Chapter 1: Wish I Didn't Love You

He was 'under orders'. At least, that was his excuse for following Ichigo to school. He felt better knowing that she was safe.

Not that she was in any danger, really — except from him. Ichigo was 'his responsibility'. He'd made that perfectly clear to Pai and Taruto ever since he'd first set eyes on her, intending to take her out himself. Though his intention towards her had changed, the understanding hadn't. For now, at least…

It would be so much easier if he'd just killed her at the first opportunity. He missed the simplicity that had been his mission when he'd first come to Earth. Killing off an an entire species was easier when he didn't see them as people.

He wasn't a fool, nor imperceptive. He knew Deep Blue was growing less and less impressed with his lack of tangible results to show for his efforts, and, in truth, so was he. But how was he supposed to get anything done when it involved defeating her?

He knew he couldn't do it. He wasn't foolish enough to admit to it anyone, but it wasn't something he could keep from himself. The question remained: did he take her with him by force (after all, she'd made it quite clear that she had no interest in coming willingly), or protect her, and her people by association?

In truth he hated both options.

Why did she have to be such a prefect mix of femininity and daring?

He made an impatient movement as an expression of his frustration and sighed loudly. The time had come to make a decision at last. The human phrase 'stuck between a rock and a hard place' sprung to mind.

He sensed Pai's arrival behind him as the air shimmered and he appeared.

"Kish," he acknowledged stoically, following Kish's gaze down to the roof of the school below.

"Pai," he returned nonchalantly.

"The chimera animal is very nearly finished," he said in that same even tone. "We will move tonight."

Kish nodded in reply. It wasn't a bad plan, all things considered. Pai had infused the soul of a young girl, creating a chimera animal capable of spreading an airborne toxin that would destroy the residents of Tokyo — and if everything went well, the world. But it was one they'd tried before, and try as he might he couldn't shake the image of Ichigo jumping towards the poisoned tree, and towards what might very well have been her death.

"You are prepared?" Pai asked, as if sensing some of his hesitance.

"Of course," he replied confidently, his bravado betraying none of the uneasiness he felt — or so he hoped.

At the very least, Pai seemed to accept it, for he nodded and disappeared as swiftly as he'd come, leaving Kish alone.

Below him the bell rang in the school, and he landed on the roof, crouching down as his golden eyes surveyed the people below, desperately looking for her. He was displeased to discover that she was not alone...

Ichigo was blissfully unaware of Kish's scrutiny as she walked gleefully out through the doors of the school.

"You look pleased," Moe said, grinning at her red-haired friend.

"She certainly does!" remarked Miwa. "Could it be that things are going well with Aoyama?"

Ichigo's blush was answer enough and both girls grinned widely. "Tell us!" They clasped their hands together and looked pleadingly at Ichigo.

Blushing furiously she grinned. "It's going well," she began before she heard her name being called from behind her. She turned around and smiled wildly when she saw Masaya running towards her.

"I was worried that you'd left already," he said breathlessly as he caught up to her.

She barely heard her friends murmured 'we'll catch up to you later' as they conveniently made themselves scarce.

"I didn't know you were looking for me," she replied eagerly, shuffling her feet nervously against the ground.

"Listen," he said. "I was wondering if you were free tomorrow?"

Her heart skipped so many beats that she was terrified she might have died. "Umm… yes!"

He smiled, and she felt her legs grow weak. "Good! I'll meet you after school then."

"Right," she said in nervous excitement, grinning from ear to ear as he waved goodbye and walked off.

As soon as he was out of earshot she jumped up and down in glee. "He asked me out! He asked me out!" she chanted happily as she dashed home at a break-neck pace. "He likes me! He likes me!"

"Alien alert! Alien alert!" Masha said loudly, shattering her excitement.

She stopped, looking around, trying to spot the alien. "Where?" she asked, as she prepared herself for the inevitable confrontation.

What were they planning now?

"Hello, Kitten," said a familiar voice from behind her, and she whirled around, her hands raised up before her in defence.

"What do you want?" she snapped as Kish floated lazily down in front of her, stopping and hovering about a foot in the air in front of her.

He flashed her a reckless grin. "I came to talk to you," he said cavalierly.

She scowled. "I really don't have time for this." She pushed passed him and stalked down the street towards home.

"Ah," he sneered, catching up to her effortlessly. "I suppose you have to prepare for your big date."

Her eyes narrowed and she rounded on him furiously. "You were spying on me!"

"You could do much better," he said, neither confirming or denying her accusation. She opened her mouth to yell at him, but he cut her off by placing a long, pale finger on her lips. "I don't have time to hang around," he said gently. "I need you to listen."

Her brows furrowed in silent question, and he knew that he had her attention.

"There will be an attack in the centre of the city tonight," he said quickly, after glancing around to confirm that they were indeed alone. "A chimera animal of Pai's making — it will release a poison that will destroy all those who live in the city."

She stepped back, her face stark in shock and horror.

"Its weak spot is its stomach…" he said softly. "If you hit it there, and destroy it before it can release its poison, the city will be safe."

"Why are you doing this?" she asked softly, looking up at him in confusion.

"I don't have time to stay. Remember," he said seriously, "aim for the stomach." He rose up, preparing to leave. "And Kitten," he added meaningfully. "Be safe."

His sensitive hearing picked up her surprised gasp as he vanished into thin air, leaving Ichigo standing confusedly on the sidewalk.

Slowly she gathered her wits about her, and dashed as quickly as she could to the cafe and to Ryou, Kish's parting words echoing over and over in her mind.

Author's Note: Dun, dun, dun… Just what is Kish up to? Stay tuned. Same bat time, same bat channel. XD

Giant thank-yous go out to KillerQueen348, cruelfeline and mysticghostwhisperer for their kind reviews! I appreciate your feedback, and hope that you enjoy this chapter as well.

Don't forget to let me know what you think! If you spot grammar errors, inconsistencies, terrible characterisation or just general tripe, don't hesitate to call me on it. As weird as this may sound, I actually love it when people do that.

Furthermore, I'm new to the fandom, so it's totally likely that I'll slip up on occasion (I haven't yet got canon firmly embedded in my brain), so pointing it out helps keep me on the right track.

'Til next time!