Strawberry Angel 12

Western Airlines

Max leaned back in her seat to look at the expectant faces around her, and sighed.

"Come on Max, we're on the plane," complained Iggy. "Just tell us already!"

"Fine," she snapped. "CSM recorded some scientists talking, and apparently there's a lot of activity going on around the School and the Institute right now. They're planning something, they think."

Ichigo cursed aloud, and pulled a cellphone from his pocket. His fingers flicked across the screen, and he scrolled through his contacts. "Hey, I need to call in a favor."

The person on the other end of the line sounded annoyed, the voice grating through the speaker. Ichigo snorted. "They're making their move."

The voice went silent. Then it returned, tentatively. Ichigo's eyes closed. "I know. But I need you for this."

The voice said something again, then the line cut.

Ichigo smiled a little, and dragged the laptop from the table to his lap. The click of keys was quickly followed by the swishing sound of sent emails, and a few responses arrived immediately with little chimes.

Still typing with one hand, he flipped open the phone again and hit speed-dial. "Hey, you. Things are getting hot. I need backup, quicklike. We're all meeting up in France of all places."

The line went dead almost immediatley. "He's on his way," Ichigo laughed.

Beep-Beep-Beep. "Hey man! How ya been? Listen, I need your help..."

This went on for about an hour, Ichigo calling in a huge number of people. When at last he set down the phone and closed the laptop, he immediately leaned over to drop his head onto Iggy's shoulder.

"You okay?" he questioned.

"Yeah, yeah," he sighed. "I'm fine... Just, we weren't expecting it to start this quickly."

Iggy rubbed his thumb across Ichigo's shoulder soothingly. "Yeah, I still don't get it," he admitted. "Your plans go way over my head."

"Doesn't matter," Ichigo muttered. "Everything'll work out in the end."

"What the hell is going on?" demanded Max at last.

"Ichigo's calling in some backup to deal with the whitecoats," Iggy explained. "Apparently, shit is going down."

Max growled lowly. "Explain."

"I did," snapped Iggy.

"More information, now," she demanded. "Everything you know. Spill!"

"Piss off!" Ichigo groused. "You're not my mom!"

Iggy burst into laughter even as Max puffed up in absolute rage.

"Why you little-"

A noisy thud hit the plane.

Everyone fell silent.

"What was that?" asked Iggy warily.

A series of lighter thumps proceeded to move across the roof of the plane, nearing the emergency escape hatch.

Clang!

A dent appeared in the door, and wind whistle through the open edges of now-damaged door, until it was fully ripped away. The wind screamed through the cabin, yanking at hair and clothes and pulling them from their seats. They grabbed hold of anything they could, but collapsed back into the chairs or onto the floor when the wind pressure cut off.

The white-haired girl stood inside the cabin, calmly welding the door back into place.

With her breath.

Fire breath.

"Hello Ichigo," she murmured. "I thought you might need a hand sometime soon."

"Sit down," Ichigo invited her. "We've got first class all to ourselves. The others are meeting us in France."

"Of course," she agreed pleasantly. "I would expect no less from you. I assume you have gathered sufficient forces for the upcoming event?"

He nodded at her. "Yeah, I called in some old favors and a couple of good friends. Seireitei will notice them, though."

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," she decided serenely. "Would you mind ever so much if I communicated with my pack?"

"No, do what you want."

The rest of the plane ride was very awkward as the still un-introduced girl appeared to meditate, and Ichigo took a nap on Iggy's shoulder.

Ah, but the arrival was far worse.

As they stepped down the stairs, Ichigo tensed up. Iggy squeezed his hand silently, but Max noticed the interaction.

She left them alone this time.

More important things were happening.

People. Lots of them.

A large, obviously together group was waiting for them at the gates. There were some obscene hair colors, and a wild range of personalities and appearances.

Ichigo moved ahead of the group, the girl in his wake.

"Hey guys," he managed.

There was silence for a moment, before the red-head lunged forward and snatched him up into a bear hug. "You scared the hell outta me!" he rumbled.

"Sorry, Ren," Ichigo laughed, relaxing into the hug. "I was jumped by a bunch of Kurotsuchi acolytes," he explained. "With no way to get out of my body, I was easy prey," he admitted.

A man with blue hair elbowed 'Ren' out of the way to crush Ichigo to his chest. "Don't scare us like htat, Strawberry," he growled.

He released him quickly, embarrassed.

"Guys, this is my family from Japan," Ichigo announced, turning back to them. "This is Renji, and Grimmjow, and that's Nel over there, behind her is Ulquiorra..."

Introductions took a good half an hour, but Ichigo looked ecstatic to be passed around between them for hugs and catch-up time.

Eventually, the list came to:

Ulquiorra

Grimmjow

Nelliel

Harribel

Dondachakka

Pesche

Chad

The white-haired girl

A rugged man with a thick white beard and a Russian accent, called Sergei.

Renji

Uryuu

Orihime

Tatsuki

Eight more mutants

Two scientists

Four SpecOps soldiers

A one-eyed marine

And a guy in a dark coat and hat that lurked in the background, but didn't introduce himself.

And then, as they started to leave, headed for the hotel, two girls burst through the doors.

"Ichi-nii!"

"Ichigo!"

Karin and Yuzu slammed into him, clinging to his shirt. He hugged them back, burying his face in Yuzu's hair. He rubbed a thumb over Karin's shoulder, and and flashed her a tender smile when she looked up at him.

Yuzu wailed into his T-shirt, but Karin sniffled back her tears.

"We missed you," she informed him.

"I missed you, too," he admitted. "Come on, let's go to the hotel. We've got a lot of catching-up to do."