Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or Ranma 1/2


"Get it away from me!" Ranma begged, quickly shooting behind her boyfriend's back in what she would call cover, pressing her cheek against his spine as if the little furry four-legged creature stalking her down in a casual saunter was a gigantic, terrifying monster. To Ranma, Yoruichi might as well had been a Super Saiyan version of Freddy Jason for all the fear she installed in her, loads.

Wetting her furred lips with a predatory lick, Yoruichi stepped a little closer to her disciple hiding behind her partner, "You can't hide from this forever, my little Bird?" She teased, baritone manly voice dripping with smug content. The sound of her masculine purr elicited a whimper from the ponytailed girl.

Lightning sparks of thunderous contempt shot forth from Ichigo's eyes, "Back off!" He commanded, thrusting his arm forward as if holding the walking disaster back.

"Oh. C'mon," She mockingly rolled the silts of her cat eyes, "You and I both know she's going to have to face her fear sometime or later," She took another hard step forward, frightening Ranma further just by the sound of her little feet pressing against the wooden flooring of Kisuke's bedroom.

The eyes of the number one protector narrowed further, "Fuck. Off."

"We can either do this the easy way or the hard way," The hard mighty grip of a sword's guard drained the colouring out of her whiskered visage.

"Five seconds. If you don't fuck off and change back by then I will cut off your damned tail and use it to fling you out the window," Ichigo threatened with extreme levels of killer's intent, a menacing shadow eclipsing his eyes. Yoruichi's high-pitched cat-cry drew another whinge from Ranma. Feeling her tightening her grip on him got Ichigo's eyes to shine back up in sympathetic concern.

Yoruichi retraced several of her steps until she was backed up against the wall, "I was kidding," She said weakly, "You wouldn't really cut off a poor cat's tail, right? Ichigo's growl of primal anger left no room for negotiations, "I'll change back now."

"You better," He warned, gently shifting around. Ranma lifted her head a little when she felt him move with her eyes closed, and immediately buried her face into his chest while clutching his robes, "Ranma." He murmured, snaking his arms securely around her.

"Is she changing back?" She hurried, opening her eyes but didn't dare look past her shield.

Ichigo's eyes watered momentarily before he pressed Ranma tightly, yet softly against him, setting a hand on her head, "Of course," He offered one deadly gaze of controlled irritation with a single hazel orb over his shoulder at the cat, "Or else she'll regret it."

Ranma blushed in contentment in her boyfriend's warm embrace and protective aura, happily snuggling against the solid muscles against her cheek, "That's good." She murmured dreamily, 'This feels so nice. I never knew I'd like a boy just holding me this much.' And comfortably stroking her hair, whispering words of assurance in her ear.

"It's gonna be okay," He said, adding a kiss on Ranma's crown, "I'll never let you face anything you don't want to."

Ranma was in a bliss. There was nothing else she wanted to do but linger in Ichigo's affectionate hold relaxing in his powerful aura. She was done falling for him at this moment she realized. That anchor had long since fallen from the cliff of romance. He had stolen her heart. She would've done anything for him, gone to any lengths for him, just for the chance for Ichigo to draw her into his aura and caress her hair.

"Thanks, Ichi," She whispered with the desire to spend the rest of her life with him sinking into her heart. She never wanted to leave his side.

Ichigo nodded, silently continuing to comfort her.

Yoruichi would be deluding herself if she said she wasn't a little moved by the couple's tender-hearted display of sincere love. One would have to be a cold-hearted S-O-B to not feel something at such a moment of innocence, 'Those two,' She shook her head. It would be a real dick move to ruin this, which she liked; both dicks and a dick move.

Ichigo felt the heated radiance of Yoruichi's bright transformation on his back, "There. I've changed back. Happy?" Happy wasn't the word. Satisfied? Yes, he was satisfied to hear her normal feminine voice speaking out in a pouty tone.

"Good," He said, slowly releasing Ranma from his hold with one last stroke of her hair, much to her beaming delight. He shared one of his rare smiles with her before hardening his face in his patented frown to coolly glare at Yoruichi, "Better stay-." The demand died on his tongue the instance his widening eyes caught sight of Yoruichi's bare-skinned form brightening in smug content.

Crap. He forgot all about that; eyes lowering to the pile of clothes laid by her feet.

A sheen of bright strawberry red as his girlfriend's hair swept over his face following the billow of heated smoke cartoonishly blowing from his ears like an old-fashioned train, "Eeeeeeeeee!" He cringed, taking his turn to duck for cover behind his significant other, "Put some damned clothes on!"

Yoruichi tucked an arm behind her head, winking flirtatiously; the picturesque pose of a supermodel in her natural habit, "But you're the one who wanted me to change back, Ichi-chan."

"Shut the fuck up."

"Really, and I thought you having a girlfriend would've made you less of a prude."

"Idiot! That's why I can't look at ya!" Ichigo peeked out to retort defensively. A seductive smile from the nude woman had him diving for safety with a yelp.

Ranma would have her own revenge, "Hey, nice rack."

Yoruichi preened, "Why, thank you."

A smirk, "Shame it doesn't compare to mine."

Yoruichi twitched, "Is that so?"

The feisty little redhead tossed a dismissive hand, "Lady, please. Compared to mine, yours are second-rate," She played her ace-in-the-hole, turning to her certain vouch with a victorious smile and a peace sign with both hands, "Right, Ichi?" Ichigo blinked, bewildered. Unfortunately, Ranma misinterpreted her boyfriend's nervy stupefaction for something else, "Oh right. You haven't seen me naked yet, have you?"

Well, they'd have to fix that, wouldn't they? He couldn't see other women topless and not her. That just wasn't right.

Before Ichigo could protest otherwise, Ranma's sleeveless top was already lifted over her head and tossed aside, and her glorious double D-cup breasts bounced freely, "R-R-Ranma!"

"Tada!" She preened brightly, presenting herself with her arms held out like wings, "So," She readied, striking the same flirtatious pose as Yoruichi with brimming confidence comparable to the sun, "Am I the best or what?"

Inside Ichigo's brain.

The sound of an alarm was blaring all throughout a lit flashing red control room with little white guys hurriedly smashing buttons in a frantic panic.

"Shit! He's being overwhelmed!" Brain cell one said.

"What'll we do?" Brain cell two screamed, grasping his head.

"Shut him down. Now!" Another brain cell ordered.

"Roger, boss!" Brain cell two obeyed, grabbing hold of a red lever and pulling it down with all his might. Everything then faded to black and peaceful silence reigned.

A loud thump followed Ichigo's faint.

"Uh, Ichi?"

xXx

City of Insanity

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THIRTEEN

One's Happiness is Another Sadness

Soft hands of mastered martial arts craft threaded rhythmically through Ichigo's pointy locks before embracing his head. Gently, Ranma propped Ichigo's head upon her lap.

"There, there Ichi," She giggled, patting him comfortably on the head.

Yoruichi sighed, expelling her playful inflation in one go, "Listen well, Ranma," She said, expression devoid of her previous perky sass. The usage of her actual name just solidified Yoruichi had initiated her business mode to Ranma.

Ranma spared the nude older woman kneeling to a boyish squat beside her an uncertain glance, "Yeah?"

"I meant what I said about the cat-fist," She clarified, noticing the brief flicker of fear flash before her pupil's eyes, "It starts off as something non-physical, but over time your subconscious will manifest into a physical form."

Ranma's mind conjured the worst, "You mean I could turn into a-a-a-a," She stammered, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes, "Cat…"

Yoruichi roared with laughter, roughly ruffing Ranma's hair, "You have a wild imagination!"

Ranma glared, "Don't laugh!" She demanded, tussling Yoruichi's hand off her head, "I could have a freakin' cat in me. I'm freaking out here. Show a little compassion, why don't cha?"

A sympathetic smile, "It's not as bad as you think it is," She assured softly, "It'll just be like having a tenant. Except one that doesn't pay rent and can sometimes possess you," She clapped her hard on the shoulder, grin widening cheekily, "So cheer up."

"Great. So I'm housing a freeloader that can kick me in the shed," Ranma despondently snarked with imaginary tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Only if you let it."

"Meaning?"

"If you get too emotional, you'll instinctively enter the second stage of the cat fist."

"Oh," Ranma blinked in recognition, "I get it. As long as I don't blow my top or get all distressed it can't do squat!" She deduced, folding her arms, nodding to herself in absolute confident certainty, "No sweat. That's a heck of a lot more manageable now. I'll never let that furball one up me. I'm a cool customer."

"Or cat."

"Shut up!" She demanded, but Yoruichi only chortled ungracefully, much to Ranma's visible annoyance, "You're such a tomboy."

Yoruichi took Ranma's attempt at an insult in stride. Ambling over to her pile of clothes, she recommended, "You should consider taming it," Slipping her tight sleeveless shirt over her head, she continued, shaking her head to loosen her ponytail, "It'll be the perfect trump card if you're ever in a pinch."

Ranma slid into her own top, "I'll take it into consideration," She said in dry irritation, thinking more along the lines of absolutely never. She didn't need some dumb cat possession to fight her battles. She was awesome and strong in her own right. She could outthink her way out of any corner. Of this, she was certain of.

The eccentric store merchant Ukyo seemed to admire chose that moment to pop in, sliding his head past the sliding door of his room; trademark mischievous grin concealed behind his equally signature green-and-white striped fan, "Do I hear Cat hijinks?" He probed, voice dripping with playful delight, "I have Yoruichi's trigger~, I'll have you know."

Ranma sighed, smoothing out her blouse, "Just missed it."

"Aw."

Ichigo's eyes systematically opened, "Target nearby," He said robotically.

Kisuke appeared entirely oblivious to Ichigo's bizarre awakening or the implications behind his emotionless declaration, "Ah, Kurosaki-san! You're back," He greeted him brightly, "I trust your little expedition resolved your-," The shady merchant's grin essentially illuminated the room with its impish glow, looking like a schoolboy who just pulled off an expertly timed prank on his classmate, "-Issues."

"Yeah actually," Ichigo agreed with a leisured breath of air, throwing Kisuke for a loop; hauling him through even more when he got up and extended a gesture of seemingly sincere gratitude with a manly handshake, "Thanks."

"Oh?" He blinked. He expected Ichigo to be a little peeved about basically being played. He hadn't had the chance to get in touch with his old associates given that he had been busy with Ukyo, but they had been trying to reach him a little while after he sent Ichigo to them. He could deduce their plans weren't as smooth sailing as they would've liked and that they were probably also enraged at him for misleading them into believing Ichigo was a pushover newbie.

He snickered at the thought of little Hiyori screeching profanities and threats pertaining to him and how she was going to pay him back in excruciating detail.

He loved messing with people, but he was also fair. At least he considered himself to be even-handed, thus he gave Ichigo the benefit of the doubt, "Well, you're welcome," He accepted the hand, wide goofy smile minimizing into a warm grin, "Anytime you need help, you know where to find me."

Ichigo nodded and gave Kisuke a deathly squeeze, and before the shady merchant even had a chance to dwell on his panicked recognition of being suckered he was pulled into a vicious headbutt delivered onto his nose, knocking him into a world of pain and to the floor.

"Ooh!" Ranma mock-cringed, inhaling sharply, "The old pretend you're not mad to lure 'em in for a sucker punch!" She grinned sheepishly, "Or headbutt in this case." A giggle, "Cliché but it works."

Kisuke woozily lifted his head off of the floor. Floating stars danced around his head with his nose heavily dripping blood to indicate just how severely his disorientation was, "Haha, I take it you didn't find my welcoming letter as beneficial as I thought it would be."

"No shit." Ichigo chirped, prying the troll master from his spot by his collar, baring down at him, "What gave it away?"

"C'mon. Can't you take a joke?"

"You gotta a lot of nerve pulling that crap."

"I thought it would be funny if you thought I was giving you a letter of validation only to read it and realize it was a formal challenge letter. Funny, huh?"

"Oh yeah. Real freaking funny. Almost as funny as your face after I'm finished pounding it with my fists."

Ranma shook her head before approaching Ichigo's flank and laying a comforting hand on his shoulder, "Okay, Ichi. I think Mr Urahara's got the picture now," She nudged him lightly, "I mean, for as much fun as it would be to see you kicking butt I don't think it would be a good idea to beat up our hospitality, do you?"

Ichigo growled lowly, holding Kisuke's frantically goofy stare of mock-plea with a steely, menacing gaze. Ranma curled her fingers through his spiky locks, eyeing him affectionately. Eventually, he reluctantly relented to his girlfriend's touch, dropping Kisuke like a bad habit.

"Fine…" He stood, grumpily placing both of his palms behind his head.

Ranma sighed, comically abated of life at her own ease of reeling her man in, 'Boy, so this is how it feels to have a guy whipped,' Shaking that off, she tugged on his robes, "C'mon Ichi. Let's take that date to the ice cream parlour we've been meaning to have. It'll be our first!"

xXx

(Hueco Mundo)

xXx

The recently emerged member of the exclusive club of divine beings walked with a calmed purpose through the knee-high sands of his people's world with a cloak thrown over his wide shoulders. His expression remained entirely impassive in his aimless saunter across the realm of Aizen's world, which wasn't easy despite the overwhelming sense of importance he felt having evolved to such a being.

He desired nothing else but to use this newfound immeasurable power to enact his long-awaited revenge on that orange-haired bastard; that freak of nature who freakishly brainwashed his son into believing he was a girl head-over-heels for him. Gah. The very thought of Ichigo even so much as hugging Ranma overfilled him absolutely with an intense rage hot enough to melt steel like a paper-mache.

He gnashed his teeth in subdued fury.

And his son…

"Wait until I get my hands on you, boy," He said, promising hell with a murderously determined glare aimed at nothing in particular. All that work moulding Ranma into the ideal man who would rise above all others over the years was not about to go to waste because some freaky brat wanted a girlfriend. The dream of unity he had shared with his long-time friend in the arts for as long as the two could remember wasn't about to end on the selfish whim of said freaky brat.

To think the son he had been meticulously developing into the manliest badass known to men would succumb to such vile manipulation - the thought tore him up inside. He was supposed- nay, destined to marry Akane as the king of all men with the delicate wallflower as his queen, and he would fulfil the fated course Genma had predetermined for him since he was a little boy, after he was done killing that orange-haired freak.

But he was getting ahead of himself.

His lord and saviour, the greatest man who had ever set foot on mortal soil, had important plans for him in the upcoming war against the corrupt ones. He didn't really understand the beef between the organization that governed what he had always believed was "heaven" and his lord, but he got the gist of it.

They were corrupt and evil, willing to frame innocent women for the death of another because the real culprit paid them off, willing to sentence a mostly innocent woman to death because she borrowed her power to a seemingly human boy to save his family and even willing to "silence" the discoverers of their sins, just to name a few of their more underhanded deeds.

He didn't know much about politics. He just knew such a corrupt organization shouldn't stay in a position of power, and if he could help his lord in any way to usurp them, rest assured, he would. It was the least Genma could do to repay Aizen's kindness by imbuing him with such… divine power.

"Ouchy!"

Genma came to a stop at the most… homely sighting he could bore witness to here in this age-old era dimensional. There had to be something wrong with him mentally to consider a midget hurling through the air nostalgic and relatable.

He approached the small figure nonchalantly, blinking in curiosity at the immature wigging of the body the individual was performing, "Ooh, ouchy. Nelliel hurt herself," The voice sounded young and girlish. Suspicions were confirmed when the head was finally pried from the desert sands with a clumsy push, revealing a young babyish face and large doe green eyes. Shaggy, unkempt aqua-green hair cascaded to her shoulders from underneath a mask sitting on her head like a cap. Hovering from cheek to cheek just under her nose like the colour of the flu was a dark red blush.

She dusted off the little green dress she was wearing before pondering with a lithe finger pressed against her chin, "Um, where am I now?" When a large shadow eclipsed her body, she blinked, "Eh?" She gazed up into the jaws of a giant white shark or the fangs of the King of the Jungle – such was the imposing presence of the highest Arrancar-type available, "You're…" Tears erupted in her eyes. She knew what the scary man giving her such a cold stare of contempt on his stony face was even without being told. The gigantic energy pool she could sense oozing from his being couldn't belong to any other, "…Vasto Lorde." She squeaked out quietly.

Then, the frosty stare she had come to expect from the higher-evolved hollows of her species warmed; snow clearing away in the heated rays of a kind glow, "Huh?" She blinked, profoundly confused from the growing security she felt from a Vasto Lorde of all beings. Even more so when he bent down to cup her cheek softly. She briefly flinched but found herself quickly relaxing when the gentle touch never manifested into anything hurtful.

Genma scooped the young maiden up, softly stroking her cheek to calm her, 'This time, I'll make sure this one doesn't get controlled,' He smiled sombrely, setting Nelliel on his shoulder.

Yes, this time, he would protect a child.

xXx

(Soul Society – Seireitei – 8th Division Barracks)

xXx

Shunsui was helping himself to a much-needed drink of his favourite beverage – sake – feeling the cool spice of the alcoholic liquid temporarily free him of the stress in his shoulders. Ever since the three runaways upped and abandoned their posts, the remaining captains had been working overtime to cover the missing manpower. If that wasn't exhausting as it was, they also had to prepare themselves, their squads and the squads of the aforementioned traitors both mentally and physically to battle Aizen and his fellow absconders.

The workload was taxing on the body and on the mind.

The hard times in which the Seireitei had fallen on almost made the ladies man wish he had chosen a different route in his second life. Sure, he would be in total poverty and would constantly be looking over his shoulder in case of a hollow invasion, but at least… Actually, no. That sounded even more taxing mentally than what he was tasked with now.

Still, a distraction from his current shift of nightmarish overload would be appreciated.

That said, he probably shouldn't wish that.

A deafening noise thundered into existence with a literal bang, scaring the living daylights out of the eighth division captain who dropped his tiny cup of sake as a result. Its shattering eradication was completely swallowed whole by the ferocious roar of the blast shaking the lands, "What the hell?!" He turned a wide-eyed glance of a fossilized surprise to the beacon of light casting a gigantic shadow over the Seireitei, "Don't tell me that's Ryo-kun's power?" Stupid question. He possessed fine sensory prowess. He knew the blast belonged to the inhumanly powerful ryoka as soon as it detonated.

"Unbelievable." He murmured. That was old man Shikai-released Yama-level. It wasn't anywhere near the Seireitei yet he could see its gigantic heat-dome shaped form clearly from his office window. Such size. He could likely lay waste and decimate an entire country!

The door to his office practically burst open, and in came running his long-time white-haired friend with visible panic evident on his pale face, "Shunsui!" He said with a raised voice.

The eighth division captain remained laid-back in his chair and demeanour despite his closest friend's worrying exclamation, "Yeah, I see," He replaced his saucer with a spare he kept under his desk, "That Ryo-kun sure is something, huh?"

Ukitake calmed down now that the disturbance had been identified, "Indeed," Pressing a hand against his accelerating heart of anxiety, the terminally-ill captain heaved a sigh, "He's going to retire us all at this rate."

Shunsui chuckled nonchalantly, "I think I'll take that retirement right about now!" He joked, "It'll save me from the extra workload." They shared an empathizing laugh.

"By the way," Ukitake recovered first to shift the topic of conversation, drawing a hum of slight curiosity from his dear friend, "About our new ally."

The straw-hat clad man assumed he meant the teleporting nuke himself, "I know, I know. I gotta keep Ryo-kun away from my Nanao-chan with manpower like that!" He stated, jestingly, "We don't want him trying to swoon her with his manliness now, do we?" He chortled.

"No, not him," Ukitake corrected him through his own laughter. The eighth division captain always had a knack for lighting up any situation, "I'm referring to our honorary Gotei thirteen-member, the Substitute Shinigami, Ichigo Kurosaki."

"Oh, him!" Shunsui acknowledged with pleasant recognition. Another young prospect full of surprises. He had to hand it to Ichigo. The charismatic young man changed their harsh and quite frankly, absurd policies during the wrongful Rukia imprisonment ordeal with his inspiring words and actions, "What about him?"

"It seems he's destroyed the combat pass I gave him before he departed home to the world of the living," Ukitake explained.

"Oh." That could prove problematic if he turned out to be the type that held a grudge, "You think he's unsealed his full power?" Realization of what just a needlessly rhetorical question he had asked hit him like a freight train when Ukitake goggled bizarrely at him, "On second thought, don't answer that."

Ukitake's features relaxed, "Yes, well, I admit I'm partially at fault," He said, "I should've explained to Ichigo-kun that we were monitoring his power and making adjustments to it ensure he doesn't affect the World of the Living."

"Yeah, but, you think he would've been accepting of that?" Shunsui retorted.

"I believe it would've been worth trying," Ukitake responded, "If memory serves, Ichigo-kun was rather mature last he was here during the mix up involving Rukia-chan." Shunsui nodded his agreement. He couldn't disagree. Despite how unreasonable their decision to sentence Rukia to harshest punishment available was, he handled the aftermath and his interactions with them very sensibly, "It stands to reason he would've been understanding of our need to lower his power."

"I see your point," Shunsui sighed, "So what now?"

"I don't think he's the type to hold a grudge, but I can't imagine he'll still trust us," Ukitake said.

"Can't say I blame him." It really was an inconsiderate move of them to go behind his back and tamper with his power without his consent, even if they had their reasons. Considering he had just been on the receiving end of a beatdown at the hands of one of Aizen's elite soldiers, it was a move which really could've gotten him killed had Aizen's soldier been any less merciful.

The old phrase of "mistakes were made" wouldn't nearly have cut if had that happened.

A long sigh from the long, white-haired terminally ill captain followed.

"Nor do I."

They may have been gods by name, but they weren't perfect beings by any stretch of the imagination.

XxX

Tiny specks of flames wafted through the heated air, floating out of the massive smoky black cloud covering an absurd area where three large mountaintops once peacefully occupied. Now all that remained of the once proudful stone monuments was scarred earth. Lots, and lots, and lots of scarred earth; both acting as a resting place, not in the literal sense of the word and testament to the sheer multitude of the Hibiki's penultimate move.

"Ahh…" The mountain-slayer groaned out tiredly, flattened out like a pancake on the ashes of what remained of the mountains he had liquidated with a Naruto-like explosion, "…Think I'll just call that my Kamikaze rush," Not only did he have to bull tackle his opponent to inflict maximum damage on him, it left him completely immobilized and drained of energy.

It truly would be his penultimate ace-in-the-hole and better left as a last-ditch resort.

"Good," His hellish trainer complimented him backhandedly, second-degree burn-marks scarring his wrinkled arms and lower torso, "You managed to wound me slightly. Impressive for a young pup."

Ryoga just barely managed to lift his terribly stiff neck up to glare at the shirtless muscled elder barely affected by the explosive radius of his self-destructive bomb, "Screw you, old man," Seriously, just what in the world was that old bastard made of? Ryoga wasn't smart in any sense of the word, but even he was sure an explosion that vast could've destroyed all of Japan, yet he tanked it without even half of his power.

Was he… DBZ-level?

Yamamoto nodded, chuckling darkly, "Since it seems you still have fight left in you," He said, strolling over to his downed disciple. "There'll be no break." He reached down, prying him to his feet by a handful of his hair, ignoring his cry as he flung him across his shoulder, "After the fourth division finishes healing you, it's back to training, brat!"

"Hey, ugh! Could you be a little gentler please?"

"Never!"

xXx

(World of the Living)

xXx

Ichigo stared, bamboozled. Across from him on the other side of the table in one of their frequented establishment's seating areas was his girlfriend, absolutely wolfing down a huge boat-shaped tube of pink ice cream decorated with sprinkles, whip cream, chocolate-flakes and cherry-red sauce like it was going out of style.

"It's so good!" She said in between bites.

'Man, she wasn't kidding when she said this was her favourite,' He mused, grimacing in embarrassment when he envisioned her in skimpy pink armour with no top or pants on, 'It's like I'm seeing a Saiyan come to life or something.'

"You gotta try this, Ichi-chan!" The supposed Saiyan identical gushed, excitedly leaning forward on her knees to offer a spoonful of the apparently delicious treat to her lovable grouch. He eyed it funnily as if he didn't trust what she was feeding him before shrugging and accepting the offer. Ranma watched him take a few experimental nibbles with excited anticipation, girlishly holding her hands to her mouth, "Well?" She hurried, "It's good, right?"

Ichigo held up a hand, politely urging her reluctant compliance but not without an attractive pout.

The gulp was her switch, her eyes lighting back up in gleeful expectation, "Well?" She asked, smile dropping when Ichigo seemingly urged her forward with a wag of his finger. She leaned forward, cheeks turning rosy.

"Give me another one," He said, unintentionally knocking her from her high.

"Oh." She said in realization, the disappointment not hidden in her tone, "Oh, yeah. Sure," She scooped another spoonful, weaving the spoon high above Ichigo's head as though it was an aeroplane, "Here comes the choo-choo train!" She rhymed, drawing a roll of the eyes from her sweetheart.

"Really?"

She blew him a raspberry, "Shove it and open wide," Ichigo rolled his eyes once more but did as she commanded regardless, savouring the taste with his usual nonchalant frown, much to his girl's amusement. She playfully tapped him on the nose, "You can smile, y'know? You're eating ice cream! Even a sourpuss like you shouldn't be able to resist its happy vibes."

"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."

"Meaning I win."

"Shut up and feed me another."

"Aye-aye, captain!" She quipped cheerfully, shovelling up another ounce of delicious sugary frosty goodness before performing the same babyish dramatics, which resulted in her (seemingly) clumsily mushing ice cream all over the permanent upside-down lips of her beloved, who deadpanned at her, "Oops!~"

Ichigo shook off the accident, "Doesn't matter," He said. As he went to clean his face with the back of his hand, Ranma rolled her eyes.

"Aw, to hell with it!" She said, swiftly knocking Ichigo's hand aside and audibly grabbing both of his cheeks with her palms, staring into his widened eyes with a determined gaze, "C'mere!" She pulled him forward, aggressively slamming her lips against his own, moaning exotically into his mouth; savouring the divine holy combination of tasty ice cream and Ichigo's saliva on her pouty lips, "Ah!" She exhaled loudly through her nostrils, inhaling Ichigo's smelly breath as if she was an asthmatic and he an inhaler.

Ichigo was completely knocked senseless, blankly staring at the closed-eyed girl eating his face as though she was a hungry hobo and him, a tasty dinner. The ability to process thoughts was lost to him in this moment of sheer lustful passion. He didn't even feel his arms moving to snake around her curvy waist; such was his senseless state. Even a punch from ten Kenpachi-empowered Shinigami wouldn't have rendered him this unconscious.

The urge for air came by far fastest than the Cupid-lovestruck couple actually realized, but in their dreamlike states, every second felt like an extended hour as though they were in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Ranma reluctantly parted lips, sucking in precious oxygen before smirking saucily at Ichigo's goggled expression, "How was that?"

"…Wow," Ichigo breathed out slowly, drawing a giggle from the redhead, "What was that for?"

"You kidding?" She asked, suddenly pressing her nose against his. Ichigo yelped adorably at her display of sexual aggression, "I've been dying to get my kiss since Papa Isshin and the girls interrupted us last time."

His throat and lips felt weirdly dry, "W-Well, uh, you could've just asked," He stated, licking his lips.

"S'not my fault you're too pigheaded to see the signals I was just sending ya."

"Oh screw you."

Ranma snickered. She loved that she could tease and insult him without really offending him and getting smacked across the neighbourhood for it. His skin was thick enough to brush off any little foot-in-mouth remark of hers as just that; harmless banter between couples who knew deep down they would never intentionally ridicule each other with the intent to cut deep to wound their feelings, "I got a better idea," She suggested, seductively lowering her voice, "How about I let you screw me?" Ichigo's heart accelerated to speeds far succeeding his Bankai as Ranma leaned down to take his lips again.

This time the ice cream got in between them, mushing all over her shirt.

"Careful," Ichigo insisted, cringing slightly at the mess covering her top.

"Whoops," Ranma slide her tongue through her teeth sheepishly.

Ichigo mustered up a shaky smirk, "You klutz."

"Meanie." Ranma mock-glared at him. A small chuckle rumbled from his throat. Suddenly feeling the biting cold air hit his skin as though he had stepped outside, Ichigo watched Ranma slip from her seat, dusting herself off before skipping round to him, holding out her arms. Shaking his head with a smile, Ichigo wrapped his arms around her waist, helping her onto his lap, "Much better."

"Yeah," He breathed lowly, relaxing against her touch; her hands caressing his neck and hair. A kiss, long and deep and with plenty of tongues.

"I can feed ya easier this way." Another kiss.

A laugh. "That too, I guess." Then another kiss.

"Mm-hmm."

They enjoyed themselves, unaware their passionate make-out would pave the way for the manipulation of their spectator.

xXx

"Oh, no," A small squeak of devastated recognition went unheard by the couple on the other side of the window off in their own world. Every touch, every intimate stroke, every affectionate smile drove a dagger of soul-crushing defeat through the bubbly girl's heart. A hand flew to her mouth in a desperate attempt to stifle her sobs, "Kurosaki-kun…" Cries poured down her cheeks.

She turned, unable to watch the one she had longed for, for as long as she could remember cement his undying love with another and ran, sprinting as fast as her legs would allow. If she was in a better state of mind, she would've realized her time spent honing her skills to purely aid Ichigo in his mission to rescue Rukia increased her speeds to inhuman levels; levels she was subconsciously demonstrating.

Drivers were left bug-eyed staring after the girl galloping past their cars with the slightest of ease.

Her pacey feet eventually brought her to a lone swing idly rocking back and forth in a gentle breeze. Eventually, in the sense that she only felt as if she had been running forever, trying to escape the haunting realization that her dreams and fantasies would never come true; that the young man at the heart of those subconscious visions had his heart captured by another. It was all too much. No matter how much she ran, no matter how long she ran for, the nightmarish images wouldn't leave her mind – the images of her crush romancing another girl on his lap and even getting fed by her.

She sunk, low and deep, on the swing with her heart in shatters.

"He looked so happy," She murmured, her lap suddenly being the most fascinating thing to look upon at that moment, "But," She teared up, red-rim eyes spilling over despite her best efforts to keep the dam from breaking, "I wanted him to be happy with me!" She knew it was selfish, but no matter how much she told herself she should be happy that Ichigo was happy, her heart said the opposite.

Sadly, for the heartbroken girl, her distress was witnessed by the blank face of a small black butterfly.

XxX

(Aizen's Lab)

XxX

For the first time in weeks, months or whenever the snake-based Shinigami could remember, he lost his impeccable slimly cryptic smile. Aizen and Nabiki truly were evil, going out on a date and leaving him with the scout work. Apparently, even evil needed a day off and downtime occasionally, as they could attest. Aizen opted to treat his lady friend to a night out in the fanciest place in the World of the Living, with the proper gear to hide their presence from Soul Society's detectors, of course.

He would be lying to himself if he said their romance didn't leave him feeling a little envious, but he took extra satisfaction in unnerving his boss lady with his trademark serpent smiles, as he was sure she took pleasure straddling him with the task of tracking Ichigo's and Ranma's movements whenever one or both of them were away from Kisuke's impenetrable fortress disguised as a store.

Aizen had taken a keen interest in Ichigo ever since realizing he was the son of the woman once inflicted with the virus of his experimental Vasto Lorde-like creature and Gin could hardly blame him. After all, it was Ichigo who led him to Nabiki, which in turn landed him the services of Kuno, Mousse, Soun and especially Genma. All four were powerful and/or versatile warriors in their own rights, but Genma towered above them all, shining so brightly he arguably eclipsed every Arrancar in the much coveted first division rank of Espada.

Really, Gin wasn't surprised to see one member of Ichigo's little motley crew that he had brought with him when he bravely (or foolishly) stormed the Seireitei to save little Rukia in a state of vulnerability following his make-out session with his girlfriend; a state which made her perfectly susceptible to Nabiki's power.

"Oh dear," He said to himself, zooming in on Orihime's depressively soaked face with one hand on the mouse. "What do we have here? A new recruit." Although he felt a tad bad for her, Gin could honestly say he didn't care enough to sabotage the careful image he had spent decades meticulously crafting to protect one human girl he hardly even knew. Aizen may have been slightly wary of him now following Nabiki's influence so reporting Orihime's potential recruitment would go a long way to earning that lost trust back. After all, this was a test of loyalty disguised as scout work. If he didn't report anything which could be used as an advantage to Nabiki and Aizen he would look more suspicious than he would've liked.

If selling one girl down the river would keep his objective on track then sell her down the river he would.


Uh-oh. Orihime has been targeted again, but this time she won't be forced against her will to join the Aizens' revolution. Nabiki's going full Orochimaru to lure the vulnerable Orihime over to the dark side of the force. Mwhahahahaha.