Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters

Chapter Six: Exams of doubt

Mamoru smiled at the woman he knew would one day be his future wife. She didn't notice his loving look because her eyes were far too focused on the delicious gourmet food that had been placed in front of her. With all of the strange occurrences that had progressed over the past couple of days he decided that a soothing dinner date was optimal. She seemed better, though obviously still shaken by the second dream she'd had. Instead of instantly gobbling up her food, like she usually did no matter the circumstances, she picked at it for a bit before placing a small piece into her mouth. She swallowed and looked up, finally noticing his look and returning it with a soft one of her own.

"Are you not hungry?" she asked, gesturing to his untouched dinner.

Mamoru looked down, quite unaware that he hadn't even touched his food. He looked back up and smiled. "I am," he said, taking her hand from across the table, "but you looked far more appetizing than my own food."

Usagi let loose a surprised laugh, one of the only genuine ones he'd heard in awhile. Her cheeks became red, flushed with a blush as she shook her head. "Mamo-chan, you're such a schmoozer," she teased, giggling behind her hand in a comely manner.

His eyes remained steadfast on her form, his lips frozen in a tepid smile, but his mind whirred about a singular dilemma. His purpose for bringing her out to dinner was to force Usagi's lamentation over letting her friends go to rescind to the back of her mind. He wanted her to look forward and work hard to keep their world safe from within. However, in doing so he needed to be able to talk to her about things that she obviously didn't desire to discuss. Though his intent, at first, was a medium through which he wished she would relax, he couldn't help the urge that burned in his chest to ask her about her dreams. The arousal of her depression, however, he knew would be the repercussion. She watched him carefully, quite aware that something was wrong as Mamoru battled his desires. Her happiness versus her safety. While the former was vitally important, he figured that without the latter there was no happiness.

When he didn't speak for a while, Usagi knew what plagued his thoughts. Her grip on his hand tightened and the uncertain smile that'd been fixed to his lips fell to a curious frown. Her jovial demeanor had diminished and he almost physically felt her serious carriage as she braced herself. "Just say what you want to say, Mamoru," she deadpanned.

He nodded, knowing that she'd caught him and he didn't want to bother wasting the chance. "Have you ever learned Spanish, Usako?" he asked, watching as her brow wrinkled.

She shook her head. "No, never," was her reply. "Why do you ask?" Mamoru could tell based off of her perplexed look that she was wondering just why that was such a difficult question to ask.

He sighed. "In your dreams you've been saying words in Spanish," he responded, watching as her curiosity piqued before falling behind a more muted façade. She looked away and her grip on his hand alleviated. Mamoru cursed his overeager ambition as her posture slumped lower and her once powerful look became timid and uncertain. Before she could fold onto herself and close off to him completely, Mamoru grasped her hand reassuringly. "Usagi, I know I don't have to feed you soothing reaffirmations that your friends will be alright or that you made the right decisions. Whether you're mentally cognizant of the fact or not, you know deep down that things will work out and you did." He could see the tears building in her eyes, her blue orbs plastered to the ugly restaurant carpet. But her fingers laced themselves with his, her own physical response to his words, encouraging him to continue.

"You need to face these dreams head on. Learn what you can about this man; what is his name, how does he know about you or our friends, what does he want?"

He wasn't sure why but Mamoru's skin crawled with consternation when Usagi looked up from the floor. Her eyes were angry; not towards him, he was sure of that, but her face had become encased in a moderate fury towards the man who invaded her mind. He'd never seen her so disturbed as she opened her lips and spoke. Her voice was low but cold enough to send chills through his body, to raise the hair on his arm.

"Sosuke Aizen, 12 years ago, and my crystal."

The evening was chilly for a summer's night and Ichigo's hands were shoved nearly haphazardly into the pockets of his long pants. He'd gone for a lone walk, figuring some time to incorporate physical movement with his mind's mental uproar would settle the uncomfortable fury that had moved into his muscles. His posture was slouched, head bent low as his eyes bore deeply into the ground with frustration. His brain simply didn't quite know how to wrap itself around the recent developments. Sure he was able to accept the fact that he'd procured some sort of worthiness in a world where monsters ate souls and he could see spirits and whatnot. But people traveling from another dimension? The absurdity in that question alone made him purse his lips and run tired fingers through his spiky orange hair. Not only did these women claim to hail from a different dimension, but they allegedly harbored magical powers festering untapped within their bodies. Ichigo almost wanted to laugh. He felt like some cruel hand of fate had painted him on the pages of a poorly written manga.

What he needed to figure out and solve was why the inexplicable emotions that raged through his body around those girls were so strong. Why did they even occur? Why was he so comfortable around two of them and so unbelievable uncomfortable around the other two? Ichigo kicked a crumpled can that happened across his path and watched as it skittered away from his foot. It slid noisily down the street until it came to a jolting stop beneath a feminine, black shoe. His eyes followed the shoe up the body of one Rukia Kuchiki, whose face sported a distasteful frown. Her arms were placed heavily on her hips and in one swift movement she kicked the can harshly back at his face.

Instinctually Ichigo ducked with his hands on his head and watched behind him as the can smashed harshly into the brick façade of a building. His head snapped back to face her full of wonderment and irritation. "What the hell was that for?"

"What is your problem, Ichigo?" she quipped back, bringing her hands from her hips to fold tightly across her chest.

Ichigo stood straight and turned his eyes away from her. Rukia had an uncanny ability to read him no matter what turmoil tumbled through his head. He liked it and hated at the same time; on one hand, it was nice to know she cared so much, but on the other it was damn annoying that she could basically read him like an open book. "I don't know what you're talking about," he muttered almost dejectedly.

Rukia rolled her eyes. "Oh please don't play that card you sulky little boy." Ichigo looked up angrily to retort but Rukia continued. "Do you think I'm so unobservant that I haven't seen the way you've been looking at those girls?"

Ichigo gave her a sly look. "Jealous much?"

Rukia stomped quickly over to his vicinity and hit him hard over the head. "Not if the prize is you, you dimwit!" Ichigo glared at her and rubbed the back of his head. Her face and voice softened. "Plus, I'm trying to be serious here. Your focus is vital in this hectic situation. I just can't have you snapping on any whim."

Ichigo refused to relent his clutch on his juvenile attitude, despite the more cautionary and serious tone she'd undertaken. "What are you, my boss or something?" he retorted.

The seriousness and worry Rukia had conveyed melted into a more annoyed and angry look. "Would you grow up?" she snapped, placing her hands on his shoulders and giving him a hearty shake. Still he wouldn't look at her. "Stop being so damn stubborn and tell me what's wrong!"

"It's nothing, Rukia," she said, shrugging her hands off his shoulders gently enough to communicate that he wasn't angry with her but didn't want to talk about it. He kept his eyes plastered down the street, not sure he really wanted to see the disappointment he knew was painted all across her face.

Sure enough she let go a tsk of displeasure. "Fine," she replied, voice terse. Her next words were like darts dipped in poison—aimed in his direction and prepared to sting, but solely used for intimidating measures. "But make sure you help us train them. Whether you know it or not they're here to save this and their own dimension. Not only that, they're here to save this city, these people, your friends…and your family."

Ichigo spared her a quick glance before looking back down the street.

Rukia continued. "If I remember correctly you went through a whole lot of trouble to help me after I saved your family."

"That was different," Ichigo said quickly, shaking his head.

"How so?" Rukia asked.

Ichigo sighed. "You nearly gave up your life. You gave me your power. Respect and merit are given where they're deserved." He finally turned to her. "Do you see how lenient we're being? Why? Why are we helping them with open arms when we know nothing for sure? Who says they're not the enemy?" He took his hands out of his pockets and looked and them, lips pressed together tightly. When he spoke it was almost like a secret he was telling her, his voice low enough that Rukia actually had to concentrate just to hear him. "Do you know how much I worried about Orihime at night because of them?"

Rukia watched him carefully. Sure, she'd been mulling over the same questions since these four strange women happened across them. But her solution had been a little different. "Believe it or not I have an answer to each of those questions."

Ichigo looked to her skeptically from his hands, slipping them back into his pockets slowly. He raised an eyebrow, signaling for her to continue.

"We're lenient, Ichigo, because we're the good guys. We care enough to trust those who come to us with a problem. It's what we do. We're not blindly lenient, though." Rukia smirked. "I'll trust them until they betray that trust. Plus we're always watching, always careful. If we don't reveal too much about what we can do and who we are then we keep the upper hand. You know what they say, keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer." Rukia shook her head. "But I'd rather see the good in people before the bad. Not to mention I kept an eye on Orihime last night just to make sure, I worried about her too."

Ichigo's sheer surprise at her words melted into an appreciated smile.

"I'll let you figure your stuff out on your own, but you need to sort it out. And soon." And with those parting words Rukia turned and walked briskly away. Ichigo watched her go, brain sinking into frustration with every meter she put between them. He knew she was right, everything she said made perfect sense. It was just…


She turned around quickly, eyes watching him expectantly.

"I'll help train them." He didn't mean to wipe the building smirk off of her lips but he continued. "Just don't let me work with the brown haired one." She looked at him questioningly and Ichigo frowned. If they were supposed to become a team with these girls he didn't want to ruin the relationship before it even started. "I'm not sure I'd be able to hold back."

He couldn't read her expression, standing so far away, but he could tell it had hardened from the worried one it'd been before. Her head bobbed slowly in a nod before she turned and continued out of his sight.

After she disappeared Ichigo continued on his walk slowly and alone.

The next day Makoto couldn't help but feel left out. She could feel the budding animosity between her and the orange haired kid, Ichigo, ever since he'd stormed out the night before. Nobody talked about the incident but Makoto was sure it was lurking somewhere in the back of their minds. How he'd managed to garner enough reason to dislike her already irked the brunette. She was used to a person hating her, that was for sure, but usually it was because she'd beaten them up or given them a black eye or something. For someone to outright despise her for no legitimate reason made her temper rise. It didn't help that her mounting frustration increased with every look of rancor he slipped her way.

She felt awkward around the group now because he seemed like such a genuine guy. He seemed to take quite well to Ami and Minako, trying to work up conversations with them and looking interested when they responded to one of his questions. He was shy around Rei, that much was obvious, but she didn't seem to care too much about getting to know him seeing as how she and that Ishida kid bickered like it was their job.

What made it even more awkward was the fact that everyone could feel the palpable tension between her and Ichigo. An unexplained tension, yet nearly tangible nonetheless.

She bumbled behind the group silently; Ami, Ichigo, and Minako were talking in the front. Rei and Ishida fought heatedly over the actual color of water—Rei insisted that it was blue since in mass quantities that's what appeared, while Ishida argued that phenomenon's like Jamaica's Black River clearly defied her logic. Behind them Rukia, Sado, and Orihime laughed about something that had occurred in class that day. Makoto, using the excuse that she needed to tie her shoe, had fallen behind the entire group, watching from a few paces behind as they bonded.

She couldn't help but feel like the outcast, like Ichigo's approval was what would initiate her into this aspiring evil-fighting team. If that was the case then Makoto was nearly certain that she would be that awkward girl in the background, a part of the team but not a valued member. Her anger flared for a moment, mind coursing along reasons as to how or why this happened to her, and the hairs on her arm stood on end. She could feel her face becoming flushed with vexation as her hands fisted tightly by her sides. She caught Ichigo glance quickly at her curiously before he regarded her with a more skeptical once-over. Makoto probably would have said something to him if Rukia hadn't announced their arrival to Urahara's shop.

The plan was simple and had been devised as such; every day after school the group would trek over to Urahara's shop to train. The first three hours would be conducive towards aptly learning how to handle and treat a sword. The second three hours would be more aimed towards awakening their powers and putting their newly harnessed sword tactics to use.

Makoto looked up at the building and sighed, trying to build up some encouragement. She imagined herself like Mulan; a woman thrusting herself in a place where she was reckoned unwanted to prove that she could produce a viable source of protection for the ones that she loved. She smiled. Suddenly it didn't seem so bad. Mulan was kind of a badass, not to mention she totally got the guy in the end. Makoto's fist clenched now more in positivity and inspiration as she walked with the group into the building. Bring on day one!

Urahara sighed. It was day four and they'd hardly managed to make any progress awakening their powers. One good thing was that the girls were surprisingly adept with their swords—they explained something about millions of years ago, a stone sword, the moon, some battle…but still no movement on the power front. Physically, however, with the use of their swords, they'd become quite powerful.

Rei had opted for a bow and arrow on the second day, explaining that her power took the shape of one and she was in the archery club at home. Urahara saw no harm in it, seeing as how Ishida used his Quincy powers in the form of a bow and arrow. That, however, meant that he and the girl would be working together for the first three hours, which caused his ears some grief. Urahara was glad she'd switched, though, because she was actually quite amazing with a bow, better than Ishida he'd dare to say. She wasn't quite as tactically smart but that would come with time.

Ami outshined the rest in tactics. Her ability to assess weak points, discover the components of their power, and formulate defensive and offensive maneuvers actually impressed him. She was nowhere near as good as he was, Urahara internally gloated, but then again, not many were. Ami's biggest problem was that she was shy with a sword. Capable, sure, but not willing to work her hardest to inflict damage on someone she knew. Based off of her description of her powers that didn't surprise him much. Ami, he could tell, harnessed quite a lot of strength that she refused to put to use. If she would only tap into that, Urahara believed that she would shock the others as the most efficient and powerful of the group.

Makoto…was a case study. She was strong, there was no doubt about that. Her martial arts skills were impressive, near Ichigo's skill level, but when tempted or frustrated all of that training morphed into sheer brutality. She was good with a sword, better than Ami but less fluid than Minako, but seemed to space out a lot. She had a disturbing mindset never to give up, which Urahara both liked and was worried by solely because of the fact that her body was able to push itself through a beating. Not to mention the growing despise between her and Ichigo was blatantly apparent. When he'd pulled her aside and asked her about it one night after training, she merely shrugged her shoulders and told Urahara to "ask him."

Minako was the best with a sword. She handled it nearly effortlessly and Urahara took it upon himself for the first two days to refine her natural talent. It was like she and Makoto switched places when it came to sword abilities and martial arts. She was pretty good, but Makoto obviously would have the upper hand against her in hand-to-hand combat. She seemed to get a long with everyone and was the obvious leader of their group. Not in the fact that she reigned best in all abilities, but the fact that when the time came to it, she simply exuded authority. Outside of the battlefield, however, he would dare to call her nearly dim.

For the past couple of days, when it came to power work, Minako had been training with Ichigo, Ami had been training with Ishida, Rei was battling the combined effort of Orihime and Sado, while Makoto battled Rukia. Nobody was getting anywhere.

Urahara growled in frustration. His hand clenched tightly on his cane as he watched them battle. That's all they were doing; they battled but they didn't fight. "Stop!" he yelled. Each person froze, semi-tired gazes looking up to his, surprised. "This is ridiculous," he said. "None of you are actually trying to hurt the other one."

Rei looked confused, trying to catch her breath. "But," she took a deep breath, "but we don't want to seriously injure each other," was her reply.

Urahara turned to her. "You said that the only way to awaken your powers to put yourselves in extreme amounts of danger. If you aren't trying to kill each other then this entire thing is moot!" he tightly replied. "I'm starting to think you girls don't even have powers." The fact that they hadn't even produced one lick of power yet made his statement slightly true, besides the fact that he could just barely feel something there. He was really starting to believe that his mind was starting to make things up. His words evoked the reaction he'd hoped for when they all glared at him with different levels of despise. "It's time to switch partners," Urahara announced, pointing to Rei. "You work with Uuryu. You," he said, pointing to Minako, "will work against Sado, Orihime, and Rukia." Minako gaped at him as he turned to Makoto. "You will work with Ichigo." The blonde haired man watched as Ichigo tried to insist that he was fine working with Minako but he waved off his protests. "And you," he said, pointing to Ami, "will be working with me."

Their bows were raised, aimed for the heart. Rei's mind was a whir of contradictions. Should she truly aim to hurt him? Sure they fought, even more intensely than she and Usagi usually bickered, but she by no means actually wanted to pierce his flesh with her arrow. He had discarded his Quincy bow and opted for a powerless one like hers, for the time being at least. Both of their strings were taut, finger quivering with the desire to release, to feel the air blow by their faces as an arrow shot forth. But they simply stood their ground, staring each other down.

"It's your choice, Rei," she heard him say.

What he meant by that she clearly did not understand as she cocked her head to the side. His indication that she was the one holding the cards was beyond her. Perhaps he was trying to get into her head, to make her shoot off the first arrow. She shrugged her shoulders and complied, letting one arrow go and reaching quickly for another as she watched him deftly dodge. Before he had a chance to even stand back up, another arrow was flying in his direction. He managed to deflect it with his bow but by that time she was already in a dead sprint towards him. He managed to dive out of the way of her first kick and delivered a powerful thrust of his own foot towards her shin. She leapt above it and after landing, spun on the tip of her toes, aiming a roundhouse kick to his lowered head. Reaching up, Ishida grabbed her thin ankle and lifted himself to his feet, taking her leg with him.

He, expecting her to fall to the ground, was thoroughly surprised when she didn't, her flexibility permitting her leg to rise almost to her ear. Rei grinned. "8 years of yoga."

Ishida smirked as he palmed her sternum. "Yoga this." He shoved her chest and Rei, unable to keep her balance, fell to the ground, gracefully contorting it into a back summersault. But he'd pounced upon her before she could even rise from the ground. His arm reared back to hit her in the face—and he would have, if he hadn't have hesitated. For some reason the thought of hitting a girl, one that wasn't seriously trying to hurt him at least, did not bode well with him. In his brief moment of mental clarity, Rei, not necessarily debating the same morals, elbowed him in the nose followed by a swift knee to the gut.

With a grunt Ishida rolled away from her, standing and placing a hand to his nose. When his fingers pulled away they were wet with his own blood. He had to admit, he was glad she'd done that…because now those morals, those conflicting ideologies he'd been debating, dissipated. He would now have no qualms about hitting her.

She approached him again and deftly jabbed at his face. His speed, however, increased two fold and he snatched her arm, twisting it behind her back and slipped her head in his bow, the string effectively putting her in a chokehold. She'd seen it coming, however, and was quick enough to place a hand to her neck, keeping her fingers between the cutting bite of the bowstring and her neck. That didn't necessarily reduce its pain much, however.

He roughly struck her in her back and Rei gasped as her knees buckled. Her shoulder seared with pain, still being held at an odd and very painful angle by his hand. In desperation she flung her head backwards, successfully connecting with his nose again and he staggered backwards, dropping her to the ground.

Rei spun quickly in her knees, pulling out an arrow and knocking it…only to come face to face with a speeding shimmering light aimed directly for her heart.

Minako watched her three attackers carefully. They'd surrounded her in a triangle of doom, either waiting for her guard to slip or formulating a plan based on aggravating her by not moving. Or so she thought, based on the welling impatience inside of her. But she kept calming herself, knowing that rushing into a battle would only quickly put her on the defensive end. She would devise her own plan while they tested the fortitude of her guard.

Suddenly one of them moved and Minako ducked instinctually, a fierce beam of power shooting over her head. And before she knew it a sword was reigning down on her as Rukia cut deftly and expertly towards her jugular. Minako parried just in time and contorted her body so as to doge another blast of power from Sado's arm.

Rukia jumped away from her and did some strange hand movements Minako didn't understand and said some words she couldn't hear. Before she knew it, however, she was hit by a powerful blast that knocked her backwards. She groaned as the dust settled, recognizing the coppery taste that infiltrated her mouth. It was no time to rest, however, as Rukia appeared like magic from the dust, sword raised and prepared to strike.

Minako rolled out of the way, standing and ignoring the pain in her body. She blocked the blow and parried with a swift one of her own, effectively pushing Rukia back. While the smaller girl was still stumbling, Minako aimed a kick at her chest, only to pull her foot back quickly as something that looked like a missile aimed to injure her leg. She looked over to Orihime who stood the farthest away from her and looking bashful.

Her senses tingled and Minako contorted her body again, dodging a blow by Sado and just barely escaping a swipe from Rukia. Blood trickled from a new wound in her forehead, the tip of the short girl's sword grazing her skin. She sprung backwards from the pair of them and realized that once again she was trapped in a triangle.

Sado's arm reared back again, Orihime shouted something incoherent, and Rukia's sword formulated a deadly array of ice. All sound drowned from her ears as the reality of the situation hit Minako. They really weren't playing around, they truly meant to hurt her.

As Senshi they'd never really fought to maim before, their sparring usually solely hand to hand. Only rarely did they use their attacks on each other. This situation, however, was not conducted in that manner. Here, she was not a Senshi. Her impending doom loomed over her head as three powerful attacks searched her out. It all moved in slow motion

All Minako could think to do was to hold out her hands as the three attacks crashed upon her.

Ami watched Urahara carefully. He stood in front of her, posture comfortable as if he didn't have a care in the world. Not to mention an insufferable smirk was plastered to his lips. She couldn't read his eyes, their calculating deceptiveness hidden well beneath the shadows of his hat.

He toyed with his cane, twirling it back and forth as she watched him closely. She was on her toes, she was ready for anything that he'd throw at her. She tried to plan her moves ahead of time; if he came from her right she'd parry his blow, which he would most likely cut across his body. She knew this only because he carried no sword…but his cane, which he held in his left hand, could easily harbor such an instrument. If that were true then he would unsheathe it from his left and attempt to cut her in one motion. If he came from her left she'd have more time to block his attack unless he struck from above. If he came straight on…

Ami's thoughts went into hyper speed as he moved. His swiftness was such, however, that she could not see him. Luckily the ground was made of incompact dirt, which, with her quick eye, allowed her see his footprint. As soon as her mind registered that he was coming straight on Ami darted foreword, monitoring his footsteps in the dirt and calculating the point at which they would meet. She'd already racked up the height of the longest possible length of his sword and at what point she would need to duck.

When that point approach Ami fell to the ground and slid as if she were going for a base. A brief flash of sliver glinted above her head, snatching a few loose strands of her hair. Ignoring how close she'd come to being struck in the head Ami used her momentum and sprung to her feet, immediately administering a kick that missed.

His speed was still to quick for her but Ami had already made a plan for that. When she'd slid, she'd picked up two handfuls of the dirt. Immediately she threw one handful of dirt into the air to her right and backed away. Her mind swiftly noticed how a thin strip of it blew even farther to her right. The movement had been from his sword cutting through the air, just barely missing her. Therefore he was on her left.

Ami threw the second handful of dirt to her left, watching as he sputtered for a moment before she struck with her sword. She hit air and was immediately struck on her temple.

Her vision became blurry and all Ami remembered was something silver aimed towards her stomach before it erupted it a geyser of heat.

Makoto watched Ichigo carefully from her position across from him. She stood ready, muscles tired though taut with preparation as she readied herself for battle. She recalled what Rukia had told her over the past few days about sword use and tried to exemplify preparedness. Ichigo stood across from her, his ready position abandoned as he watched her with a mixture of emotions battling across his features. His face became a mottled blend of anger, worry, and pity as his eyes shifted from her to Urahara in different shades of distaste. With one last admonishing glance towards the man in the hat, Ichigo brought his eyes to Makoto's ready form. Her anger flared when he still hadn't even raised his sword.

"I don't want to fight you," he said. It wasn't a dramatic, 'please, don't let's do this, I don't want to fight you,' sort of thing but something more along the lines of a harsh rejection. Makoto felt like she was five again and being told on the playground that the other little brats didn't want to play with her. The way he said it made her feel unworthy of even his beating.

She shook her head adamantly and gripped the hilt furiously. Her hair had been falling in pieces from her ponytail over the course of the day and hung wistfully in front of her eyes. His admonition was just another jab at her patience and added to her mounting frustration. "Just raise your sword, you prick, who cares if you want to do it or not."

It was like Ichigo could feel her anger rising like the temperature. It made him uncomfortable and his body urged him to fight her, to put her down and quell the raising fires that made him so uneasy. His mind, however, was still aware of the fact that she was a part of their team, no matter how much his unprovoked despise urged him to put her down. Ichigo shook his head slowly and placed his sword on his back. "No," he said with finality as he turned to walk away. He was doing it for her own good, for the good of the group.

With a loud growl of aggravation Makoto threw her sword to the ground. Ichigo regarded her like a child throwing a tantrum as the dirt rose around her feet. She glared at him with fiery green eyes, cheeks flushed with fatigue and, whether she liked to admit it or not, from holding back the burning tears that were edging into her eyes. "Then fight me like a man, dammit!" Her rage soared and Makoto felt like this entire journey had morphed into a colossal waste of time and energy. "I have traveled a dimension away from my home, from the one person to disband all preconceived notions about me and welcome me with open arms, from the one person I have vowed my entire LIFE to protect!" Makoto was nearly shivering with resentment. "If you think that I'm going to let you waste my time and the energy I've put into bettering myself so that she will be alright then you are sadly mistaken!" She slipped slowly back down into her ready position, fists ready for hand-to-hand. Ichigo turned fully to face her, mind holding her in a different regard while his body still ached to make her bleed. "So get ready," she finished, "because I'm coming whether you like it or not."

Soooo it's been awhile! I had a pretty hectic summer and needless to say schools been twice as hectic as that. But here's another chapter, a little blander than the others but definitely setting up for more fun stuff next time. I just want to thank you all for such kind reviews, they really are what motivate me to keep writing these things. Hope you like! Until next time!