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a certain slant of light | fight club

Genre: Romance
Rating: T
Pairing: Yumichika x OC
Spoilers: None
Summary: You do not love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her.
Word count: 2,429
Warning: Some language. Unclear timeline.

Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo. Summary is an anonymous quote. Title is a Laura Whitcomb book.
Other: Song used for this chapter belongs to NIckelback.

 Chapter listing

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Not like I need to depend on anyone
Since I can see the lack of need for me to be here at all
One more the anthem for the know-it-all

I won’t be standin’ up for long I better learn how to crawl
Learn how to crawl
In ten minutes I’ll be layin’ out flat on the floor.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

After her impromptu meeting with Ichigo, Arya’s night was uneventful. It seemed that the weak Hollow she fought was one of only a few weak ones to show up in Karakura since their mission had started. She could understand now, why Ichigo had shown up so suddenly when he felt a fight. It was so boring being on patrol with nothing to do.

 

Arya wasn’t a combat junkie like the rest of her division, but she was bored, too. She might not enjoy the killing and slaying, but she enjoyed the fight, or at least, the grace involved with fighting. It reminded her of playing the piano. If you did things in the correct order, it all flowed together so seamlessly.

 

Well, it’s not like she’d had a chance to fight lately. Like Ichigo had said when they’d first shown up, there’d been less and less of the small Hollows and more of the big fry. She’d learned at the debriefing Hitsugaya called for, that he and Matsumoto had engaged in battle with one of those strange new Hollows one afternoon.

 

“It was strange,” Hitsugaya said, a frown marring his face. “They looked like… Arrancar, but, at the same time, not. And their manner of attack was like nothing I have ever come across. I’m not sure if it’s echolocation, like we thought originally. It’s more intricate than that, I just can’t figure it out. It’s… infuriating.”

 

Matsumoto was nodding emphatically beside him. “It was almost like the thing knew what we were gonna do before we even did it. And then it attacked back in the perfect way to stop out own attacks. Even my Haineko only hit it once,” she pouted.

 

But that was a week ago and so far, nothing had happened since. Renji had destroyed a Hollow three days ago, and Ishida had managed to snag one yesterday morning before classes, but those had been the only ones in an entire week of patrols. It was starting to make Arya nervous. It was starting to make everyone nervous. The calm before the storm.

 

And now Arya was standing on some random building in Karakura, wind whipping around her, robes and hair flying around her in disarray, as she waited (hoped even) that something would happen, if only to break up the monotony of her watch.

 

But nothing was happening, so she left the roof, flash-stepping aimlessly around the city, until her feet led her to one of the parks on the outskirts of Karakura. There she paused, glancing around at the slide, the jungle-gym, the swing set, with its swings creakily swinging back and forth. She’d never noticed how creepy a playground was a night.

 

Her eyes trailed away from the equipment, glancing towards the forest that surrounded the park, shadows twisting on the ground, leaves swaying, strange rustling, the snap of branches, the hiss of the wind through the trees. The forest was filled with noise. But the night… was quiet. The partial moon overhead, the sparkling stars. The night was so silent it could hold anything. And Arya was getting a bad feeling that it was hiding something. Something was prowling out there in the darkness.

 

Just as she took a hesitant step backwards, her communicator went off, beeping irritatingly as it signaled the arrival of a Hollow. Pulling it out without looking away from the ominous woods in front of her, she flipped it open and glanced down. And was only a little surprised to learn that the Hollow had appeared in the woods somewhere before her.

 

With a disgusted sigh at irony of life in general, she took a few steps into the forest, immediately becoming half-blind as what little light the moon vanished under the branches of the trees. Slowly, very slowly, she made her way through the underbrush, following the reiatsu that suddenly appeared as the Hollow finally crossed into the human world. She hoped it was in an open space, there was no room to fight with all these trees so close together. She didn't do well without room to move.

 

And surprisingly, fate was on her side in this case, because, when she passed through the next copse of trees, the forest gave way to a clearing, and it was in the middle of the clearing that the Hollow stood, bathed in moonlight, seemingly waiting for her. How strange. Usually they actively sought out souls as soon as they crossed from one world to the other.

 

And it looked so different then the Hollows she knew of. Most were entirely animalistic in appearance. The Arrancar were humanoid, but with only fractions of their masks left on their faces.

 

This one’s face, much like a vaizard, was completely covered in a mask, smooth and curved, with slanted slits for eyes. Its body was mostly human, and Arya would have called it a vaizard if it weren’t for the fact that it had other Hollow attributes, too. A lashing serpent’s tail. And though it had human legs to its knees, below them it had scaled legs, ending in talons. It looked almost like… almost as if someone who had been in the process of turning into a Hollow, had been stopped halfway through the process.

 

Then it turned its bone-covered head in her direction and Arya froze when its reiatsu washed over her like a summer storm. It was strong. It was really strong. Stronger than any normal Hollow. It was no Espada, not even a fraccion, but… it was stronger than she could deal with on her own.

 

Releasing her zanpaktou, she slid back one of her leg, falling into a battle stance, her sword held perpendicular to her face. All the while, the Hollow stood still and silent, it’s reiatsu rolling so powerful and cold that it made Arya’s stomach churn in nervous fear.

 

She took a deep breath, to ground herself, and shifted her weight back on one leg, preparing to move. It was probably best to end this as quickly as possible. She disappeared in a flurry of flash-steps, reappearing behind the creature. She swung quickly, aiming to knock its head from its shoulders.

 

But the Hollow reached up, without ever turning its head and grabbed her sword by the blade, stopping her suddenly and making her eyes widen in shock. Then it turned it head slowly, so slowly, and stared at her from the corner of one golden serpentine eye. She felt a momentary panic, made a valiant effort to pull her sword from its grasp. But it was useless, its hold was too strong.

 

It reached around and, with its other arm, took her by her long hair and yanked her head back, making her release Naichingeru and yelp in pain. And then he flung her away as lightly as if she had been a fly, flinging her zanpaktou in the opposite direction.

 

Coughing and holding a hand to her midsection, she forced herself upright, watching in terror as the Hollow stalked towards her like a lazy feline. Taking several breaths, she tried to calm herself.

 

She was a member of the Eleventh Division, serving under Zaraki Kenpachi. And she would hold this creature off on her own, until someone showed up, or she would die trying. She really didn’t want to die, but well, such was the life of a shinigami. And to die protecting this town, where she felt she had friends, to die protecting Soul Society, and her division members, whom she cared for in some strange, twisted way, well, that was as noble a death as anyone could hope for.

 

She knew that, the closest of her companions to this location were Ikkaku and Yumichika, and she hoped like hell they would help her when they searched out the source of energy, but finding herself not absolutely certain that they would. Maybe they would save her accidentally?

 

Squaring her shoulders, she frowned, glaring at the slowly approaching creature, and left hand, palm facing outwards, in front of her. “O Lord, mask of flesh and bone-“

 

One could only hope.

 

-

 

Meanwhile, only a mile or so in some direction or another, Ikkaku and Yumichika were startled awake by the incessant being of their phones.

 

Yumichika groaned as he listened to Ikkaku fumble with the thing, mumbling about the interruption of his ‘beauty sleep.’

 

“Oi, it looks like one of the strange ones Hitsugaya-taicho was yammerin’ about last week.” Yumichika didn’t move, so Ikkaku leaned over to the futon his friend was sleeping on and shoved him rudely. “Oi. Kurosawa’s over there. Let’s get there quick so we can watch her get sixed.”

 

He got a groan as his reply, but Yumichika sat up, trying to fix his bed-head.

 

“Good, you’re awake Sleeping Beauty. Now let’s go.”

 

“Alright, alright. Being so pushy is not a beautiful trait to possess you know,” he answered, reaching for his gikongan.

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” was his answer, as the two shed their gigais and leapt out the window.

 

It only took them a few moments to reach the clearing where Arya was fighting with the Hollow. Though maybe ‘fighting’ wasn’t such an apt term. She was… dancing around it. Never getting close for too long. She looked more like she was trying to keep its attention, rather than trying to destroy it. Disgraceful.

 

“You’ve managed – well, nothing,” Yumichika said disdainfully as he glanced around, noticing the fiery marks left but what he knew were kido spells.

 

“Ayasegawa-san!” Arya said, pivoting towards him at the sound of his voice. “Madarame-san!” She cried at the sight of the other man. “Thank goodness!”

 

“Oh, stop crying punkass,” Ikkaku sneered, twirling his released zanpaktou around one hand.

 

Arya sucked in her breath abruptly. “Yes, sorry, I mean- ugh!” Her apology was cut off abruptly when the Hollow appeared next to her and delivered a roundhouse kick to her midsection, sending her tumbling heels over head backwards, sliding to a stop in front of her two division-mates. She groaned.

 

“Move your ass, skippy,” Ikkaku step, striding purposely towards the Hollow, stepping on the back of Arya’s hand in the process.

 

She grunted and forced herself upright, reaching out to pick up Naichingeru, ignoring the throbbing coming from the back of her hand as she did so. For a moment, she just stood and watched Ikkaku fight. Like most of the Eleventh Division, Ikkaku was completely fearless and deadly in battle. And it didn’t seem to bother him that the Hollow was easily blocking every single one of his attacks. He just kept attacking. And the Hollow just kept blocking.

 

Yumichika, now standing next to the girl, glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. They stood half under the trees, and she had no color in the shadows and moonlight, except the long, dark curtain of her hair and the dark pools of her eyes. He saw her dark brows draw downwards as she frowned and stepped closer to the fight, her face etched with concentration.

 

The fifth seat turned more towards her when she stepped farther into the clearing. The silvery light washed away the dark circles under her eyes, the hollowness of her cheekbones. It shined silver in eyes Yumichika knew to be a murky brown and made her hair glow like… well, something brown that glowed. It smoothed out the lines on her face, made you overlook the crookedness of her nose. The pale moonlight made her look young and vulnerable and, yes, Yumichika thought, definitely somewhat pretty.

 

He watched her, wondering why she seemed so captivated by the fight, wondering the steady, watchful, intent look on her face. Ikkaku leapt high into the air, yelling obscenities, bringing Houzukimaru down over the Hollow’s head. When the Hollow reached up and caught the staff, her frown deepened.

 

“Kurosawa?”

 

She started, turning to him abruptly. She seemed disconcerted. Her confusion was… almost childlike, and struck him forcefully. Yumichika considered Kurosawa to be many things, but childish was not one of them. She might be weak and quiet and rather unimpressive, but no shinigami held onto childhood after their first mission.

 

“What are you-“

 

He was cut off when Ikkaku yelled something indistinctly and she whipped back around. When the Hollow once again stopped the bald man’s attack without looking at him (this time flinging him backwards through a tree) her eyes widened.

 

“I’ve got it,” she whispered.

 

Yumichika frowned, nose crinkling in confusion. “Pardon?”

 

She spun towards him at his voice, eyes bright and positively beaming. He took a step back in shock, but she grabbed him by the shoulders in her excitement and practically shook him. “I’ve got it!”

 

Letting him go so abruptly only his stubbornness kept him from stumbling, she adjusted her grip on her sword and took a purposeful stride forward. The Hollow was staring at Ikkaku, as he pulled himself out of the rubble and Yumichika watched with interest as Kurosawa tapped her toes on the ground a few times and adjusted her stance, feet together, arm out by her side at an angle, so the tip of Naichingeru was just above the ground.

 

She smirked when the Hollow turned towards her, and Yumichika was shocked to see such an expression on shy, quiet, docile Kurosawa’s face. He’d excepted her to be dead when he and Ikkaku got there. Wasn’t this a pleasant surprise.

 

“Chowa suru,” she said slowly and clearly, “Naichingeru.” And then swung her sword in a crescent shape in front of her, from one side to the other.

 

The Hollow cocked his head to the side when nothing happened and Yumichika covered his face with a hand. Typical. She acted all sure of herself, almost arrogant –

 

The Hollow disappeared.

 

- and when she finally pulls out her counterattack –

 

It reappeared behind her.

 

- nothing happened. How useless. –

 

And Kurosawa blocked it without even turning to look at it.

 

Yumichika didn’t know who was more surprised. Him, or the Hollow. And he was sure his jaw literally dropped when Arya spun around, easily swinging her blade down through the Hollow’s mask, even as she blocked its next blow with her free hand.

 

She watched with interest as it dissipated, almost like she was looking for something. And that’s when Ikkaku wandered over, patting the dirt off of himself and looking dumbstruck.

 

“What the hell?!”

 

She turned, glancing between the two shinigami who were staring at her with wide-eyes, and was silent for a moment. Then her face broke out into an ear-to-ear grin.

 

“I think we should meet with Hitsugaya-taicho now.”

________________________________________________________________________

 

Eight minutes and I’m losin’ it a little bit
Five minutes and your description might be startin’ to fit
Three to go and I’m forgettin’ all that I’ve ever known
I won’t be standin’ up for long I gotta learn how to crawl.

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A/N: Notes.

 

1. The kido spell that Arya starts is Hado No. 33, Soukatsu (“pale fire crash”)

 

2. “Chowa suru” is the definition I found for ‘harmonize.’ The sub-translation was to ‘be in accord with’ and that’s the closest I could get to the musical aspect of harmonization.