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[Compile & Complete] Ichigo, Rukia, Orihime, Momo

"Monkey girls?" Orihime immediately forgot about defending Ichigo's honor to Momo (who hadn't been angry at him, after all), her mind drifting to focus on the idea of monkey girls... or monkey boys... or perhaps monkey dogs and monkey cats!

It wasn't really a bad idea, she thought. If that Ulquiorra person had been a monkey boy, he wouldn't have been so scary! And maybe if she just gave him a banana, he would go away!

Ishida, however, would NOT make a good monkey. As adorable as they were, Orihime didn't like kissing something so furry (except her kitten's nose, and that was different).

"I didn't know monkey-girls knew answers like that," she said thoughtfully. "I wonder if other animal people know them too..."

The petite noble was about to join Inoue in teasing Ichigo about his blush which was definitely present, but the wave of reiatsu pulsing across town caught her attention and jerked her head to the side.

Renji...

Hihou Zabimaru.

She swallowed thickly, trying to recompose herself even as her fingers tightened in Ichigo's hair, her knuckles turning white. Ban kai... He'd released ban kai... He was in such a fight that he needed to rise to that level, and she sat idly by chatting with friends. But if he was in such a fight and had to resort to that full release, what could she do but sit idly by?

The slight pulling of his hair at the same moment a sudden burst of familiar reiatsu flared up was all Ichigo needed to motivate him. If it wasn't for those two slight gestures it was the way Rukia had suddenly seemed to drop a few degrees, stiffen, and pass up a perfect opportunity to mock and tease him told him there was something seriously wrong with this girl. Well not seriously, but that she desperately wanted to be elsewhere.

And with Renji's suddenly bursting reiatsu, Ichigo wanted to be elsewhere as well. This was not the time to be chattering away. No doubt the one responsible for the pain he saw in his friends was engaged in a deadly fight and one Ichigo knew he had to be a part of.

He reached into his back pocket and pulled on his soul glove. Quietly he pressed his hand against his chest and felt his soul detach from his body. Just before his body fell in a heap, he caught Rukia and pulled her to her favorite perch on his back. He stood looking at Orihime and then Momo. "Sorry. We gotta go. Follow us if you want to try to take your home back, or if you want to avenge the woman who just died. I don't care. I'm going cuz I have to fight her. Once and for all I need to know what I'm made of." He tossed a lopsided grin to the girls and was quickly gone heading in the direction of the fight with Adaro.

That the battle raged had not escaped her attention, knowledge that came with it the apprehension of what casualties might be wrought again upon the Gotei-13. Momo bore that to the best of her ability, heavier though it became as others joined the battle and zanpakuto were released. Worry built steadily, held under the soft smile she continued to hold, faded as it was.

Momo jumped when Ichigo dropped to the ground, brown eyes going wide with her startlement before she realised his shinigami form had remained standing. To his words, she listened intently and hesitated a moment before she nodded, indecision settled with the strength of resolve that he offered. "I will catch up," she said with a brighter smile and a nod. "Good luck... Kurosaki-kun!"

The gigai that had helped to hide her in the past few months fell to the ground as she split her spirit from it, shihakushou settling gently around her as Momo turned her gaze to Orihime. There was an instant of sadness that graced her eyes before she offered the teen a quick hug. "Orihime-chan, I will come back to visit if we get Seireitei back," she promised.

Momo rested her hand upon the hilt of Tobiume as she pulled back, feeling the reassurance of the spirit. Fighting was not the option she would like, but she wanted to return home, to help those who had been left behind. She hoped that her captain would approve of this resolve, hoped that she could speak with him about it when they were back home. With a final smile to Orihime, she turned her gaze to where the fighting was, a presence much more pronounced now that she was free of the gigai.

Hard though it would be, she hoped that this might herald the end of the war.

Orihime stood frozen, unable to do anything other than watch as the others responded to the battle that she could sense raging fiercely in the distance.

Was it going to be like this, then? When it came down to it, Inoue Orihime was NOT a fighter. Tsubaki packed none of the power that the shinigami's zanpakuto did, or Chad's arm or Ishida's arrows. Against someone like Adaro...

But then, could she be content with letting them go, staring at their backs?

No.

"If we get Seireitei back," Momo had said. If they all worked together, however, it wouldn't be just an "if". It would be a "when".

"I'm going too," she said softly, giving her friend a warm smile even as her eyes sharpened in determination. "I wasn't given these powers so I could watch everyone else. I have the Shun Shun Rikka so I can protect them... and I will."

She only hoped Ishida wouldn't scold her TOO badly for throwing her own safety aside in order to aid the shinigami.

One step at a time, and she put her foot forward.

"I'm not going to lose any more people that I care about."

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