Disclaimer: See Chapter One.
A/N: Ok so you can all kill me for not updating later. Especially since I've finally started making headway in hashing out the long term. (Don't ask, you try coming up with your own war with dozens of players, it's a pain of the epic scale)
Anyway thank you so very very much for the patience of everyone. Things have been insane to say the least don't look like they're gonna change much in that department but hopefully I'll be able to update on a semi regular basis. I make no promises though. And be warned after we get Rukia out of hock and off the execution block we're veering off cannon in a lot of ways.
Now, an update. A short-ish one but still. I figured making everyone wait longer was cruel.
Alone, it wasn't exactly something she was used to being. Not really. Not anymore. Months with all the mini slayers running around, even before they were actually slayers, had kinda killed any chance of ever being alone. And even before that, while B, no Amaya had been dead the Scoobies had never left her alone. Not for long at least. And before that, Glory had been a factor. And before that, their mom had been there.
So a big no on being left alone. Even for more than a couple of hours. And at the moment, well, she'd been spending all her time either training or with the Kurosaki family.
But the difference, the most important difference, was that her lack of alone time was now her choice. And that, it meant everything. Training was her choice. Her goal. And spending hours every night just sitting and talking with Isshin-san, it was teaching her something. Something that was so important she couldn't ever put value on. The stories, the old memories of her sister she managed to drag out of him, they were teaching her too.
About a person she knew but didn't. About a sister that she thought she knew inside and out. Only she didn't. Not really. She'd been blind, self centered and hadn't seen, truly seen what had been before her eyes for two years.
Buffy was gone. They'd buried the sister she knew and had resented so much for leaving her. And now someone else was in her place. Someone older, so so much older, and stronger and more wise, and not broken or cold or anything she'd thought Buffy was for the last two years.
Her sister was still her sister, she could still see Buffy there, inside Amaya. But Amaya was something different. She was all that Buffy could be, should have been if they, their messed up hodge podge family, and being the Slayer hadn't chipped away at her sister.
Amaya was exactly who Buffy should have been.
And it'd taken a war and guilt and the screaming bitch slap of reality for her to see it. And she accepted it. Was glad about it actually. Her sister had risen from the ashes into someone new, not better or worse, but exactly as she should be.
And now, now she had to do what her sister had done. She had to rise up, above all that she'd been and all the old scars and drama and pain, and stand on her own feet. She was learning who her sister really was, who she really was.
And it wasn't weak. Or afraid. Or willing to her past dictate her future any more.
Buffy Summers, slayer, was gone. Mimasaka Amaya, shinigami and teacher and Captain and noble and slayer, was there now. Dawn Summers, Key and weak sister of the oldest living slayer in history, was already more than halfway out the door.
And nothing, absolutely nothing could keep her from rising from the ashes.
She pulled her gaze away from where her sister's human body was floating in the clear glass tank, tubes and wires keeping the currently vacant shell alive. Oddly, it didn't bother her, the thought that her sister wasn't in her own body. And she wasn't afraid either, not that Amaya wouldn't come back, or that she was changing as much as her sister had already changed. Buffy had always come back, always. Amaya was so much more, in every way, and that meant that nothing, nothing could stop her.
She gave a start when she turned to leave the room, a sharp intake of breath that almost ended in a comment at Urahara-san for sneaking up on her. But the comment died, was sucked back in as she looked, really looked at Urahara-san's face as he stared at her sister's floating body.
His hat was gone, at least for the moment because she'd destroyed it only an hour before in a fit of glee, though she had a feeling he had more of them, so she could see his eyes for once. And in them...
That look, she'd seen that look before. So many times. On two different non human faces, but she knew it. She blinked, brain trying to figure out how she hadn't seen it before. How the hell her sister hadn't seen it.
Probably because Amaya was everything Buffy was only more. And maybe that meant the cluelessness about men was magnified too. She rolled her eyes. It figured. New life, new town, new monsters, new sister and at least one thing stays the same.
"Scars." if he hadn't been three feet from her she probably wouldn't have heard it, but she was and she did and it almost made her cringe before she turned back to her sister's body floating in the tank. There wasn't a whole lot to what Amaya's body was wearing in the tank because of the tubes and wires so a lot of the scars that marked seven years as a slayer on a Hellmouth were visible.
She turned and followed his gaze. The most recent scar, the blade wound that had gone completely through Buffy during their final fight against the First, was still slightly pink. It'd been a killing wound but Buffy had just bounced back from it as though it was a scratch. That should have been her first clue but she'd been too distracted by other things. "Kisuke-san," she looked for the right words and the way to translate them into a language that still took some work for her to use "what would you be willing to do to save the world?” she kept her eyes on her sister's body. “What would you be willing to do to spend just one more day with someone you love?”
What would he be willing to do?
It had been there, in Dawn-san's words, tone. The harsh reality of someone who knows what has been done. The pain and guilt of someone who has done it themselves. It was a question that resonated from someone who wasn't just voicing the question but had lived it. And would live it again and not look back.
And that, it was a terrifying thought. Because the question had been intentional, it's point specific. What had been done and what would be done again.
What would he be willing to do?
Twisting paths and old grudges and haunting pain and vibrant memories and the knowledge that Dawn-san's question was at the very heart of it all. For all of them. He knew the players, the moves, the game before him. Had known it and planned on it for a century.
But now, it had all changed. One factor could change everything. One woman. Perhaps two if he considered Dawn-san.
But the one, Amaya-san, she was a factor he couldn't anticipate. He couldn't control. And Dawn-san's words were the truth of it. Layers and layers and layers and he couldn't see them all yet. Because everything was different now.
The game had changed and he knew it.
What would he do?
“My, my, don't you look serious Urahara.” he knew the voice, though it'd been a very long time since he'd heard it. He turned, mask on. “Isshin-san, what a surpirse. What brings you to my humble shop?”
He didn't reply but the dark gaze moved, shifted to the form behind him. To the scarred and beautiful and terrifying and mysterious woman he'd spent the last hour or more staring at. So that was what it was about.
Mimasaka Amaya, he wondered if she even realized the was the sun to so many people. The center of their universe. Probably not, she wasn't the kind of woman who cared about such things, much like Kurosaki Ichigo. That was one of the things that made her so dangerous. “Amaya's going to need somewhere to live.” a quirk of lips “Someplace where she'll have enough room to take in her strays.”
Raised eyebrows and a working thought. Strays? He might not have put it in such terms but he did not know Amaya-san as well as Isshin did. The two had been contemporaries, and close friends for centuries.
“I might know of a place.” a smile that turned serious. “Has she told you?” he had theories but only that about what had happened to the former Captain of the Tenth Division.
The larger man rubbed his neck, looked very grave. “Yeah, she has.” a breath and a sigh. He wasn't surprised that the former Captain had shared the truth of where she'd been with Isshin. The two very likely had the same sort of friendship that he shared with Yoruichi. Nothing was kept secret. Trust, a powerful thing, just as much so as loyalty. “You've forgiven her?” he knew why he had, but others would not feel the same. One moment she'd been there and the next gone. Dead, they'd assumed.
So very very wrongly.
One moment dead and the next, she'd walked back into their lives mostly whole and human and without saying a word as to where she'd been. She'd just demanded to know what she'd missed and walked right into a fight. “Never needed to.” a simple and yet so complex answer. If it had come from anyone else but a select few he'd have known more about what had happened to Amaya-san. But between those two...yes, just like his friendship with Yourichi.
And yet, now was not the time to wonder. Now was a time to get ready, to prepare for what was coming. The game had changed, now he would have to change his plans with it.
Whispers and echoes. Running feet and rushed voices. They registered but he'd stopped truly paying attention long before. Who was his enemy now?
Kurosaki Ichigo? No, not now. Not ever really.
He knew the answer, the path he had to take. But chould he? Would he?
Yes. For Rukia, always yes. He could barely remember a time before her. And in the last years, without her there because he'd made a choice, he'd made a mistake.
One he would not make again.
Who was his enemy?
He knew the answer.
Severe cognitave dissodance, that was what she was having. Seriously. And a big case of the what the hell am I thinking's. On an epic scale. Becuase she was currently standing around talking to the Gotei 13's own Terminator and his merry band of crazy.
“You're pretty small for a Captain.” the bald one, Ikkaku, eyed her. Oh hell no. No snort jokes.
She turned, smiled, sweetly. “I'm sorry, what did you say? I was blinded by the glare off that Q ball you call a head.” and ohh, that got a reaction. She ignored him yelling and turned back to the mountain of a man in front of her. “I know where he'll be.” Kenpachi wanted to fight Ichigo again, and she wasn't even going to start on the bad of that idea, but she could use him. “And I'll tell you. For a price.”
The mountain eyed her. “Eh? I ain't paying anything to find em. I'll do it on my own.”
A smile. “It's not a high price. Actually it's something you're already doing.”
He looked a tad confused. Ok, so big, strong, terrifying, nuts, but not a neurosurgen. “Huh?”
She inclined her head at Inoue. “Keep her safe. You keep her from ending up dead and I'll make sure you get a good fight.”
A grin. One that reminded her of a shark. “You got guts. I like that.” the grin got bigger. “You're on.” and that, oh so not of the good. Seriously, this man having a good opinion of her was like keeping a dragon as a pet-a really scary idea. Like two hundred mini slayers hopped up on caffeine and put in a small space scary idea.
Must. Not. Let. It. Show. She took a breath through her nose and kept the smile in place.
“The execution of Kuchiki Rukia. If he's not dead by then he'll be there.” she grinned back, a real one. Aizen wanted chaos, she'd give him chaos. The kind that worked in her favor. “And if he is dead....I'll fight you.” she really really didn't want to but she had a feeling that it wouldn't happen. Ichigo was nothing if not stubborn and if things went down the way she hoped she'd much rather see the Gotei 13's own Godzilla go at Aizen than any one she cared about.
Rule One might be don't die but Rule Two was just as important-never piss off a Slayer.
****Ok, so I'm jumping back into a world I haven't touched in way way too long. So feedback-a big whopping help. Please?