A/N: Kind of a short chap, I know. I don't know why, but this chapter was difficult to write. Maybe because I couldn't find the right words to write things? Eh, it doesn't help that my writings been a bit stale lately. I blame my laziness. And my apparently limited vocabulary. I'll try to work on that T_T...

Arc 2-9

"What is your deal, Ang? I've never seen you so freaked out before over something so small." Ichigo asked as I attempted to push him down the stairs. My legs kicked out in the air behind me as I air-pressed against his back. He shuttered at the chill I gave off.

"I couldn't even find out where Chad got the bird thanks to all your screaming. Damn, if I ever heard a dying monkey before . . ."

"ANIMALS SHOULD NOT TALK!" I screeched, flying around him in circles as if expecting the demon-bird to appear out of nowhere. "IT IS AN UNNATURAL ABOMINATION OF NATURE!"

"Calm down," Rukia said as she fell into step beside Ichigo. "There is something in that bird, but it should be harmless. It's probably just a lonely soul."

"Then haunt a slip-n-slide," I snapped. My neck and shoulder twitched, and I flipped to make sure the bird had not followed us from the shadows of that particular corner over there.

"You're scared of animals." Ichigo said, bemused.

"Talking animals," I corrected. I hugged my knees to my chest, feeling much like a large, red ball following the couple around.

"That's insane." Ichigo laughed. "What's your problem with talking animals? You call me Bambi occasionally and that movie has talking animals."

"I can't even watch most Disney movies," I explained, offended at his indifference. "Bambi was just one of the few I've seen before I developed the phobia."

"A phobia of talking animals," Rukia shook her head. "The idea is understandable - animals don't naturally talk in this world. What would make you so afraid of them?"

"I once saw Big Bird kill a clown."

The words stopped both Rukia and Ichigo in place, but I ignored the 'WTF?" faces they tossed my way and instead shook my head of the traumatic memory of the Sesame Street birthday party I attended when I was four. Maybe Big Bird didn't kill the clown exactly, but I don't think the red liquids gushing out the clown nose from the punch of the angry bird-man was face paint.

I shuddered.

"Either way," Rukia drawled, slowly shifting her gaze from me to Ichigo who still stared at me like I had grown another head. "We need to perform a konsō tonight."

Ichigo groaned. "Just when I thought I was going to get a good night's sleep."

"I'm not going anywhere near that effing bird and you can't make me."

x x x

Ichigo skipped the last half of the school-day and hung out at the back of a diner. His feet strewn out on the seat across from him, and his arms straightened out beside him on the back of the booth.

"Man, if it weren't for everyone else being in danger, I'd almost consider letting the damn hollow eating me if I'd known being a reaper was this much trouble. I feel like I haven' slept in weeks."

"It's been less then three days." I rolled my eyes, sitting directly in the middle of the table. Ichigo groaned.

"Still. This is pretty much my only time to relax."

The waitress, a kind, brunette with warm, round eyes, came then and set down Ichigo's milkshake. However, she made no move to leave, instead smiling at Ichigo when she straightened.

"You're a high schooler, aren't you?" She asked. I couldn't help but frown at her warm tone.

Ichigo shrugged, bending forward to sip at the straw. "So?"

The waitress giggled, and a bad feeling stirred in my stomach. Not danger bad, just annoyed bad.

"Playing hookey?"

What's it to her?

Ichigo continued looking dull, not noticing my sour expression. "You could say that."

It was silent for another awkward second, neither one moving to say anything. I'd figure she would take that as her cue to leave, but she continue to stand there, and that just annoyed me even more.

"What school do you go to?" she asked.

"Would you go away?" I snapped, causing Ichigo to jump. He looked between us for a second and stood, one hand holding the foam cup of his shake and the other resting in his pocket.

The waitress looked confused, backing up for a bit until Ichigo pulled out just enough money to pay. He set it on the table and stepped out of the booth. "Keep the change." He muttered before walking out.

I glided behind him, the sick feeling in my stomach not going away.

"What's you're problem, Ang?" he asked once we walked out onto the side walk. "First you're freaking out last night, then you're pouting at lunch, and now your snapping at people who can't even see you. This isn't like you at all."

I frowned, folding my arms and sitting cross-legged in the air. "I wasn't pouting." I mumbled before huffing. "She can't even see me." I said, louder this time.

"What?" Ichigo stopped mid step. I straightened and hovered just about the ground, high enough so I could remain at eye level with him.

"I'm sorry, it's just . . . the waitress. She can't even see me. Or hear me. Or . . . anything."

He stood, staring as he tried to make sense of my words. "Angel," he sighed, relaxing his stiff posture.

Shaking my head, I cleared my throat and looked on ahead. "It's nothing. Can we just go?"

"No, Angel that's not . . . I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget that the others can't speak to you like I can."

"That's not it!" I let out an unnecessary breath and folded my arms. "You're going to be getting into trouble with this soul reaper thing. You know it, I know it, and if something happens I'm not going to be able to do anything about it."

"You don't have to do anything about it." He said. "You just need to stay by my side and I can protect you. You don't need to worry about anything."

"Wha-Do you just expect me to run and hide if things get too messy?" I rubbed my head. Everything I wanted to say just wouldn't form correctly in my brain. I want to, I have to do something other than just stand there and watch! To run and hide and wait for it to be over is not an option!

"Angel," he said sternly, closing in on the distance between us. He was so close, his narrow eyes piercing. I could almost imagine the heat of his skin brushing against mine. "That is exactly what you are going to do."

x x x

We walk home in a long silence. There really was no arguing with Ichigo after that; after all, there really was nothing I could really do. The only thing I was able to do when he fought Orihime's brother was pull Rukia out of the way and I don't even know how.

My thoughts were interrupted when that tipping-in-the-chair feeling returned, and I paused. Ichigo stopped a few steps away.

"Something's wrong." I muttered, looking around. The streets were empty, the family clinic was just around the corner. Just when Ichigo opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, a loud crash sounded up ahead. Followed by sirens, and then lights. Without another word, Ichigo took off running as I followed.

"Whoa!" I gasped. Four cars of different sizes lay scattered and crushed together in the street. The noise alerted the rest of the neighborhood and people were running around and screaming. Police cars drove up and blocked the streets, tape was being strewn over the scene.

"What happened?" Ichigo asked. His eyes suddenly widened and he took off ahead of me.


Chad lay in the ground, his arms protectively encased around the bird cage. Ichigo crouched to pull him up from under his arm, his legs shaking.

Chad let out a groan of protest, his free hand clutching the top holder of the bird cage tighter. His eyes opened just enough to see who held him and they shut just as quickly. "What happened?" he asked, his voice showing no strain for pain.

Ichigo didn't answer, and I glided behind him as he scooted forward despite Chad's heavy weight. He cursed. "My family's clinic is right around the corner."

As we left, more and more policemen had filled the scene. We reached the doors just as Karin and Yuzu pushed open the doors in full uniform.

"Ichigo!" Yuzu explained. "Did you - is this somebody from the accident? We just got the call!"

"Well, don't just stand there! Bring him inside!" Karin tugged on his shirt, her strength nearly toppling Ichigo over with Chad. I could hear their father yelling at someone from down the hall - I assume he was on the phone.

When they finally managed to haul Chad onto the clinic bed, he was finally regaining full consciousness.

"What happened?" he asked, his groggy tone still dark and smooth. He resisted laying on his back and I could see that his shirt was torn and bloodied there. Ichigo didn't hesitate to rip it off with a pair of scissors and I swallowed back my squeal.

Now is not the time, Angel! Now is so not the time! Chad is hurt!

A purple and bluish bruise covered 80% of Chad's bare back, it's shape distinctively like the four-toed foot of some large reptile. I looked passed the hulking muscles of his arms as he held himself up, his face showing no signs of pain.

"I should be asking you what the hell happened!" Ichigo growled. The girls gasped and Yuzu turned, searching for something on the far side of the room.

"Those idiots wouldn't know a scalpel from a pair of cutting sheers - what the -" Mister Kurosaki stomped into the room, grumbling under his breath before eyeing Chad's wound. "Is that from the accident?"

"It's fine, I just fell . . ." He tried getting up and I was quick to protest, but Ichigo beat me to it, instead pushing the tall man back onto the cot with one hand.

"I don't think so." he said sternly.

A small crash diverted our attention; Yuzu stood on the other side of the room, her face stricken with an expression I had never seen before; her eyes growing wider. A brown bottle of some kind of medicine lay shattered on the floor.

"Yuzu?" I called, she gulped, taking a step back and Karin rushed to her side.

"Sis? What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, uh, it just slipped. I'll get something to clean this up right away!"

Mr. Kurosaki gave a curt nod. "Alright. And get a bed ready, Chad's gonna have to stay over night."

x x x


Karin approached her sister and sat on the edge of her bed. She put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and rubbed it comfortingly.


"Hm?" Yuzu turned, biting her lip. Her forehead was dripping with sweat, her skin paled. Karin could feel her shaking from beneath the covers. Scowling, she lifted the blanket to cuddle underneath and wrapped an arm around her.

"I-I . . . I just got this feeling." Yuzu whimpered, squeezing her eyes shut. Karin hugged her closer, nodding slightly in understanding.

"I know. I feel it too."

"Then why are you not . . . ? I mean, it's just . . . that bird . . ."

"I think it's because you're not used to it. You don't feel spirits as strongly as Ichigo and I do."

"No. You don't understand!" Yuzu grasped Karin's shirt. "There's something wrong with that bird!"

x x x


When we were sure the family were all sound asleep, Ichigo and Rukia jumped from his bedroom window to investigate the scene. By the time we got there, curious passerby and the police were already gone; the mess having been mostly cleaned up. Forgotten scraps of metal, glass, and burned rubber from the tires were pushed against the sidewalk.

"The area reeks of a hollow. And a strong one."

Ichigo frowned, searching the street for any signs of the hollow such as footprints or claw marks.

"Do you think it could still be sticking around?" he asked. Rukia shook her head.

"No. It seems to have left quite some time ago."

"But why?" Ichigo pondered, picking up a piece of a mirror. The shard was nearly as big as his hand. "Nobody else was injured like Chad was."

"Hollows are large, frightening creatures," I added. "It shouldn't have been hard for him to hurt Chad, or anyone else around here for that matter. Why didn't it stick around to finish the job?"

"We never really know why a hollow truly acts the way it does. However, I've been getting reports that they've been acting more aggressive than usual these past few months. This change in behavior is actually the reason I came to Karakura Town in the first place."

Ichigo rose an eyebrow. "And you didn't think of telling me this before when you were giving me a slideshow with your cutesy drawings - ack!" I shook when Rukia threw a black notebook at Ichigo's face. He fell to the ground with a loud yelp.

"What the heck?"

Rukia dusted off her hands and continued as if she weren't interrupted. "We must also consider the bird Chad has with him. Whatever the hollow wants, there's no doubt that it's following him around because of it. It's best we perform a konsō once we return."

Ichigo groaned and rubbed his face, annoyed. "Great."

"Good luck." I grumbled. "Chad's been really attached to the thing if you haven't noticed. I know you guys are all ghost-like," - I wiggled my fingers at them - "when you do your soul reaper thing, but I'm pretty sure he'll notice something amiss if you do the whole helping-the-demon-bird-cross-over right next to him. He hasn't slept since he got here."

Ichigo shot to his feet, his face turning red as he stomped toward me. "And how the hell do you know he hasn't slept all night?"

I gulped, sheepishly rubbing the back of my head. "Uh . . . because I just know things?"

x x x


It was impossible to sleep. Not with her body shaking, not with cold sweat dripping down her forehead. Even with the comfort of Karin by her side, Yuzu couldn't help but gulp dryly as she carefully maneuvered herself out of her sister's arms. She could feel it, the evil lurking in the shadows of the household, seeping up from the clinic and through the floors of her home. It was suffocating.

She was only going to get a drink from the kitchen. That was the only task she gave herself to do. But with each step down the stairs the darkness swelled, seeping into her until, when she reached the bottom, it felt like weights were strapped to her shoulders. Her body moved on autopilot, her mind questioning why she was moving out into the clinic until it decided that it just made sense. She needed to get rid of that bird! To get it far away from her family!

Syringes filled with a sedative were kept on the top drawer of her father's office, used for emergencies when chaotic patients were brought in. Nobody but he and Ichigo were allowed to touch certain things such as this, so she was surprised to find them in an unlocked drawer.

She could only be so lucky. The giant high schooler was awake, laying on his stomach as to keep the medicine from rubbing off his wound. Yuzu approached him cautiously, holding the syringe behind her back.

"I thought you'd still be awake." She greeted.

"You are . . . Ichigo's sister?" The boy turned his head to look at her, and she smiled and nodded.

"One of us needs to come down and check on you every hour or so." she was surprised at how smooth her voice sounded, her heart was beating so loudly in her ears she swore he'd hear it.

"I'm fine." he said. "I'll be out by morning."

"I'm sure. But the rules are the rules, Mister Giant." she giggled. When she approached, she carefully avoided the sleeping bird's cage and, before the man could look up at her again, her arm shot out and stuck the needle into his neck. Chad shook from the unexpected prick, but before he could move he let out a long breath and knocked out. She stood there, waiting for him to wake should the sedative not take full effect just yet. His breathing slowed and evened out, and Yuzu let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding.

"I'm so sorry!" She bit her lip and dropped the syringe to the floor. "I'm so sorry!"

Gulping once more, she slowly picked up the bird cage and typed in the code to open the clinic doors.

A/N: I'm very sorry for the long wait, as I always am. i tried getting this out before new years but, ugh. Didn't work. Thank you everyone for your support, I'm glad that everyone is excited to see what I have planned for the future, I hope I don't disappoint! In case some of my first readers of the previous chapter didn't read the edited FAQ in the last author's note, I suggest you go look at that now to see what I have planned for Kon!

Special Thanks to:

Blue Rubix-Cube
Nixie the Bloody Pixie
Anime hotty lover.18
Melissa Fairy
Antex-The Legendary Zoroark
scarlet rose white
Mel's Merleawe
Guests 1, 4, 5, 6, 7
(Will Angel get a gegai? Refer to Guest 2 answer plz :))
Forgetful Insanity
Kira Tsumi
Wynter Spite
Akayuki Novak

YOLOPLUR: Oh, I'm so sorry! My condolences, but I'm happy this managed to cheer you up a bit :)

wolfzero7: Reiatsu! Thank you, I kept trying to figure out what the name of Ichigo's 'spiritual energy' stuff he kept leaking out was called but could never put it into words to search for it - grr, what a bad misinformed author I am *bonks head*. That will come into play as the two's abilities grow and get more controlled.

Chiasmus: Having that 'background character' feeling within a group a friends, aiy, I share your pain my good friend.

LadyAmazon: You, Arcaelia, and I should form the 'sort-of-ignored-background-character club, lol at least we're not alone on that.

Guest 3: Assuming you were the notenoughspacefu guest reviewer in the 18th chapter; You didn't offend me, I promise! You brought up some concerns that even I have had for other fanfictions with this same theme, I just hope I answered it clearly (for a writer, I'm very bad at explaining things). But thank you!

Scaehime: Yes, it is plot-relevant that she can't remember her dad's face.

Guest 2: Will Angel get a body like Rukia's gegai? No. But again, that'll come up later.

Humble servent: Everyone's saying IchogoxOc, don't worry you are so not alone, lol

Matalvis: The reason Angel and Ichigo haven't tried to whole touching thing while he's in his soul reaper form is for two reasons: 1 - during the attack in Ichigo's room, Rukia did voice her concerns over why Ichigo couldn't touch her. If you don't remember, Ichigo did try to grab for Angel, but his hand slipped through like always. This hints at the possibility that the soul-rules in this world don't exactly apply to Angel, possibly because she's from another world or other reasons. 2 - The two have gotten so in sync with Angel not being able to touch anyone, that its just a general habit for the two not to try again even when Ichigo is in his soul reaper form. I hope this cleared those questions up for you :) Have I ever played Beyond Two Souls? No, I don't think I've ever heard of the game.