Tatsuki yawned a little as she thrust her arms into the air, her stiff muscles aching as she did so. It had been a long day at school and a seemingly longer few hours at karate. She continued to practice even when most everybody went home. It was unlike her, but nobody really gave her the challenge she so desperately wanted right now if she wanted to get stronger. It was difficult and unsettling for her to know how easily she had come close to death a nearly a month ago. A dull aching desire seemed to consume her. Tatsuki wanted to be stronger. She needed to be stronger.
She turned around the corner, her house not too far from where she stood, and froze. Perhaps the first thing to hit her was not the sight, but the irrevocable stench of blood and death that surrounded the Hollow.
It was one of those things again. It came as a brief relief that this one was very much different from the more human monsters she had encountered. For a fleeting moment, she examined and sized up her opponent. It was large and looming, like a heavy shadow, as dense as city smog with only a pristine circle through its chest. She could see her house through it. She had been seeing these strange creatures on and off lately, but usually at a distance. They would appear briefly in the horizon before disappearing from sight. This one, however, seemed to notice her and come straight at her.
Tatsuki immediately tossed her bag aside and prepared to fight. She had lost once before and had no intention to lose again. She ducked as its large arm came swinging at her. She kicked its shin. The monster staggered back for a moment before regaining its composure and coming at her again.
"Silly girl," the monster said in a low, tremulous voice. "Your puny kicks won't do anything."
She quickly lurched to the side as the Hollow raised its arm and came down to crush her. Tatsuki was thankful she had more than an hour's worth of warming up beforehand. Her senses tingled as she circled the monster, trying to kick it at its side.
Slightly stumbling, the monster turned to her. Its mask grinned smugly at her, but Tatsuki stood her ground. Her fists tightened up a bit more as she lunged at it; her arm wound back, ready to be fired at its face with all her strength. She felt the hard impact of her fist against its mask. Hearing a crack, she was unsure of whether or not it was from her own fist or the monster's face. The Hollow stumbled back and fell. Tatsuki pulled back a little and opened and closed her fist. If it were broken, she wouldn't notice. She had too much adrenalin pumping in her system to notice or care about her aches and pains.
"Heh," a voice from behind said. "Not bad for a human."
She spun around to see that red-haired, volcanic personality from her class. Tatsuki's brows drew together for a moment as she noticed his sword. Wasn't carrying that thing illegal?
"But I'll show you how it's really done," Renji grinned as he ran towards the Hollow, getting up and recovering from the punch to the face.
He leapt into the air, higher than what Tatsuki could ever reach on her own, and came down with a loud cry. The Hollow barely even had time to react before his Zabimaru split its mask into two distinct pieces. Renji stood over the carcass, pausing for a moment over it as shadows began to move behind them. Tatsuki was the first to notice and spun around, barely missing the full impact of the shadowy arm aimed at her stomach and blocked by her arms. Her feet slid against the dirt as she tried to regain her composure.
Renji quickly spun around, finding one more Hollow had come. By then, Tatsuki was off and running towards it at full speed. He cursed at her stupidity (didn't she know that only a Zanpakutou can kill a Hollow? Didn't somebody explain this to her?) and ran towards it.
Tatsuki crouched low, swinging her leg in a wide arc in order to bring the monster down and reach its mask. This one seemed to be larger than the last. Or was the last one just crouching over the whole time? It didn't matter to her, she knew she had to get a bit higher or bring it lower. She could hear that Abarai yelling something faintly as the sound of blood rushing and heart beating filled her brain.
Just above her head, Renji slashed Zabimaru across the Hollow's holed chest. Tatsuki felt a quick breeze graze the top of her short hair and marveled at his stupidity (didn't he know he could have easily decapitated her with that illegal sword of his?). Renji's sleeves, as he finished his maneuver, brushed over her face and obscured her vision. She frowned as she quickly flicked it aside and swept her other leg, causing the Hollow to lose its footing, across the pavement.
The Hollow failed to recover from the double blows and staggered backwards to little success. Renji, seeing an opening, quickly leaped up, using Tatsuki's shoulders and head as a springboard, and slashed its mask into two. He landed gracefully on the floor as she, balancing herself from Renji's walk on her, grabbed a nearby rock and flung it at him.
Renji instantly felt for the back of his head as he spun around to see her running towards him with her fist coiled back like a loaded gun. Frowning a little, he moved instinctively to the side, her blow coming into contact with his sleeves once more.
"Are you stupid?" Tatsuki grew angry as she swung at him again. Renji dodged it. "You nearly hacked my head off and then you use me like a trampoline!"
Renji remained defensive as he kept taking steps away from her. "You're the stupid one to think you can kill a Hollow with your own weak fists!"
She stopped for a moment, her frustration flaring even more knowing that her hits hadn't touched him yet. Tatsuki came at him again, feeling the old fighting spirit in her beginning to stir as Renji continued to narrowly miss kick and punch.
Tatsuki made it a point starting that day to come home a bit later, hoping to see one more of these strange creatures to take down in front of that Abarai's own shocked eyes. Renji quickly ducked as her fist skimmed the top of his head. He also made it a point to patrol this area more often to show her how it was really done.
Disclaimer: Bleach is not mine.
Author's Notes: Just a short drabble on the beginnings of a Tatsuki/Renji pairing set sometime after Chapter 191. If inspiration strikes me again, I'll put more up.