Careless Wonder

A girl with strange light red hair, borderline pink, appears out of nowhere from Ichigo's past and demands that she speaks with his father... and why is Urahara looking for her? Ichigo/oc

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12. Chapter Twelve: Finding Out

Careless Wonder

Chapter Twelve: Finding out

It was cold that day. Which shouldn't be a surprise considering its winter, but Aria was unusually happy knowing it was going to snow that night. It didn't take a genius to figure out why. Ichigo wondered if she ever saw snow considering how excited she was… What a stupid question, it snowed in Germany so of course she saw snow before.

"I wonder how the snow lights up when fireworks are going off. You know, when light reflects off the snow… I bet it's a sight to see." She had said absentmindedly that morning when we were discussing the weather. He already figured she had a small obsession when it came to fireworks, but he would have never guessed she liked snow as well. Him? He could care less about the snow. In fact, he didn't really like being cold, but when he was little, he didn't mind the occasional snowball fight. Now, he was too old to do such childish things… Summer was more of his motto.

He had told her of Uryuu's plans, how he was going to try and figure out her 'secret'. She didn't seemed to fazed about it. Actually, she said if he figured it out then good for him, he should be a detective when he graduates high school. He didn't understand why she didn't see that as a problem, she countered saying 'why does he even care? It doesn't change anything if he knows or not, he'll just be another gossip buddy for him to gossip about her'. She was an extremely sarcastic person.

But, she always seemed to put a smile on his sisters' faces, which he was grateful for. Karin seemed down the last year and he didn't know why. The only thing he could think of was that her spiritual pressure was increasing, causing more souls to gather around her… He hoped that wasn't the case, but he had a feeling it had something to do with it.

At school, nothing had really changed beside the fact every girl had an obsession over Aria, or her alias, Blake. He tried his best not to roll his eyes when someone was talking about her as she passed in the hallway reading her book. He asked her why she was always reading a book and her answer was so that she didn't have to make eye contact with anyone, and also because what she was reading was interesting enough to grab her attention for the day. Made the school day go by faster.

Today would had been like any other day until in homeroom, his teacher decided to do a group project. It wouldn't have been a big deal if…

"Who wants to volunteer to be Blake's partner's for our group project?" The teacher asked the question to the whole class, and to her surprise almost all the girls raised their hands. Blake looked around and sighed heavily.

But there was one hand the teacher caught that wasn't a female, or someone she wouldn't expect to rise for the occasion. "Oh, Uryuu, that's nice of you to help out our foreign student, you can choose the third group member as well; I trust your judgment."

Ichigo's eyes almost bulged out of their sockets. He watched Blake and Uryuu give sideways glances to one another; of course Blake's wasn't a friendly glance either. He continued to stare down the two, not even realizing that his other friends were trying to get his attention, at least, until a hand smacked the back of his head.

"Hey, what was that for?" Ichigo rubbed the back of his head and stared accusingly at Tatsuki. She glared down at her orange hair friend, but followed his stare to Blake and Uryuu.

"Do you not like Blake either?"

"What me?" he gave a small fake laugh and scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "No, not at all. I don't even know him, how could I not like someone I don't even know?" Tatsuki continued to watch him give a fake laugh. She wasn't stupid. She crossed her arms and gave a warning glare at her orange haired friend.

"You're hiding something. I know it."

Ichigo opened his mouth to say something but stopped when he heard Orihime's voice. He looked over half expecting to see her walk over and ask if she could be part of his team, but was surprised to see her talking to Uryuu. Blake was now sitting on a desk closest to Uryuu with her elbow on her knee and chin on her hand with a rather bored expression.

"Can I be your third team member, Uryuu?" Orihime asked sweetly and looked over at Blake with a smile. "If you're okay with it too, I don't want to intrude." Blake smiled and winked at Orihime which made Ichigo's eye twitch uncontrollably. Is she flirting with Orihime? 'Is she… is she… is she gay?'

Of course, he didn't have anything against gay people… wait, if she was gay then his sisters…

"Ichigo, are you okay?" This time Chad was speaking to him. He was usually a quiet guy, but him speaking up means he was actually worried for his friend. He should be. Ichigo was sweating profusely as he watched the three converse.

He had to talk to her tonight… but how was he going to bring it up? 'Oh, hey Aria, how was your day today? Oh, I was also wondering if you're gay. Not like I care, I was just curious that's all.' Yeah, that would go swell, he'll probably end up going to school the next day with welts all over his face.

He brought his attention back to his friends, both showing mix emotions. He sighed. "Sorry, I just remembered something. So," he smiled up at them, trying his best to hide his anxiety. "You guys want to be my partners, right? What are we doing again?" He got smacked in the back of his head again.

"Don't you ever pay attention, Ichigo? We need to make sure our egg doesn't break after being dropped from a two story window with only fifteen straws to protect it. We only have one night to figure out our plan."

"Oh, really? Yeah… sounds – good," he half mumbled as he continued to stare over toward Blake (while rubbing the back of his head for the second time. He could have sworn he felt a lump forming).

"Wow, he's really out of it. I never seen him like this." Tatsuki crossed her arms and sighed.

~*~

Aria tried her best not to glare down at Uryuu. Every time their eyes would meet, he gave an eerie, knowing stare. A couple of times she found herself narrowing her eyes at him, but stopped before their stares turned too heated.

"I think we should go to my house after school to work on our project!" Orihime said cheerfully, oblivious to the two tense teens.

"Sounds good," Aria shrugged, sounding bored and uncaring. Uryuu pushed up his glasses with his index finger, his eyes closed all the while as he nodded.

"Agreed. Tonight should be interesting."

Orihime kept the material that was handed to them and when the bell rang Aria was more than happy to get out of the room. She hated being stared down, it made her extremely uncomfortable. She began walking to her next class, reaching into her pocket of her jacket to pull out a book, but she was stopped abruptly when someone ran up and grabbed her arm. She tried her best not to glare down at the girl intruding her personal space.

"Blake! The man I was just looking for!" Aria couldn't remember the girls' name, but she knew she was the leader of one of her so called fan club. She always found the girl following her during lunch with others close behind. She was a pretty girl, in fact she was quite popular with her looks and smarts. It was rare to find a pretty girl who was also smart at the same time. But she was also extremely immature.

"And why were you looking for me?" She didn't bother trying to hide the annoyance thickly laced in her voice. The girl didn't catch it. Maybe she had to take the pretty and smart title and replace it with pretty and oblivious.

"Did you know in two weeks we have our winter dance?!" She sounded way too cheerful for Aria's liking. The girl looked up at her with dark blue eyes that reminded her of a cloudy day at the beach, and pulled some of her long, silky black hair behind her ear. Why did girls do that? Did they think it was flirtatious? Aria would never know, and she's a girl herself.

"No." Aria said bluntly, already knowing where she was going. The girl looked up at her with confusion. She wasn't that much taller than the girl, but it seemed all the girls were short in that school. She was only 5'5".

"What, but how – " Aria put her hand up and brought her finger to her lip, telling the girl to stop talking.

"I know you were going to ask me and I must say I'm not interested. In fact, I'm not interested in you in the least bit." When the girl let her arm go she reached into her pocket and fished out her book.

"So-so that's it!" She shot back angrily. Aria turned around to look at her, the girl had her arms crossed and her face scrunched up into an unpleasant expression. "You're just going to blow me off like that?! Do you not know who I am? I'm one of the most popular and beautiful girl in this school! You're crazy enough to say no to me. Unless… unless you're gay or something!" Now that got everyone's attention. Everyone in the vicinity was looking at her, some began to crowd around to get a better look to see her reaction and reply.

Aria smiled.

"You make it sound like you have a problem with homosexuality. If I was, by any chance, gay, as you put it, would that change your view of me? Are you one who think you can past judgment on someone who by chance, is slightly different than you? I'm afraid if your pathetic brain thinks like this, which I don't doubt it in the least, then you, my 'friend', are a shallow human being that doesn't deserve my respect or anyone else for the matter. But since you asked and bluntly accused me of being 'gay' in hopes to either embarrass me in saying yes so I can get ridiculed to your own benefit, or go out with you to show that I'm not gay, then you, my dear, are a complete and utter moron." Aria straightened out her jacket and looked down at her book like she was going to read, ignoring the agape stare she was receiving and the snickering the girl got. But to everyone's surprise, she continued as she turned her back to the girl and began to walk to her next destination. "But since you did ask, I'll let you know I'm very well attracted to the opposite sex. You don't interest me in the least."

People began to flat out laugh. The girl made a loud aggravated huff and stomped off, knowing very well she was beaten in her own game. That, and she lost some of her respect as well.

Aria continued walking, ignoring the stares and whoops she received. As she walked she noticed a certain orange haired teen in the crowd. When she passed him, she looked up into his brown eyes and winked, snickering when his face went ablaze.

~*~

When lunch came Aria was relieved to see no one was following her. Was it because they were only fueled to do so because of that girl? Or were they scared she would lash out at them, too? She hoped it was the ladder. It would be better if they were scared of her. Maybe they'll leave her alone from then on.

Sitting underneath a tree she finished the last couple of pages of her book. Closing it and setting it off to the side, she looked up to the sky through the dying leaves of the tree. She let out a long sigh and watched the fog form in front of her from her breath. Everything was all fine until she felt a disturbance in town. She looked in the direction and concentrated. It was a hollow. Before she could get up someone was running through the courtyard and toward the gates of the school. It was Uryuu. She watched him pass and their eyes met, she didn't bother looking away as they stared each other down. He looked away at the last minute and disappeared behind the wall of the gate.

Tonight was going to be an interesting night.

She looked up toward the roof and saw someone staring down at her. He must have noticed the hollow's presence too, and went to the roofs metal gate to watch Uryuu leave. She waved at him but he didn't respond. She smiled and shook her head, he was so stubborn. She closed her eyes and leaned back into the tree, keeping her legs out as well. She couldn't wait for the night to come.

Aria waited at the school entrance and the end of the school day until Uryuu came walking out with Orihime. She was leaning against the wall, but once she saw the two, she stood up and watched them walk over to her. Once Orihime was in front of her she clasped her hands together in excitement. "Are you ready Blake? I have some sandwiches I want you to try, they're really good!" Aria smiled at the girl that reminded her of a certain someone.

"Of course. Anything you make tastes great!"

"I'm glad you think so, a lot of people don't like my cooking…"

"I don't see why not." Aria looked at Uryuu to see him pushing up his glasses to hide the blue, horrified look on his face. That almost made Aria snicker. Almost.

Orihime grabbed her arm and began to drag her toward her house. Aria allowed it, smiling as Orihime went on and on about what she had planned for tonight. Occasionally, she would try to get Uryuu in on the conversation, but his short responses indicated he wasn't in the mood to make small talk.

Orihime had her arm interlocked with Aria's as they walked. Orihime would not shut her mouth, but Aria didn't mind, which was strange for her, but she didn't ponder over it. She figured it had something to do with Orihime's looks…

"Here we are!" Orihime welcomed the two into her house. After shoes were taken off and everyone settled in, the three sat around the table sipping tea and giving their ideas of how to construct their straw, break resistant egg.

"Do you have any ideas on how we should approach this?" Uryuu asked, staring expectantly at Aria. She looked down at the straws and shrugged her shoulders.

"I say cut the straws in half so we have thirty and tape them to the egg pointing in all different directions. That way when it falls then it'll have support in every direction." She thought this whole thing was stupid. Why did they have to work in groups? They could have done this by themselves. They were in high school the last time she checked, not middle school.

"That's actually a good idea," he pushed up his glasses and examined the girl (he thinks is a guy), in front of him. "That way we can have all sides and angles covered."

"Maybe," she shrugged and crossed her arms. "But I think I like your idea better. The pentagon idea would be flashier. It'll give us extra points in creativity."

Uryuu nodded his head, pleased that she liked his idea. "I was actually hoping you would agree with me."

"Yay," was her only reply. She reached over and grabbed a sandwich Orihime made. She didn't know what was in it, but it tasted good. She also noted the greenish tint Uryuu had every time she ate one. It was quite amusing.

"Want do you think, Orihime? Do you have any ideas?" Uryuu politely asked. Orihime shook her head fast, giving them a sheepish laugh.

"Um, nope. Not at all, your guy's ideas are way better than anything I could come up with." Aria snickered. Uryuu glared at her rudeness.

They sat there in silence. Not one saying a word. Uryuu was still glaring at Aria, but she kept her head down acting like she didn't notice. Orihime, finally, noticed the thick tension in the air between the two. "Is everything alright?" Aria shrugged. Here it goes.

"I'm fine, but why don't you ask four-eyes, he's been glowering at me for the last three days." Uryuu narrowed his eyes further, not only from the insult but for initiating an argument. Not like he didn't want this, he was actually planning on confronting Blake once they left Orihime's. But he didn't want to argue and worry his friend.

"Well, if I didn't suspect you were hiding something important then maybe I wouldn't be so 'suspicious' of you."

"Your one to talk," she sneered.

"What does that mean?"

"I dunno, what 'do' I mean…" she almost said it, but she was enjoying their little bicker.

"I wouldn't be asking if I knew."

"Then it looks like you're not as smart as you lead on." That made Uryuu's eye twitch.

"How about we skip the 'formalities' and get down to business. Why do I sense a high spiritual pressure from you every morning? There's no way a normal human would be able to conjure so much, so I can only assume you are well aware of the fact." That made Aria smile.

"I know many things, Quincy," he was now glaring daggers at her, she knew he was wondering how she knew about his race. "But it's really none of your business." Uryuu stood up quickly, his hands on the table as he continued to glare.

"It is my business if you are a threat!"

The whole time they were bickering, Orihime watched the two, her head snapping back and forth as they spoke. "Um…" she began, raising her finger. Aria glanced over at here noticing her movement, but Uryuu kept his eyes on Aria, not daring to look away. "Will you two please stop fighting? You're beginning to scare me."

"Sorry Orihime," Uryuu said, still not looking away from Aria as he sat back down. "I was actually trying to avoid getting you involved." His next words were directed toward Aria. "Why don't we make this easier and tell me what your purpose is and who exactly are you?"

Aria took another bite of her sandwich and set it down on the small plate in front of her. "I'm a human, and I don't really have a purpose. To tell you the truth, I didn't even want to go to school, I was forced."

"Forced?"

"The place I'm staying at – " She stopped abruptly when she felt a disturbance not too far from where they were staying. Hollows, quite a few of them, and they felt – different from a normal one. She couldn't pinpoint it. "Looks like we have to draw this short."

Uryuu was no longer looking at her but off to the right toward the direction of the hollows. "At least we can agree on something." He looked back up toward Aria. "What do you plan on doing?"

"I'm going to go check out those hollows," she stood up and placed both hands in her pockets. "Something doesn't feel – normal." Uryuu nodded.

"Mind if I tag along?"

"I already figured you were." She turned around. "Orihime, stay here, I don't want you to get hurt."

She stood up, her hands crossed in front of her chest as she looked at her with determination. "No, I won't just sit around and do nothing. I can fight too."

Aria hesitated, looking over at Orihime, studying her.

"She's more than capable of handling herself. Let's go, I don't want to waste any more time." Uryuu ordered, running over to the door and outside. There was still some light left, but the sun was setting fast.

Aria nodded toward Orihime. "Be careful." Orihime nodded back and they both followed Uryuu out. They easily caught up to him, but now they were running as fast as they could down the streets. Aria could easily use a certain ability of hers to go on ahead, but she didn't want to leave Orihime behind. She had a feeling the situation had something to do with Roy.

"Stop!" Aria suddenly yelled. Orhime and Uryuu stopped, turning around and stared pointedly at her. "They're on their way here." Right on cue, a hollow screech was heard off in the distance. More followed it and it was rapidly approaching their way. "Prepare yourselves."

Swords appeared on her back, causing Uryuu's eyes to grow wide. But he couldn't look for long, the hollows were already there.

All three looked upon the hollows with horrid surprise. "W-what's wrong with them? Why do they look like that?" Orihime stuttered, her legs shacking at the sight before her.

It looked like someone took apart random hollows and – sewed them back together with other parts of a hollow. The misshaped legs, the triple arms, and even double heads made Aria squirm with disgust. Who would do such a horrid thing? What was the point?

"It doesn't matter," Uryuu had his Quincy bow out and aimed toward the ten to twenty hollows aiming their way. "I should be able to take them out with ease." Shots flew from his bow, all hitting the target. The hollows wallowed in pain, their screeches almost too loud to bare.

But they weren't disappearing. Again, they watched with horrid stricken expressions as the arrows disintegrated into their bodies, like it never happened. They only faltered for a second before coming at full speed toward the three teens. Aria grabbed her black sword and readied herself. Even though there was something terribly wrong with those hollows, they were still weak.

"You guys should probably let me handle this." Aria took a step forward, twirling her sword in her hand, lisening to the vibrations pass her ear with each twirl.

"Are you crazy?! How do you expect to handle all of these hollows when my arrows didn't even singe them?!" Uryuu yelled. Aria glared at him. She looked forward again and they were basically on top of them, only a foot away. She ran over to Orihime and wrapped her arm around her waist. When the hollows made their first attack she jumped into the air, a green light appearing at her feet that Uryuu noticed immediately as he followed after her.

They jumped from building to building with the hollows hot on their heels. She said the words for her sword to release, knowing full well she was going to need it. Everything she did Uryuu noticed, taking note.

"Dammit," Aria swore out loud. "We need to get away from the town and into the forest. I can't use my Zanpakuto here." She didn't care revealing things to Uryuu at the moment. When this was all over, she knew she was going to have to explain everything to him. She just hoped Ichigo didn't feel the hollows presence. She didn't want him to waste any more energy. So, she had to make this quick.

"Right, you take the lead," Uryuu agreed following behind her as they jumped from rooftop to rooftop with Orihime clinging around her neck. In the back of her mind, she was freaking out from the contact. She hated being touched. Not only that, but Orihime's side was pressed to her chest. She probably figured out she wasn't actually male. Or… she thought she was a transvestite.

"Orihime," Aria said, no longer masking her voice. She looked at her, but she didn't seemed surprised by the sudden voice change. "As soon as I let you go, I want you to run away as far as you can."

"What!? No, I can figh-"

"This isn't about if you can fight or not," Aria cut her off, trying her best not to snap at the girl. "If you get in the way of my Zanpakuto, it will shred your human body to pieces." She glanced at Orihime. She looked scared, and also a little taken back, but she nodded regardless. Aria was thankful she didn't question her any further. She then turned her attention to Uryuu. "Hey, you." He looked at her with annoyance

"I have a name, you know."

"Four-eye grumpy butt, when I stop you need to stand directly behind me. If you don't, you will die." She said bluntly, smiling at his glare. "I'm pretty sure someone as dense as you still values their life."

"And why should I trust you?"

"Please, Uryuu." She wouldn't look at him, but now she was being completely serious, her voice carrying over her worry. Now wasn't the time to fool around.

"Fine."

"Thank you."

Now if everything else would go the way she wanted, then Ichigo wouldn't have to get involved. But she couldn't get over how they just – absorbed Uryuu's arrows. Her attack didn't hold any reitsu, but she couldn't drop the feeling that there's something more the hollows had up their sleeves.

"Get ready," Aria grunted as she began to descend, pushing herself far off a building and into a park in front of the woods. She kicked off the ground, the green light growing more prominent the more worried she got. When she was satisfied with the distance, she stopped and let Orihime go. She gave Aria one last glance before taking off into the thick of the trees. Uryuu landed behind Aria and did as he was instructed.

"Their coming," Mr. Obvious exclaimed as he watched the barrage of hollows descend on their one spot. She held her sword to the left of her, only keeping her right hand on the hilt. She waited a second longer for them to come closer before swinging her sword and letting the giant shockwave boom through the air. The trees around them flattened, Uryuu ducked behind Aria while covering his ears.

The hollows sliced into thousands of pieces. Falling to the ground in one giant heap of hollow mess. "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take down a hoard of hollows ready to kill you."

Uryuu stood up and dusted himself off while glaring at Aria. "You could have also warned me about the noise. I thought my ears were going to bleed."

"Is that all you do is bitch and moan?"

Uryuu opened his mouth to say something but stopped when he noticed something. "Why is the hollow debris still here?"

Aria looked behind her and narrowed her eyes. He was right, they hadn't disappeared yet. Then something horrible happened. The parts closest to each other began to reunite. Crawling toward one another and joining. "That… shouldn't be possible…" Aria barely whispered, too shocked to speak anything louder. Uryuu didn't say anything, his eyes were wide and shacking with fear and the grotesque… thing – they were witnessing.

Aria brought her sword up but hesitated, not sure if she should strike again. Would it matter? All she would be doing was destroying the trees around her. Dammit. What the hell was happening!?

She didn't know what to do.

"Maybe if I keep on breaking them apart, they won't be able to form anymore," Aria offered, not really hearing what she was saying.

"Maybe. If you destroy enough of their flesh, what is there to connect too…?" Uryuu began to get his composure back, but he still couldn't fathom over what was happening.

"Go to Orihime." Aria ordered.

"And leave you behind? Like I said before, Orihime can take care of herself. Besides, two minds are better than one. We'll figure something out together as we analyze the situation first hand."

Aria rolled her eyes at him. He was stubborn and she knew he wouldn't listen to her. He was almost as stubborn as Ichigo.

"You go left, I'll go right?"

He nodded and they both sprinted opposite directions. Aria switched her sword to her left hand. It stopped vibrating, its power being deducted by eighty percent. Her black hilted sword worked best when wielded with her right hand, but her white Zanpakuto handles better in her left.

Uryuu sent a barrage of arrows, not stopping until they sliced through the hollows flesh, watching carefully to see if he notices anything. Aria was doing the same, bringing her sword up and slicing through the hollows that got close enough. They just kept on regrouping, the numbers never going down.

What was the point of this?

She flashed through the hollows, slicing one after another.

Why would someone do this to hollows? She didn't see the point. If this had something to do with Roy, what was his motive? To kill her? She had a feeling that wasn't the case. But what was it? It was beginning to piss her off the more she thought about it. Damn it all to hell. The next time she saw Roy, she was going to beat the answers out of him without hesitating. Something she should have done the first time. If she wasn't so stubborn to use her Shikai.

Something flashed in her peripheral vision, but before she could look it was already gone, another hollow forming where she thought she saw something. Maybe she had to get closer… There! Something was shimmering, a little star stone, and the hollow flesh clumped over it, like it was attracted to it.

"Uryuu!" "Blake!" they both said at the same time.

"Did you see…?" Uryuu started.

"Some shimmering stone?"

"Yes, if I time it right…" Uryuu shot an arrow at the exact moment the crystal appeared after taking out a hollow. It made contact, making it shatter and disappear. The hollow clumps disappeared as soon as it was destroyed.

"That's it!" They both exclaimed. "Now," Aria gritted when she felt a claw dig into her shoulder. "We just need to take them out… one at a time… ugh! This is going to take forever!"

"Is complaining the only thing you know how to do?" Uryuu retorted.

She snickered.

Uryuu smiled, but it soon left his face when a claw hand ripped through the front of his body. He flew backwards, hitting the ground hard. "Dammit." Aria tried to make it over to him, but she was blocked off. Her right hand twitched, ready to grasp her sword, but she restrained from doing so. She couldn't, if she did she'll kill Uryuu anyways.

"GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Aria roared. She brought her hand up to use her hollow mask, but she was pushed back, a hollow slicing into her side. She fell to the ground, a hollow arm smashing into her right, making her unable to call her mask into play. No! She had to get to Uryuu, she won't let another did because of her!

They needed a miracle.

And just like that, all the hollows began to freeze into blocks of ice. Aria didn't realize she closed her eyes when she saw a Hollow loom over Uryuu, but when she felt the breeze blistering against her skin, she opened her eyes to see a frozen waste land of hollow bodies before they all broke apart into nothing.

"But…" Before she could ask the question, a boy with stark white hair in a haori landed not too far away from her. They both stared at each other. Why was he there…! Aria had an idea why.

"What the hell?!" Ikkaku landed in front of her with a scowl. Where the hell did he come from? "Aren't you supposed to be strong? You just got whipped by a couple of low ranked hollows!" Next to him was Yumichika, grinning down at her. Then he blinked.

"What are you wearing? It's so horrid!" he pointed a finger at her head, his face clear with his disgust.

A vein popped on her forehead. She first pinned her glare on Ikkaku. "For your information, I was babysitting so I couldn't use my full ability without killing people, and," she turned her glare to Yumichika. "You shouldn't be talking chicken face."

"CHICKEN FACE! WHO YOU CALLING CHICKEN FACE! YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T KNOW WHAT BEAUTY LOOKS LIKE!"

The two bickered back and forth. Aria was standing up now, ignoring the pain in her side and shoulder. Orihime was tending to Uryuu which she was glad to see the two were okay.

"Will you two knock it off?!" A stern child-like voice ordered. Ikaku, Yumichika, and Aria looked over to see Toshiro scowling at them. Aria crossed her arms. Toshiro sighed. "You're probably wondering why we are here."

"No need to explain, I already figured it out."

"Oh?"

"Yamamoto sent you and a team of your pick to watch over me and to also study, am I wrong? I should have suspected he would do something like this." Aria crossed her arms and walked past the three. "I'm pretty pissed off right about now, so I would appreciate it if you don't talk to me." She wondered if they knew about Roy. Were they sent right after Ichigo and her arrived back? Later she would have to thank Toshiro for saving her and Uryuu.

She walked over to Uryuu and Orihime. Once Uryuu noticed her, he stared at her until she was all the way to where they were standing. "Are you okay, Orihime," was her first question when she was in front of them.

"Oh, yes, yes, I didn't even get a scratch!" She smiled. Aria nodded.

"Since we all know we are okay and alive, I hope you could answer a couple of my questions-" Uryuu started, but was cut off when someone called her real name.

"Aria!" she froze. She knew that voice and he, being the idiot he was, was calling out her real name. He was stupider than she thought. She reached down and grabbed her shoe, tossing it in her hand as she weighed it, then whipped around and chucked the shoe, flying through the air and hitting an orange hair teen in his shinigami outfit square in the forehead.

He fell backwards, the back of his head hitting the ground hard. He shot up, one hand rubbing the back of his head and the other rubbing his forehead. "What the hell was that for?! Why do you always have to hit me on a daily basis?!" he looked at Aria, her eye twitching with irritation, then his eyes moved over to Orihime and Uryuu, realization flooding his face. Oh, that was why she hit him.

"You two know each other?" Uryuu asked, already figuring out the answer as soon as she hit him with her shoe.

Ichigo walked up to the three, still rubbing his forehead. "Yeah, but this idiot wanted everyone not to know we knew each other!"

"I see." He paused. "So you kept me in the dark."

"What? Hey, don't take it like that she basically threatened me. You saw her hit me with her shoe," He held up the shoe like it was evidence. "She's violent!"

"…She?"

Ichigo froze. Crap, he was going to get hit again.

And sure enough, a fist hit the back of his head flinging him forward and face first into the ground, eating dirt. Again, he shot up. "Will you stop that?!"

Aria had her arms crossed, glaring death at Ichigo. Then she sighed and reached up to pull off her wig. Both Uryuu and Orihime watched with wide eyes. She took the pins out and put them in her pocket, her light red hair splaying over her shoulders. "Looks like you know my big secret now." She turned on her death glare, flames seen in the back of her eyes as she stared the two down. "And if you tell anyone you will regret it deeply." They both nodded at the same time, sweat forming on the side of their faces. "Good." Her full attention was drawn to Uryuu, her expression blank. "So, what questions do you want to ask?"

Aria, to the best of her knowledge, answered every question Uryuu sent her way, (he didn't ask about the green light, though. He wanted to talk to her about it alone). After satisfied, and calling a truce, they walked their separate ways, Uryuu offering to walk Orihime home. Ichigo chatted with the four soul reapers, and then Rangiku suddenly popped out of nowhere and squashed her captain in her enormous boobs in the process.

Toshiro asked his questions but Aria evaded them, giving only half-assed answers. Once everything was said and done, Ichigo and Aria headed home.

She told Ichigo the whole story. Everything down to the crystals that revived and regrouped hollows. He listened intently, not once stopping her to ask questions. When she was done, they were silent.

After a while, Ichigo finally broke the silence. "Do you think it was Roy?"

"I don't have a doubt in my mind. But why? Why the hell is he doing this? How did he do it?" she grind her teeth together, hating how she couldn't figure anything out.

And also how people were getting hurt because of her.

"Only time will tell. Believe me, everything will come clear soon. It always does," Ichigo tried his best to comfort her. He saw the stress on her face clear as day.

"I… hope so."

A snowflake fell in front of Aria. She stopped and watched it hit the pavement, more following close behind. She looked up to see it was already beginning to snow. A cool breeze caressing her cheek.

She smiled.

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