Sorry if this is short, EVERYONE! My computer is down, so im literally typing this on a friends comp. updates might not come for a bit, at least until i can get it fixed. Im REEAAALLY sorry about all this, but I'll do my best to get around to updating all my other stuff, as i have begun to do with my older stories 'Starting Over' and 'Curiosity' If any of you guys and gals wanna give a hand, then ur welcome to do so, but i might not be able to get back to u right away. I WILL however, give all of you a little heads up as to what to expect in this chapter:


Howling Chaser

(One week after Rukia's arrival)

He'd said it many, many times before. And idle threat here and there, a half hearted curse when they got out of hand and pulled one of their many pranks on an unaware student, even an occasional mutter when they roused him from his slumber to ask him the most ridiculous of questions. But this time, this time, Kurosaki Ichigo really was going to kill his zanpakuto.

Zabimaru had disappeared.


For the third time today, when Ichigo had transformed into a soul reaper, he found that his weapon was, of course, not belted to his hip as it should be, but gone, leaving only empty air behind in its place. They'd taken off again, probably in retaliation for the swift mental rebuke he'd given them during English class. And as luck would have it, just as the bell rang for lunch, so too did Rukia's pager. So, instead of enjoying lunch and studying for finals like a NORMAL teenager, Ichigo was once again taking time out of his day, to exterminate hollows. He'd been in such a hurry this time, that it hadn't occurred to him to check for the presence of his zanpaktou. Naturally, he hadn't noticed their absence until after the hollow decided to ambush him.

Now, Ichigo bolted through the streets of Karakura, trying to avoid hapless passerby and keep the collateral damage to a minimum. The pair of hollow pursuing him however, did not take such precautions. He winced as a spray of timber peppered his back, suggesting that one of the beasts had just crashed through the patio he'd leapt over. He muttered an apology to the unfortunate owner, but kept on going, narrowly evading a swipe with a burst of shunpo, one of the few useful things his zanpaktou had actually deigned to teach him. It wasn't enough that his zanpaktou could manifest itself at will, or that they could go about their business without being seen by anyone other than Ichigo, oh no, whenever he took his eyes off them, which, considering the fact that he was a high-school student and a shinigami, was quite often; they would choose that exact moment of inattention to go exploring!

Rukia was going to kill him if she found out that he'd 'misplaced' his zanpaktou again. For the most ridiculous of reasons, she blamed Ichigo for constantly misplacing his katana. No no, she wouldn't listen, let alone believe that his zanpakuto had the annoying tendency to get up and simply walk away. The first time he'd told her the news he'd only earned a kick in the shin, followed by a lecture which mostly consisted of: 'As a shinigami it is your duty to be prepared for battle at all times' But the absolute, worst, freakin' part? Ichigo could never, ever, find his Zabimaru when they decided to go on one of their afternoon jaunts. So focused was Kurosaki Ichigo on exacting a long, painful, and well deserved punishment from his blade, that the youth hadn't realized where his legs where taking him until after he'd unwillingly returned to the Kurosaki household and all but slammed headfirst into the door.

Stars exploded before Ichigo's vision, then he was violently thrown onto the stone steps leading up to his home. For a moment, he lay there, wincing as the acrid taste of blood filled his mouth, and his body protested in pain. He'd been expecting his quarry to leap out from behind one of the many alleyways leading up to the house, but there was no sign of them.

For the smallest of seconds, Ichigo dared to hope that the hollow had given up their pursuit.


An answering screech warned him otherwise.

"Shit." He spat around a bloody gob of saliva, growling as the shadow fell over him. Now, without a sword, there was supposedly little a shinigami could do against a hollow. Ichigo, having no such skill whatsoever pertaining to demon magic, was therefore forced to rely on a more...natural approach. He braced himself and took the stance that Tatsuki had taught.

The first hollow suddenly reared backward, screeching in agony as it clutched at the bloody stump that had once been its left arm. Seconds later, Ichigo rammed an open palm into the creature's face, breaking its mask like so much glass. With almost contemptuous ease, Ichigo now kicked the severed appendage aside, for it had already begun to disintegrate.

The second hollow was more wary than its brother. Having witnessed the destruction of its comrade, it now circled warily, refusing to come any closer for fear of the boy's fists. But now, Ichigo was positioned between the ghoul and his home. A grimace flickered across his visage when the hollow seemed to realize that its prey wasn't going to move. A low, throaty chuckle whispered across the air towards them, smug with satisfaction and confidence.

"Damnit." Unable to move, Ichigo splayed his arms wide, prepared to take the blow if necessary. "Just come on already!" Still, the hollow crept forward, the sly grin of its mask growing ever wider at the frustration of the helpless prey that lay before it. It came on at a heartbreaking pace, always wary, never drawing too close, still watchful of thos powerful fists.

It was right then that all hell broke loose.

From out of the clear blue sky, a red and white blur slammed into the hollows back with a gleeful giggle. It, the hollow, gave a keening wail of surprise, then toppled abruptly forward, its momentum upset by the intruder's weight. There was a blur of movement, followed by the rustling of chains as the interloper gracefully backflipped off the beast's sternum.

"Seems like you could use some help."

Ichigo, however, was less than thrilled.