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This article, Juego de Amor, is property of Darknesslover5000.

This article, Juego de Amor, is property of Achrones150.


Red and Green

Splash... Was the sound that was heard as the woman dipped a rag into the water. She moved it along her arm, humming gently to herself.

It was a calm day for Shunsatsu, as he walked down the grassy path of the afternoon sky. It was one of the moments where he could fully enjoy himself, without the need of Ahatake and Akiko around. They were busy doing other stuff after all.

Body so full of cheer, he whistled a random tune from his heart, and it sounded similar to a bird's chirping.

The young woman continued with her delicate washing and changed her tune slightly as felt a sudden treble in the air. "Spiritual Pressure. Rather calm too."

Immediately, Shunsatsu turned an abrupt right, deeper into the forest. He stopped his tune, however, as soon as he heard familiar humming coming from a slight distance away. A skeptical look crossed his face, and his curiousity got to him, as he stepped slowly, in order to insure his stealth.

"It's coming this way. I think I've felt this certain one before." She merely walked into the lake and resumed bathing, humming her cheerful tune.

Only one step away.

His hands slowly reached for the bushes that lay in his reach, gripping the leaves and pushing them aside. He narrowed his eyes, searching for the source that lay just so definite in front of him.

His eyes widened at what he saw.

A girl, standing in the depths of a large lake, bathing in a carefree manner and humming that oh-so-familiar tune. So far, she didn't seem to notice his prescence, her back turned to him. He silently cursed that fact, as he couldn't see her face enough for a good recognition.

Who was she?

Asuka turned around and saw him hiding but didn't act like it, and kept humming. "Cute boy..." She thought. "Wonder what his personality's like."

"Wait!"

His eyes widened a bit, as he saw a bit of her face turn in his view, but it immediately disappeared as soon as it came. Instinctively, he ducked behind the tree he was hiding behind, eyes widened and heart pounding a bit.

"Shit, she spotted me!"

"Shy as well." She thought. "Strange I think I know him." She got up of the water and reached for the towel to dry off. Then she put her clothes back on. "You can come out now."

Her tone...didn't seem angry. Nor did was it embarrassed. His heart relaxed a bit, and he let out a sigh of relief, the weight of stealth coming off of his shoulders. Putting on a small smile on his face, he twisted his feet, stepping out of his hiding spot coolly and carefully. "Tch... no point in hiding myself if you're just gonna sense me out either way..." He mused.

She smiled. "You don't do a good job of hiding your spiritual pressure. A infant could spot you."

"That so...?" Folding his arms across his chest, he walked forward, feet stepping lightly and crunching the grass below them. "Well, I could say the same for you. You should hide yourself better when using a lake as your bathtub."

"You have a point there." Asuka replied. "What's your name? I am Asuka Natsumi."

"Shunsatsu Kuroda." He did a short bow, out of courtesy. "Pleased to meet you, miss."

"The pleasure's all mine." She replied. "Your name...sounds familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?"

After standing straight, Shunsatsu put a hand to his chin, putting on a thoughtful look. "Hmmm.... let's see.... were you....." With a snap of his fingers, he pointed over towards Asuka in probably realization. "from the Shinigami Academy?"

"Yeah." Then her eyes lit up. "YOU were Shun-kun weren't you?"

Shunsatsu chuckled heartily. "Heh... my classmates always loved to tick me off with that one..." He replied, grinning lopsidedly.

"But I remember you. You weren't the most forward person around, but you were a genius. It'd be hard not to remember you."

"Tch..." Shunsatsu shrugged slightly, in an embarrassed sort of manner. "I'm no genius...I'm just the guy who was paying attention while everyone else threw spitballs."

"Not me." Asuka replied. "I paid attention. If you recall, I outdid even you in Kido."

Was that a challenging statement? Shunsatsu allowed himself to raise an eyebrow and smirk. "Outdid? That's a pretty harsh word...I mean, 'evened' or 'matched up to' would've been great.... but outdid?" He placed a hand on his heart, in mock sorrow. "That cuts me really deep, Asuka...."

"Sorry." She said and she genuinely sounded it. "But you know I did. I was the best in our class."

Shunsatsu raised his head up, grin growing even wider. "Well, I'm just glad that you managed to pass." His eyes held a bit of curiousity after that, as he stared at Asuka for a moment. "....you in a division?"

"Not anymore. I left the Soul Society awhile back."

"Oh? Mind if I ask why?"

"I just didn't like it there. I didn't consider it freeing. I like the World of the Living better."

Placing a hand on his neck, Shunsatsu moved his head around, feeling a bit of pain in a small spot. "Personally, I don't see much difference between Soul Society and the Human Realm." He admitted.

"In the World of the Living, I answer no one. In teh Soul Society there Oji-sama."

"Heh...." Shunsatsu's tone became a bit amused. "So you're the rebellious type, eh?"

"Yeah. I listen to NO ONE. And I'm also unpredictable. Is that something you like?"

"Depends on what kind of unpredictability it is...."

"It can be any kind of unpredictability you want. Besides my emotions. I can be nice and sweet like I am now, or evil and rough the next second."

"I want?" Shunsatsu cocked an eyebrow in surprise, putting his hands into his pockets. "Sounds like you're tryin' to come onto me...."

"And you said you not a genius." Asuka laughed.

"You sure that's a good idea?" An unseen glint came across Shunsatsu's eye,. "After all...to just say this so bluntly might get me thinkin' the wrong way..."

"What do you mean?"

"Like this..."

WHOOSH!

It took a second to cover the cap between him and Asuka.

The next, he was right behind her, arms around her shoulders, and head right beside hers. "Get it now?" He cooed, breath tingling her ear as he spoke.

Her face turned red. "I don't mind.." She replied.

He grinned. "Good. Now... we both might have a bit of free time on our hands... I definitely do. If you're the same... I was thinkin' we could go out sometime."

"Alright." She agreed, her eyes lighting up. "When?"

"Sometime tonight."

"Alright. I have all the time in the world." She said and she sounded happy.

"Great!" His arms slowly unwrapped themselves around her. "In that case, I'll be going." He walked around her, hands in his pockets in a casual manner, but it was only a few steps away when he craned his head towards her.

"Unless, you wish for me to stay...."

"That would be nice." She said and she put her arms around him, her lip's against his...

MEANWHILE!!!!!

"C'mon, gimme a show!"

That was Tereya's fierce and taunting shout, even as she unleashed torrent upon torrent of spiritual wind upon Akiko's direction. The tip of her blade was humming with her own aura, clearly gleaming for blood.

"You asked for it." The Hollowfied girl replied. "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" She swung her sword creating a massive shockwave.

Ahatake and Smirnov were watching the display.

Smirnov sat casually on the ground, observing Tereya's movements carefully, while still looking amused at the battle display. "Who're you betting on, Ahatake?" He asked, looking over at the other man.

"My sister. She's a demon."

Smirnov shrugged. "There are many kinds of demons in this world. Tereya is also what I consider to be one of them." He pointed out.

"True." Ahatake replied. "I'm going to enjoy watching this match."

"Ditto."

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

Tereya skidded back in a crouching position, head lowered, and her hand gripping the ground. Her sword was pointed upwards in a fronthand position, in order to steady herself from falling to the ground.

Akiko was still on the move and jumped up. "Have some 'o this!" She cried swing her blade and firing an Aka Shouten.

Gripping the hilt of her sword with both hands, she lunged forward, swinging the blade of her Zanpakuto straight into the blast. Flow redirected, energy disrupted, and the attack was sent straight back at its creator.

Akiko sliced her neck and watched the blood soak. "GYAKUTEN!" She cried swinging the blade and watching her attach reflect back upon the reflector.

It was now a game of chicken, as Tereya performed the same maneuver as before, reflecting it back once more. Unless there was some other method, Akiko would probably have to keep damaging herself in order to reflect it, while Tereya could use her control of spiritual energy in order to keep going. It was only a matter of time...

Unfortunately for Tereya, Akiko's neck blood was still on her blade and she reflected the attack yet again. 'Dummy!"

Tapping the finger of her Zanpakuto, Tereya narrowed her eyes in thought for a moment, before she swung once more, as if they were playing a game of baseball.

Akiko made an uppercut swing cutting her attack in half. "Done!" She said firing a cero at her opponent.

"Yes, you are."

A chilling voice sounded behind Akiko, and before she could even turn, the sound of metal cutting deep into flesh was deeply heard. It was her opponent's blade, slicing deep into her body, along with the spraying of blood behind her. "Oh my!" whispered Tereya's amused voice, as she watched the nearly cut-in-half opponent fall to the ground. "Don't fall apart... I wouldn't have anyone to spar with anymore!"

Akiko got up and placed a hand towards her wound and it began to heal. "As if you could beat me with something like that." She replied laughing as she removed her mask, and she had Tereya's playful expression on her face. "Don't make me laugh!"

"That's more like it..." Tereya whispered eagerly, settling into another fighting stance. "'Cause the next blow is aimin' for your spine."

"You won't land another blow, Tereya-chan!" Akiko replied. "I'm ending it here!" She sliced her thigh. "Kongōseki!" She cried swing her sword and expelling massive blood-red diamonds from her blade.

Tereya's eyes glazed over in surprise, taking a step back as the diamond bullets fired at her. They seemed to gleam intensely, possibly affected by the intensity of the assault itself, and it seemed to paralyze her body. She didn't move, but remained like an ice cube: still.

Then, she acted.

Crouching on her legs, she pushed herself into the air to backflip over the torrental assault. Her spiritual energy began to glow around her sword once more...

Akiko kept her sword in it's "slash" down position. "You can't deflect them!" Akiko said. "You'll have to dodge...But can you?"

"....Shit."

Tereya gritted her teeth, narrowed eyes glancing over her shoulder.

The bullets were coming around!

There was no way in hell she was going to be tricked like last time.

Still in an upside-down position in the air, she rocketed herself toward the ground, flipping on her feet and once again narrowly avoiding those deadly diamonds.

The diamonds collided with a nearby tree demolishing it completely.

Akiko's mask broke. "Seems my mask is at the end of it's tether."

Raising back up to a standing position, an amused smirk came across Tereya's face. "Well.... I can't really say that doesn't suck...." She commented, flourishing the sword with a bit of blade twirling. "Unless, you can still keep up with me without it..."

"What kinda weakling do you take me for?" Akiko asked with a mock hurt expression.

Tereya caught the hilt in her hands, eyes shadowing over a bit. "Oh, I don't take you for a weakling, Akiko. On the contrary, you've actually made fighting keep my eyes open." She commended.

"Thank you." Akiko said jumping up. "Bakudō number 4 Hainawa!" Akiko cried expelling Golden ropes from her hands to bind Tereya.

WHOOSH!

In an instant, Tereya had disappeared, evading capture by the glowing ropes.

"Hadō number 4! Byakurai!" Akiko cried expelling lightning from her finger.

The flashing image of Tereya kept appearing and re-appearing out of Akiko's view, as if attempting to simply mock her with speed. But her expression was anything but mocking, as her image appeared for a moment, then disappeared before the lightning blast could hit her.

Akiko began to feel for her opponents spiritual pressure and her hands began to glow blue. "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! On the wall of blue flame, inscribe a twin lotus. In the abyss of conflagration, wait at the far heavens. Hadō number 73! Sōren Sōkatsui!" She cried extending her palms outward in a massive blast of blue energy.

"Coward." She pointed two finger's up and they began to glow yellow. "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Carriage of Thunder. Bridge of a spinning wheel. Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on to the south! With light, divide this into six! Bakudō number 61, Rikujōkōrō!" She cried and rods of light sped towards and bound Tereya.

WHAM!

Tereya's insides nearly went deeper into herself, when the beams of light slammed into her midsection. Her speed had come to an abrupt halt, her feet unable to move, and her sword held tightly at her side. She felt the air escape her throat cruelly, her face frozen in a shocked expression.

"Shit...she got me...!"

"Hadō 31, Shakkahō!" Akiko cried firing a massive red ball at Tereya.

It was all expressed in a second.

Pupils shrank, and her heart threatened to burst out of her ribcage, as the deadly ball of red energy hurtled towards her. Another fierce chill went down her spine, sensually attacking every nerve in her body. And she liked it.

Her mouth twisted into a maniacal smile, and she tilted her head back, both amused and excited by the simple face of what was to be a heavy blow. Her throat let out a loud and dark chuckle, even as it enveloped her in its unforgiving embrace...

BOOM!

"Damn."' Akiko thought. "That would have done it."

SLICE!

Moments later, Tereya's blade sliced through the dirt clouds left behind, revealing the very same mask that Akiko bore herself. Yellow and black eyes stared hauntingly at her, and the mask itself seemed to give off an aura of hostility. It was a scary setting, at least for a moment, to have to stare at the warrior woman right now.

Then, with a slow hand, she reached up and gripped the front of the mask, dissipating it into spiritual energy with her simple touch. Her eyes faded back to their normal color, but still held the traces of insanity within them. "Now that's what I'd like to see!"

Ahatake stood up. "I think you two should end it here."

Smirnov raised his hands and clapped heartily. "Good match, you two!" He congratulated. "You're definitely showing signs of progress, Tereya!"

Twisting the sword and sticking it back in its respective sheath, Tereya closed her eyes and shrugged. "Eh. It doesn't matter if I'm still not at your level, Smir." She countered, hand resting on the hilt. "But, thanks for the compliment."

"Akiko I never knew you could do a double incantation." Akiko said walking up to his sister.

"I've been practicing. Still it could have been better. She shouldn't have been able to move when I bound her with my first spell, Rikujōkōrō. I wasn;t concentrating."

"It doesn't matter you both did good." Ahatake replied and Akiko jumped on his back.

"I'm hungry, Onii-san!" She complained.

"Wanna come over to our house? We'll be glad to fix you something to eat..." Smirnov offered politely.

That only caused Tereya to glare at him in annoyance. "Ahem. You don't cook, you lazy shit. You sit on your butt all day, waiting while I do it."

An amused grin crossed Smirnov's face. "Exactly, my dear sister." He replied mockingly, but in a friendlier tone than she had managed to use.

"We accept your invitation Smirnov-san. And unless Tereya has any objections, I'd be happy to help in the kitchen."

"....Really?" Both Tereya and Smirnov cocked their eyebrows at him, the latter out of surprise and amusement, though it was Tereya who spoke. "All right... but don't expect me to kiss your burn if you donno what you're doin'."

Ahatake laughed. "I know how to cook. After mom died I had to learn. God knows Dad couldn't cook." Ahatake said and he shuddered at the memory.

For a moment, Tereya's eyes seemed to shadow over, and her mouth curved up to a darkened smile. "God, hm...?" She asked quietly, her feet moving her past Ahatake. "Quite... then, you'd better get moving. I don't like to wait when it comes to food."

"I'm not cooking the whole thing if that's what you're expecting."

"Damn right. I don't feel like tasting what could be the worst food of my life."

Ahatake sighed. "Thanks alot that makes me feel real good." He hissed as they walked towards her house.

"It's my job." She replied smugly, grinning from ear to ear. At the corner of her eardrum, she heard Smirnov chuckle a bit as well.

Ahatake opened the door and set his sister on a chair. "You can rest here, Akiko."

"Okay Onii-san." She said lying on her back.

It was at that moment, that Tereya's foot reached and kicked Akiko on the top of her skull, a cruel move to knock her into her senses. "Did we say you could lie wherever the hell you want?" She asked gruffly. "If you're feeling weak, you can go up to the guest room." With that, she turned around, walking over in the direction of the kitchen.

Akiko started to grumble but Ahatake chuckled a bit. "C'mon, I'll help you up." Ahatake helped her to her feet and Smirnov pointed her to the guest room.

"Smirnov-san can't you control her?" Ahatake asked. "What she did was uncalled for."

The man simply sighed mushroom style. "As much as I'd like the idea, Ahatake..." He replied quietly. "That was the one thing I couldn't convince her to turn away from. No matter what I say, I'd be getting further talking to a rock wall." His eyes fell onto the spot where Tereya had just walked from. "She's simply following her own philosophy and beliefs, and I can't blame her for that..."

"I guess." Ahatake said and he coated himself in a reishi shield. "Just in case she tries to stab me with a butcher knife." He said and he walked into the kitchen. "Alright what are we making?"

"Ever heard of Borshch?"

"Sounds German."

"Ah..." He raised and wagged a finger. "But it's not. I can say only two words to summarize: beet soup."

"No meat?"

"Of course there's meat! Along with vegetables!"

Ahatake sighed in relief. "Thank God. I never eat a meal without meat."

A chuckle came from Smirnov's mouth, as he placed a hand onto Ahatake's shoulder. "Trust me, Ahatake, you're in good hands, then." With a gentle push, he turned him around. "Now, get going before Tereya gets ticked off at you for making her wait...." He chirped.

"Sure thing Smirnov-san." Ahatake said as the man left the room. "Before we start though, why'd you kick my sister for resting in a chair?"

Tereya looked up lazily from her hunched stance over the oven, an eyebrow raised slightly. "Hm?" She asked. "Didn't hear what you said..."

Ahatake sighed. "Why's you kick my sister just for sitting in a chair?" Ahatake asked looking in the cupboard for canned beets, and placing them on the counter.

Looking back at the stove, she paused for a moment, as if considering his question. Then, as she herself began to gather the necessarry ingredients, she came up with an unhesitant retort. "You're right. The one I should've kicked was you for putting her there."

Ahatake sighed. "You shouldn't kick anyone for no reason Tereya." Ahatake said, putting the can under the can opener and listening to the Whirrrrr noise.

"Last time I checked, you both are under our roof, not yours. You think it'd be all right if I just walked into your house and sat down where ever I wanted, without thinking about you first?"

"You know I wouldn't mind." Ahatake replied. "And I understand placing my sister on on your furniture was less than courteous, but you could have just asked her to get off of it and go to the guest room. Who know's what she's plotting now?!?" Ahatake replied, throwing the lid away and placing the beets un a bowl.

"Don't know, don't care, couldn't give two shits and a fuck if I tried." Tereya replied bluntly. "I'm not the sickly sweet mother who nicely coaxes a child to stop what bad thing they're doing. For someone to be heard, you have to be loud and demanding. That's the way of life, after all."

Ahatake sighed and passed her the bowl. "Well let's get crackin'!"

Meeting the Girlfriend

The Seishou residence wasn't the only place filled with festivity.

Shunsatsu sighed gruffly, blowing out a stream of air from his nose. "Jeez, it's been tiring..." He muttered, walking beside Asuka with an exasperated look on his face. "How long have we been out?"

"A few hours." Asuka replied. She had her arms around his neck. "I'm not complaining. I enjoyed today."

"Same here..." He cooed, raising his lips to gently kiss her cheekbone. "I bet you prepared for this, didn't you?"

"Not really. I just go where fate takes me and it took me to you Shun-kun." She replied kissing him back.

"Oooh, poetic too..." He complimented, a small smirk coming across his face. "You sure you're not an author?"

"Of course I'm sure. I know one thing, I won't be leaving you soon."

"I sure won't be leaving you either, gorgeous... now, where else would you like me to take you on this oh-so-grand day?"

"I wanna meet your friends." Asuka said blushing at the compliment. "The one you told me about."

"Ah...which one would that be?" Shunsatsu asked politely.

"Ahatake and Akiko." Asuka replied. "The siblings."

"Then, say no more..." Shunsatsu placed an arm around her shoulders, closing his eyes. The grin deceptively got a bit wider on his face. "I know exactly where they are..."

The next second, they had both disappeared.

And the sound of munching could be heard from the house that they arrived at.

"What's that noise Shun-kun?"

"That..." Shunsatsu's face turned towards her, eyes turned into an upside-down U-shape, and a small smile on his face. "Would be the sound of them eating." Careful not to knock her over, he reached over and pounded his fist on the door a few times.

Akiko answered the door. "Oh Shunsatsu! Her Tereya, Shunsatsu is here with a friend."

Tereya's distant voice could be heard, casual and a bit indifferent. "Huh? Yeah, go on and let 'em in, I'm kinda busy at the moment."

Akiko moved out of the way so they could enter.

"Who is that Shun-kun?" Asuka asked.

WHUMPF!

Shunsatsu's palm rose up and slapped him in the middle of the forehead, a sign of self-scolding. "Oh, where are my manners?" He chided exasperatedly, his feet turning himself back around to face Akiko. "Akiko-san, this is one of my classmates from the Shinigami Academy. Her name's Asuka.... Asuka, Akiko-san."

"Hi Akiko." Asuka chirped. "And whose the black-haired boy?" She asked.

Shunsatsu's gaze turned towards Ahatake, a comically exasperated look on his features. "That would be my partially dysfuctional friend Ahatake." He replied.

Ahatake sighed as he swallowed his beef. "Stuff it buddy." Ahatake said glaring.

"I'm Asuka Natsumi." The green-eyed women chirped. "Shunsatsu's girlfriend for all intents and purposes."

"Hear that, Ahatake-san?" Shunsatsu asked coolly, putting one of his arms around her shoulders. "Now you won't have to worry about me anymore."

Ahatake laughed. "Guess not." Then his eyes widened and he sighed. "Akiko..."

The Vizard in question was in Asuka's face. "You're pretty!"

"Uh....thanks." The women replied. "Shun-kun? Is she O.K.?"

"If you can deal with a very 24-7-cheerful woman, then yeah. She's alright."

"Alright. And who are they?" Asuka asked pointing to the next set of siblings.

"Over there..." Shunsatsu dared to point a finger towards the black-haired female sitting in front of her brother, who was giving them her usual lazy look. "That's Tereya-san..."

She raised her head a bit in a respectful nod. "Sup, foo." She greeted dryly.

"And that...." Shunsatsu's finger moved towards Smirnov, who gave a polite and honest wave. "is her brother Smirnov."

"I see. Smirnov seems nice. The girl...not very pleasant."

At that Ahatake burst out laughing and nearly spilled his food.

Tereya closed her eyes and shrugged a bit. "Eh. I get that a lot..." She said, raising the cup of water she was drinking to her lips once again to sip.

"May we sit?" Asuka asked Smirnov.

"Feel free to. The Seishou are not rude to our guests..."

Ahatake raised and eyebrow skeptically. "Smirnov-san...aren't you forgetting the head incident with Te--"

It was all that was needed for Smirnov to glare over at him, raising a hand to his neck and making a quick slicing motion, a signal that clearly meant not to talk about it. Then, he motioned his head towards Tereya, the message also clear.

"I'll tell Asuka about it later."

Ahatake got it and turned to Asuka. "So are you a Shinigami?"

"Yes. Didn't Shun-kun tell you I was in his class just a few minutes ago?"

"Oh yeah." Ahatake said and he got up to take the empty dishes into the kitchen. "I'll do the dishes." He said as he opened the kitchen door.

The slender figure of Tereya got up and immediately followed silently. "I'm helpin'."

Ahatake walked into the kitchen and turned on the warm water. He turned when Tereya entered the door.

"Tereya... I have a request."

As soon as the door shut quietly behind her, and she stuffed her hands into her pockets, Tereya looked up at Ahatake with a lazy expression. "Hm?"

"Can you tell me about your past?" Ahatake asked, rinsing off a bowl.

Tereya's mirthful mood immediately faded, and a scowl appeared on her face. She cocked an eyebrow at him. "...Now, why in the world would I do that?" She asked coolly.

"Well you don't have too." Ahatake replied. "But I figure if I would stand a chance at you liking me, the first step would be to get to know you." Ahatake put a bowl in the dish holder and started cleaning plates.

Tereya said nothing for a moment, her head raised a bit in thought. Then, she let out a heavy sigh, walking over in order to stick her hands into the work. "I guess I won't have any trouble spillin' beans to a closed bag... but we can't talk here. You'd want to sit down for it."

"So then where?"

"Clearly not here. Somewhere just the two of us can chat."

"My house?" Ahatake suggested. "No one really uses it. I don't really. I've just kept up it's insurance policy."

"If ya want." Tereya said dryly. "I don't really care where we do it..."

"Let's go then." Ahatake said opening a Garganta. "This would be the easiest route."

Without word, Tereya stepped into the portal, only looking behind her to check if Ahatake was following close behind. But, as she went further, she closed her eyes, allowing herself to trescend the darkness to their destination. The feeling of the tunnel that surrounded her seemed to tingle her every nerve, and it was one of the times she truly felt relaxed.

She wished it wouldn't end.

Unfortunately it did as the entered Hueco Mundo and Ahatake opened another Garganta. "We can go to my house from here, or we can talk here."

"No..."

Raising her head to the black and desolate sky and opening her eyes, she let the wind blow past her, whipping her hair into space. "I think this is a good spot. This is gonna be short as possible."

"Alright. You wouldn't have liked it at my house. Haven't had the maid over in weeks."

Her back was turned to him, as she still looked up into the sky, as if trying to look for something. "Do you know what yer Zanpakuto is?" She asked quietly.

"Yea." Ahatake held up his blade. "Kuǎnwánguó..."

Her finger was raised immediately, in order to silence him. "That's not what I mean. If your Zanpakuto, along with the rest of 'em, were identical to each other and each other alone, what would it be?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean what I say. Now, what would it be?"

"I don't know. Each Zanpakuto is unique, and Xiāochú's even more so."

Tereya sighed in irritance. "God, you're so narrow-minded..."

Her hand gripped the body of her sword, and with a gentle tug, she pulled it off of her waist and turned around, holding the sword in its sheath by the blade. "What it would be... is a simple tool. One made for slaughter, mutilation, and torture. It was one that stabbed my heart too many times to count."

"What do you mean?" Ahatake asked. "A Zanpakuto is supposed to be it's Shinigami's irreplaceable partner."

"Not when it's used against you... and that's what happened to me, several years ago." Her eyes shadowed over, and she let her arm drop to her side once again. "I was just like any other brat out there: naive, eager, and lookin' for a life. That is, until...." She chuckled harshly. "....when I was captured by a squadron of Shinigami sent to eradicate what they believed was a growing Hollow threat."

Ahatake's eyes widened. And then he sighed. "Hollow Racists?"

Tereya nodded. "They had captured me, along with a small group of children who had survived the initial assault, and also contained Hollows inside of them. But what happened next put the need to die into our heads 24/7. Knowing of the Hollows we imprisoned inside of ourselves, those Shinigami put us through daily and mind-wracking torture, beating the shit out of us and barely giving us enough to survive on. In just a week, we were broken twigs who lay in piles of everlasting shit."

Ahatake nearly retched.

"Suddenly, and abruptly, however, in just a month. Those same Shinigami left us tied down in the wreckage of the battlefield, and several birds came down to our position. As if they were obeying the Shinigami orders, they began to peck at us, picking off our living flesh and ignoring our pain and fear filled screams as they did so. I had to endure their begging for mercy for what seemed like hours, until they had finally finished their job, leaving mutilated corpses behind."

"Didn't the birds attack you?"

"Yeah. They came for me the last.... but they didn't just peck me to severe pain. No... as if in a miracle, they cut my bonds.... and with it, the last of my innocence. That was when my Hollow finally swam up to the surface, fueled by my grief and overwhelming fury. In seconds, I had used my bare hands to tear apart those birds, in the same way that they tore apart my friends..."

Ahatake almost laughed but held it in. This story seemed to be gaining his interest.

"Like a crazed animal, I went through the woods, searching for the prey that had pushed me to my madness. By nightfall, I had finally caught up with them, preparing to attack another framed area. I waited, until they had finally secured the area, until they had captured everyone.... then, I attacked."

A malicious grin came to her face.

"That night, I dined and bathed in the color I loved most: red."

"Blood?"

"That's right...the feeling of such corrosive liquid on every nerve... the taste of human fluid on my tongue... it was so estactic, so thrilling, so...!" She shut her eyes and chuckled, seemingly in a maniacal manner. "Well... I'd better not get too carried away, here."

Ahatake laughed. "The insanity is making you cuter, if you don't mind my saying."

Her smile faded, and she looked up at the man skeptically. "Cuter?" She repeated incredulously. "...you have one fucked up mind. Not that I should be talking, of course..."

"Of course." Then Ahatake looked around. "Hueco Mundo. Sweet memories. Painful memories but sweet."

"They always are..."

With that, Tereya raised her sword to view once more. "Now do you understand? There is no unique Zanpakuto, because they all exist for the same purpose: to kill. To suck its enemy's blood, and to relish their death is what it does best."

"No.." Ahatake replied. "A Zanpakuto was meant to cleanse hollow's Tereya." Ahatake said holding up his blade. "Not to kill opponents."

"HAHAHAHA!"

It was at that moment Tereya had put her sword back to her waist, folded her arms across her chest, tilted her head back, and laughed. "Cleansing Hollows?! Is that what you think it's for?!" Her laughter seemed harsh and amused at the same time, echoing into the dark skies.

Then, she stopped, turning her head back to gaze solemnly at Ahatake once more. "All right, Ahatake. If you're speaking the truth.... I want you do to me a favor."

"What is it?"

"Unsheath your Zanpakuto...."

One of her arms unfolded, and she patted her left shoulder, smirking. "...and cut me down. Right through the shoulder."

"Not a chance."

"C'mon!" Tereya prodded. "I heard what you said. You said that a Zanpakuto was meant to cleanse Hollows. If that's true.... then it shouldn't be able to harm me. At least, in the way that you put it."

"I never said Zanpakuto's don't kill." Ahatake replied. "But their original purpose wasn't to fight people."

"Oh. So the swords were created to shave your beard, I suppose?"

"NO! They're original purpose was to cleanse Hollows! That doesn't mean they can't be used for a weapon, but they're original purpose was not to suck its enemy's blood, and to relish their death!"

"Was their purpose, Ahatake. But not anymore. Now they're used as a tool of war, made for the slaughter of anything and everything. That was shown long ago during the war of Karakura Town."

"I guess." Ahatake muttered swing his Zanpakuto and slicing an oncoming Hollow in half.

"But.... I guess I can't sway you from your beliefs. But that is mine, and mine alone." Tereya said solemnly. The wind picked up once more, stinging her face and causing her hair to wave violently once more.

Ahatake sighed. "Guess not." And he sat down cross legged and sighed. "I like it here. Hueco Mundo. Maybe it's just the hollow in me, but this place feels like home."

"Don't get too comfortable." Tereya said, looking upwards to the sky. A loud and distant shriek filled her ears, followed by many others. "The neighbors here won't invite you for tea."

"I know. But I've done intense training here. I'm probably stronger than Smirnov by now."

"Mhm..." Tereya's voice muttered dryly. But she didn't seem too convinced, and even a little annoyed. "Sure you are."

"I know I am." Ahatake replied laying back in the said staring into the dark sky. "Bet I can take on happy-go-bloody now."

"You haven't even fought my brother yet." Tereya retorted, hand resting on her hilt in her lazy position. "And already you're talkin' shit?"

"It's just an assumption, Tereya." Ahatake replied. "But I'm sure I'm right."

"If you're that gutsy... then how about lettin' me see you two fight?" Tereya asked, a smirk crawling to her face. "I think it'd be a good show to see you go at it."

"What if I don't feel like it?" Ahatake said, picking up a small, lizard Hollow.

Tereya shrugged her shoulders. "It's OK if you don't have to. I just wanted to see if you were being a pussy or not."

Ahatake let the Hollow go. "I just don't feel like it. I don't wanna waste your brother and have you hate me for it."

"There you go, talkin' shit again..." Tereya's voice was starting to get a bit more irritated. "If you can't back up your claims, then how do you expect people to believe you? As far as I'm concerned, right now you speak like someone who hasn't dropped their balls."

Ahatake sighed. "Fine, but don't hate me for beating the crap outta him." Ahatake clicked his finger's and opened a Garganta. "Ready when you are, Princess."

"That's Tereya to you.... jackass."

With that, Tereya walked past him, walking into the portal and gliding through once more.

Ahatake walked into teh Garganta as well, and walked along the path they formed back into Tereya's kitchen.

With a glance towards the dishes, Tereya walked to push open the kitchen door again. "I'm goin' back to the others. You comin'?"

The Battle

Ahatake opened the door into the dining room. "Hey Smirnov-san."

"Where've you been, Ahatake-san, Tereya?" Smirnov asked, looking up from the table he was laying his elbows on. "Doesn't take someone that much time to wash dishes..."

"Hueco Mundo." Ahatake replied.

"Oh...."

"Smirnov-san, Tereya wants me to fight you."

Immediately, Smirnov cocked an eyebrow at the younger sibling, who merely shrugged. "This guy said he could waste you in a fight." She defended honestly. "I wanted to see if it was true."

"Is that so...?" A smirk came across Smirnov's face.

"You bet!" Ahatake said.

"Shun-kun how often does this happen?" Asuka asked.

The blue-clad Shinigami shrugged. "Trust me, it's common for one to challenge another to a duel." He replied flatly.

"I know that!" Asuka said. "I mean how often does Ahatake blindly challenge someone?"

Raising the tips of his fingers to his hands, Shunsatsu began to count wonderingly. "Hmm.... I'd say about at least once a day." He replied.

"It's a wonder he's not dead." Asuka replied.

"All right, then."

Smirnov's voice filled the air once again, as he pushed himself from the chair he was sitting on. His eyes met Ahatake's evenly, his hand pressed on the table he leaned on. "I can't say I can waste you, Ahatake... but I'll accept this fight."

"Alright." Ahatake said and he walked out the door. "Any time you're ready."

Smirnov put one feet in front of the other, his silver hair swaying a bit as he followed. But a hand was placed on his shoulder to keep him from going any further. He turned his head around in surprise to look over Tereya, who was giving a hawk-eye stare right back.

"Good luck." She whispered, letting go and giving him a gentle push out the door.

"You gonna watch Akiko?" Ahatake called out.

"No I'm busy planning something." She replied sounding grumpy.

Smirnov stepped forward, standing straight from Ahatake. The smile had strangely disappeared from his face, his hand resting around the hilt of his sword. His other arm hung limply from his side, the same stance that Tereya had assumed before her fight with Akiko.

Ahatake decided to wait to unsheathe his sword.

"I'll give you the first move."

But Smirnov closed his eyes and shook his head. "Draw your blade, Ahatake-san. We're supposed to be testing each other's strength. If all you can do is toy with me, then don't fight me at all. I will not hold back."

Then, he gripped the hilt of his sword, and unsheathed it.

As he did so, a burst of fire seemed to erupt from the blade, and as he brought it completely out, the blade had been set ablaze, glowing brightly and beautifully.

Ahatake extended his hand. "Might as well try it." Ahatake thought. "Ye lord! Mask of blood and flesh, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Inferno and pandemonium, the sea barrier surges, march on to the south! Hadō 31, Shakkahō!" Ahatake fired a massive red ball of fire at his opponent.

The tip of Smirnov's Zanpakuto pointed towards the blast, waiting like a snake about to converge on its prey. THe only difference was that the flaming sword did not move, as the fireball collided into it... before completely dispelling into the sword.

Ahatake clapped his hands and drew his sword. "Is that your Shikai?"

"It is." Smirnov replied simply.

"So you control fire as well?"

"If you mean using my Zanpakuto to control it, then yes."

"I won't release mine just yet." Ahatake said. "I'm gonna enjoy this." He charged in clashing his blade against Smirnov's.

When Ahatake's blade came across Smirnov's, it was like a tsunami crashing upon a city.

The fire acted instinctively, impulsively, and angrily to the attack on the metal it enflamed, and its tongues rose outward even higher. When Smirnov swung his blade against Ahatake's, they finally erupted, enveloping the Shinigami in its burning clutches. He was forcefully sent on the ground like a tumbling meteor.

"Hold back..." Smirnov warned, eyes narrowed at Ahatake's fallen figure. "and I can't guarantee you'll live."

Ahatake got up. "You think those flames will harm me?" Ahatake laughed. "But fine, I will release my Zanpakuto. And show you a thing or two!" He held out his blade. "Force my hand at hells beckon, and Hollowfy me to crush my enemy, Kuǎnwánguó!" AHatake cried as hsi spirtual pressure shot up and his mask formed. His blade also changed into a giant cleaver. "Happy now?"

"You may have increased your power...." Smirnov said softly, raising his blade in a horizontal position. "But my flames will ensure victory without mercy. Now..." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small rock. "This will be our signal, when it hits the ground."

He tossed it into the air, his eye on Ahatake as it reached its peak in the air...

Ahatake sighed. "Sorry but I'm impatient." He gripped his blade and flames protruded from it. Ahatake charged in and swung his blade, sending flames at Smirnov.

His blade still horizontal from him, it was fairly easy to block the oncoming strike. Using both hands to grip the hilt, Smirnov pushed his feet into the ground and pushed upwards, forcing Ahatake's and his own blade to point towards the sky. Sliding his blade to the left, Smirnov's counter-swing was in an arc, lowering and ducking eagerly into Ahatake's exposed guard.

The blade sliced deeply into AHatake's chest, blood spraying from the open wound. With a flick of his wrist and a turning of his blade, Smirnov struck the man in the chin with the butt of his hilt, in order to make him tumble ungracefully onto his butt.

Ahatake sighed as he got back up. "I hope that was only your warm-up."

"It's not."

Smirnov's free hand reached out and grabbed Ahatake by a fistful of his hair, sending intense waves of pain throughout the other's head. Slamming his feet into the ground once more, Smirnov twisted his upper torso, his hand making sure to grip the hair by the roots in order to keep a firm grip. Then, he brought it down, forcing the Kurosaki's face into the ground with a ruthless force.

"I'm being quite serious..." He stated solemnly. "I told you to not hold back, or I cannot guaranteed you'll live."

"Fine." Ahatake said and he vanished causing the audiences eyes to widen. Then he reappeared with his hand pressed against Smirnov's face. "Moments like this, when it can and must only be...a head shot!" His hands began to glow red as he charged a Cero. 'I'm pretty sure you won't feel any pain from this."

Initially, Smirnov was shocked at the palm pressing against his face. But, his composure came back, and he narrowed his eyes as he felt it begin to charge. Lowering the blade to point at Ahatake's now exposed guard, he thrust. A sickening sound of metal cutting through flesh was heard once again, along with the sizzling of inner organs. With an abrupt left, he yanked the sword out of the man's body, taking a portion of Ahatake with it.

With his opponent collapsing to the ground once again, Smirnov simply backed away, giving a few distance. It was an intense stare that the man gave off, waiting for Ahatake to get up once more.

Ahatake raised his hand to his mouth and his wounds healed. "Might as well get serious." "Attack me."

Smirnov smirked, canine teeth showing in a devilish manner. "Sorry, but I don't listen to someone who's impatient." He retorted.

Ahatake sighed and disappeared again reappearing in front of Smirnov, punching him in the dace and landing his fist succesful hit yet.

Smirnov's head jerked to the direction Ahatake had struck him, and he staggered back a bit, the force of the blow having got to him. Then, he slowly brought his head back, jaw twitching and a trickle of blood running down from the corner of his mouth. Then, twisting the fiery blade around, he unleashed a backhand swing, flames leaping with excitement and aimed for Ahatake's chest.

Ahatake twirled his blade around and the flames repelled themselves, and turned on their caster.

In turn, they were absorbed once again by the existing flames of Smirnov's sword, even as Ahatake's blade clashed with Smirnov's once again. But, instead of pushing back, Smirnov pulled a feint to the left, allowing the sudden momentum change to cause Ahatake to fall forward. A simple pivot to the side was all it took to bring Smirnov to the exposed side, sword raised and brought down towards AHatake's back.

Ahatake manged to twist himself around in time and blocked Smirnov's blade and then repelled Smirnov with a Dan blast.

"Woah!"

Smirnov's eyes widened, as he felt himself forced up into the air, the blast only being shielded by his fiery blade. Then, with a forceful grunt, he swung the blade to the right, slicing it in half. Hovering in the air, he stared down at his opponent, with the same hawk-eye expression that his now-spectating sister had. She folded her arms across her chest, her gaze switching between the two fighters.

Ahtake held his blade up. "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" He let out a battle yell as he was enveloped by flames. "Take this! Enkou Wangetsu!" Ahatake cried swing his blade and firing a massive trail of fire from his blade at his opponent.

Smirnov's own blade pointed sideways away from him, and his eyes merely stared at the oncoming flames. The fire on his own sword seemed to glow with eagerness, and the sword itself seemed to tremble. It was obvious they were hungry. Raising his blade, his unleashed a mass of it upon its counterpart, in the form of a massive dragon.

The two blasts collided and pushed against each other. "Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!" Ahatake cried pouring power into his attack.

"It's not worth it, Ahatake!" Smirnov called out, his gaze falling onto the flames that collided with one another. "Fire can't beat fire, they can only merge!"

And merge they did. Into a giant explosion that forced both fighters off their feet momentarily.

"Hey, I have an idea!" Asuka called out to the two, letting fo of Shunsatsu for the first time in two hours.

Since Smirnov was still in the air, all the explosion did was send him a bit higher. But, at Asuka's sudden exclamation, he looked down on her, eyes questioning. "Hm?"

Mouth slightly opened, and an eyebrow of her own cocked, Tereya stared over at the woman that lay beside Shunsatsu, but remained silent.

Ahatake got to his feet.

"How would you guys like to take this fight up a level? By fighting in Shadow Mist?"

"Shadow.... Mist....?" Smirnov questioned, expression contorting to one of confusion.

"It's a special ability of my Zanpakuto. So how about it?"

"Sounds fun. What about you?" Ahatake turned to Smirnov.

The Russian's blade lowered a bit, and his body posture relaxed. "I donno what the hell it's supposed to do...." He said, his eyes returning to Ahatake. "But as long as it's fair...."

Asuka drew her blade. "Fade to black... Yamikuramashi no Shiro!" She cried twirling it like a baton and it changed. The blade became a mass of shadow energy and it seemed to make her prettier.

"Whaddya think Shun-kun?"

"Uhn...?" Shunsatsu looked up at her, raising both of his eyebrows in an impressed manner. "It's quite an improvement on you, gorgeous..."

Asuka blushed. "Thank you. Now." She began to twirl her blade. "Yami Misuto.." She muttered as she began to absorb water particles and add her power to them. As she twirled mist began to seep out and envelop the area where Ahatake and Smirnov were standing. Soon it was a thick ass pea soup.

"Hmm...so that's what it was." Smirnov muttered coolly, the flames of Ahatake's sword unable to be seen. "Blurring of our sight...." He took in a deep breath, calling out in a louder voice. "You ready over there, Ahatake-san?"

"As ready as I'll ever be!" Ahatake called back feeling Asuka's power drop.

With that, Smirnov vanished from thin air, his sword flaring for blood once more...

"Fighting in this mist won't be easy." Ahatake thought. "I can't see so I have to feel for his power...THERE!"' Ahatake swung his blade sending a mass of fire at the direction he thought Smirnov was in.

It flared, and its light disappeared immediately, signaling it had connected. But there was no cry of pain that sounded through the thick mist cloud they were in.

"He must have absorbed it." Ahatake thought, and fired a Cero.

It was seconds after, that a cold hand was placed onto his shoulder, gripping it tightly. "You missed me, comrade." Was Smirnov's cool voice, inches away from his eardrum.

"Not this time." Ahatake swung around and slashed with his blade and he hit his mark. He saw blood spurt from the gash he made in Smirnov's torso.

"Nnnngh...."

Standing on the particles of Flash Step, Smirnov skidded back into the fog, out of sight from Ahatake once again. But his sound of pain was clear.

Clearing

Ahatake used Wúpiào to follow. "Thinks he can escape me eh?"

It was that distant sound that shook Smirnov back to a state of alertness. Beads of sweat dripped down his face, as he felt the leaking reiatsu of his opponent approach.

Ahatake had his eyes closed and was feeling for his opponents Spiritual Pressure. "There!" Ahatake pointed his finger firing an Āoshǎn.

That spiritual energy flared, and he only had time to raise his sword up to block the oncoming attack. The pain in his chest intensified, and it only weakened his defense even more as he struggled.

"T...this is bad..."

Ahatake raised a finger up and formed a massive round ball of red and black spirit energy. "Eat this! My strongest cero!" Ahatake threw the cero down upon his opponent.

He had to act quickly.

Using the same move in the attempt to get back Ahatake's defenses, Smirnov allowed the Aoshan attack to push beside him. He Flash Stepped again, disappearing to narrowly avoid the deadly Cero attack.

"Tch.." Ahatake muttered tracking him down again. "You can always surrender!"

There was no reply. But Smirnov did narrow his eyes at the suggestion, as he kept zipping through the fog. "Why would I surrender?" He called back.

"Because you can't win!!"

"And you're deciding that so soon?!" Smirnov countered, gritting his teeth. "Tell me, what makes you think that you have this so easily won?!"

"You're nothing to me." Ahatake replied. "Ban...kai!"

Smirnov stopped in his tracks, narrowing his eyes at the sudden declaration. "Now, he's getting serious..." He thought, standing idly once again with his blade at his side.

Ahatake's hollow mask changed so that it had dragon horn's and he was wearing a white Shinigami outfit with a ragged white overcoat. "It's overnow." Ahatake muttered and everyone watching almost couldn't move from feeling his spiritual pressure.

A frown came across Tereya's face, the spiritual pressure like a tornado wind upon her body. "Well... I guess Ahatake wasn't merely talkin' trash after all..." She said dryly.

"Aren't you worried about your bro?" Shunsatsu questioned, folding his arms across his chest. "There's a chance Ahatake is actually gonna waste him...."

That got a chuckle from her. "That showoff can boast all the power he wants to. But do you seriously think Smirnov's gonna instantly die because of a simple transformation? He's too resourceful."

"But he's just standing there and he's releasing all of that power. He's not even fighting!" Asuka replied, sounding nervous. "This kind of power isn't normal."

Shunsatsu's re-assuring arm wrapped around her shoulders, and he brought her closer to him, while his eyes cast on the scene. "I hope your brother's stronger than he looks..." He said quietly. "If he doesn't end it soon, Ahatake's gonna have him on a platter."

Smirnov himself was not so scared, but thoughtful, gazing down where he felt the immense spiritual power. His sword gripped tightly, and the flames growing impatient with every second, he braced himself, knowing that this was going to be much more of a challenge.

Ahatake was swung his sword and created a shockwave that blew away the mist and Smirnov saw Ahatake's Bankai for the first time.

"Heh..." The Russian admitted. "Most impressive. But I guess the fight level's down, now that you got rid of that mist..."

But whatever he had said Ahatake took no notice. One second he was there and the next second he was behind Smirnov, who now had a large gash on his right shoulder.

He felt the blood spray, eyes widening, and his smile fading. His blood.

"Oh, shit..."

Tereya's eyes widened a bit, and her mouth opened slightly. "Brother...!"

He staggered forward, pain overcoming him once again, and his body threatening to fall. His sword stabbed into the ground in order to keep him on his feet, and his head turned towards Ahatake in shock. Then, gritting his teeth, he Flash Stepped away, his body vanishing once more in a burst of speed.

But Ahatake followed him and cuaght up in no time. He slashed Smirnov's back. "Give up."

"AAAAAAAAAH!" Smirnov screamed, the blade slashing mercilessly into his spine. He felt himself descending once more, against his will, like a bird who had just been shot down. With an unforgiving THUD! He crumpled against the dirt, releasing his sword upon impact.

Ahatake landed lightly and removed his mask. "He's done now."

Immediately, Tereya ran forward, her feet pedaling as fast as they could in an attempt to get to her brother. "Smirnov! You all ri--"

She didn't get to finish.

The Russian's hand had gripped itself into the ground, the other tightly around his Zanpakuto. His leg lifted under him, and his head raised to give a narrow glare at Ahatake. "Leaving....so soon?" He huffed, trying his best to push past the pain that was clouding his eyes.

"You're done, Smirnov-san." Ahatake said deactivating his Bankai. "That wasn't even my full power. Give up."

"Bold words, comrade." Smirnov hissed, raising the blade up in the air. "But I'm still not done!"

When he brought it back down again, it was hell raising from the ground.

An explosive aura, pillar-like in shape and seemingly stretching to the sky, flared around the man. The blaze seemed wrapped in its own fury, as if the Sun itself was aiding him in the powerful display. There was only one word to describe his Zanpakuto: rage.

"Draw your sword and release your Bankai now..." He ordered, taking a step forward. "....or I'll kill you where you stand, Ahatake!!!"

Ahatake walked up to him and poked him once, causing him to fall over. "You can barely stand! No!"

A small grin came across Smirnov's face, as he caught himself on his feet.

"Big. Fucking. Mistake."

His next movement was all but slow.

His sword raised.

His spiritual pressure flared.

And it was in a split second, that same sword sliced straight through the arm of a stunned Ahatake.

Then, all of that spiritual pressure was released in focus, nearly ripping apart his body with the pressure. Like the speed of a kunai, Ahatake was sent flying back into the ground, smashing into several trees before finally coming to rest meters away.

"Barely....stand....?" Smirnov repeated, balancing the sword on his shoulder as he breathed heavily. "All you managed to do was cut me twice... You can go on and on about how strong you are, comrade, but all I hear is words spouting that shit doesn't stink..." He took another step forward, gritting his teeth at the intense pain that overcame him.

Now Tereya had mixed feelings. Was Smirnov actually forcing himself, or had the two slashes Ahatake had given him actually didn't do enough damage? It was difficult to tell now.

"C'mon!" Smirnov shouted. "I ain't keeled over yet. Release your Bankai NOW!"

Ahatake glew white and in an instant he was a Hollow. He struck Smirnov quickly and said Shinigami fell bleeding. "Is that all?"

This time, Smirnov fell on his stomach, this time unable to get up. But a grin was still on his face, as his eye gazed over at Ahatake. "It was all.... that was needed..." He gasped out.

A second later, Ahatake collapsed to the ground, Smirnov's final attack having taken its toll. Smirnov weakly turned over onto his back, trickles of blood running from his mouth. "You see... that wasn't just meant to slice off your arm. I put all of my reiatsu into that attack... all at point-blank range. You seriously thought you could withstand all of that pressure upon you?"

He propped himself up onto his elbows. "I may not have been able to beat you... but I sure proved that you couldn't simply 'waste' me after all..."

Ahatake glew white again and he returned to normal form. Ahatake forced himself up. "I couldn't waste you because Tereya would probably hate me if I did."

Instantly, they were greeted by the sound of clapping hands. Smirnov weakly turned his eyes to stare over at an amused Tereya, smirk broad on her face. "Well done... good show!" She congratulated.

Akiko walked outside and helped her brother up. "Nice one Onii-san. Hey Tereya-chan come over here."

"C'mon, big guy..." Tereya grunted, hosting one arm of her brother over her shoulder in order to heft him onto his feet. "Damn it, you're heavy....!"

Akiko helped her brother up and then walked him over to Tereya. She got in front of her and literally pressed Ahatake's lips onto Tereya's.

"What is it, Aki--"

Whumpf.

You could imagine the shock on Tereya's face as her lips accidentally pressed into Ahatake's. Her hand raised up instinctively as if to push her off. But, then, it paused for a second.... before she reached around, grabbed the back of Ahatake's head, and deepened their kiss, one eye open to see Ahatake's own reaction.

Ahatake was at first surprised but then kind of lost in the moment.

Needless to say, both Shunsatsu and Smirnov were shocked, the latter even more so. "W-what the--?!"

At that moment, Tereya broke the kiss, head tilted back in order to gasp for breath.

Ahatake was just dazed.

It made Tereya even more amused, grabbing the top of Ahatake's head to push him over like a stuffed dummy. "You nerd..." She muttered, chuckling and standing back up. She managed to pull her stunned brother up with her, who could only stare incredulously.

"I now consider myself...the luckiest man alive."

Deciding to let him revel in the moment, Tereya turned her gaze to Akiko. "You might want to help out Ahatake again. Otherwise, he's gonna stare himself to death..." She stated, her feet moving her inside of the Seishou household.

Akiko picked up her brother and walked towards the house. "I can heal brother's wounds."

"Good. We don't wanna lug around two dead corpses, now do we...?"

"Nope." Akiko giggled. "Brother's can be SO troublesome."

"Not mine...he's dependable, when we wants to be..."

"So is Onii-san, but that's rare."

Tereya sighed, as she set Smirnov down to rest on a couch, her eyes staring at him for a minute. "Though, he can't seem to get loss through that damn thick skull of his..."

Akiko laid Ahatake down on the floor, not wanting Tereya to pound his head in.

"By the way, a few minutes ago you liked that kiss, didn't you?"

"Mua?" Tereya placed a hand to her chest, raising her eyebrow and smiling a bit. "But of course."

"So now I ask, do you like Onii-san?"

Tereya simply turned back around, facing away from Akiko. Her smile had shrank a bit, but it was still there. "That's yet to be decided..." She replied, her feet stepping off in the direction of her room.

Akiko sighed. "Maybe I'll just let Smirnov bleed." She said as she tended to her brother's wounds.

"I heard that."

At that moment, the still-concious Smirnov opened one eye, staring lazily at Akiko.

"You were supposed to." Akiko replied coldly her hands glowing green.

Smirnov was unmoved. "I honestly do not see why." He replied, but laid his head back and cringed at the pain that overwhelmed the senses of his nerves once more. Oh, how he would give anything for an anesethic...

Ahatake was sleeping while AKiko tended to him. "I'll get to you in a minute."

"Take your time...." Smirnov said wearily, closing his eyes and allowing himself to fall deep into thought. His breathing was steadier, indicating possible sleep, but his occasional movement proved that was not the case.

After awhile Asuka and Shunsatsu had left without a word, it was just the four of them in the house, Ahatake and Smirnov both bandaged and Ahatake and Akiko both asleep. It was unknown whether Smirnov was asleep or not.

The only one in the house that was stirring was the black-haired and hot-headed woman that lay on the bed in her room: Tereya.

Her face contorted to one of thought, she rested her hands behind her head, crossing her legs. A piece of a toothpick was sticking from her mouth, occasionally moved side to side by her tongue and teeth. The taste of Ahatake's lips was still remnant on her own, and it only made her frown a bit.

Was she coming to have an attraction towards this man?

He was one to back up his own words. He was stubbornly brave, a trait that was common with her own brother, when he wanted to be. But yet, that same arrogance repulsed her from feeling anything else than a slight respect, and his pointlessly reckless abandonment of rationality didn't help that fact.

But he did love her.

She sighed heavily, teeth grinding on the pick in her mouth. Such things like this irritated her to no end.

Ahatake turned over his sleep not making a sound.

No....

Tereya's eyes widened a bit, before she closed them and shook her head.

That wasn't the way to be thinking. Whether or not she loved him was a ridiculous question to ask. Love wasn't the word to describe that bond she was thinking of. It didn't explain her feelings of her fellow prisoners in that hellhole of a warzone, nor did it resolve the attitude she had towards her brother. No matter how she thought, it just wasn't the word that fit.

Then.... what was?

Rolling out of bed and landing on her feet, she stuffed her hands in her pockets and walked with a laid-back gait, in the direction of where the sleepers lay. Her footsteps were full of sound, yet quiet towards their ears. She reached them without consequence.

Ahatake and Akiko lay motionless, perfectly asleep.

Tereya walked over to Ahatake, studying his features. As many other people did, he looked resolute and calm as he breathed peacefully, expression betraying nothing of his dreams. She could only stare for a moment at him, unsure of what to do.

Ahatake was laying on his back his shirt off and bandages on his torso. Akiko lay next to him looking worn out. Ahatake on the other hand looked peaceful.

Finally, the black-haired woman sat herself next to him, turning her gaze away and closing her own eyes. She took in a deep breath, as she felt her own exhaustion begin to overtake her as well. But the last words she spoke would be heard:

"Dirty bastard..."

Then, she fell asleep.

Here we go again, Attempt Number 3!

The next morning Ahatake awoke to find Tereya next to him.

"What the..?

"Zzzz...." A light snore came from the woman.

"She's cute when she's asleep." Ahatake thought. "I shouldn't wake her." And he got up slowly.

His foot creaked in the wood.

And, to his possible horror, Tereya's eyes wavered a minute, before she cautiously opened one of them to look for the source of the noise. "Nnn..."

Ahatake looked down. "Mornin'." He said cheerfully.

"'Sup, foo..." She replied dryly, her throat not yet used to the morning air. She pushed herself up to a sitting position, blinking several times in order to get the sleep out of her eyes.

"Nothing much I guess." Then he looked around. "Wonder where Akiko went."

She let out a grunt, shutting her eyes as the cold air hit her exposed legs. Her back ached a bit from sleeping on the floor, and she stood up, trying to shake it off. "God damn it.... I really picked a bad place to sleep...."

Ahatake laughed. "Sleeping on the floor ain't so bad, but I guess that's just me."

"Well.... you're free to do whatever you want." Tereya nodded her head back from side to side, as she began to walk off. "I'm gonna go shower off."

"'K." Ahatake replied and he laid back down. "Hmmm...why'd did she choose to sleep next to me? Does she like me or am I reading too much into this?"

"Oi."

Smirnov's voice sounded around the corner, also sleepy.

"Wha?"

"I see you're wide awake... I assume Tereya was, too?" The Russian asked, putting on a smile as he walked slowly from another doorway. The ache in his wounds, although dull, were still being troublesome for him as he did so.

"Yeah. She said sleeping on the floor hurt so she went to take a shower. I'm not really complainin' but I'm wonderin' why she chose to sleep next to me."

That put an abrupt stop to Smirnov's steps, and he turned his head, eyes widened hi shock. "Wait a minute... she slept..." He re-instated, head lowering a bit. "with you?"

"Yeah. S'wrong with that?"

"Oh, no..." Smirnov shook his head, waving his hands back in forth. "It's just that... I didn't expect...." He trailed off, his voice catching itself from escaping his throat in his surprise.

"Um...O.K." Ahatake replied.

Suddenly Akiko burst through with plates of food. "Breakfast is ready. Come and get it!"

"I hope Tereya will come soon..." Smirnov mused, taking a seat in one of the chairs at the main table. "She's gonna miss food...."

Ahatake sat down on the floor by the table. "I'll call up for her." Ahatake walked towards the bathroom and knocked. "Tereya Breakfast is ready!"

At first, there was no one there. But, a few seconds after the knock sounded, the knob slowly turned, and there stood Tereya, a scowl on her face as she glared at Ahatake. "Knock the fuck louder, why don't you?"

The sight could've been shocking.

The only clothing she wore was her "lower underclothing", which covered her extremeties. Other than that, she wore no clothing, other than a towel over her shoulders that covered her braless chest. Her hands were trying to squeeze what little water there was out of the strands, having paused at Ahatake's interruption.

Ahatake's eyes winded and his face turned red. "Sorry."

She put on a smirk, chuckling. "No biggie..." She dropped her hands to her sides, walking past him calmly towards her room. "At least, I hope not..."

Ahatake didn't respond he could only stare.

At least, until she disappeared from sight. But her voice was still clear. "Tell 'em I'll be down in a minute!"

Ahatake shook his head. "Y..yea!" He walked down the staires and resumed his seat on the floor at the table.

"She's dressing she'll be down in a minute." He said with a dazed expression on his face.

"...." Smirnov cocked an eyebrow, Ahatake's unfocused eyes meeting his own. "You act as if you saw something awe-inspiring."

"...I did."

Immediately, Smirnov's eyes narrowed, and he stared at the Kurosaki suspiciously, his arm leaning on the table. "....you didn't do anything, did you...?" He asked lowly.

"No." Ahatake replied, his eyes still glazed and his mind elsewhere.

"Good. I'd have to break your neck if you did."

"Try it and I'll kill you." Ahatake and Akiko said at the same time.

"Only if..." Smirnov said, putting his fork in his mouth and looking away. "...after all, I can't let my little sister taken advantage of, now can I...?"

"She can defend herself." Ahatake replied finally starting to eat.

Smirnov followed suit. "Of course... I just couldn't help but wonder in the moment that she couldn't--"

"Don't wonder."

Tereya's smooth voice finally came from the doorway of the dining room, as she stepped through to reveal herself. It was similar of the Commander-in-chief of the Onmitsukidō, the same outfit that the captain Soi Fon wore. Only her version was draped over by a white shirt, one that seemed similar to the captain Shinigami's haori.

"You look nice." Ahatake said, fighting his sister for a peice of pork.

She didn't reply. But she did take her respective seat next to her brother, scooting herself in and picking up her fork. "You mind takin' your fight somewhere else? I don't want half-eaten food all over my face..." She reprimanded coolly.

"Sorry." Ahatake replied, poking his sister's forehead and sending her away's back taking the pork. "I win." He grinned.

Tereya just shook her head sagely. "Friggin' kids..." She muttered under her breath, taking a bite. Her comment did get a chuckle from Smirnov as well.

"Onii-san." Akiko grumbled. "That was mean."

"Indeed it was." Ahatake replied, swallowing the pork and moving onto some fish. "You made a good meal though."

"Really?" Akiko asked.

"Yup. Better than my cooking that's fer sure."

"I couldn't agree more." Tereya added.

"Thanks alot that makes me feel real better."

"No problem, big guy."

"It was sarcasm Tereya." Ahatake said getting up. "I'm done eating. When you're done Tereya I would like to talk with you."

"Hm?" The said woman cocked an eyebrow at him, her curiousity fluctuating. But she simply shrugged. "Sure thing..."

"Wonder what this could be about..." Smirnov pondered, also raising an eyebrow towards the male Kurosaki.

"Alright." Ahatake replied and he walked outside, releasing his Zanpakuto without a word. "Might as well practice while I wait for her." He thought and began performing a series of moves.

After taking the last bite, she set her fork down, standing up from her chair. "Smirnov, could you take care of the dishes for me?" She asked, jerking her thumb towards where Ahatake had exited. "I'm off to see what he wants."

The older man merely waved her off in a shooing motion. "All right, consider them taken care of..."

With that, she stepped out of the door, closing it behind her.

Ahatake jumped up and swing his sword firing a massive blast of fire at the ground. It collided causing a huge explosion.

BOOM!

A shellshock wave that resounded from the attack nearly shook the woman off of her feet. She grinned, shielding herself with one arm against the strong heat and winds. "Nice one...." She commended.

"Thanks." Ahatake replied, reverting from Shikai. "That wasn't even full power."

"Now... what did you want to talk to me about?" Her voice cut to the chase, as she folded her arms across her chest.

"More abiut you history. I want to know if you ever got revenge on those Shinigami."

"...."

That dropped Tereya's mood a bit, and she gazed up to meet his eyes. "...are you seriously asking that? I killed all of them." She replied lazily. "Well.... all except for one...."

"You let one get away?"

"'Course not. He did that on his own." Closing her eyes, Tereya paused for a minute in order to let the memory sink in. "Yeah... long, black hair and matching eyes.... that's the only one I can remember fully."

"I see." Ahatake replied. "Well that clears up my questions, I guess." Ahatake said, slicing up a passin butterfly.

Her grin revealed the whiteness of her teeth. "Good... because I have something of my own to say." She said, her feet starting to walk towards him once more.

Ahatake's eyes widened for a split second. "What would that be?"

"Can I....trust you?"

When her feet finally stopped, they were staring right into each other's eyes. Tereya's own held a certain kind of confidence, reading Ahatake's own surprise.

"Yes you can." Ahatake replied, wondering what was happening.

The next movement was possibly unexpected for the both them.

Sidestepping a bit, Tereya shoved herself into Ahatake, and in turn, they were both knocked into the ground. But she lay on top of him like a bed, their faces inches away from each other. "I've already told you my past, and trusted you with my respect... but what the question is..." She purred. "Can you trust yourself... with me?"

Ahatake was just shocked. "I...I...I..." He stuttered not able to from a sentence.

"Tell you what. I'll make a deal." Tereya whispered seductively. "Since you seem to favor me so much... how about we get to know each other a bit more. A date, perhaps... though in return, you'll have to shape up for me..."

Then, she held his face in one of her hands, leaned over, and pressed her lips against Ahatake's for a moment before pulling away. "Right now, you're still a child..." She murmured. "But I can show you the way to be an adult...do you accept?"

"Yes." Ahatake replied, still slightly dazed.

"Good boy..." With that, she rolled over off of him, slowly standing back up and reaching her hand out, in order to help him stand.

Ahatake took it and stood up straight. "Again I consider myself the luckiest man in the world."

"Now then..." Tereya stuffed her hands into her pockets and walked back towards the house. "You comin' in, or are you stayin' out here?"

"Gimme a sec." Ahatake replied. He opened a Garganta and out stepped the same Gillian from long ago. "I'm gonna enjoy this!" He hissed and he jumped up charging at the gigantic hollow. "HAVE THIS!" He slashed the hollow sending fire straight through it.

"Ouch..." Tereya muttered, wincing in mock sympathy. "Even it didn't deserve that..."

The Hollow vanished. "I know, but I just felt like it." Ahatake replied and he turned to walk into the house. "Let's go."

A truce having been settled, the two walked side by side, and the sun finally descended out of the sky, leaving behind the cold phase of the night.

The End

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