friends cooking for me. Lettuce stayed over with me for two nights along with Pudding. I really enjoyed being able to talk with them and to just have fun. I was getting a little bored of my apartment, though. Ryou had insisted that I take the week off from work so I would be 'in top fighting condition'.

Reaching over for my phone, I hit the speed dial for Masaya's cell. On the third ring, Darren answered it. "Hello, you've reached Masaya's cell phone. Darren speaking, how may I assist you today?"

I giggled. "Hey Darren. Where's Masaya at?"

"Currently bent over in front of the 'fridge with Mark."

"…. Ooookay, what for?"

"We're cleaning it out."

I almost dropped my phone. "Cleaning? You guys?"

I was about to start laughing, but Masaya's voice came onto the line like he was yelling out. "Oh score, I got dibs on this!"

"No way man, you got the relish, I want the mustard!" Mark's voice argued with him, making me blink.

"Hell, it may still be good!" Darren yelled over at the two boys. "Sniff it."

"I ain't sniffing it!"

"YOU sniff it."

"Fine!" I heard the phone be put down and then a click of a glass jar being opened. "Oh sweet Jesus!" the sound of something slamming down of the table came next, followed by coughing.

"Hey Ichigo, how are you feeling?" Masaya came onto the line.

"…. I'm coming over."

"You feel like getting out?"

"More than you know." I stretched out. "I've been in bed for the most part of five days. I want to go for a drive or something."

"Awesome!" His voice was excited. "Can you drive us around town? Please?"

"Um… okay…"

"Great! I'll see you in a few!" Masaya clicked off his phone in favor of yelling to the guys. "She's gonna drive us!"


"Why are you so excited?" I asked a little nervously as the guys all piled into my car. Mark, who had first declared 'shotgun' was- for lack of a better word- giddy for some reason. When I had arrived, the boys were already ready and waiting. Masaya held a paper bag filled with what I supposed was what was spoiled or left in their refrigerator for a few months. I never did actually clean that up for them.

"No reason," Masaya told me, leaning up to peck my cheek. "Just go to the by-pass will you?"

"Don't you want to throw all that away first?"

"No!" All three chorused at the same time.

I was taken aback, but nodded slowly. "Okay… to the by-pass then."

"Sign!" Mark pointed to the first large sign on the side of the road ahead of us. "Load me!" Masaya, to my astonishment, put a glass jar of... something… in his hand while Mark rolled down my window.

"Oh, wait, tell me you're not going to-" My words were cut off as Mark literally leaned his entire upper body out of my car and hurled the jar at the sign as we passed. I heard a loud crashing sound before all of them called out in triumph. "Oh man, I'm going to go to jail, I just know it…"

"Good one!" Darren high-fived his friend before looking at me. "Let's give her a shot."

"Oh no, I am not doing that!"

"Oh come on. Even Masaya loves this!" Mark protested. "Masaya, load her up!"

My boyfriend, to my amazement, dug through the sack and got out a small glass of what looked to be like cocktail sauce that went bad several months ago. "Here, this is good for your first throw."

"I'm not doing this!"

"I'll drive for you." Mark reached over and grabbed the wheel.

"Mark! Let go!" I tried to move his hand from the steering wheel while at the same time making my car not swerve over and hit the ditch or something. "I mean it! Let go right now!"

"Not until you throw something!"

"I told you I'm not throwing anything!" I tried again to remove his hands from the steering wheel, but they were planted strong. "We're going to crash!"

"Are not, I'm good at this. Darren taught me."

"From someone who doesn't even own a car, I'm not encouraged!" I gripped his hands and pulled, almost going off the road. "Okay, okay! If I do, will you please not kill us?"

"Sounds tasty." Mark looked ahead while I took what was offered to me. "There's a sign there." he nodded to a large 'Vote for me!' sign. "I don't like that guy anyway. Cream him!"

I growled, but leaned part way out of my window and threw the small bottle. I heard a sickening sploshing sound that somehow, despite my best efforts, made me smile. "Oh my god, that was so cool!"

"Flip a bitch, let's go see it!" Darren shook my seat, making me laugh.

"Fine fine, I'll turn around..."

"Oh my god!"

"What?" I jerked slightly.

"You hit it Ichigo! Stop! Stop the car! NOW!"

I hit something! I barley managed to look in my rear-view mirror and check to see if anything was behind me before slamming on my brakes with Mark still screaming at me to stop the car.

When it was almost to a complete stop, Mark was already opening the door and scurrying to the front of my car. "She hit it…. It's dead…"

I felt tears spring to my eyes and my hands start shaking nervously. What did I hit? Did I just kill a puppy or a little kitten? I felt my arms shiver; scared of what I just done. Mark slowly cradled something in his hands and made his way solemnly to the door, where he sat with his back toward me. Darren moved over from the backseat to look over and his shoulders sagged when he saw what mark was holding. "What…what is it?"

Mark turned back over to me and held out his hands. Looking down to them, I saw nothing. "It's a pregnant ant!" He proudly declared, sending Darren and Masaya into a rolling fit of laughter.

"Pre…pregnant… pregnant ant?" I screamed out at him and felt like slapping him upside the head. "What the hell Mark? I was shaking!"

"She still is!" Darren managed out between fits of laughter, pointing at me.

My ever so loving boyfriend Masaya was also doubled over, laughing so hard not even he could hold back on my behalf.

"Mou!" I hit the gas again and took the exit into the city. My arms were still shaking from both anger and being so scared. Pulling up to a red light an idea suddenly popped into my head. "Hey guys, ever done a Chinese fire drill?"

"A wha?" Mark looked over at me.

"I know what it is," Masaya leaned forward between us. "When you come to a stop sign or something everyone gets out and runs around the car before its time to go again."

"Oh man that's gotta look cool!" Darren was excited, grinning ear to ear. We're totally doing it on the next stop."

The light turned green and I had to bite back my smirk. "I don't think even you guys are up to it. What if you don't make it around in time?"

"Is she doubting us?" Masaya asked, shocked. "Mark, I think she's doubting us?"

"I think she is. Well then," He turned to Darren. "We'll just have to show the little kitty what we're made of!"

I slowed down getting ready to stop at the stop sign. I timed it perfectly where I stopped just as the car to my left drive by. It was a crowded intersection, which only made the guys more excited.

"Okay go!" Mark cried out, opening his door the moment I stopped. I waited a moment until they all were out and as soon as I saw them in my rear view mirror I hit the gas, taking off and shutting all the doors to the car. My laughter rang out hard when I saw their faces in my mirror. Each one was positively shocked.

Grinning, I drove for a little bit before stopping at a gas station and hopping out to go in for some ice cream. When I had made it back out to my car I had just enough time to hop on the back of it and start licking my new treat while watching them trudge down the road. When they reached me I smiled happily. "What's wrong guys? Did you have to stop and help a pregnant ant along the way or something?"

Masaya could only hop up beside me and lean forward to rest. I made them walk about a mile at least. "For the record," he began, grinning. "I think we deserved that."

"Hell, I'm a little proud." Darren agreed.

"Cheers," Mark half heartedly joined in. "Man guys we just got punked."

"So now what?" my voice asked lazily as we drove along the bypass on the way back to our apartment complex. We had gotten lunch while we were in town and made a stop at the Toys 'R Us store but were thrown out before we even go past the first row of cash registers.

"What you looking at?" Darren asked Masaya, who was riding next to me now.

"Is someone on top of that truck up there?" He pointed up to an eighteen-wheeler that was a few cars in front of us. "No, man, I'm serious! Look!"

I leaned forward a bit to look as well and nearly ran into the car next to me. "It's Zakuro!"

"Zakuro? Like the movie star Zakuro?" Darren leaned over the seat to get better look. "Are they filming or something? Ichigo-chan, why don't you ever tell us you know people like that?"

My breath caught in my throat when I saw Kisshu teleport in next to her. He calmly sat down on the top of the bed truck and crossed his legs. Ever so slowly his gaze came to land on me. His eyes were covered by his mask but I could still feel them bearing down onto me; challenging.

The next moment a small energy blast made the car next to me screech and slam into the wall dividing the two sections of the bypass. "Holy hell!" Darren leaned backing his seat and gripped the door with one hand and the seat with his other. "What was that?"

"Kisshu!" I was positively pissed now. That car could have had children in it! Gripping the wheel hard, I ran the options over in my mind. Just how was I going to get to him before he hurt anyone else while on a bypass that had five lanes per side? When his hand lifted again to throw another ball, I knew I didn't have time to think rationally. "Masaya, get the wheel!"

"What?" He reached over and grabbed it for me. "Ichigo, what are you- what are you doing?"

"Slide over," I told him in a commanding voice as I rolled my window down. "I'm going to get on top of the car. I need you to steer me over to the truck."

"I can't do that!"

"Thanks" I hit the cruise and proceeded to scurry onto the top of the car, leaving him to scramble into the driver's seat. "Get closer!" I yelled down to him when I was situated. My tail was flaring out behind me in the wind and I felt an insane wind noise though my cat ears. "Once I jump on, get away from here!"

"Oh man, oh man, oh man." Mark was probably looking positively freaked out at this moment. "This is so freaking cool!" I had to fight from crawling back into the car just to pop him one.

The truck steadily got closer as people fought with each other to get away from it. When we were directly behind it, I leapt onto the hood of my car and then onto the back of the eighteen wheeler. Using the doors to my advantage, I climbed up the polls and crawled onto the top.

The wind hit my face hard; making me put my arms up to block the wind. "About time," came a voice I wasn't used to. "You should have made it three seconds faster."

I glared at the speaker, a tall alien with purple hair and matching armor. Unlike Kisshu, he didn't have on a helmet, but instead something that looked like a visor going over his eyes. Several things flashed around it as he spoke "By the way you are leaning, there is a ninety-seven percent chance the third rib on your right side is fractured. Your muscles are weak due to excessive bed rest and have not been prepared for movement. Also your breathing indicates that you are having a hard time getting sufficient air into your lungs due to the wind."

I was speechless. How on earth did he know that?

"Kisshu," He went on. "From the data, you could have taken her down easily a month ago, even without using your full power."

Full power?

"Shove it, Pai." Kisshu returned. "I was having fun."

"In the future, please refrain from your fun." The Alien known as Pai turned back to me. "Today is the last time we allow you to interfere with us."

I scoffed. So what if he knew my physical state? I could still easily take him down. Running forward I pulled my fist back to punch him. Pai, however, simply grabbed my fist and slammed his own into my chest.

Stammering back, I suddenly found it harder to breath from the blow. I put this aside and grit my teeth, moving forward again to sweep kick him. Pai simply took a step backwards to avoid this and while I was off-balanced, kicked me hard.

My fingers literally scratched the top of the truck bed while trying to stop myself. My right arm hurt badly from it but I tried not to let it show. Standing up again, I ran forward. At the last moment I lashed my right foot out to try and knock him away. Once more he seemed to know exactly what I was going to do and with the greatest of ease caught my leg and pulled on it. I felt a sharp pain on my calves from being stretched and then another pain on my chest when his elbow crashed on the same spot I was hit before.

The wind was knocked out of me and I was still in melee range of him. Thinking fast, I used my left hand to try and scratch him along his chest, but found his hand gripping my wrist. I looked up at him, scared, and tried to move my other hand to free myself from his grasp. He caught this hand too and I was helpless.

Swallowing thickly, my mind raced furiously to come up with a way to get away from the man. The visor he was wearing suddenly flashed to life and something that looked like an arrow pointed to the side.

Turning, a small ball of water hit his face. Before I knew what was going on the small ball of water suddenly burst into something that looked like a small tsunami, throwing him so hard he almost fell off the side of the truck.

"Lettuce!" I gasped out, remembering again how hard it was to breathe.

"Ichigo-san, are you all right?" She ran over to me and helped me stand.


"Shirogane-san," She answered immediately. "We've been tracking them for a while. We were on our way calling you when we found them but you didn't answer.

"Cell phone's dead," I mused out while watching him stand. I then noticed the air was dying down. "We're stopping." I looked down on the road, where Pudding was actively motioning for the driver of the truck to pullover on the top of Ryou's car.

"What do you say? Want my help now?" Kisshu asked, standing up and walking over to where Pai was. "The truck's stopping."

"I am very aware of that, Kisshu."

"The purple one is Pai," I whispered to lettuce. "He seemed to know everything I was thinking before I could even do it."

"I will take care of the cat; you take care of the other one."

"I'll take care of Ichigo," Kisshu countered him.

"…Fine. This time do it properly."

Kisshu grinned. "Kitty, do you know what's inside this truck?"

"I have no idea," I replied while Lettuce circled around. Pudding jumped up onto the truck as well.

"You call them motorcycles, I believe." He held up a strange device and pressed a button on it, making a motorcycle phase into existence next to him. "Catch me if you can!"

With that, The alien jumped onto the bike, gripped the clutch, and literally drove off the truck and back into the traffic.

I leapt down and looked around for some way to chase after him. "Ichigo!" I turned to see Masaya and his friends running over to me.

I couldn't possibly ask them for help.

"What are you waiting for? GO!" I turned to Ryou's voice, where he threw me his keys. "Run him off the road!"

"I can't drive and do that at the same time!" A loud explosion rang out where Kisshu had gone. "Oh my god, he could kill someone!"

"I'll drive." Darren grabbed the keys from me and ran over to the car.

"Darren! You moron!" Mark shouted over to him. "You know good and well that-"

"Shove it Mark!"

"Idiot still thinks he's a policeman."

So that's what he did in his past?

"Let's go! Ichigo!"

I ran up to the car and leapt onto the top of it. "Let's go, Darren!"

To my surprise, the car shot forward like a bullet. Crouching down, I heard the car roar, shift gears, then roar again. Darren weaved in and out of the cars so fast that I was scared he was going to ram into one of them at any moment. He shifted gears again and turned sharply to the left, then slammed the gas and went forward, only to swerve to the right again.

Taking a deep breath, I saw Kish run another car off the road and into the side railing. Using this to my advantage I leapt from the car I was on and tackled Kisshu. My body turned instantly as his bike lay over, pinning half of him between it and the ground. I held onto his shoulders and braced myself for the impact. He hit the ground and I rode the bike like a surfboard until he too slammed into the wall.

Thrown off, I hit the ground and skidded several times before finally rolling to a stop.

I coughed and tried to move, but found myself unable to. My ribs were killing me and I was sure my entire right side was a giant bruise. Opening my eyes, I saw two feet land not far from me. Kisshu had apparently taken to the sky when I thought he hit the wall. I forgot that he could teleport.

"Why don't you just stop?" He asked, standing in front of me. Desperately I tried to move but my body wouldn't listen to me. "I know you don't like doing this." I tried again to get up, but only succeeded in making my breath a little more ragged. "You're not a warrior. You're a girl just out of her teens. You're not some super hero. All you do is following the instincts of the animal you were merged with." I looked upwards to stare at the helmet Kisshu wore as he knelt down in front of me. "Pai showed me the data." He tapped his helmet. "This records every battle. He studied you and knows every move you can make before you even make it. But what I know about you, Ichigo, is you aren't what you think you are."

What does he mean?"

"You think you're saving the world? You're a child, you're in over your head, and you don't even know how to protect what you think you are protecting. All you do is relying on the animal inside yourself and hope it'll work out."

I grit my teeth together hard, trying to force my body to move. I didn't want to listen to what he was saying anymore, but the more he spoke the more I realized it to be true. "Shut….shut up…." Even my voice was weak.

Sirens slowly started to come into my ear shot and I saw Kisshu stand. "Then, Ichigo, if you are a warrior that protect the earth, then protect the people who are coming here now." He held out his hand and formed…something… into it. "Go!" He reared back "Chimera Infusion!"

A loud screeching sound ran through my spine. A large rat suddenly filled half of the highway. Several cars slammed to a halt and footsteps ran out along the pavement. From my position I could see several police officers bracing to fight, guns pulled and in position to fire.

"See, Ichigo, they are trained. They know what's on the line, what it cost, and will give their lives in needed to protect. You don't have that. You're just an animal. And now you'll see the difference between you and them."

No! No, don't try to fight it! My mind was screaming at the police, trying to form the words, but they wouldn't come. My chest felt like it was caving in on me, making it impossible for me to speak.

Gun shots rang out, followed by several screams. I barley managed to tilt my head to see several of them get tossed to the side like they were nothing.

I couldn't move to help any of them.

I closed my eyes tightly, begging my body to move again, pleading through tears to try and help them. I always had power before, why not now? Was I nothing more than an animal? Was my body so weak that I couldn't do anything on my own?

Was I… really not someone who could protect?

My arms finally moved to my command and I managed to push myself up. "No…"


"…No…. No…" I slowly made my way into a weak standing position. "I may only be a college student… I may be cursed with these ears and tail…I may be beaten until I can no longer move…" Kisshu didn't say anything as I started to walk to him. "But… But I have people I love… I have people who I need to protect… whether I chose this or not… The people I pass along the street… the people I talk to in classes… the people I see at the bar… All of them… I'll protect them all… Unskilled, weak, dying, I don't care. I'll still fight. And that, Kisshu, is what you don't understand."

The boy stood there a moment, looking at me. Then before I could say anything else, he teleported away.

The energy gathered in my hand. "Strawberry bell…" I held up my fist. "Don't let me down now…" My feet ran forward. "Everyone move!" My fist clenched tightly. "Strawberry Check!" I threw my hand forward and let out the energy being stored there.

The large rat screamed out in pain before appearing to fade into nothing. Now that it was gone, the injured policemen all turned to look at me. At first I was scared that they might be able to tell who I was, but when pink hair fell into my line of sight, I realized that my body had already changed from normal to my 'mew mew' stage.

"Well done." One of them said softly to me. I could only offer him a small smile in return.

Ryou was now running over to me with a beat up Lettuce and Pudding following him. When he reached me I looked up at him lightly before leaning against his chest and relaxing. His arms went around me and I finally allowed myself to pass out into them.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed. Sorry for the delay in updates. Hopefully next chapter will be better. Oh, and if you thought something here was a little "off" , just bear with it, it's for future chapters. Please drop a review.