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Pei Yi ([personal profile] lacewood) wrote in [community profile] toxicskyremix2006-01-16 08:46 pm
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bleach - view from a mountain top

Written as a ridiculous sort-of omake to [ profile] bravecows' AU Steel True, Blade Straight, where shinigami are swords and vice versa.

Zangetsu wakes up the morning after with a splitting headache. It shouldn't, however, be bad enough to make him hallucinate the presence of a small mountain sitting beside his apartment block where, he's pretty sure, there was no mountain sitting yesterday.

He stops on his balcony and lights a cigarette. Shirayuki glares at him as only a mountain can glare; the effect would be more impressive if it weren't deeply lost on him.

"Still here," he observes.

"No thanks to you," she grinds, the words grating against his bones.

At least the cleft the Hollow left in her last night when she stopped it killing him is miraculously gone, or there'd be two mountains sitting there. Then again, he supposes it makes no difference.

No one else, so far as Zangetsu can see, comments on Shirayuki's sudden appearance in the geographical landscape. He tries to remember what was there before - an empty lot? He certainly hopes so. On the other hand, if she'd been forced to stay somewhere else, maybe it'd be easier for him to avoid her. As it is, she's there everytime he looks out the window and he has to pass her going to work.

On the other hand, it probably doesn't make any difference where she is because, as Zangetsu discovers, a mountain can shout across the whole of Karakura without actually raising her voice. He blinks and finds himself, not in his office, but standing outside the local park -

"Just because I don't have the powers left to move myself doesn't mean I can't move a puny human," she informs him.

"Hm," he says, and stubs his cigarette out under his foot.

"It's all a matter of timing," she tells him.

He sits on an upturned crate lying abandoned at her foot - she doesn't take kindly to being climbed or trodden over, strangely, and the only time he tried he found himself subjected to a personal blizzard in the middle of May - and looks at her.

"Bit small to just sit on the Hollows like you, don't you think," he says.

She stares at him. "Yes, well. Clearly we will have to work on other methods of combat. That doesn't make timing any less important," she says.

He wonders if she knows any other forms - a mountain can't have a lot of other battle options, logically speaking. Not that he says so. It's a nice warm day; be a pity to ruin it with another freak snowstorm.

A little negotiation is required over Shirayuki's frequent and inconvenient tendency to simply move him the minute an alert appears.

Bathrooms, for one, are Sacred. Zangetsu has to establish this after the incident when a Hollow alert came while he was still in the shower and he found himself across town covered in nothing but soapsuds -

He's not fighting a Hollow without his clothes, he points out reasonably. His shinigami form has clothes, she points out, even more reasonably, from her point of view. But his physical form doesn't and that's the one that matters because people see that, he points out again.

They finally come to an agreement: she'll wait till he's in his shinigami form to transport him, or she'll ask before she transports his physical form. She concedes the point in the end, if only because Zangetsu-sans-outer-layers is a horror the world shouldn't be subjected to, she tells him.

He supposes the reasons don't really matter so long as the objective is achieved.

"Unlike some people, I can appreciate Yuki-neesan's inner beauty!" Kon declares, glaring up at Zangetsu. He finally 'condescended' to the indignity of being put in a plush lion when the glaring lack of dead lions in Karakura made Zangetsu suggest that he be returned to Urahara after all. Zangetsu stares down at him.

"Is that so," he says.

Shirayuki rumbles and drops a small avalanche of pebbles on Kon. "You will address me properly," she announces.

"I'm very sorry, Shirayuki-sama?" Kon manages from under his live burial.

She approves the honourific by not dropping any more rocks on him. For the time being.

Sodeno Shirayuki watches the Menos Grande rip its way through the sky - she stares up at it and seethes. Oh, it has size, oh, it has power, oh, it can rip reality in two with its bare hands - what of it? Size and power are nothing without finesse, and it barely has a mind behind its massive weight to drive it step by inexorable step. Here is an opponent she aches to crush, to destroy, to grind to dust, and where is she? Trapped, helpless, furious.

She would scream her rage. Instead she grinds, rock against rock, till the ground trembles to feel her anger.

"Zangetsu! You cannot defeat this, you must retreat -" He is too raw, too untrained, too young, too small, he has no idea what he faces.

He is staring up at the Menos Grande, making no move to escape in the face of its power - in someone else, it might be courage; in him it is sheer stupidity. She makes to move him herself, but -

"No," he tells her.

"Fool," she grates at him for all that she herself is screaming for battle.

He ignores her and draws his sword.

She's been here too long; she was afraid of that from the start. Mountains do not put down roots - roots are too shallow, easily torn and broken. Mountains become, and once that has come to pass, it is too late, and only complete destruction can move them again. Shirayuki can feel this with every hour and minute she is in the mortal world.

"BENIHIME," she thunders across the town; there is no reply. Why have her powers not returned? Why does that smiling, slippery bitch not answer now? Shirayuki needs to move; the terror that she is trapped and bound here is growing more certain by the hour. She gathers herself for a roar to shake that woman out of her cosy opium den and roll her down the streets--

"Throwing a little tantrum, are we?" a voice hisses at her foot.

She looks down and Zabimaru glares up at her, a lashing shadow in the lamplight of the street.


She's been careless, let her panic get the better of her, to have not felt him - a tree rustles from the shadows, and this, this is fear of the sharp, lancing sort.


"You have been remiss," the leaves whisper.

And still she cannot move.

"Wake," a woman's voice says, almost too languid to be a command but for the way her sheer presence throws him out of his bed onto the floor. Zangetsu opens his eyes and looks up.


She looks down, shadowed by moonlight - moonlight that turns to blood running through her. She smiles at him with all her teeth. He should ask how she got in, and it's the first time he's seen her outside of her den; this would be a surprise, but she has come with better things in store.

"I suggest you look outside your window," she says.

He climbs to his feet and looks outside. Shirayuki, he recognises, but Shirayuki as he's never seen her before, shrouded in a storm of snow and sakura petals. A feral cry breaks the silence, the kind that runs through your bones and nerves and oldest instincts.

"I think she could with some help, don't you?" Benihime purrs behind him, and he's in his shinigami form before he can blink. He doesn't turn to look at her, only steps into his balcony, stands, for a moment, balanced on the rail.

Seven stories. Not a drop at all, for a shinigami.

He leaps.

"Still alive, I see," the girl's voice bites out. Shirayuki looks down. Rukia glares up, silvered by moonlight, and folds her arms across her chest.

"Rukia," Shirayuki says, and the name shakes the foundations of the world.

"I suppose you didn't stop and think where I would be if you went and got yourself reduced to a pile of rubble," the girl continues, and sets foot on her and starts climbing. Shirayuki suffers her presence as a matter of necessity - one day, she knows, she will shake Rukia off, but that day has yet to come. And this time, at least, she's almost happy to feel Rukia scramble up her slopes.


The girl does not condescend to speak to her again until she has reached the peak. She stands for a moment, head tilted back to a sky burning with stars, more stars than the mortal world can imagine. Then she seats herself crosslegged, and presses her hands, fingers spread flat, to Shirayuki's earth.

"I missed the view," she says, and it's the closest she's going to come to saying she might actually be glad to be back.

Shirayuki curls a tremour under her, just enough to rattle a few pebbles. Rukia ignores it. Around them, it begins to snow.

"Of course you did," Sodeno Shirayuki says.


Notes: The author is unsure if this is complete. (Well, okay, it obviously isn't, but I mean, I do not know if I am going to write MORE.)