In order to top Chapter 4, I have concocted Chapter 5.
"Move it," Aubrey murmured, effortlessly blocking… again.
Orihime tried her hardest to keep up with the pace, but Aubrey was moving right at her maximum, and matching her was exhausting. And impossible.
Aubrey side-stepped Orihime's punch and swung her hand in a perfect blow to her temple… again.
Orihime ignored the ringing in her ears, the pounding in her head, trying to slip into that same fluid grace that shone in Aubrey's every move. Sweeping kicks and perfect control. Subtle strikes and pounding blows. Movement on instinct and the experience of the ages.
Aubrey jumped over Orihime's high kick, and the last thing she felt was feet on her head—before the 53 kilogram weight forced her to fall forwards. Orihime struggled to right herself, but an ever-silent Aubrey kicked her effortlessly across the room… again.
"Oof!" Orihime bounced off of the practice mats adorning every surface and rolled into a crouch. That much, at least, she could do. If nothing else, training with Aubrey made her learn how to take a punch.
She was right in front of her! Orihime crossed her arms to block, and barely registered the kick before she was ducking out of the way! She had ducked!
Another kick followed, and Orihime struggled to stand. Block, dodge, block, dodge, and she just knew that she was being forced into the corner.
She blocked and sprang, forcing Aubrey's arm away and aiming right for her throat.
Aubrey barely dodged the slice at her throat, but it was closer than the last time.
Much closer. They fought it out until Aubrey's stamina gave out and they collapsed onto the couch. Orihime watched, fascinated that the girl she could barely land a hit on was gasping for air like a dying woman. Her stamina levels were so much lower than they should have been…
A cough hitched in Aubrey's throat, and then another, louder. Louder and louder, finally bursting from her throat in a coughing spell so atrocious Orihime feared that she would see bits of lung flying from her throat. She had been warned about this, but… "Ri-chan?"
Aubrey gasped for breath between coughs and somehow managed to hold out her palm in a gesture of "Stop. Don't worry."
That was when she pressed her hand to her mouth, and Orihime could hear something wet splattering against the hidden palm.
It was terrifying to sit through.
Finally the coughing bout slowed, eased, stopped. Blood, dark and tinged blue, leaked from Aubrey's palms before she consumed it in a blue fire-mist of Reiatsu. The mess around her mouth and chin quickly followed.
"Sorry about that," Aubrey sighed. Tabby-Casclu rubbed up alongside her, gently purring as Aubrey rubbed shaky fingers behind silver ears. "It's not as bad as it looks."
"Are you sure I can't heal it?" Orihime whispered.
Aubrey shrugged. "Too much power in too frail a body, the basic definition of Inverno. And since I really don't want you trying to Reject my powers…"
Orihime nodded sadly, and felt the stirrings of fear. Could she not cancel powers greater than her own? What about the Hogyoku; she had to destroy it before Aizen could use it to hurt everyone! It—
"D'accord." Aubrey stood with fluid grace, as if prepared to go at it again, sosoon… "I'd like to show you a few moves not covered by Karate, if you'd like to keep going."
"A-are you sure? You don't want to rest—"
"I know my own limits, y'know," Aubrey beamed, sliding into her distinctive engarde. Orihime sighed and answered with one of the stances ingrained into her by Tatsuki-chan, and watched Aubrey sweep through a deceptively simple maneuver.
Deceptively simple, because an hour later she was still messing up on it. They only stopped there for the sake of a break, and Aubrey quickly pulled up… TV Tropes. "How to Become a Love Interest," the brunette declared.
Orihime blinked. "Huh?"
"I'd like to check something." She then began looking over the list for Females… Okay, you said Tatsuki-chan met him before you?"
"Okay, so we can't have First Girl Wins… Last Girl Wins definitely won't apply… Ooh, all heroes want redheads. One."
"Three's out because you're both Japanese…"
"The stereotype of Americans and cheerleaders," Aubrey waved. "And your first meeting at the Clinic is fairly memorable. Two."
"He probably doesn't remember it…"
"I'll check on it, and list it for now. Okay, I'm assuming he's never seen you naked so there goes five…"
"You're worse than Tatsuki-chan!" Orihime cried, face flaming.
"Have you ever punched him?"
"No-no, of course not!"
"Didn't think so.
"You're definitely not horrified at the thought of loving him…"
"Why-why would I be?"
"I dunno, remember this is a Trope… And neither of you have had your first kiss…"
"Ho-how would you know for Kurosaki-kun?"
"Just a guess. Childhood marriage proposal, no… Oh, herewe go."
Orihime was scared to ask. She really was.
"Congratulations, Ri-chan. You currently qualify as a Damsel in Distress."
"Wha-WHAT?" But that meant castles and Kurosaki-kun as a knight in shining armor and Aizen as a fire-breathing dragon and she would have a pink traffic cone on her head, and Ri-chan would be the fairy messing with all of them, and…
"If there's any way to become a love interest, that's it. Three. Heck, you should get bonus points for that one. Six. Hey, Rukia lives in the Soul Society, right? And is technically dead?"
"Excellent, there goes your main competition. Seven."
Orihime felt mortified, especially at the happy little burst somewhere… Eyaaa!
"Hrm, you're beautiful to begin with… Of course even Ulquiorra commented that you look pretty good in that outfit, so maybe you can get away with Beautiful All Along… Seven and a half. Do you ever wear glasses?"
Orihime's brain was struggling to keep up with Aubrey's runaway train, but somehow managed to mumble that she used reading glasses sometimes…
"Excellent. Eight and a half. Are you a good student?"
"Ye-yeah! I-I'm ranked third in class, but there are so many people who are smarter than me…"
"You get Nine and a half, anyway. Do you work out?"
"Ta-Tatsuki-chan trains me in karate…"
"Perfect. Ten and a half. And you're so delicate seventeen is an easy pass. Eighteen, you're hardly forcing yourself on him—"
"Wha-what?" Orihime finally managed to make herself run around behind Aubrey… Who promptly jumped up and sat on the ceiling. "Twelve and a half. Have you ever had to use the Hands On Approach?"
"Y'know, dance, baseball, whatever, re-positioning the person's arms and what-not…"
"No-no…" It would probably be fun, but she'd never have the guts to ever really touch him, never mind…
"Do either of you play a musical instrument?"
"No…" She'd like to, but…"
"No duet, then. Do you sing?"
"I love to sing!" They'd sung the other night!
"Thirteen and a half. Are you secretly a guy?"
Orihime's mind did such a backflop splat at that that Aubrey knew it was a no.
"Have you ever cross-dressed?"
"We tried…" Orihime sighed. "Tatsuki-chan and I couldn't make the tape work…"
"For my chest. They kept bouncing free…" Yet another mortifying thought, especially when Aubrey started holding down laughter.
"And we've already established that you're not forcing yourself on him…"
Orihime's face re-lit on fire.
"And again you're both Japanese, so we can toss Where Da White Women At out the window… And your competition has yet to confess any feelings they may or may not have, you didn't do so in the first few minutes of meeting him no matter how obvious the blush is… Which means that so long as you can actually get your confession out…"
Orihime felt her face bubbling at the thought of it; there was no way he'd ever like her back, and…
"Point five out of hope. And fourteen out of twenty-six is… A 53.846 percent chance of victory for Team Ichihime. Good odds."
"Do you have a calculator up there?" Orihime wondered aloud.
"Yes. It's called my brain."
Orihime laughed at that, and Aubrey's latest strategy of keeping the gloom away.
That was Ichimaru-k-san. Ichimaru-san, who was not supposed to be their friend, darnit!
"Technically not Ri-chan, since her home's on Earth," Aubrey called. "Why?"
"Can't I come say hi?"
"Life at the top that boring?"
"Not until I run out of subordinates," came the good-natured reply.
"Come on in, then." Aubrey continued sitting on the ceiling when Ichimaru-san actually spotted her. The aquamarine eyes were a bit of a shock… "Since it's boring as Hell here, we're just establishing Ri-chan's chances as a love interest."
"Rey-chaaaaan…" Orihime moaned.
"Hm?" Ichimaru-san made a contemplative face. "With Ichigo?"
"Ho-how did you…" Oh God she had confessed her feelings for Kurosaki-kun to Ichimaru-san.
The world blanked for a moment.
When it returned her jaw had dropped, her face had reached a whole new boiling point, and Aubrey was cackling overhead.
"Wellll," Ichimaru-san smiled nervously. "This is awkward… I'll just be going…"
The doorway and walls lit up with bright blue flames. Ichimaru-san tried his best to remain nonchalant in the face of it, but something was off, even for him—
He had opened his eyes. Bright blue eyes. Aubrey's eyes grew an even brighter blue, with a smile that explained Squad 11's fear of Unohana-taicho… And pulled out a stick of darkly polished wood… no way…
Was that a wand?
Ichimaru-san was out before he hit the ground.
Aubrey whistled and dropped down to the floor, laptop floating behind her. "Well now…"
"Riiii-chaaan!" Orihime exclaimed, finally truly realizing that her roomie had knockedoutAizen'sright-handman… Why was she digging in her purse? Since when did she have a purse?
She then pulled out something from said purse, tapped it with her wand… And tossed a rapidly expanding golden hippo onto the ground by Ichimaru-san. The crash alone should have woken him up, but he didn't even twitch.
Somehow, that was surprising Orihime more than the giant golden hippo that Aubrey had just pulled out of her previously unseen purse. And made bigger with a wand. Which she had obliviated Ichimaru-san with.
… Could she not freak out, anymore?
"Oh no," Aubrey exclaimed in a monotone voice. "I have dropped a gigantic golden hippo upon Aizen's right hand man." He smirk widened, and the monotone dropped as she added, "Nobody ever checks the ceiling."
End of Chapter
And this had nothing to do with Christmas. I really don't care, neither does Aubrey, and I have not Obliviated Kubo so that I may claim Bleach. Whether or not I want to has been fluctuating rather wildly, recently. Oh, and since I'm back from since I don't know when...