Bleach and all of the things it incorporates are not mine. THEY ARE NOT MINE! So, nobody sue me.
Knight In Shining Armor.
A phrase used to describe the classic hero who arrives to save the female lead in her darkest hour.
The Knight In Shining Armor is tall, handsome, polite, probably royalty, and hopelessly in love with his chosen damsel in distress. He is never rude, except to the bad guys. He is never loud, except when shouting orders on the battlefield. He is never anything but perfection, except when he is temporarily losing to the villain in the beginning of a fight.
No one ever thinks of a young, female brat being the Knight.
Luckily, Arisawa Tatsuki never much cared what others thought of her.
She is the Knight In Shining Armor who protects the princess.
Nothing else matters.
God help the idiot who gets in her way.
I hate cleaning duty.
If I'm the one who made the mess it isn't so bad, but having a teacher lecture me on why I have to clean up someone else's broken glass is so damn grating on my patience, which isn't too good to begin with. And Chizuru, that horny redhead, was one of my partners. I already had to knock her on the head twice to keep her away from Orihime when she bent over to sweep the fragments into the dustbin. When we finished I was going to track Ochi-sensei down, make her tell me who blackmailed her into forcing this on us, track him down and break his jaw.
Fuck, everybody was gone. Vanished completely. It was a great reminder of how I should be at home or practicing in the gym or anything except performing janitor duty. I'm part of the Student Disciplinary Committee, not the Let's Use Child Labor And Call It Character Build-Up Committee.
Chizuru was bitching again. I found myself chanting 'must not kill my classmate, must not kill my classmate'. It would definitely keep her away from Orihime, because she would be most dead, but they tend to lock people up for that. I stuck to the next best thing and bitched back.
"Chizuru, this only happened 'cause you made such a big fuss." I said.
"So did you!" Chizuru said right back. The brat!
"What?!" I snarled, feeling the vein in my temple pulse warningly. 'Must not burst a blood vessel over the school lesbian.' I reminded myself.
"What?" Chizuru said calmly. Annoying!
Of course, like the magpie she was in a previous life, Chizuru's attention was drawn away from our work by something shiny. In this case, Orihime's hair.
"Hm? What's 'hime doing?" Chizuru asked no one in particular. Then she ran off and left me there.
Now, I'm used to people ditching me. God knows Ichigo had done it often enough. I didn't think much of it, other then adding another tally on my 'Reasons Why I Should Not Allow Chizuru To Live To Graduation Day' list.
However, when she said "Hiiiiiiiiiiiimeeeeeeeeee," in that tone, I knew I had to do an act of prevention. Tatsuki's Fist vs. Chizuru's Head, Round 3 for today.
I dropped the broom and dustpan, and jogged up to where Chizuru was gettin' fresh with Orihime. I'll give the girl this, she is stubborn.
"With your cute face, if you stare into space…."
"…I'm gonna kiss you!"
What the hell…. It is Chizuru, of course she would!
I swerved up to Orihime's other side and raised my fist in a warning that never proved to be enough of a deterrent.
"What're you running your mouth about all of a sudden?!" I shouted. The vein went bam-bam-bam in my skull.
"What?!" Chizuru snarled at me. Like she didn't know!
"What?!" I snarled right back.
'Bring it on you redheaded horndog, I'll show you why I have these karate clothes on!'
Of course Orihime, sweet pacifist that she is, had to interrupt. She raised a hand up and spoke to us both in a very calming voice.
"There's a… um… a TV show that I want to watch. So let's quit cleaning and go home, 'kay?" Orihime said cutely. No, I'm not a lesbian like Chizuru, I'm just honest. Look at Orihime and tell me with a straight face that she isn't cute. Horrifically, unbearably, crushingly cute.
That actually should have tipped me off that something was wrong. Orihime never skips out on responsibility. I've tried to get her to do it now and then, but it is like getting oil and water to mix. You just can't do it.
I have my dunce moments and it didn't sink in.
Me and Chizuru were speechless for a moment. Inoue Orihime was advocating truancy? It was either a miracle or a sign of the Apocalypse. Then the teenage attitude of 'hey, we can get out of school early!' kicked in, and me and Chizuru quit thinking about it.
Orihime actually started pushing us towards the front gates of the administration building. That was the second big clue that I missed. The girl has, to my knowledge, never raised a hand against someone. Ever. Now she was shoving her two friends (yes, even Chizuru, though some days I wanted to throw her over the fence into the dumpsters) like they were baggage.
"Hurry. Hurry." Orihime chanted as she shoved. I never really knew how strong that girl was until then. I mean, I'd taught her karate and all, but she'd never taken it as seriously as I did.
"You come too, Tatsuki-chan." Orihime said cheerfully. Too cheerfully. Like I would have gone anywhere else when Chizuru was with her.
"W-Wait Orihime!" I stuttered. It didn't stop her. She was a girl on a mission.
"Come on, 'kay?! Please hurry. Hurry!" Orihime said cheerfully.
I finally started to notice the underlying sound of panic beneath the false cheer, the false cheer that I should have recognized from a mile away because of all the times I had been party to it when Orihime was sad and didn't want me to see. Like I wouldn't.
"Come on! Both of you, hurry, hurry!" We were nearly at the doors. Orihime was pushing really hard.
Then she stopped.
I looked back and saw her staring up at the top of another building, like she was looking for something. I saw nothing. I was also sick of wearing my uniform, strange though that may sound. The belt really doesn't hold for very long if you don't knot it properly and I was never good at knotting. My shirt kept falling open.
I ducked away from Orihime's hands and started back for the gym. "Sorry Orihime!" I said as I went. "I want to change my clothes. Sorry, you two go on ahead without me."
I waved and ran off. The way I figured it, worst case scenario was Chizuru feeling up Orihime's thigh and I could always break her hand to pieces for that.
Orihime called me back as I went, but I didn't go back.
I shouted that I'd catch up with her soon, thought that I would be holding her up from her TV show for a few minutes at most, but it doesn't matter. I had promised to protect Orihime when I first met her. I had promised to keep her safe. It doesn't matter that she didn't let me in on what the danger was or that there was any danger at all, she called for me and I left her!
That day I saved her, but not until she had already been hurt.
I failed Orihime and I will never forgive myself for that.
It wasn't until I had changed back into my school uniform that I began to get a sick feeling in my stomach.
Something just felt off. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I wouldn't feel better until I got back to Orihime and Chizuru. I tossed my uniform back into my locker without folding it and, after a second of hesitation, grabbed my running shoes. I have the leather loafers that go with my uniform, but I keep the running shoes for going to and from school and for P.E. The leather monstrosities give me blisters.
I stamped my feet into them and started jogging through the gym to the door. My footsteps echoed eerily in the hallway and the noise only intensified my anxiety. I wanted to be with Orihime, damn it all!
I hit the front door and pressed against the bar. The door opened the gym, which was unusually dim even for after school hours, and sunlight blinded me for a moment.
Then I blinked and saw and ran.
Orihime was surrounded by students and someone with Chizuru's distinctive red hair was holding her arm in a way that it was not supposed to go. The students had green stuff on them that shimmered strangely if I looked at it for too long. Everything about them screamed aggression, danger, predator! Orihime was prey in anyone's eyes.
I remembered the lost looking girl with hacked up hair, who stared at her book bag like it was all she needed.
I remembered my promise.
And I decided right then and there that I was going to fucking liquefy all those bastards with my bare hands.
I'm not Ryo-chan, our star track girl, but when I want to I can move fast. I ran as fast as I could, feeling a deep hatred for whoever designed our skirts. The pleated things flew up if we did anything more then a trot and now God, Chizuru, and anyone else with eyes was seeing my panties.
Then, merciful deities, I was there.
"What're you jerks doing?!" I screamed.
I jumped up behind the zombies (they were zombies, don't ask me how I knew that) and went to work. I have been sparring, practicing and fighting since I was four years old. I'm more comfortable throwing a punch then I am wearing a bra. I'm 5 feet and 1 inch tall, 90 pounds heavy, and totally female (no matter what Keigo insinuates otherwise), but don't fuck with me or my friends!
Four of them were down in half as many seconds. I wasn't breathing hard. Orihime was behind me and the jerks were in front of me. It was going okay so far.
"Tatsuki-chan!" Orihime said behind me. I had to hope that Chizuru wouldn't hurt her anymore, because I didn't want to turn my back on the zombie-people or that thing that was hovering on the wall of the school. It kind of looked like that monster in some American movie I watched with Ichigo once. Hunter or Stalker, I think. Something like that.
I could and did give Orihime a quick look over my shoulder. "I'm sorry Orihime! I didn't notice before that something like that was there," I said.
"So, you can see that thing too?" Orihime asked fearfully.
"I can't see it," I admitted. I turned my head a different direction to keep an eye on the shimmering mass that clung to the wall like old chewing gum. "But I can at least tell where it is. Where the thing that made you cry is, that is."
'Okay, I guess that is the mother-brain, so to speak. Take it out and everything should get easier.'
I couldn't get up to it, so I had to bring it down to me. Something I learned from my fighting is when you need someone to come at you, make sure it is on your terms. Make them wild, angry beyond rational thought, and you can beat them easy.
'When in doubt, agitate.'
"Hey, you big shit, over there!" I pointed right at the mass of wobbling light. "You picked the wrong person to pick a fight with! The rule is: Anyone who makes Orihime cry, always gets their ass whipped by me!"
I told myself I wasn't scared.
It said something back to me. Not much, just 'oh?', but now I knew it understood me.
Next thing I knew, I was surrounded again. There were seven of them this time, all ringed around me. A small and giddy part of me couldn't help but feel that it wasn't fair to them. Far more importantly, they had gotten between me and Orihime.
That would not do.
"Outta my way!" I yelled.
Karate chop to the head.
Kick to the stomach.
Left hook to the jaw.
Flying knee to the chin.
Foot to the forehead.
Knuckles to the nose.
Forehead to forehead.
'I'm not scared.'
I scoffed. "Humph, not one worthy fighter in the lot."
As stupid as it sounds, I was a little disappointed.
Then someone was right behind me, grabbing my shoulder. I was spinning around with my elbow coming up automatically in a move that I had practiced over and over with my sensei and I was an inch away from their face when I saw –
- and stopped cold.
"Run Tatsuki." Chizuru whispered. Her arm was funky, all the veins sticking out grotesquely.
"Chizuru?" I whispered.
"I think something's wrong with me." Chizuru said. I saw to my revulsion that the bulges were traveling up her face. I could see them shoving the skin of her cheek up where they passed underneath.
She squeezed my shoulder and I knew that Chizuru had never had that kind of strength in her life. Only know she did and it was being used on me. Fuck.
Something green flashed from the half-invisible mass and slammed hard into my shoulder. I fell down to the ground and didn't move. Chizuru was knocked away from me.
That disembodied voice floated around to me again. "How do you feel?" It asked me. "The seed I just shot into you will soon grow roots in your body and control you at my whim."
God, it was lecturing like Ochi-sensei.
It was getting hard to breathe for some reason.
There was a thump and then the shifting mass of transparency was seated next to me.
'I'm not scared.'
"In other words, that means your body will do what I want. Okay, now cry." It said.
Oh, I wanted to hurt that thing.
I had to settle for telling it to shut the hell up.
I rolled onto my side and, somehow, staggered onto my feet.
"Let Orihime go!" I ordered it.
The bitch laughed at me.
"What's this now? Do you not understand your situation? You've lost almost all control of your body."
Something thick and rubbery brushed against my face.
"Come on now, how about it?" It purred.
The thing brushed my chin again and stayed there, fondling me.
"Come on, come on-"
I bit the bitch and enjoyed every second of it.
The resulting shriek would have been enough to shatter the windows, if they hadn't already been broken.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, DAMN IT?!" It screamed. "Let go!"
It hit me.
I held on.
'I am not scared. I am a bulldog.'
"I said let go!"
I wanted to say that it hit like my pet goldfish, but I couldn't with all that not-flesh in my mouth.
Apparently I had reached the limits of its debatable patience.
"I don't need to control you!" It shrieked. There were several popping noises and then I felt blasting pain all over my body where more of the shots hit me.
"Die!" It screamed.
Orihime was screaming my name.
My jaw loosened from the sudden feeling of weakness that spread through my body. I fell back and half turned towards Orihime. She was running towards me. I wanted to tell her not to, she was flashing everyone. Silly, huh?
Don't worry, I won't die.
I hate seeing you cry, ya know?
I'm the knight and you're the princess.
So, just let me protect you, 'kay?
Not me in my body.
Orihime on the ground.
Orihime hugging me.
Orihime crying – don't cry –
"Ori… hime…." Words forced past corpse lips.
"Tatsuki-chan, this time I'll protect you."
- don't get hurt for me –
There was light and wind and a strange pressure that I felt not with my body, but with my heart. It felt like Orihime.
'I am not scared.'
I woke up and saw her standing behind a weird shield and flying things floating around her. The sleep daze was still with me and I didn't question any of this.
"Sacred Solitary Cutting Shield! I reject!" Orihime shouted. She made it sound like a battle cry.
A floating thing – fairy? – dropped in front of her and flashed red before zooming off to go at the… the….
It was weird and terrifying, because then I could see the thing, totally. It was like the octopus from hell with a skull mask. Orihime's…. Well, Orihime's whatever was going right for it.
But there was that feeling.
That monster had the pressure around it too and Orihime's pressure was strong, but it wasn't stronger then the monster's. Another funny thing about being a fighter for so long is that you can get a premonition of an attack when it is set loose. The moment I saw Orihime let that Tsubaki-whatever go, I knew it wouldn't work. And the shield only guarded her front. And she looked ready to collapse.
Fuck, but why do I always have to arrive too late?
I was right, unfortunately. Tsubaki did hit and it did cause Skull-Face some serious discomfort, if the screaming was anything to go by, but it didn't kill it. Tsubaki got knocked away, Skull-Face jumped clear over Orihime's shield and got ready to come down on top of her. I did not relish the thought of an Orihime pancake.
I had crossed half the distance between Orihime and me before I realized I was moving. It wasn't until I had her in my arms that I realized I could feel a third pressure in the air. It wasn't until I had jumped as far away as I could and found that we were moving way faster then I had intended that I realized the third pressure was me!
Orihime and I were traveling fast over the ground and I do mean over the ground. My jump had us moving a foot above the courtyard even as we kept going forward. Ten meters… twenty meters… thirty meters! I panicked and stretched out my legs. I slid and fell onto my knees, sliding along the ground until I banged into the wall of a nearby classroom. Orihime had passed out in my arms. I set her down carefully and got up, feeling strangely energized as I stared down Skull-Face.
I started to tell myself that I wasn't afraid and stopped. Because I no longer was. At all.
The fairy people were there in front of me then, hovering around Orihime like flies to honey. They felt like Orihime. I could trust them, I knew it. Women's intuition, if you like.
"Keep Orihime safe." I growled.
The one with a crumpled wing, the only one I could name, Tsubaki, hollered at me. "Who the hell are you to order us-" I may have smacked him out of the air. I won't tell anyone the truth about that.
I left Orihime to the care of her little people. As I walked to Skull-Face, feeling bizarrely light, I looked down at my hand and felt the last remaining traces of worry be knocked away by shock, leaving me in a completely indifferent state. Seeing your hand look like it had been dipped in mercury will do that. I could only guess what the rest of me looked like.
Skull-Face hissed at me. "You wretch. I'll eat her in front of you."
"No." That was all I said. It was enough.
Skull-Face howled and rushed me. I know it rushed me. I know it pushed off at me with all her strength.
Here's the funny part.
Until it did that, everything had been moving at normal speed. When it moved fast, it slowed down. Get it? Everything was suddenly moving ten times slower. Everything except me.
I was metal. I was quicksilver, emphasis on quick. I ran forward and there was nothing in the way of resistance slowing me down, not even air. I was moving. Do you enjoy running? Forget that thrill, which is nothing. I was motion, I was the north wind, I was total ass-kicking speed incarnate!
That was the sound of my foot hitting the hard bone material of its mask. When I hit her time sped up again and I got the extreme pleasure of seeing that monster fly into the school wall. The heavy, brick-and-concrete school wall. I could have kissed the contractors.
I settled into a stance and waited. All too soon, the bone white face leered out from the darkness. It shrieked and the green things burst from its skull to fly at me.
Time slowed down again, or at least my perception of it, and I ducked and dodged the projectiles like they stood still, which they nearly did compared to me. I came for that demon, the thing that had made my Orihime cry, and I sucker-punched it right between the eyes with all my momentum and weight going into the hit.
This time it didn't fly.
The skull exploded into little fragments, which became dust, which became nothing. It was gone in a second.
The fading of an adrenaline rush will leave you shaky at best, downright rubbery at worst. I became very rubbery. As I fell to my butt, there was a curious sensation all over me, like oil was sliding off my skin. I looked down through dazed eyes and saw the metal sheathing that covered my skin just running off and vanishing. I was going back to regular old Tatsuki.
'I want some freaking food.'
I passed out in the rubble.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that's it.
Thought: Why didn't Tatsuki, Mizuiro, and Keigo get cool spiritual powers too?
Idea: I'm an (aspiring) writer and I have a handy-dandy pen name on Tatsuki gets to be a (literal) knight in shining armor and Keigo and Mizuiro get… well, you'll see.