A/N: Trying out a new pairing for the fun of it. Postwar. Very short story.

It baffles you, how someone so human could be so tough. The Shinigami is tough too, but then that Ichigo brat has hollow and shinigami powers.

This girl is one hundred percent, no additives, preservatives and colorings added human. And she is strong.

Not just physically strong. Mentally and emotionally strong.

It baffles you. You have plenty of strength yourself – the corded muscles along your limbs and over your torso are not just for looks. That Gin creep could have testified, if he isn't too busy being dead.

On any given day you have even odds to beat that Shinigami shit into the ground. But this girl, this slender, short-haired brunette, has actually been able to pummel the Shinigami into the floor and barely break into a sweat. Of course it helps that the Shinigami isn't using a sword or anything, but the way the girl is stretching and rolling her shoulders indicates that this isn't the first time Ichigo is flattened in a bout.

It's always amusing to see that orange-haired twerp taken down a peg or five.

She has seen him in the shinigami outfit, seen how the boy battles and defeats various hollows. Hell, she has seen him fighting with you, down in the pervert's basement, both of you at full power. But here, in her dojo, she beats him down without caring that he is spiritually more potent than she is. Because she knows how good she is in her element.

You have heard from the rest that she was left to guard the town. That takes guts and a spine of steel: all her friends are risking their lives, and she has to stay and wait and pray that they are fine, that they return to her alive and unscathed. The girl did all that and more, taking care of the Shinigami's bratling sisters as well as the other friends of his.

She is Ichigo's oldest friend, she told you before. It doesn't seem like the Shinigami shit knows how good he has it though; the girl is often shunted aside for newer friends like that redhead and the puny skinny twig of a girl shinigami. The twerp lives the good life.

And that other one, her best friend the Princess, she has all but rejected this brunette's offer of support. Can't blame the Princess: a year or so of being in Aizen's mind-screwing imprisonment will turn anyone against the world. It is amazing that the Quincy kid can get through to her.

Yet she loves them and does everything she can for them. Perhaps she is stupid.

You run your hand through bright teal hair, still uncomfortable with the lack of a mask on your right. Too vulnerable, somehow, but it also allows you to move around town without being accused of a freak. The hair does draw attention, but hang out with the Shinigami and that pineapple head and your hair becomes just something odd among the three of you. The gigai thing is working fine, even if it did constrain your sensitivities. Trust the freaky perverted genius to have something like this lying around in his storeroom.

Not that you have trouble sensing some things.

The girl is dabbing her face dry and is now strolling up to you. The glow of a workout brings out her large doe eyes, and he wonders if the blue highlights are intentional. It doesn't matter, not really.

"Hey you," she drawls and takes the bottle of water from your hand.

"Hey yourself," you grin lazily before nodding at Ichigo, who is rubbing at his shoulder. "Gonna leave some for me?"

She flashes you a stern glare. "Beat him up and I'll thrash you."

"Yeah, you could try."

The two of you don't talk like most people do with their partners, but then again, you know she isn't most people. Smart, strong, sassy and sarcastic. Most people can't handle a girl like that.

Then again, you know you're not most people.

She walks back to the Shinigami and hauls him to his feet, before glancing at you. She throws a lopsided smile before returning to instruct the little bratlings of the dojo. You grin as you leave for work.

No matter how perplexing this girl is to you, how strange your whole relationship seems, how uncomfortable the rest are about you two being together, there is nothing baffling about the fact that you chose each other.

That is really all that counts.