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Learning to Live

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Breaking the Fall". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: There are moments when the lines shift and everything changes. Those moments can define or destroy you. Third story in the Breaking the Fall Series.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > BleachjezaeiriFR181851,7455144074,04029 Oct 0919 Apr 12No

Emergence

Disclaimer: See chapter one.

A/N: Sorry about the wait but my birthday followed by me writing the entirety of the next story in the Convergence Series had me a bit busy on the writing front. I've finally managed to finish this chapter though (it only took 3 rewrites and Wolfie's help to pull it off). I don't know how long it will be until the next chapter comes out though, RL has me very busy at the moment. I'll try and update soon but I make no promises.

Now, how about a story-and a fight?
















Fighting, she hated it on principle, hated that in the end no one ever really won. Because at the end of a fight, if you came out the victor, you had a little piece of yourself made harder because of it. But hating something and understanding the fact that fighting was simply a part of life whether it was a physical fight or not was something she'd learned to accept. Some people could go through their entire lives without spilling a drop of blood to win a battle and some people didn't get that lucky. And she was clearly sitting in the latter category. She didn't want to fight but talking hadn't worked.

She felt the wind ripple her hakama around her ankles as they kept their gazes locked, she wouldn't back down and neither would he. Seconds dragged by, long and thick with neither of them moving. She knew why she wasn't moving, she didn't want to fight. “You just gonna stand there?” ok so sue her, she tended to be a smartass when she fought. Plus she fully intended to end the fight as soon as she could, she had other things to do like break Kuchiki Rukia out.

And well he didn't disappoint as he was suddenly there one moment and gone the next. She brought Areno Ame up in time to block the blow easily, she might not be able to match Yoruichi's level of flash steps but she could follow them thanks to her slayer abilities. He pushed his weight down on her, trying to use what he thought was his size and strength against her. Too bad for him though. She was a slayer and even her human body could withstand attacks from at least a third seat with no problems, in shinigami form she could withstand ten times that or more. As she'd figured out the one time she'd been stepped on by a Menos.

Their blades locked and she let him think he had the advantage for a moment as she shifted her weight, bending her knees. And all it took was that fraction of a movement for her to do what she intended. She let the pressure under her feet build, her reatisu like a low hum at the balls of her feet. She pushed back, hard, putting her slayer strength into play as she broke the lock between their blades. As it broke she pushed her body up and back, throwing herself into a backflip. But the flip had three intents and all three met their mark as she rotated Areno Ame in her right hand so that the blade faced backwards.

She felt her slash cut though skin and cloth as her foot connected with her opponent's chin hard. The momentum sent both of them away from one another. She landed in a crouch, one knee on the ground a good twenty feet away from the lieutenant that stood in her way. She could see the blood flowing from the wound she'd given him. It went from his shoulder down half of the left side of his chest, leaving a ragged tear in his uniform. His eyes were surprised for one brief moment, like he hadn't expected her to pose a challenge to him much less cut him, before those eyes turned assessing.

It was under that assessing dark gaze that she rose to her feet slowly, wrist instinctively flipping Areno Ame's blade back to facing before her as the blood was flicked off the razor sharp edge. She'd tried to get him to let her go peacefully and he'd refused, now he was going to have to deal with it and so was she. And she knew that he'd end up not liking it as much as she did. He rushed her again, his blade moving at full speed. The attacks were fast and strong, he clearly knew how to use his blade but so did she.

She let him come at her, pushing her back as she blocked blow after viper quick blow until she saw the opening she was looking for. He went for her right side, near her head and when he did it she lashed out with her left fist with all the strength she had. The blow caught him across the jaw, hard. Hard enough to make blood flow from his mouth as he went flying backwards.

He turned the backward movement into a long slide and stopped soundly a good fifteen feet away, not quite breathing hard but she could see the blood on the corner of his mouth from where she'd hit him. It was fairly impressive all things considered, once upon a time she'd been able to hit hard enough to make even Isshin go flying into walls when he irritated her. It told her two things. One, that her reatisu had healed quite a bit since she'd faced Kisuke and two, that the lieutenant in front of her wasn't just the punk kid he looked like.

Across the distance her opponent gave her another assessing look and she knew what he was doing. She didn't look like much and never had, being short and female was kinda a double edged sword for her, but he was already figuring out that what she looked like didn't match up to what she could do. “Who are you?” his question caught her a bit off guard, but only a bit. And the parody of a smile that crossed her features didn't show her internal feelings at all.

“Me? I'm just a girl, lieutenant.”

He scowled at her and that made her almost want to smirk. “I am Hisagi Shūhei, lieutenant of the Ninth Division.” his scowl deepened. “And you are not just a girl.”

And it seemed that was all it took for him to try another tactic. He shumpoed and instead of a frontal attack he tried to come up behind her. I might have worked if she hadn't had Shunsui try similar tactics a million times on her over the years. It only took the space of a blink for her to pivot on one foot in preparation of the strike before it came down. The attack was hard, fast, and calculated, all things she approved of, but were moot points against her.

She'd beaten seated officers during her initial testing all those years ago, not because she had more reatisu but because fighting was what she did innately. Most people had to learn to fight, she'd never needed to learn, just polish her skills. And now, back in spiritual form without the restraints of her human body, she could do things that even a seasoned slayer or shinigami couldn't even begin to try.

The blow came at her and she blocked it, pushing back harder than he'd pushed against her. Sparks flared between the two blades and he moved to jump back to avoid her swipe at his chest only he wasn't quite fast enough. Once again she felt blade meet flesh but the horizontal cut wasn't as deep as the first one had been. He caught her slightly by surprise though as she felt the cut go up her left arm from just above the elbow to nearly her shoulder.

And it stung like no one's business. And now she was irritated. Being forced to fight was one thing, getting sliced by a lieutenant was another entirely. Inside her head she felt Areno Ame's unhappiness at not being allowed out to play.

Not a good thing. It taken her the better part of two centuries to learn how to keep perfect control over her blade and since she'd gotten her shinigami abilities back that hard won control wasn't what it had once been. Before her healing had progressed so far it hadn't been an issue but that had been then and this was now and she didn't want her presence known if she could help it.

Which meant she needed to end the fight soon. Very soon. Or she was going to just let her reatisu cut loose and bring out Areno Ame to play.

This time she was the one who moved first, rushing up on Hisagi Shūhei. He shifted his weight for the attack and if he'd have been a hollow she'd have smiled as she flipped over him. As she did it she lashed out with Areno Ame and once again felt her blade cut. She was opting for debilitating wounds rather than killing ones. She felt her feet touch the ground for a moment before she continued into another flip.

Which would have been perfect if she suddenly hadn't had meter long energy rods flying at her like lightening bolts. They were fast, incredibly fast, and she had to draw on her reatisu to make her body move faster.

She managed to dodge almost all of them. Almost.

White hot pain flared in her right thigh but she ignored it as another rod came after it, straight for her chest. She didn't think, which was half stupid on her part as she snatched the thing out of the air. It was Bakudō number sixty two, a binding spell. One she could barely pull off doing on a good day but she held onto the rod despite the pain.

Because now she was highly irritated.

*

She could feel two fights, one to her east and one to her west. Ichigo's was hard to miss, a flood of reatisu from the boy and his opponent Abarai Renji but the second fight was so subtle it was almost invisible if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for. Amaya was facing off against Hisagi Shūhei from the feel of the reatisu and it seemed both were unwilling to release their shikai.

Not that Amaya needed shikai to win unless Hisagi released his own blade. So Yoruichi wasn't worried, at least about Amaya. Ichigo on the other hand was a completely different story.



*



There was dust billowing around her, so thick it obscured her vision more than ten feet away. Not that she needed sight with all of her other senses on high alert. Her hand still stung where she held the rod, the slash further up it not helping any but she'd felt worse pain and kept going. Even the pain from the rod though her thigh was something she could just push to the back of her mind. Mostly because she knew that the threat to her was still waiting. And secondly because she felt the spike of reatisu far across the distance that was unmistakeable.


Ichigo was fighting, hard. And dear gods that boy had a lot of power.

Her choices were clear. She'd already taken enough damage that going after Kuchiki Rukia would be impossible until her body had repaired the damage already done to it. But the more damage that was done before the fight ended the longer it would take for her to heal and she couldn't afford to take that time.

She began the chant for Bakudō number nine, one of the few kidou she could do easily under her breath as she zeroed in on her target. Even with all the dust she could find him easily by his reatisu and when she did she threw the rod that was still burning her hand with all the precision of a slayer. She felt her reatisu spike as she pulled the second rod from her leg quickly and threw the second rod. She could feel the storm building under her skin and fought back the urge to release Areno Ame as she released the binding spell into the swirling dust.

She didn't need to see to know she'd hit her target with both rods or the spell, she could hear them as they impacted. This fight was over, Hisagi Shūhei just didn't know it yet.



*



The twin rods in his shoulders only added to the burning of the wounds he'd gotten earlier in the fight. He wanted to reach up and pull them out, to do something, anything about the burning but he couldn't move. Not anymore. He was trapped, locked in place by Bakudō number nine. He couldn't move, couldn't fight.

He kept his gaze on the still swirling dust before him, if his enemy was going to end his life then he would see her coming. He could feel her, like sand and storms and something sweet but deadly. Whoever she was she'd beaten him, beaten him without ever even seeming to try.

And then he felt a spike of power and the dust simply seemed to shoot away, to clear like it had never been and he could see her. Long golden hair that reflected the setting sun's light like some great burnt orange cloak and green eyes that were glowing from unreleased reatisu. She moved, slowly, so slowly across the distance and there was something about the way she moved that reminded him of the dignity of the Captains, something old and powerful carefully contained.

She reached him, her eyes losing their glow. “Who are you?” he had to know, had to. If he was going to die by her blade he had to know her name. Her head tipped to the side, like a cat watching prey. “Mimasaka Amaya.”

He didn't even have time for the shock to hit him before two more words floated across his hearing and his vision narrowed. “I'm sorry.”



*



Pain, she wasn't a fan of pain. Never had been, never would be and a the moment she was even less of a fan. She could shumpo, she could fight even if she had to but what she wasn't going to be able to do until near sunrise was break into the Shrine of Penitence. She'd won the fight but it had cost her. Now she was going to have to wait it out until she healed and then go get Kuchiki Rukia. Which wasn't the plan she'd had but when had any of her plans gone off perfectly?

She crouched low on the wall that surrounded the Eighth Division's barracks as she kept an eye out for any potential threats. She was taking a chance at entering any of the Divisions barracks but going into Shunsui's territory was the least dangerous. She'd once known every inch of the Eighth Division's barracks and while the faces had changed the layout hadn't. All the squads were on alert, out combing Sereitei even though night had fallen so the barracks were nearly empty.

Nearly, she could feel Shunsui not too far away. Of course she couldn't have found him in her sleep if she'd wanted to. But the fact that her former Captain and friend was close didn't occupy her mind nearly so much as finding a place to rest and recover. Going back into the tunnels was too risky, and sitting out in the open was just plain stupid.

However, going into one of the almost never used storage rooms of the Eighth Division was a fairly safe option. She could hide her reatisu easily and if anyone asked she knew enough about the Eighth Division and Shunsui to be able to bluff her way out if she was spotted. She checked around her one more time, letting her senses do what they were meant to. When nothing came up she jumped down, landing silently before she began her trek to where she'd already picked out to hole up for the night.

It didn't even take her five minutes to get across the distance and inside, the door firmly locked behind her. But once she was in she let out a deep breath, the air hissing between her teeth as she surveyed the space around her. It wasn't the Ritz by any means but it would do. Large crates were stacked against the walls, things that were kept in storage until winter. Things like extra blankets and oil and if Shunsui was as predictable as he'd been for almost a thousand years-his stash of saki and junk food.

She might look like a bubble headed blonde but she wasn't one.

Even with the almost pitch darkness it only took her half an hour to find the things she needed. A blanket taken out of one of the crates to sleep on, a sheet ripped into strips to use as a bandage, a bottle of saki and some junk food. She sat on the blanket she'd laid out behind one of the crates. The crate provided cover on the off chance someone came in and worked for her to lean against as she opened the bottle of saki and poured it over the slash on her arm. I burned like no one's business but it did the job, she needed the wound cleaned. She let out a slight hiss at he pain but that was it, pain was nothing new but wrapping up her arm took a lot of dexterity and patience in the dark.

Her healing had already begun to kick in and the wound had long stopped bleeding but she'd learned that she healed slashing wounds faster if they were bound up. Can we say lets hear it for getting curb stomped by he Captain Commander about a thousand times to teach you a lot of little things? She could, though she'd never tell old Captain Grumpy that.

Once she managed to get her arm taken care of she moved on to getting some food in herself. The fact that her options were energy bars, junk food and booze sucked but she was willing to take what she could get. So she ate, not just what was left of the energy bars Dawn had sent but a good half of Shunsui's stash of food. The saki she only had a little of, just to wash things down, she was still a lightweight when it came to the stuff and a hangover wasn't an option. But the time spent munching did give her a chance to think.

During her own fight she'd felt Ichigo brawling again but she'd checked after his reatisu had gone back down, he was alive. Whether or not he was in one piece she didn't know but he was alive. And so was everyone else. And as long as they could keep themselves alive until she could get to the Shrine and get Kuchiki Rukia out that was all that mattered. Though that was going to prove harder to pull off during the daylight hours.

Not impossible, just harder. The Shrine itself was meant to suppress reatisu and it was guarded. There was only one way in or out and that was via a bridge. But, despite all that she had one thing going for her that no one else did-she was still strong enough to take out the guards and break down the door with just slayer strength. The hard fact was that all of the Gotei 13 relied far too much on their reatisu and what it could do for them. They never stopped and considered that there were people who could beat them with something else. But then Soul Society had always been slightly off in terms of the old and new and she was more than willing to take advantage of any flaws there were.

She settled down to sleep, the remains of the sheet she'd shredded half of working as a makeshift pillow. She kept Areno Ame on her back despite the fact that it'd be uncomfortable if she rolled onto her back, a little discomfort was better than ending up dead.

All she had to do was sleep and heal and once she had she'd finish what she'd started.


*


***We're getting closer to Byakuya and Buffy seeing one another, only a couple of chapters away.

In the mean time please review as it reminds me to get off my bum and write even when I'm having issues with a chapter.
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