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Lock 'n Load
Asami was still at the Kurosaki Manor two days after her arrival and she didn't look like she;d be leaving soon. She walked around the house, complaining here and there about how shabby she thought it looked, or what she thought could go in place of something else.
It was only two days, Tereya herself was slowly becoming irritated by the constant belittlement of the manor. Several times, she had to restrain herself from decaptitating the woman in order to shut her up, but her limited patience was to the breaking point. The only thing keeping her from picking up that Zanpakuto was the fact that Kaemon would put his two cents in when she didn't want him to.
Sometimes, a man stepping in to protect his woman was quite annoying...
Ahatake just decided to let it play out. He figured staying out of it was the best thing to do.
Meanwhile when she wasn't complaining about the manor, she was spending alot of her time paying attention to Chunori who Akiko seemed to be bringing over more often. The one year old sat in her lap, his expression as blank as ever.
Kyuui had taken her time to join, obviously taking a liking to the child. Currently, she was playing a minor hand game with the boy in order to keep him entertained.
Chunori was apparently learning to speak as he frequently said different words at random intervals. "Kyuui!" He said, looking at her.
The girl nodded in acknowledgement, smiling in return. "That's right... I'm Kyuui." She replied. Mentally, she was practically cheering in triumph at how he had addressed her.
"Isn't that a surprise." Akiko said, looking at her son, who was moving his black hair out of his eyes. "That marks the first time he ever said a name."
"The first time he said my name..." The white-haired girl gushed proudly.
"Any name to be truthful. So you're pretty lucky he said yours first." Akiko smiled.
Chunori was looking at his hands as though they were an interesting television program.
"Yes, but that's the point!" Kyuui insisted, putting her palms onto her cheeks excitedly. "I was the lucky one whose name was said by him! That makes me so happy...!"
Even as anime waterfall tears fell down her eyes, she laughed sheepishly. "Oh dear... I'm acting like a high school girl who just got a date... forgive me if I'm acting a bit too excited...."
Chunori, as if he understood what she was saying, nodded. Akiko laughed. "Sometimes I think he knows more than we give him credit for."
"I think he does..." Kyuui agreed. "He's gonna grow up to be quite a genius someday... just like Dad."
Ahatake laughed. "Don't say that, I don't think I could stand the shame."
It was immediately after, their peaceful aura was broken by a darker one which had just entered the room.
It was Tereya.
She was wearing a much different attire from before: a a dark pink, short-sleeved kimono outfit, the near bottom side decorated with white flowers. A white waist sash was around her waist, Zanpakuto secured within its boundaries. Compared to her other attire, she looked quite elegant.
Despite her cold aura, she looked rather bored. "I'll be out for a little while..." She said in seeming boredom to the family before walking by them.
"Where are you going?" Ahatake asked, though he already knew the answer.
The woman shrugged non-chalantly. "Out?" She said in a rather questioning manner, slowly pushing open the door. "If you want breakfast, just heat up the leftovers in the fridge, or whatever..."
"I know how to cook, that wasn't why I asked." Ahatake said crossly. "I was just concerned."
"Oi, no need to sound bitchy about it..." Tereya complained, raising her hands up in a defensive manner. "It's not like I'm gonna get attacked by some magical creatures on the way out. Besides, I can handle myself, remember?"
"Tereya." Chunori said, staring at Tereya.
"Man this kid picks up fast." Ahatake said, wide eyed.
With that, Tereya promptly shut the door behind her after exiting the room.
But the door opened right back, and Asami was standing there.
Abruptly, after hearing the door open again, Tereya turned her head towards the other woman. She raised an eyebrow and scowled slightly. "What?" She asked dryly, folding her arms across her chest. "Come to say you're gonna miss me?" The tone was obviously sarcastic: she knew Asami wouldn't care either way.
Asami didn't smile, or even scowl. "I'm coming to help you. I know you're not just going out. You may be able to fool that idiot boy and the rest, but I know a lie when I hear one."
In a dismissive manner, Tereya couldn't help but smirk slightly. "Damn. You're quite the sharp one. I guess I gotta take back what I said about you being the second Midoriko..." She complimented.
Given that she had no idea who Midoriko was, Asami brushed this off. "Seeing as you obviously no more about this guy than you seem to want to tell, I'll let you lead."
"All right. Try and keep up..."
With that, Tereya's figure abruptly vanished, having kicked into a Flash Step and headed towards the proposed location. If her proposition was correct, the place she was headed to would be where he was...
Asami has no trouble keeping up with her guide, catching up to and running alongside her. "So care to tell me what you are doing?"
"I'm hunting for someone..." The other female stated calmly, hair whipping behind her as she ran. Her footsteps continued to slap the ground, though the sounds were softened by the grass. "You saw the so-called peddler that came at the door, right?"
"Yes." Asami replied. "The one who beat you within an inch of your life I believe."
That made Tereya growl in annoyance. "He didn't "beat me within an inch of my life." She corrected. "But, the way he fought... I couldn't help but get it past my mind that it was familiar. All I'm gonna do is find the guy again."
"I recall seeing you bleeding from a stab wound near a vital organ as the boy carried you back into the manor." She said, knowing it would get on Tereya's nerves. "I believe that's "within an inch of your life", or do you believe me to be mistaken?"
"Keep talking, bitch..." An angered smile came onto Tereya's face, her hand touching the hilt of her Zanpakuto. "And I'll cut you within an inch of your life!!!"
"Now now little girl," Asami said calmly. "I have at least 100 years over you in battle experience. Try it when you're out of diapers."
"I really don't need experience to shove my blade right through your throat." Tereya retorted hotly, though her attention was turned forward. "Just a good old swing and thrust."
"And you know I'd deflect it and then carve out your stomach." She replied, scowling. "I've always been good at cooking Haggis."
"Really?" Tereya grew an amused smirk. "What makes you so sure I won't dodge? I may not be a battle tactician, but I know how to survive. That's all that counts in a battle to death: making sure you survive and your opponent does not."
"Smart girl." Asami replied coldly. "But shouldn't you be keeping your eyes on the road instead of looking at me?"
In front of her, a branch was ready to harshly stop her in her tracks, but she had already seen it coming. She lowered her head forward and skidded under it, making herself stop in her tracks. She turned around to Asami, walking backwards a few steps while spreading out her arms in a welcoming manner. "Welcome to my grave and birthplace." She announced.
All around her were trees whose leaves held a once pink color. The wind bristled against them, making a peaceful scene in terms of forestry. However, now they held a crimson color that made that entire part of the forest look like it was covered in blood - a tragedy to the beauty.
"Catchy welcoming sentence." She said, looking around the place and admiring it's beauty.
It made Tereya stare at everything with solemn silence for a moment, before she motioned for Asami to follow. She started to walk forward, going deeper and deeper into the red forst. "This area once had pink leaves, and it was one of the beauties that separated it from the rest of the world. However, the blood that has stained it forever has caused them to turn red, both with the blood of the innocent spilled and silent fury for the shamelessness of their killers."
"Personally," Asami said, looking around. "I think it looks better this way."
"Tch. You have no sense of deeper meaning..." Tereya rolled her eyes. But she stopped abruptly when she heard some sounds several steps away. Instinctively, she hid behind the tree.
"Sssh...he's a meter in front of us..." Silently, she raised a finger and motioned Asami to come over to her side.
Asami scowled, but quieted herself as she walked, her hand on her Katana, and kept her senses as sharp as her sword.
Up ahead would've been a shocking sight.
For the same man that had attempted to take a life was now in a different outfit, his arms folded in his long and white gi sleeves and his head bowed. There was a line of several tombstones in front of him. Despite looking like a killer himself, it appeared as if he was paying his respects to the dead ones.
"Now this isn't something you see everyday." Asami thought as she watched the man.
"I know I haven't come to visit as often as I do..."
The man's voice was soft. "But, the things up here have kept me from reaching out to you for quite a while. I wonder what it's like, wherever you all are right now..." A smile came over the shadowed expression. "The ones who survived will continue to fight for both yours and our cause. To the ones that did this misplaced justice onto you, they will be severely punished."
Then, his grieved eyes were revealed in the light, fresh tears coming down to drip onto the graves below. "My only regret..." He whispered, voice cracking slightly. "...is that I wasn't able to stop you from leaving..."
He took in a deep breath in order to keep himself from breaking down completely.
Asami began to feel slight pity for the man, but did not bother to say anything comforting. It wasn't in her nature. Even when Akiko got bullied in school, Asami just told her to suck it up.
"I hope my tears will help a small bit in the growth of this forest. All of your bodies shall rest in this elegant place forever, even if your spirits are already gone..." He raised a hand to wipe away his tears, turning away. "Good bye, comrades."
It was then that he saw Tereya leaning against the tree, arms folded across her chest, and a small smile on her face. "I see you're talkin' to the passer-ons... they give you an interesting conversation?" She asked in a rather joking manner.
Asami smiled at this. Maybe coming along would prove entertaining after all.
The man's eyes narrowed immediately, and he glared at Tereya with a fierce intensity as she stepped forward. "I suppose there's not going to be much talking between us, now is there?" His hand reached over to grip the handle of his Zanpakuto, his feet spread apart.
Despite her smile having grown darker, Tereya shook her head slightly. She drew her own Zanpakuto steadily and slowly. "Nope. You said it all when you stuck that blade through my gut." She replied. "It's going to be that very reason which will cause blood to be spilled onto this ground."
Her blade gleamed with a killing intent, and she practically radiated it. "But you tried..." She watched as the peddler unsheathed his own blade, settling into an offensive stance. "You did try to live, didn't you?"
"Wait just a minute." Asami sighed. "If you two are about to fight, isn't it proper fighting etiquette to tell each other your names. I can practically feel killing intent."
"No point giving your name to some one..."
Instinctively, Tereya re-appeared right in front of the peddler, sword raised over her head with one hand. "...who's about to die!!" She finished, swinging it down with a force of immense strength and power.
The peddler acted immediately, raising his own blade with two hands to deflect the attack. Roughly, he shoved her off and ran at her, his sword sharpened with his own reiatsu and the intent to slaughter.
It was a vicious dance of the blades - they swung against each other, flashing and causing sparks to kick up around them. Their feet moved elegantly, bringing each other to avoid each other's attempts to end life. They themselves were performing a dance of death - it took two to tango, after all. In that dance, the strength and skill they displayed proved to be beyond their appearances.
They were not simple fighters.
They were survivors.
"Kids..." Asami sighed. "No proper manners."
In one of the peddler's lunge attacks, a tree had taken the blunt of the damage. With a groan, it slowly fell and collapsed with a loud noise, shaking the ground briefly. Tereya, however, had taken herself into the air in order to avoid the attack, ready to descend on her seemingly vulnerable opponent.
But the man had other ideas.
"You really think you have me, woman?!" He roared, twisting his sword in an upward sideswing. His reflexes were like a shark descending upon its prey, and his expression was nothing short of battle rage.
Tereya couldn't even dodge.
The sword ripped through her lung and out the end, and being in mid-air, she hung like a piece of food on a shishkebob. Blood sprayed freely onto the ground, staining the already tainted ground. Her eyes were widened, and she coughed up blood to add to the pool under her opponent's feet.
"Sorry. But your speed won't save you..." He said harshly, tearing out the blade with another swing. As she landed on the ground, he raised one leg up to kick her back a distance away. She tumbled along the ground ungracefully like a tumbleweed. But she struggled to stand back up, despite the pain of her wound.
Asami didn't budge to help her out. She'd wait until she collapsed from blood-loss. Besides, this seemed to be more of a battle for honor, and she had no right to interfere with that.
Back on her feet again, Tereya rushed at him, sword poised once again to attack. The man scoffed, raising himself into a defensive position. "Fucking typical!" He growled, once again fending off her attack and unleashing a lunge counter-strike of her own...
...only to have him realize he had just hit an after-image. Eyes widening, he raised his leg instinctively and kicked the crouch form of Tereya again to force her back. As she skidded back once more, he studied her intensely, his body tensing slightly.
"Damn...I thought that was the extent of her speed, but it seems she was holding back... but why?" He watched as she slowly stood up once more, breathing heavily and hard. He could see the sweat falling down her face, the blood dripping from her wound at a slow rate.
Then, she opened her eyes once more.
The beast that was her inner Hollow was staring straight through them, in a cold and murderous glare. She began to walk slowly forward, almost in a confident manner. Her hair was billowing slightly in the wind, giving her a rather fearsome appearance in the red forest.
Without a word, Tereya vanished.
But the peddler was ready. With another lunge poised and ready, he turned and thrust just as she re-appeared. Swiftly, she took to the side, making him sneer. "Have you forgotten so quickly of my abilities?" He taunted, swinging the sword to the corresponding side.
But he was immediately shocked when she raised her blade to block it, slid herself closer, twisted herself around, and raised up an arm. The resulting clothesline slammed brutally into his neck, sending intense waves of pain through his head. His eyes blanked white, and his mouth was open in a wheeze before he was thrown away, colliding head-on and destroying another tree.
As Tereya breathed heavily, she couldn't help but smile. "Those moves... now I know where they were. Several years ago, in this very spot. They were the moves I learned and fight with to this day, and you were the one to teach them to me in order to keep us both from extinction. I know who you are now..."
The man came out of the rubble, his mouth curved into a furious scowl. His eyes glared death at the girl as she stared back at him with her apathetic look. "Cautious Leader of the Fang. Gatotsu Keiji." She declared.
"Gatotsu Keiji..." Asami echoed in a whisper. "Sounds...slightly familiar."
A sinister smile came over his face. "It took you a while to guess, Tereya." He congratulated, raising his sword defensively. "But it doesn't manner. Now that all is revealed... I will kill you."
"I'd like to see you try." Tereya replied, the frown turning to her face once more. "You won't even touch me, now that I've gotten serious..." She settled into her own defensive stance, though she was really preparing for another assault.
"Tell me if you need any assistance." Asami yawned, leaning against a bloodred tree.
Once again, it was a flurry of swords against each other. They were fighting quite well and on even ground with each other, their skills nothing short of the expert level. Adrenaline pumped their body, and their muscles and bone seemed to tighten with every single shift, and every single blow.
Then, another breakthrough occured.
As Tereya landed once more, she was forced to raise her sword up as Keiji charged her. When his blade slammed into hers, her back was pinned right to a tree. She gritted her teeth as she struggled against his strength in an effort from being choked. However, slowly he was gaining the upper hand against her, using both hands (one on the back of the blade) in order to even out his strength. It would be only a matter of time...
Then, Tereya's leg raised up, kicked Keiji in the chin in order to gain some distance, and then jumped over his head in a front-flip. Landing on her feet, she turned to face him. He himself turned around, took a step forward, and spit out a tooth... much to his annoyance. His eyes widened in rage, and he raised his sword furiously, rushing at her again.
Asami sighed and closed her eyes. This was going to take awhile.
Immediately, a rock hit her in the head.
"Wake your ass up!!!" Tereya shouted comically, evading another attack from Keiji. "Whatever happened to the 'help' that you were talking about before we came here?!" It wasn't that she was concerned that she was going to lose - she could handle herself, after all...
Asami stood up and lazily pointed a finger at Keiji. "Hado 34, Kongōbaku.." She fired a red and orange ball of fire at him.
Easily, he avoided it, but he was still focused on Tereya, who had her attention turned too late. Then, ripping off his gi and dropping his blade, he twisted behind the woman, wrapped it around his neck, and held her high in the air, using the sleeves as tighteners. Her eyes widened in horror, and her mouth let out weak gasping noises. She could feel her neck bones slowly crack under the pressure, and pain crawling up her head...
Struggling to raise her hand down, she brought it on the tip of her sheath. The other end raised up to hit Keiji's chin, forcing him off-balance and freeing her from his clutches. As she skidded away, she turned towards him in an intense stare, breathing as hard as he was.
For a moment, no one moved. Then, in unison, they stood up, raised their blades...
...and in a shocking move, Tereya sheathed her blade. This caused Keiji's angered eyes to widen out of surprise.
"Sorry." She said lowly. "But this ground is already tainted enough. Don't you think our comrades would be satisfied with our deaths?"
At her truth, his look changed to one of solemn resignation, and he too sheathed his blade.
The match was over... a draw.
Asami sighed. The ending of the fight was too nice for her. She would have preferred to see one of them die.
Picking up his gi, Keiji slung it over his shoulder and sighed, turning his back to them. "That was a good refresher for a reunion over ten years. But don't think it'll be the last you'll see of me. I'll show myself a few times, just to keep me from forgetting your face today."
"Gee, thanks..." Tereya muttered, folding her arms across her chest. "But where in the hell're you headed?"
Over his shoulder, he performed a squinty-eyed smile. "You caught me on my break. In ten minutes, I'll be making my peddler run again." Turning back, he gave a wave on his way away from them. "Try not to get yourself into too much trouble, Terrie."
Tereya's expression changed into one of indignance, but before she could protest, he was already gone like the wind to who-knows-where. She scoffed, turning away and closing her eyes. "Arrogant bastard..." She muttered.
Asami sighed. "Well if that's all I assume we head back?"
"If you were that bored, bitch, you could've went back any time you wanted." Tereya muttered, walking past her. "But yeah, we head back now."
"Good." She yawned. "Maybe Chunori learned a new word."
"If you're that sleepy, why don't you just go to sleep, then?" Tereya added.
They started to walk. "I'm merely bored. A large manor and the most interesting thing there is my grandson."
"If you're that bored, then why don't you l--" Before she finished her sentence, Tereya sighed heavily and in an aggravated manner. "I'm not even gonna say it. No point..."
Asami laughed and as she did the area seemed to brighten a little. The tree's leaves looked paler anyway.
The world is just full of mysteries...