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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 > BleachjezaeiriFR181851,7455144073,96329 Oct 0919 Apr 12No

Rush

Disclaimer: See Chapter one.


A/N: Well, well, what do you know another chapter. And all it took was some great reviews, me rewatching eps 33-41 yet again and it being the weekend for me to get it done.

So yay.

Now, story time.


























“Matsumoto.” he kept to the doorway of the Fourth Division room, his eyes on the figure of Hisagi Shūhei laying unconscious and bandaged. Two lieutenants beaten in one day. It didn't bode well.

“Captain!” Matsumoto jumped, looked startled. “You shouldn't sneak up like that!” he ignored her as he focused on the figure laying further in the room. Two lieutenants beaten. His eyes narrowed as he focused on the blood that had seeped through the bandages on Hisagi's chest. Those wounds...

Those wounds were precise, very precise. Blows meant to injure and immobilize, not to kill. The large bruise across Hisagi's temple as well, meant to knock him unconscious but not to kill. The pattern was different than the other injuries that any of the defeated seated officers that he had seen wore. It was almost as if a much stronger person had fought a weaker one against their will and done only the most basic of damage to ensure they won.

“Captain?”

“Yes Matsumoto?” he kept his gaze on Hisagi rather than his flighty lieutenant.

“Something is going on isn't it?”

He finally looked over at her. Yes, something was going on. What it was he didn't know for certain yet but he had his suspicions.



*



“The situation is critical. We are short two lieutenants in the Thirteen Protection Squads. We can no longer leave this to the lower ranked members. Therefore, in light of this situation, I will not discipline Ichimaru for his independent actions earlier.” critical situation indeed, two lieutenants down in under a day to the ryoka. It said a great deal, however, about the ryoka that so far no killing blows had been dealt.

He wondered if yamma-gi had noticed it. Perhaps not, the old man seemed more concerned with capturing the ryoka than reading their actions.

“Furthermore, I will allow senior officers, including Lieutenants, to carry their zanpakutō at all times. As well as allow the full release of their zanpakutō, as in war time.” he took note of the expressions of the rest of the gathered Captains and their comments. Well, well this certainly changed things. He kept his head lowered, his expression blank under the shadow of his hat.

“Men, this is all out war.”

War, war because six ryoka who showed no intent so far to kill had come to prevent the execution of a shinigami.



*



The blood was still dripping, still dripping from the blade that pinned Aizen to the wall above him. He could hear it even as he walked away from Gin and the men working to remove the dead Captain from the wall.

Murder.

Manipulation.

Hinamori.

The ryoka.

Gin was playing a game, behind all of it. He knew it just like he knew that Gin had been about to kill Hinamori. He felt the wind pick up as he made his way to the Captain Commander's offices and he could smell the blood.



*



Amaya was dead, gone. All that had been left of her when they'd searched the destroyed clearing he wore around his left ankle, the bracelet he'd given her to celebrate her promotion to Captain. And yet..

And yet the description of one of the two female ryoka fit. But more than that, the wounds that had been dealt to Lieutenant Hisagi, he knew the style of fighting that ended with wounds like that. He'd seen it many times before. He kept humming as his mind worked, so many little pieces. So many different games going on.

“He's here, the ryoka.” Nanao was looking out the window, he didn't need to see it to know it. “It looks like he's broken through the guardhouse.” he ignored her for a moment, mind going back to old memories of days long gone bye. “Captain Kyōraku?”

“Huh?” oh well, the past would have to wait. “What, he's here already?” he let out a sigh, the past was the past and the present was always more pressing. “Oh well. I guess I'll head out then,” he pulled himself to his feet and began to put on his robe and swords.

“Are you really going?” Nanao watched him and he looked over at her. She was so like Lisa had been in some ways and Lisa had been so like Amaya in some ways. “It's just one ryoka. I'm your lieutenant, I should be more than enough.” just one ryoka, yes. But if what he had seen, heard and thought was true and Amaya was alive and back in Souls Society then these ryoka were her students. And he'd already seen just how far any student of Amaya's could go or fall.

“Listen, Nanao-chan, it's the old man's orders. He doesn't want anyone thinking we're having problems with the ryoka. Old men hate losing face you know.” he smirked at her and leaned in close as he put one hand on her shoulder. “Besides, it would be awful if my Nanao-chan went out to fight and ended up getting hurt.”

The whack with the fan was fast and stung. He pulled back and reacted in one of the best ways he knew to keep from getting hit harder. “Since when am I 'your Nanao-chan'?” oh, angry Nanao-chan, always fun.

“Oh, you're even more heartless than usual! That's what so wonderful about you.”

“Hurry up and go!”

“Yes ma'am.” he turned and faced the door, time to go join the games, maybe play one of his own. “Now, don't look so worried. It'll be over before you know it.” he started walking, taking into account the games he could see and where the players were in his head. “I'll just play a game and have some fun.” and maybe, just maybe find out if they had a player that had done the impossible and come back from the dead.



*



She didn't wake up naturally. Nope, not at all. Because that would have been easy, way too easy. Instead she came out of sleep with a very abrupt jerk into the sitting position as her senses registered two very not of the good things. The first and very much the more important and glaringly bad was that she could feel two incredibly strong reatisu in the far distance. And for once it wasn't a brawl. A brawl you could walk away from, a brawl was nothing, this was a battle. This was pretty much on the scale of herself and Faith going after one another.

In other words.....bad. Very very bad.

Ichigo clearly had more power than brains because the stupid ass kid was facing off with whoever it was she'd felt searching the day before. The Captain she'd felt the day before. The person with the monster reatisu.

Not of the good two worried her a lot less. Not far from where she was she could feel another fight, Sado and Shunsui. Under any other circumstances she'd have just ignored it, Shunsui wasn't the type to kill unless forced to. Hell, he wasn't even the type to fight unless he didn't have any other choice.

Only there seemed to be one very big problem with that theory, Shunsui had released his shikai. Which meant that the stakes had somehow changed while she'd been asleep. She could do the math, the old grump had decided to squish what he probably considered an insect invasion. And the old man only had two modes-watching and waiting or crush, kill, destroy.

Which meant she needed to move, fast.

She was up and out of the door of the warehouse in a matter of seconds, only it was faster than she expected it to be. She stopped as the bright sunlight hit her. It was....almost noon? She'd slept for over fourteen hours! She never slept more than six hours no matter how tired she was. Then her brain kicked in and the pieces fell into place. She'd been wounded, nothing serious really but couple that with her reatisu needing to heal and her body had done the only logical thing-it'd slept until it was healed.

Completely healed.

Completely.

She could feel it under her skin, waiting and warm. Her reatisu was healed. There was another sound of a blast and she looked to her left and saw the billowing dust and smoke. Thinking about the fact that she was healed would have to wait, she needed to act. She drew on her reatisu and felt it flow, going to her feet and then she moved.

One flying leap and she was on the roof of the next warehouse, feet barely even touching the tiled roof before she kept going a full speed in the direction of the billowing smoke. Her priorities were clear. Get to Shunsui or Lisa and make sure they knew not to kill Sado and then get to Ichigo and make sure the dumbass didn't get himself killed.

She felt the find rush past her as she spotted her first priority. Sado was attacking Shunsui in the middle of the square before Shunsui's little nap time hidey hole and she could just make out a dark haired female in glasses standing up on the balcony watching the scene below. She didn't slow down, in fact she went faster, her feet hitting the tiles of the roof of one of the surrounding buildings before she pushed her reatisu into her feet and went flying across the distance like a speeding bullet.

The impact as she kept going but now with a slightly larger female burden wasn't all that jarring for her, though the yell of protest out of her passenger let her know just how much they objected. Her feet hit the roof of the next building on the other side of the square and she just pushed off again, aiming for the roof of the barracks a few hundred feet away. It only took a few heartbeats for them to land and once they had she looked at her passenger only a breath before she realized that it wasn't Lisa.

Of course the hard hit to her midsection that pushed her back a good ten feet was another indicator. “You aren't Lisa.” cause the woman before her might have looked a lot like the lieutenant that had replaced her when she'd become Captain but she really wasn't Lisa.

The woman's glasses glinted in the sun, the eyes behind them both angry and assessing as one hand slipped inside her uniform. “I'm Ise Nanao, lieutenant of the Eighth Division.”

Her eyes widened involuntarily, Nanao? No way. Just no way. But... “You wouldn't happen to be named after someone in the Mimasaka Clan would you?”

The reaction was abrupt, almost like the woman had been slapped but it was all the reaction she needed. And she could feel the fights going on. Ichigo and Sado were both losing and she needed to act fast. Personal connections didn't matter nearly so much as making sure no one ended up dead. She pulled Areno Ame from her back in one quick motion. “Michishio, Areno Ame.” she felt her reatisu roll through her like the coming storm noticed the change in light that meant the storm under her skin and in the blade in her left hand were becoming real.

All around her, Areno Ame began to obey her voiceless command as thick fog began to billow out of no where. Nanao's eyes widened but it was the last thing she saw before the fog obscured everything around them. She didn't have time to fight Shunsui's new lieutenant but she did have to make sure he didn't kill Sado. Which meant she had to do something she really didn't want to do. She had to let him know. “Lieutenant, tell Shunsui-tell him that the storm has come back to the desert.” she wasn't big on the cryptic but the message would get across.

She pulled back on her reatisu, felt Areno Ame shift back into its sealed state even as she turned on her heel and pushed off as hard as she could. The fog would take a few minutes to dissipate and she needed to move.

Otherwise she was going to have to explain to Isshin why she'd let his son end up dead on her watch.



*



She could feel the wind blowing her hair behind her, rippling at her uniform as she ran as fast as she could. The feeling of Ichigo's and the unknown's reatisu had dropped off suddenly and her stomach was somewhere near her knees as she ran. The battle was over, you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out, but she didn't know who had won. And she couldn't sense squat aside from the fact that Sado was alive and apparently so were Inoue and Ishida.

She jumped from one roof to another, the feel of her reatisu back at its old levels the only comfort she had. Her reatisu was healed and she knew without even trying that she could reach bankai. But the cost of getting it back almost seemed too high. Those hours of sleep had been just enough time for things to get bad, very bad. Sado was now wounded and captured and Ichigo was....

If the boy wasn't dead she was gonna kick his ass for being so damn stupid. She kept moving, moving as fast as she could over the rooftops. Going on the streets was just plain stupid, there were too many nameless shinigami running around that could slow her down if they spotted her.

Although, it was a gamble, a big one but she still had her haori tucked into the folds of her uniform. If she wore it then she might just be able to intimidate any shinigami that spotted her into backing down without a fight. And it wasn't like it mattered anyway any more. It was pretty clear that the Captain Commander had declared war on them and in any case Hisagi would be awake by nightfall. Telling him her name had been done for one reason only, he'd believed he was about to die and she'd seen it in his eyes, he wanted to walk into death knowing the name of his killer. It was a warrior's thing and as a warrior she'd given him what he wanted, even if it had been stupid.

Not that it mattered any more anyway. The Captain Commander had declared war as far as she could tell and if the Captains were joining the fray then that meant that any inch they could get against the Gotei 13 they'd have to take.

She pulled the haori out and slipped it on as she kept running, a grim expression on her face. And a Captain coming back from the dead after two hundred years might just be enough of a shock to give them a chance at surviving. She kept running even as she pulled the makeshift bandage off her arm and let it fall behind her. She had to get to Ichigo and fast. If he'd lost he was either dead or dying. If he was dead she'd kill who ever had done it, if he was alive she was going to have to drag his stupid ass back to Yoruichi and Kisuke's old training ground and patch him up.

Dumbass teenager.



*



The place looked like someone had taken a bulldozer to it. Whole buildings were trashed. Though anyone with even two brain cells could tell that it'd been one hell of a battle. She knelt down near the blood covered stones on the ground and rubbed her fingers over the smears of blood.

Ichigo and his opponent were no where to be found but the blood on her fingertips wasn't even close to dry yet. If a shinigami had removed him then the place would be crawling with people. She stood up, the feel of the wind ruffling her haori oddly comforting as she rubbed the blood off on the black of her uniform. The place was deserted, completely deserted which meant that only one thing could have happened-Yoruichi had finally gotten off her feline butt and done something.

Which meant that the logical place to find them was at the training room under Sōkyoku Hill. She started running, though not nearly as fast as she had before.



*



Amaya was alive. Alive. And Aizen was dead, murdered.

“Captain Kyōraku, he's still alive. Shall I finish him?” he glanced over at the boy on the ground and then at Nanao. “No, call Division Four.” he looked back at the boy, he could read Nanao's expression easily. Nanao considered Kasumi almost a beloved aunt and for two hundred years Kasumi had held firm to her belief that Amaya was alive. His former third seat had held firm and kept the Mimasaka Clan from falling as it's steward.

He shook his head. No, he wouldn't let the boy die. Aizen was dead and answers were needed. And if he let the boy die then he was certain Amaya would make him pay for being the source of one of her student's deaths.



*



The way in to the underground training room was a cave, a hidden one in the side of he cliff of Sōkyoku Hill. The cave was hidden, a barrier used to block anyone from sensing reatisu unless they were really looking for it. She didn't exactly need to sense reatisu to find it, she'd been in it more times than she could count. Getting down was the tricky part in broad daylight, the areas around the Shrine, Hill and First Division's barracks were never completely deserted.

But she managed it. It took the better part of an hour to do in order to avoid detection but she managed it. The ledge before the hand built wooden wall and door wasn't exactly big as she stood on it and let out a sigh of relief. Inside she could hear voices, Ichigo and Yoruichi's, human Yoruichi's. She was just about to reach for the door and give Ichigo a thrashing when it hit her.

Like a hard slap to the back of the head it hit her. Reatisu, incredibly strong reatisu. Captain level reatisu right above her. She looked up at the bridge hundreds of feet above her. What the hell was going on up there?

She blinked, and the pressure was gone. Not because the reatisu had dimmed any but because she'd stood before the Captain Commander's reatisu and survived. It was strong, incredibly strong, she'd admit but the level was about the same as her own. And she recognized it.

It was the same reatisu she'd felt the night she'd had her past come back and slap her across the face. She made a move to reach the door, get inside and talk to Yoruichi but that chance exploded outward in front of her. She felt her own reatisu flare to life hard in response to the explosion as her reactions and senses went into overdrive.

It wasn't really a conscious decision, because time for thought wasn't allowed as Ichigo came flying out of the cave at high speeds. What it was was instinct as she reached out and grabbed his free hand with her own and felt herself be jerked up with him.

“Amaya! What the hell are you doing?” Ichigo's yell was almost drowned out by the wind rushing past and Yoruichi yelling below but his grip tightened on her hand to make sure she didn't fall. Because well, falling was bad. It wouldn't kill her but it might hurt a bit.

“Shut up dumbass!” and all that got her was a huge flare in Ichigo's reatisu as the flying artifact pulled them up faster, she felt her own reatisu respond and for the first time in what felt like lifetimes and really was she just let it flow.



*



“Wartime exemption allows the use of zanpakutō.” Kuchiki-san's expression was as blank as ever, a mask of cold that had replaced the young man he'd once seen so much life in.

“Wartime exemption?” had the ryoka incursion reached such dire levels? Surely not. His two third seats had said that it was only six ryoka. “Has the ryoka infiltration become so serious?” it seemed very unlikely if the man currently bleeding on the bridge was an indicator of the power of the ryoka. It didn't seem..

All thoughts were cut short as two different reatisus flooded through his senses. Two incredibly powerful reatisu. Clearly Captain level. One was wild and powerful and so incredibly strong but he didn't recognize it. But the other-sand and rain and steel and a sweet smell.

It couldn't be!

He looked up at the sky, the wind created by the two reatisu ruffling his hair and haori. To his right a large blur shot up from below the bridge and into the air above them. The blur began to come back down and despite the early afternoon sun threatening to blind him he made out the the details of the blur.

A young man with bright orange hair wearing a shinigami uniform with the upper part open to reveal a bandaged torso.

And....it just wasn't possible!

Long golden hair, a uniform without the sleeves, a green obi and sash holding a sword strapped to her back, and a haori that seemed so brilliantly white as it reflected the sun.

He felt as though his entire world shifted, tilted on it's side.

Amaya!

The two landed, the boy coming down and landing on one bent knee behind the standing figure in the haori. The young man stood, slowly but he didn't focus on the young man.

“Amaya” all honorifics were forgotten. How could they be remembered? Amaya had been dead for two hundred years! Everyone but Kasumi had accepted it.

And then she turned, faced him and he met green eyes that suddenly lit up brightly as a smile pulled at her lips. “Hey Shiro! Long time, no see.”



*





*****Hides behind rock* Don't kill me please. I promise to work on the next chapter tomorrow. Oh yeah and writing Toshiro=pain in the ass.

So there's this thing called reviewing. It makes me stay up wonky hours and write so that I can get updates out. So please do it and make my muse all happy.
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