Disclaimer: see chapter one.
A/N: Well once again I've been blown completely away by the sheer number of reviews. Just bowled over to the point of not sleeping so that I could finish this chapter and get it out. I hope it makes up for my lack of responses to reviews. I read and love them all but I'm downright horrible about responding to them. Sorry.
Anyway thanks again for all the reviews and if anyone has any specific questions, ideas, or anything else I'll do my best to get back to you.
Now, how about a story?
“I still don't understand why we just left without saying goodbye or telling anyone where we're going.” Dawn was slouched down in her seat, the Japanese language book she'd gotten for her sister laying open in the teenager's lap. She let out a sigh. She had reasons for doing what they were doing, lots of them. More than just her own personal ones.
“In LA things were quiet. Like they always are after apocalypse season. But what happens in a few months when the demon population gets over the shock Dawn? What happens when they decide to take revenge for there now being hundreds, maybe even thousands of slayers?” she met Dawn's gaze. “They're gonna come after me for it. And you to get to me.” she gave the words a second to sink in. “This way is better, safer for everyone. We'll travel for a while, see the sights and let you get a handle on the language. Then we'll pick somewhere we like and you can finish high school.”
“But what after that? We just go on our merry way while everyone else is off risking their lives?” she suppressed another sigh. She wasn't saying that they should just ignore the things that were out there. “Once you're an adult you can do whatever you want Dawn, I won't stop you.” she couldn't, it was a choice everyone had to make. “But my days of being the slayer are over.” she kept her voice low and then turned and settled herself into her seat, tilting it back to get some sleep. She was finished being the slayer. Done.
In all her time in Soul Society she'd only gone to the human world less than a hand full of times. She'd never had the urge to be there, to interact with something she wasn't part of any more on an emotional level. There'd been a few exceptions though, a few times when she'd walked though the gate with a hell butterfly on her shoulder.
But those times, those places, they were only distant memories.
The realities of modern Japan were what she and Dawn found themselves in. In the chaos and bustle of Tokyo itself for the first couple of weeks. Playing tourist. Dawn hadn't been overly excited on the plane but within two hours of landing her little sister had shown her true colors. Dawn loved history, loved languages, loved to shop and loved to explore. Two weeks they spent in Tokyo. Days of shopping and going to all the places the tourists went. Two weeks of Dawn blowing through the first book on learning Japanese and then through five more. Two weeks of Dawn testing out her newest language with the locals every chance she got.
She'd been more than willing to just stand back quietly and let Dawn do it. In however long she'd been gone Japanese had changed a bit, picked up new words, new slang, new freedom. She was willing to stand back and let Dawn make her way while she allowed herself to catch back up on an aspect of her old life that she'd let slide.
Well that and she just didn't know how to explain to Dawn about how she could speak the language. She wasn't even sure she wanted to explain really.
After their first two weeks in Tokyo they branched out. They went to shrines, castles, gardens, hot springs, bath houses. But through all of it she didn't feel like she'd thought she would. She'd somehow thought that being back would bring her some peace, a sense of closure that she'd never gotten so that she could start over.
So that she could begin yet another new life. Buffy Summers, slayer, had gotten closure at the edge of the crater that had once been Sunndale. Mimasaka Amaya, shinigami, hadn't found hers yet.
And then the thought had come to her while they walked through a shrine one afternoon. When had she last set foot in the human world as who she'd once been? Where had she been? The answer had marked her very skin once upon a time.
Baishin. The day they'd fought Baishin and she'd watched her own blood flow to provide the distraction that Isshin and Jushiro had needed to bind him forever. They'd built a shrine at the spot.
She'd go there. Go to the only place she could tie to her old life and she'd finally, hopefully, be able to bury a part of herself that she'd never wanted to die.
Dawn was off wandering, checking out the shrine on her own. That was fine, alone was good. Alone gave her a chance to wander through the trees at the edge of the shrine in peace. Gave her a chance to see, feel, if there was any connection left. She'd had her blood seep into the earth of the very ground they were walking on.
The wind picked up, blowing her hair around her face, the smells of incense and age and oil a reminder of things that were gone. There were no sakura in bloom, no busy chattering of people as they worked. There was no feel of her uniform around her, no weight of Areno Ame at her back.
It was gone. All gone.
Dust in the wind.
Sometimes all that remained were memories. Sometimes you had to bury the past even without a proper grave. She'd come to this place to bury the once Captain, friend, daughter. She'd come to bury it in a sacred place and it didn't want to be buried.
But for her to move on it needed to be.
She glanced up at the sky, she could smell the storm coming, could feel it. A few hours. But for the moment the sky was burnt orange, another sunset. It felt oddly appropriate. She shook her head and headed over to where Dawn was taking pictures yet again. They'd had to pick up some external storage thing or another because Dawn had already overwhelmed her laptop with pictures. “Get some food on the way back to the hotel?”
Dawn took one final shot. “Sounds good.”
She'd said goodbye in the only way she could and yet she felt like she hadn't buried the past. Like it was still haunting her. Maybe it was.
Maybe it always would.
She had a plastic bag full of food in her hands when she felt it. That sense deep in her bones that she hadn't felt in a lifetime. It was pressure, it was power. It was too late.
She barely had time to drop the plastic bag before Dawn was up in the air, screaming.
She didn't have a zanpakutō, she didn't have anything. She was weaponless. She was human. And she could only just make out the shape of the hollow holding her sister.
It didn't mean it would stop her from trying.
She shifted her weight, broke out into a run and launched herself at the ghost of a figure she could just barely see. The kick caught it, she felt it connect and Dawn went rolling across the pavement as she used the momentum to throw herself into a back flip and land on the street.
“Dammit!” she didn't even bother to try and speak in English, she didn't have time to. Dawn was down, knocked out from the looks of it, and she was weaponless and she could barely make out the shape of the hollow. Twenty feet tall with arms too long and a mask that she thought looked like a bird's.
She didn't have time to think any more as it took a swipe at her. She jumped, flipped back again using one hand, tried to keep as much distance as she could while drawing it away from her sister. Get it away from Dawn. After that. She didn't have a clue. Only the moment her feet hit the ground she felt the impact that sent her flying.
She barely had time to register that there was a second hollow before she hit the stone wall hard enough to feel it break. To feel the pain the impact brought because she had no reatisu to harden to use against the impact.
And the very last thing she remembered seeing before she blacked out from hitting her head was an orange haired shinigami rushing for them.
Pain was the first thing that she became aware of. Oddly enough that was comforting. Pain meant you weren't dead. Her whole body hurt, a dull throb. Of course that tended to happen when you went through a wall.
Went through a wall! Dawn!
She shot up into a sitting position her eyes instantly open only to find dim light. Dim light and her senses registered the slight smell of medical supplies and cleaner. Hospital.
“You look pretty good for a dead woman Amaya.” that voice. She knew that voice. Oh dear gods she knew that voice!
“Isshin.” it was a whisper but somewhere between disbelief and pure panic. Not real. It couldn't be real. Not that voice. But then he stepped out of the shadows and it really was him. He looked older. He looked....
He was wearing regular western style clothing and a doctor's coat. She let her senses stretch. He was....
“You're human.” it couldn't be real. It couldn't be Isshin. Isshin was in Soul Society. They were all in Soul Society. But...
He smiled at her, that same smile he'd given her a thousand times before when they'd both been lieutenants and then a million more times after they'd both become Captains. “So are you.” his face turned serious. “We thought you were dead.” it was him. Really him. One of her best friends and he was standing there and he was real and he as human and she felt her whole world tilt on it's side.
And then the part of her that had seen so many things that couldn't be real kicked in. The part of her that had spent two lifetimes where the impossible was every day. It calmed her. It grounded her. It made a switch flip inside of her. She'd figured that was what they'd think. She'd finally decided back in LA that it was for the best.
Only a few hours before she'd thought she'd buried the past.
Only now part of her past was standing not five feet away from her. Human and very much real. And she knew something more was off than just her own hidden past and secrets.
“Looks like it's story time.” she shifted a little. “And how's my sister?”
His eyebrow went up. “Sister?”
She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling more like herself than she had since Willow had brought her back. “Yes sister dumbass. Do I look like I'm old enough to be her mother?” he opened his mouth and she just knew what kind of smart assed comment was coming. “Don't you dare say it.”
He smiled at her and that smile brought so many memories with it. So many. “She's fine.”
She gave a slight nod. “Good. Now it looks like we've both got some explaining to do.” of course that was an epic understatement.
But Isshin was standing in the same room she was. Isshin was right there and she'd seen a hollow and a shinigami and nothing was like it'd been as she'd stood at that shrine only a few hours before.
Nothing felt real and yet it felt all too real at the same time. She felt, she wasn't sure what she felt. Too much. Too much information all at once. Too many memories rushing back all at once. Too many questions. Too many implications. Too much old pain. Too much elation. Too much bad news. Too much hanging in the balance. Too much. Just too much.
A slip of paper in her hand. An address. “Go. I'll watch your sister.” for a man who had left his shinigami days behind Isshin was no fool. He'd always seen more than everyone gave him credit for even when he was planning sneak attacks on you.
He'd filled her in on the lay of the land. On the big things that had happened in the two hundred years she'd been gone from Soul Society. She tilted the umbrella she was carrying a bit to keep the rain from dripping off the edges on her as she walked.
One day and everything had just changed. Everything she'd thought she'd known. Everything she'd thought she'd accepted. Everything was different but one thing was clear to her.
Mimasaka Amaya wasn't dead. She wasn't dead. And for the first time in over two years she felt closer to herself again. She wasn't completely who she'd once been, so long as she was human she never would be but she felt like she was sitting inside her skin a bit more comfortably. Like she could almost breathe aga...
A flare of power, sharp and hard and uncontrolled. Young power. Raw power. Kurosaki Ichigo. Isshin's son. Dear gods the kid had potential. He was Dawn's age and he felt like that. What would happen twenty or thirty years down the line when he could completely control it?
She cocked her head to the side, stopped walking. Just let herself feel the power in the distance. There were three of them. Ichigo and two others, strong others. Her brow furrowed. One was Captain class, the other was teetering just on the edge of hitting Captain class too. Another ten years or so off till bankai. She didn't recognize the feel of either one's reatisu.
It was odd. For two years she hadn't been able to feel any reatisu nor had she seen a hollow. But in less than four hours not only had she and Dawn been attacked by a hollow but her senses seemed to be waking up. Like...like...
Oh it couldn't be that simple.
But it could. The simplest answers sometimes were the right ones.
The town itself, it had its own high spiritual energy. Her mind worked over the thought. A town with its own high spiritual count. It wasn't unheard of. She'd heard stories about it. Places that needed it's own shinigami stationed in it because the energy of the town had an effect on it's residents and drew hollows. The town itself was waking up her senses.
It was changing her. Giving her back something that'd been lost when she'd been shoved back into a human body.
She felt a sudden drop in the reatisu in the distance and within a few moments it was gone. Well, well, well, Isshin had been right. She shook her head. Her old friend might claim he wanted to stay out of it and hidden but his information was good.
She shook her head and started to move down the darkened streets, the sounds and smell of the rain oddly comforting as she stepped through puddles and felt the bottoms of her jeans grow wet. Isshin had given her an address and told her to see who was there before she made any decisions and she'd learned a very long time ago that goofball or not Isshin was far from stupid.
And it did look like she had some choices to make.
“Kisuke.” Yoruichi's voice brought him up short, forcing him to shift Kurosaki-san's weight before his gaze followed that of his childhood friend's. And when it did.
Small stature, fine bones, delicate features, long golden hair.
“Mimasaka-san.” he felt part of everything he knew just vanish in a heartbeat.
*I'll admit it. I'm a review whore.