A/N: Gah. It's been a while... I sort of wanted to make some headway on TWiBaW, and then this got left by the wayside a bit. e.e Apologies for the short update, but the two stories are running on the same sort of base timeline and it's getting confusing.

It wasn't too long before Uryuu arrived at the location of the hollow attack.

He cursed at the sight of Rukia Kuchiki attempting to look inconspicuous whilst talking to what would, to any normal person walking past, appear to be thin air. Ichigo was there too, oh yes, complete in shinigami regalia and with a ridiculously huge sword.

Does he really think he's invisible like that? I mean… there are any number of people in this town who can see ghosts in one way or another. Even his sisters… wait, this apartment block looks familiar.

Reaching out with his senses, he detected the faint yet familiar sensation of both Tatsuki Arisawa and Orihime Inoue. Uryuu cursed silently. Probably the hollow that was once her brother marked her out for the kill.

And then everything went to hell in a handbasket as reality rent open in a narrow slice of darkness hanging several feet above the pavement. A single arm reached through the gap between the dimensions as the rest of the hollow slid out. It was a mainly serpentine creature, with two clawed arms and a relatively human torso, much in the manner of a naga.

The hollow smashed the window open, breaking into the apartment. Ichigo followed it, leaping up onto the window-ledge.

That moron is going to get himself killed if he keeps this up.

Uryuu aimed carefully; he would get one shot, and accidentally shooting one of his friends was not his intention. If he was careful, he could break the mask and then –


What? If I leave it like this –

He is going to have to fight his own battles at some point. You can't be there for him forever.

That's not a normal hollow, though! There's no way that's freshly turned, it has to be adjuchas rank at least!

Ichigo's blade swung forth, before rebounding off the tough scales as the hollow lashed out, flinging the Substitute Shinigami through the window. It followed, slithering out through the window.

"You stole her from me… now I'll take that soul of yours from you, shinigami!" it hissed as one claw swiped downwards.

Okay, this has gone far enough. Concentrating, he condensed the air around the creature, slowing down its movements as it shrieked angrily. Uryuu gritted his teeth, focusing on keeping the barrier in place long enough for Ichigo to take the creature's head off. His friend did not fail to do so, causing the hollow's outside form to dissipate and revealing the true form of the soul within.

Rukia Kuchiki looked up, noticing him suddenly.

"Hey, who're you? Come back down here!"

Time to start running, I think.