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Masato awoke on his back dressed in a white tank top and knee high blue shorts. His legs extended upwards at an almost 40 degree angle with only his heels connecting to the wooden walls. It’s been 5 months since the breakup with his wife, Asuna, and the lack of finances has pushed him and his daughter into a tiny single-room studio apartment. His knees ached slightly from the tension they endured throughout that night, but far worse was the summer heat, and consequently the small puddle of his own sweat he laid in and felt all underneath his back. The rolled up end of a futon mat made for his pillow and he obviously didn’t need a cover. His daughter, Reina, usually slept on the rest of futon he didn’t use. The room, despite its cramped and untidiness, felt barren. Their small, and only, window remained closed as protection from insects and harsh summer light. What little light that made it through the curtain was enough to illuminate their room, and a sight it was. Various misplaced items such as clothes, books, dishes, etc., scattered around the floor and hung from wherever they could.

Masato, as per usual lately, struggled for motivation and get up that morning. “I can call in sick today.” He contemplated ways to avoid do anything that day, still on his back and not moving an inch. The whirling sound of a desk fan drew closer and with it he anticipated some much needed cool air. He made an ultimatum with himself; “after this cool breeze I’ll get ready for work.” The breeze never came.

“Hey...” he muttered through his parched throat, paused, and then continued. “Stop hogging up the fan.”

Behind his head and sitting cross-legged on the futon was Reina. The collar of her pink pajamas and her black ponytails waved backwards as she directly faced the fan. Though small, she could still block the flow of air from the fan to her father, who desperately needed it. “Turn - on - the A/C.” she jokingly demanded through the fan giving her voice a robotic tone. She had woken up not long before Masato and could barely hold her eyes open with the air blowing straight into them.

Masato grunted as he rolled to his right side then slowly picked himself up. “We have to get ready for stuff. ‘Not start breakfast until you get moving.” He said as he tiptoed to the bathroom located on the other side of the room, minding his every step as to not step on anything valuable. “When I’m out, I want this place tidy.” He entered and closed the bathroom.

He emerged moments later to find Reina where he left her. “Did you even get up in the ten minutes I was in there?”

 Reina answered briefly. “Ye…” ”LIAR!” he interrupted loudly in squeaky parrot-like voice.

Their room wall was met with a thud from the next-door neighbors. The building walls were thin and the thud was a plea for silence. They paused and looked at each other before snickering through their laughter and shushing their way through their morning routine.

Reina could usually tell when her father faked his happiness for hers and this moment was genuine. It was gradual, but Masato was on his way to recovering and shedding his guilt and insecurities. For all the pain she put him through, Masato believed he could still salvage his relationship with Asuna, even though they hadn’t spoken since the breakup.

Masato and Reina shared breakfast not far from where they slept, cleaned, and left their apartment, Reina to school via the transportation of her grandmother and Masato to work at the family warehouse, where he worked as a manager.

Though it should’ve been insignificant, enjoying a morning with her father made Reina’s day. Her face radiated with joy, and for the first time, a life where everything was normal seemed possible again. She bragged about that morning with, especially to her grandmother, giving some much needed relief to a mother who had worried about her son, Masato’s, well-being. He closed himself off and rejected helped from everyone he knew, he even rejected paid-leave for some time to recover. Seeing her granddaughter so stoked alleviated some of her worst worries and she indulged Reina in her various retellings of that mornings events.

Masato’s day was like every other, bland and void of any self-fulfillment. He went through the motions and did his job competently. His instructions were blunt and he barely spoke in complete sentences. He wasn’t overly rude nor did break any rules so his callous attitude towards his work was tolerated. Rumors spread fast in the small community he lived in and news of his private breakup, weren’t so much so. Masato’s shift came to an end later than usual that evening.

The crimson sky and strong yellow sun made for a dramatic trip back home. In the dead silence he rode his bicycle at a leisurely pace. Though the cool breeze from his ride may be to credit, he somehow derived joy in what was a still very hot outdoors. Recollecting that morning’s events, his mind suddenly wandered to “which of Reina’s favorites will I cook tonight?”  Dinners, up until that point, was usually take-out and he couldn’t figure why, after such a mundane day, he felt the energy or need to cook for once. His heart beat with so much excitement he could almost swear he was dreaming. He felt a sensation rolling down his cheeks and he raised his right hand to the side of his face, checking to make sure it was real. Upon confirming the first, more began to gush out. Tears, Real tears……

“REINA!” he cried with the largest smile he ever bore and placed both hands on the bikes handle bars. The cast shadow of the building he rode in to avoid direct sunlight suddenly vanished and emerged a teary-eyed Masato paddling as fast as he could. Brandished on his face, a smile he couldn’t remove if he tried. A smile he desperately wanted to share with his daughter. He played through his head how tightly he would hug her, and how fun preparing dinner would be together for the first time since forever. Some laughter and crying later he was out of breath but still muttered “Reina” repeatedly until he arrived at his apartment. He didn’t bother with locking his bike nor did he have time to wait for an elevator, so he ran up the stair to his  apartment. He busted through the door, fist clenched and breathing heavily.

“REI...” He stopped at the sight of two strangers, cops, standing in the center of his room.

“Hizorashi Masato, you are the prime suspect…… murder of your estranged wife …Asuna. We…. bring you in…. questioning…..”  

Was all Masato could hear. The officers’ voice faded for him and his mind went blank as they approached him.

 

W/C: 1150

W/C (total): 1150

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Masato was unresponsive from his apartment to the room he would soon be questioned in. throughout that time the entire police department gave him a suspicious amount of their attention and were quite generous to someone suspected of murdering their significant other; he was never handcuffed in the whole ordeal. He kept his gaze to the floor and chin buried in his chest as he powerlessly he swayed and sluggishly dragged his into the questioning room. He sat by himself for what seemed like forever and gradually regained his thoughts. His face, however, remained pale and expressionless.

Finally a middle-aged detective entered the room speaking nonchalantly with someone, presumably a colleague, halfway in room and through the corridor. He held the door open by its knob with his left hand and in his right, was a cardboard cup holder, containing two cups of coffee. Between his right arm and torso he carried a brown clipboard and popping out of his white shirts breast pocket, a black pen. The detective shut the door and sat alone with Masato before placing the items he carried on the table, not withholding the pen. His obvious confidence alluded to his experience. This was further accentuated by the faint smile he bore since entering the room.

Had Masato not looked up to see, he would’ve assumed negatively about the jolly man, smiling at his misfortune, but as their eyes met, he quickly snapped into reality. In the brief moment their eyes connected, what Masato saw was a deathly, nay, hellish abyss. He glimpsed into eyes that saw the worst of humanity and then some. He could no longer peacefully daydream and as the gravity of his situation sunk in, so too did his composure and sanity. He began to pull and scratch at his hair and picture the worst of his future, all while mumbling incoherently. The detective knew he needed Masato’s attention before he could calm him.

“Hey!” the detective shouted.

Masato shuddered and gasped shortly before stopping his erratic behavior. He wasn’t completely calm but was calm enough to listen.

“You think you’re the only one that’s having a rough night?!” the detective proceeded to shout, loud enough for his colleague to hear. He wasn’t capable of keeping the “good cop” facade after what he’d seen left of Asuna, Masato’s wife. His nerves got the best of him and before he could continue, the corridor colleague, and detective, opened and peeped his head through the door.

“KATSUROU, WHAT IS THIS, AMATEUR HOUR?!” he exclaimed, imitating his voice mockingly.

His awkward antics brought confusion and silence to the room. Silly as it was, it killed the tension and allowed a moment for for heads to cool.

“If you want I can take this one off your hands old man?”

Embarrassed and slightly agitated, detective Katsurou replied “get lost, greenhorn”.

“Okey doke!y” the room door shut abruptly.

“I apologize for the idiot and my little outburst there. These cases have put everyone on edge, maybe expect him.” He took one of the cups of coffee and placed it closer to Masato and the other to himself. His expression became less tense. “As you’ve just heard, I am detective Nakamura Katsurou. You got a name?” Katsurou asked, knowing very well who the widowed Masato was.

“Hizorashi Masato.” Masato responded still unable to meet eyes with the detective. Although he knew he didn’t have to, against his better judgement he decided to answer truthfully to anything Katsurou asked.

“Well, Mr. Hizorashi you’re probably aware of what you’re here for. We have some questions and with any luck you’ll be out of here in not time. So let’s start with the basics.” Detective Katsurou knew he had Masato in a state of compliance and wasted no time with idle or impersonal questions. He questioned the cause of their breakup, his whereabouts during the time or the murder, alibis, potential enemies, motives, any and everything you would expect a detective with decades of experience is his field to ask.

With a broken spirit Masato answered cold and concisely. He never touched the coffee but before it could turn lukewarm, the interview was over. He was free to go and walked out of the station perplexed. Much to his surprise, the expressions of the staff as he passed through weren’t of spite. They weren’t the kind you would give a man walking free after killing his wife. The faces they made were that of pity and remorse. they knew something he didn't.

He walked through the stations exit and towards the street to catch a cab. The night was cold so he placed his hands under his armpits to keep the warm until a taxi cab would arrive. Not long after waiting he heard a muffled voice behind the station door calling his name. That same voice emerged from the station telling him “WAIT!” It was familiar and fit that of a certain “greenhorn”. Masato turned around to see the detective who had calmed Katsurou earlier, catching his breath and sweating slightly from his forehead.

“It’s almost midnight. Let me give you a ride.” He proposed to masato, smiling and dangling his vehicle keys in his right hand.

Masato turned back to the barren street behind him. He didn’t want to take the offer but knew he wouldn’t have caught a cab this late at night. He thought about Reina and how he hadn’t seen her since that morning. The decision was no longer hard to make.

The car ride was silent as the detective, Kakaabi Seito, introduced himself and attempted to make small talk to no avail. Masato sat in the passenger’s seat wordless and gazing at the passing sidewalk. They arrived at Masato’s building without incident and shortly after 12:00am.

“Welp, here we are.” Seito said as a final attempt to reach his passenger.

Masato unbuckled his seat-belt and opened the car door when suddenly he felt a heavy grip on to his left forearm. It was monstrously firm and prevented his escape by even a few inches. “What the hell do you want?” Masato thought to himself as he turned to the once bubbly detective to see a stern and determined face.

“You need to learn something about yourself and your wife.”

Masato was impatient but wanted answers. What’s more he would’ve had to tear his own arm off before his capture would ease his grasp. He closed the door and silently listened.

Seito gaze softened and he reverted to his usual bubbly self. “Old man Katsurou is usually a cool guy, try not to hold a grudge against him. He served this district for 20 years and was on his way to retirement when these cases started plopping on his desk. He was preparing me to take his job, but leaving now would haunt him. How could he pass such a shitty torch to the next generation?”

Masato stared at Seito speaking, wondering “what does this have to do with me?”

Seito continued. “He knows it just our job to question suspects, but this is a pointless a waste of time, the whole department agrees; grilling and treating people he knows are innocent as criminals.”

Masato’s attention and interest were fully peaked. The revelation that he was never really a suspect, explained the stares he garnered from everyone at the station. The tightly clenched fist of Seito sliding back on the compartment braced Masato for what was next to come, but Seito’s disturbed body language contrasted strongly with his, obviously fake, smile.

“This past month, seven similar cases of dismembered bodies found in alleyways have risen. Something this small neighborhood has never experienced. The killings all occur in alleys at night and “it” only leaves the arms and legs of its victims. He or its official name’s “The Alleyway Quarterer”.

“Why.. Why are you telling me this?” Masato asked as his face grew pale and he rejected what his heart already knew.

Seito turned to him and bluntly verbalized the obvious. “Your wife, Asuna, was the latest victim of its attacks.”

“No. no. no. no….” Masato continued in defiance, as if doing so would change the sick and depraved manner by which his wife was murdered.

Through the widowed husbands sobbing, Seito went on. “He's big family man so of these seven cases old man Katsurou handled, yours hit him the hardest.” He began digging through his leg and breast pockets. He pulled out a box of cigarettes and a silver lighter, respectively, and for the first time attempted to smoke. Through some few failed attempts, he lit the cigarette in his right hand, placed it in his mouth and inhaled through it before proceeding. 

“She quit her job a week ago…” his head dropped and his smoking hand shivered. He struggled to finish, all while Masato repeatedly sobbed “no”.

He raised his head and exhaled the smoke and finished. “She was... gonna come back man.” Seito claimed angrily through gritted teeth. He finally let go of his control. The tears flowing down his face broke his cool demeanor and just as he finished, a violent gust of dark purple energy erupted from Masato’s body. His clothes waved in rapid succession as if to escape his body and the frames of the car window began to bend up and outwards. He held his hands to his face and couldn’t detect the damage his rage inflicted to Seito’s vehicle. All he could think of was flashing memories of Asuna’s face. Every glass in that car cracked in unison before shattering completely. As the pressure contorted the car in several areas, its alarm blared and echoed throughout that otherwise quiet night. The aura Seito seemed oddly comfortable with finally began to wane, and with it Masato's consciousness. “Let it all out man.” Seito encouraged enraged with his crushed cigarette in hand. “You’ve endured enough because of my fuck ups.”

 

W/C: 1640

OOC: Masato has become spiritually aware in this post.

Spoiler

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Edited by but im not writer
Typos, lots and lots of typos.
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Masato awoke from his slumber that morning, sitting against a wall in his apartment. Last night, before falling completely unconscious, he vaguely recalled the detective, Kakaabi Seito, carrying him to his apartment. He couldn’t however, remember the sudden cause of his drowsiness after his outburst in the detectives’ car. Save for a dry mouth and mild headache, Masato felt incredibly high-spirited. It was as if a chiropractor had operated on him throughout that entire night, leaving his body loose and prepared for the days challenges. His senses too, were freakishly heightened, and he felt a, somewhat, supernatural connection to his surroundings. Speaking of his surroundings, his apartment was meticulously clean and showed no signs of his daughter, Reina.

He stood up in a panic and looked around for his smartphone, before remembering it was last in his pocket. He remembered it was out of charge since he left work yesterday, and hasted to the corner where he usually left his charger. Shortly after placing his dead phone on the charger, he turned it on. He had twenty-one miscalls and three voice messages, all from his mother. He sighed in relief, assuming Reina had been in his mother’s care; it was the only explanation for his clean apartment. He went through the two voice messages hoping for the best.

In the first message, his mother berated him for leaving his phone off and not informing her about his plan to work late. The second message, she confirmed what he hypothesized; his daughter was not alone and in her care. He sighed in relief, perhaps prematurely as he was not mentally prepared for the third message. In it, his mother cried of the news she received that night concerning the death of her daughter in-law. It was the longest of the messages and contained various attempts to comfort and bring him into the family house. He didn’t know it, but his mother worried that left unsupervised and wallowing in grief, her only son would do the unthinkable.

Ironically, the mentioning of Asuna plagued Masato’s mind with horrific imaginings of how she died. The thought stirred his stomach, compelling him to rush and puke into the toilet. Based on how his mother spoke of the incident on the phone, he could tell she was missing the information Seito gave to him.

“Did they forget to explain the nature of Asuna’s death? Was Seito even supposed to disclose such information to me?” These thoughts and more went through his head as he went through his, uneventful, morning routine. He was too late for work and chose to stay home and do housekeeping to keep his mind busy. While emptying the pockets of yesterday’s dirty laundry, from his pants emerged a business card. Written on the card was “Kakaabi Seito”, presumably his number and mini-map sharing some location relative to its closes popular landmark.

Based off the landmark, Masato was sure that the location was in the industrial zone of karakura, roughly twenty-five minutes away from him by car. He attempted to call the number, but there was no answer. He couldn’t recall agreeing to any meetings with Seito but, after some contemplation, decided he would pay the location a visit, regardless. He was baking in his apartment and did not want to confront his family nor his wife’s in the current, emotionally detached state he was in.

He scavenged his drawers full of miscellaneous accessories for a pair of sun glasses. Upon finding them he packed his ID, a 1.5 liter bottle of water, phone charger, homemade sandwich, and sketchbook all in his dark grey single strap backpack. He applied a generous amount of sunscreen lotion on the parts his body that would’ve received direct sunlight and collected a straw hat from behind his door before leaving through and locking his room door. In the lobby, he was happy to find his unlocked and unprotected bike where he left it.

On his way to the meeting point, Masato paddled quick and purposefully throughout, yet somehow didn’t feel very fatigued. He wasn’t particularly athletic all his life and certainly not to this extent. Is his sudden display of athleticism related to last night’s events? Either way he could only be sure if he asked that detective. Beads of perspiration zipped pass his face as he paddled his fastest, challenging the passing cars that drove by. His attempts were futile, but much better than what a normal human, even competitively, should’ve accomplished. This sudden increase in stamina, strength, and senses added to the list of things he wanted to question Seito about.

According to the GPS on his phone, the estimated time to reach his location was one hour, but he only rode for thirty minutes, arriving at a rundown and seemingly abandoned warehouse. He got off his bike with very heavy breaths and drenched in sweat. Drinking from his water bottle, he circled the vicinity before finding the resolve to enter the warehouse. He figured he could contemplate this dangerous decision, after he escaped the abuse of the midday sunlight.

At the entrance, Masato laid his bike against the wall next to the large steel gate barring his entry. Its color, a desaturated green and obvious result of the natural elements, blended well with the bluish grey of the warehouse exterior. He grabbed the gates silver handle with his left hand, thumb-side down, and shifted his body to the left. The gate creaked and paused roughly 3 inches open before Masato shifted even further, creating an opening just wide enough for him and his bike to fit through.

The light from slanted roof windows helped Masato see the various gym equipment neatly organized in two vertical rows. Save for the collected dust, the place was clean and appeared to be uninhabited. That was, until Masato walked further inside and began to notice personal and recently used items, such as the mug, magazine, and unused ashtray settled on a wooden table. In back left corner was an unmade bed and wardrobe hiding behind a beige paper partition. The likelihood of the warehouse being Seito’s abode were high, Masato thought, and decided to wait for his arrival.

In that time he grew bored and finally called his mother. Masato, despite his efforts, always wore his emotions on his shoulders, so it was a positive surprise when his mother heard the mellowness of his voice through the phone. If anyone could detect Masato’s true feelings, it would’ve been the women who raised and understood him the most. Masato’s mood was indeed mellow, however it wasn’t due to his ability to maturely cope with life’s hurdles. Rather, the hellish year of heartbreak following despair finally taught him how to properly bottle the pain. He was done crying and now chose long-term indifference as his method of coping.

Hours passed and Masato watched the sky go from yellow, to red, and finally dark blue. The moon was full and the once white and bright light, that illuminated the warehouse, turned a cool blue. Masato dozed off shortly after sundown, and slept a good two hours before a loud echoing screech, followed by a resonating thud, ended his slumber. He raised his head to the right and watched a shadowy figure slowly approach his end of the warehouse. Masato was too drowsed for any drastic reactions and waited for the shadow to walk into the beams of blue light, from the windows above,  to reveal itself.

 As he expected the light revealed Seito, who smiled upon seeing a barely visible Masato sitting against a wall. “Yo, you made it.” Saito paused to cough, then apologized. “Sorry for makin ya wait.”

Masato could gradually see Seito better the closer he approached and it wasn’t long before he noticed the blood on the detective’s face and left arm. His uniform was riddled with small scratches but the left sleeves of his jacket and pants were exceptionally shredded. He walked with a slight limp and a single shoe on his right foot.

Masato came to his senses and rushed to the injured man’s aide, just as he collapsed to his left knee, panting. He placed Seito’s right arm above his shoulders and assisted in walking him to the bed. Shortly after laying him on his back Masato stood straight and began to call for an ambulance when Seito reached across his own body and griped Masato’s left forearm.

“Don’t bother.” Seito muttered with a half-smile before continuing. “I’m already a goner.” He claimed with cough and chuckle.

“Oh, well ok then.” Replied Masato, placing his phone back in his pocket.

“What, that’s it?! I was acting, a-acting. You wouldn’t even try to save a close friend?”

Masato, now irritated from the wounded clown’s antics, looked down at Seito, his expression conveying disgust, pity, and fury all at once. “I barely know you.”

Seito’s face grew even paler. “But I tucked you in last night.”

Masato turned to the warehouse exit. “Alright, good luc..” WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. I NEED YOU!” Seito pleaded to make Masato stay.

“Can you call this number?  No ambulance, they take too long.” Seito, through some struggle, pulled a wrinkled and bloodied scrap of paper out of his breast pocket with a phone number written on it.

Masato grabbed the paper hesitantly and called the number. A women answered the phone in split-seconds, as if she was waiting for it. Masato set his phone to speaker and emerged from it was a women’s voice. “The idiots injured isn’t he?” the disappointed voice said through the speaker. “Where are you?”

“The warehouse my love.” Seito mockingly shouted, to ensure he could be heard.

“Smack him for me.”

“yes mam”  a withered sorry then smack can be heard on her side of the call.

“I’ll be over shortly”, Was the last thing said on the call before she hung up.

Masato decided to stay with his “close friend” while they waited for help. They didn’t, or rather couldn’t speak much as it was only a few minutes before something landed on and broke through the warehouse ceiling. The smoke of dust clouded what or who broke in but Masato saw the intense and hostile waves of green aura emitting from the dust. “How bad is he?” a disgruntled voice, matching the one on the phone, asked.

When the dust cleared, a fair-skinned women in her late 20’s could be seen walking towards a dumbfounded Masato, who was only slightly taller than her. She, from one end of her mouth, inhaled and wheezed and through the other puffed, like a chimney, in heavy and rapid repetitions. Her dark and slightly transparent sunglasses couldn’t conceal her glowing green eyes and her black hair, which stopped at her shoulders, partially covered a large scar on the left side of her face, angled towards her ear. The white tank-top, black bottom shorts, nappy hair and y-shaped slippers eluded to the level of comfort Masato interrupted with his call. She calmed her breathing and the green substance simultaneously when she reached Seito.

“hey” Seito called softly with a smirk.

“Did you kill it?”

“No.” *cough* “he’s gotten too strong.”

“He?!” the women responded in shock before her expression resumed to disappointed. “Tsk, figures. And the kid?” she gestured with her head and pointed with her thumb towards Masato’s general area behind her.

“His wife was..” Seito groaned and struggled to his feet, staring the women in her eyes. “..WILL be the last victim!!” He exclaimed with fierce determination.

She grinned “That’s the spirit.” 

W/C: 1925

Spoiler

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Masato awkwardly sat behind the women as she patched up Seito. The injuries weren’t as dire as he suspected; some fractures, two deep lacerations on his left arm and leg respectively, and a sprained left ankle. It took her just under half an hour to finish treating Seito, in that time she introduced herself as “Fujiwara Azami” and casually chatted with him as Seito slept. In their conversation he learnt that she was Seito’s girlfriend and partner on some vague mission. The mission details were few and not enough to discern anything conclusive. He was a complete stranger to her and understood her desire to withhold information. He was content with waiting for Seito to get well for his answers, though he was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t have to.

Azami turned in a swivel chair to Masato behind her and sighed loudly. Only the bud remained of her cigarette as she flung it from her hand and into the trash can by the bed her boyfriend laid in. she gazed at and inspected Masato thoroughly from a distance before using her legs to slide her chair closer to him. “I get why he told you about the hollow. You’re wastin’ a lot but your Reiryoku’s off the charts for a regular dude. Have you or your parents had any supernatural encounters, ya know, ghost n’ stuff?” she asked casually. She came to trust Masato after their little chat but had no idea how out of the loop Masato truly was.

Masato looked to the right to avoid eye contact. He was blushing from the discomfort of her, in quite revealing clothing, glaring at his body. This avoidance of eye contact and discomfort was compounded when she drew herself closer. Her words provided a good distraction and made focusing easier for him, if only he understood what “hollow” and “Reiryoku” meant.

The visible confusion of Masato’s face informed Azami just how much information Seito withheld from him, and she briefly hesitated at the possibility that it was on purpose. Slightly irritated about the responsibility of having to educate Masato about, what was to her, very basic information, Azami sighed aloud once again.

“All right listen up. Class is in session.” Azami claimed half enthusiastically, pulling a mini whiteboard and black marker seemingly out of nowhere. She briefly wrote and doodled on the board before presenting it to Masato. “Reiryoku– “ She paused and strategized on how to proceed. “It’s like the life force of spiritual creatures, ya know, humans, hollows, soul reapers.” She explained to an expressionless and silent Masato. “grrrr, anyway all humans have it, some more than others. You happen to have a lot.”

Masato didn’t find the concept hard to understand or believe. He simply wanted to know the significance of the information. He decided to remain silent and wait for further clarification.

Azami however did not appreciate his silence nor his blank expression, which falsely gave a disinterested impression. She reluctantly pressed on with her session. “Seito probably wants your help in hunting down the hollow that killed your wif–“

“What’s a hollow?” Masato asked just as the word hollow left her mouth. The blank expression was no more and Azami could sense it in the tone of his voice and dark of his eyes, a festering anger. She knew it wasn’t its target but for a split moment, couldn’t help but feel her safety was compromised, but only for a moment.

Though she normally would’ve disliked the rude interruption, Masato’s increased interest was perceived as positive feedback on her job well done, even if the lesson had only just begun. She smiled proudly with a new found enthusiasm to continue. “Hollows are beast like creatures that come from human spirits. When we humans die our spirits are meant to travel to the spirit world. They sometimes fail and when they do they become hollows. These hollows prey on other spiritual beings to evolve and become stronger. Seito and I were tasked with eliminating a certain hollow in this small neighborhood, the one that killed your wife. He sensed your potential and thinks you can help.” She explained all this before raising her right hand in a plucking gesture, towards a sitting Masato. She grinned, “Me? I think not.” She released her plucking finger and with it a small but fast ball of reiatsu.

Masato’s eyes widened as he caught a glimpse of the small turquoise energy, but before he could react, it hit the center of his torso, just beneath his chest, and sent him flying roughly ten feet back. Various gym equipment assisted in breaking his momentum, in the process bruising and scratching him too. He laid on his right side briefly before coughing and hacking to his feet. His back arced forward slightly and blood poured from his hair down to his chin. He wasn’t sure why she suddenly attacked nor did it matter to him. He took a defensive stance and resolved himself to fight.

Azami watched as he stood and gave him ample time to prepare himself. “If you couldn’t react to that, there’s no way–“  She paused as a flicker of green light sparked beneath her feet. Suddenly she was directly in front of Masato, charging a mid-height kick with her right leg, to his left oblique. “You’ll ever be helpful.”

To Masato, she disappeared and reappeared and once again he tracked her movement but could not react. The kick connected and pushed him into the warehouse wall to his right. Upon impacting with the unpainted cement wall, and dragging some gym equipment, dust puffed through the air. The dust and shadow of that corner cloaked Masato’s precise movements, though Azami could still clearly sense where he was.

She stood still, again, giving him time to find his bearings. She was impressed; he managed to tighten the defense of his left, in the short time she gave him to react. As she waited, a sudden circle parted in the dust, quickly followed by steel weight plate spinning with haste towards her. The fact that he could aim at her with the dust between them surprised Azami, but with her “bringer light”, she easily evaded, closer to the warehouse gate. A second plate parted the dust spinning straight for her head. She once again leaped with her bringer light to the center of the room. She was now getting bored of playing dodge. “Is this all you’re gonna do?" She exclaimed with a mocking yawn.

After the two sucker-hits she landed, Masato was too pissed and focused to talk back. Had he bothered to check, he would’ve noticed that he was hurling thirty kilograms of steel as if they were plastic plates, and he held one more in his right hand. He ran out of the dust roaring and preparing another throw. As the plate left his hand and he watched for Azami’s reaction.

With bringer light, Azami dashed out of the way and closer to Seito’s living quarters. She smirked at her evasive abilities when suddenly her face was met with Masato’s reiatsu empowered fist. Her vision went white for split second upon impact. With the full weight of his body and fist, he dragged Azami’s head into the ground, creating a cradle just as her body connected with the floor. Her left cheek swelled with a slight imprint of his knuckles. Despite the power of the hit, she was not out of commission, but dashed to the furthest end of the warehouse. She needed distance to shake the daze in her vision, and get pay back. She knew exactly how he managed to hit her, but she couldn’t believe he was capable of such a feat. To exert such combative tactics with no training.” She had to stop thinking, as Masato turned to her, standing by the exit.

Masato did not relent in his small victory, but rather, he concocted a plan to land another hit. Breathing through gritted teeth, he took slow steps towards her. The numbness of Azami’s face did not alert her to her bleeding nose. Seeing her blood drip from Masato’s fist was the second time she feared his wrath but soon there would be a third. Dark purple bubbles of reiatsu bubbled from Masato’s feet and legs. The aura’s intent was the most hostile she’d ever sensed and she could feel her legs buckle with intimidation. She wasn’t very physically exerted but the sweat pouring from her head would convince you otherwise. Upon raising pass his stomach, the bubbles warped into smooth long strands of reiatsu that waved in unison.

Azami certainly was faster than Masato but the confidence of winning fleeted from her with every step her opponent took. She hesitated at the thought, but submitted to her weakness and called, “HONEY!”.

Masato's tunneling on Azami blinded himself to the attack approaching from behind. It was a sweeping kick and pull that fell Masato to his back, followed by a powerful punch to his stomach, rendering him unconscious. His leaking reiatsu halted and above him stood a comically bandaged Seito.

Seito watched to make sure Masato was completely out before he looked to his girlfriend. “Are you ok?” he asked softly, with a mellow and comforting tone.

She responded the same. “yeah.”

“He’s a wrecking ball of potential and with the Quarterer’s recent evolution we no longer have the luxury of choosing not to recruit him.”

Azami didn’t look Seito in the face and remained silent out of embarrassment. She underestimated Masato, and worst, Seito's judgement. Furthermore, she wanted Seito to believe in her strength but couldn’t explain her failure without appearing to be a sore loser. Seito glanced at her and smiled faintly, he could sense what she was worried about and gave an organic opportunity for Azami to defend herself.

“How’d he tag you?”

Azami’s face grew bright and she leaped internally at the opportunity to explain. Outwardly however she wanted to play it cool. She crossed her arms and explained away.

“I showed him my bringer light too many times. He couldn’t react the first time but I didn’t expect him to predict my trajectory. He must’ve observed the sparks it created.”

Seito’s once faint and sincere smile turned patronizing, in Azami's eyes so she tried to explain more.

“He also empowered his punch too.”

“i..i see.”  Seito wasn’t impressed by her reasons and was now the one avoiding eye contact, scratching his right cheek and gazing off to the left.

Out of irritation she shed her soft demeanor and returned to her dragony self. As she berated him he laughed aloud, wincing throughout from the pain of his injury. A few moments had passed and the warehouse grew deathly silent.

“Do you.. Really think his wife will be the last one.”

“We’ve marked almost every alley so if he pops up we will be alerted.” Seito responded as he walked pass her towards the exit. “Plus, I left him pretty battered. Even with a hollow’s regeneration, I don’t think he’d risk showing his face again. With the Shinigami and those masked guys, if we work together I think we have a fighting chance.” He slid the steel gate open as its screech echoed.

Azami turned to face his back. “THEN WHY DID’NT YOU BRING ME?!” she cried with a broken voice, and her now glossy eyes barely forming tears.

Seito knew why but wouldn’t dare to insult her with the answer. She wouldn’t allow him to escape it.

“Had you taken me with you, this could’ve ended tonight. You let your feelings for me compromise this mission. You have been since we were assigned!”

“…..”

“Do you think I’m weak?!” Azami would not let up and tried to force an answer out of him. “MY LIFE ISN'T WORTH–“ Before she could finish her words she was engulfed in Seito’s arms. Though his embrace was warm and tight, he trembled and bit on his bottom lip so he couldn’t weep out loud. She felt his wet tears drip atop her head and he muttered. “Don’t.” his voice quaked and Azami accepted her second defeat that night. Their hug lasted almost a minute before he let go. His limp was no more as he returned to the exit. “Get some rest.” He pleaded before shutting the gate.

 

W/C: 2055

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Masato woke to the sound of clanking dishes and periodically running water, coming through the hallway of a house much larger than his studio apartment. The room temperature was cool and controlled by the running air conditioner across from the bed he laid in. Brown curtains did well in keeping the bedroom dark but the open door allowed for some natural light to assist with Masato’s vision. There wasn’t much in the room besides a tall mirror to his right, and brown wardrobe and nightstand to his left. He peeled his cover and stood off his bed. He briefly stretched his body before stepping in front of the mirror and checking himself, for no good reason. He was wearing blue matching pajamas with white folds at the end of the sleeves.

Masato decided to follow the sound of the clanking and pouring water, into the hallway, down to his left, and through the door on the right. As he expected, in the kitchen was Reina, his daughter, washing the dishes from breakfast, even though he didn’t recall eating. She stood atop a wooden chair to better reach the contents of the sink and water pouring from the faucet.

“Morning papa” she said, her face turning to her father, on it, a gleeful smile.

“G’morning.” Masato yawned, then returned a smile.

“Your breakfast is on the table.” Reina raised her right, wet and soapy hand, to point towards the table deeper into the kitchen.

Masato while eager to eat was more worried about the oddly familiar house they were in. he wasn’t sure if asking Reina about it would’ve given him answers, seeing as she didn’t seem to be bothered.

“Yeah, breakfast, uuh.” He scratched his head through fuzzy hair, shorter than when he last remembered. “Where...“ Before he could finish his question, a feminine voice from behind him sung his name.

“maaa-saaa-to”

He instantly recognized the voice and without hesitation turned his body completely to see a cyan coat worn by a lean women. The coat caught his attention first and as he slowly looked up towards her face she spoke again.

“Sweetie”

This time her voice echoed and rang in his head, causing him to jolt out of his slumber in a cold sweat. His racing heart slowed as he looked around to see that he was, once again, in the warehouse. His items were where he last left them, in the corner created from the partition and sidewall of the warehouse. The last thing he could remember was Seito standing over him, triumphantly. “Rise and shine rookie.” He heard a familiar voice speak. The disembodied voice continued to ask. “Do you always sleep this late in?” he was certain it was Azami, speaking to him from behind the partition to his left. It took him a few moments to remember how his skirmish with her ended. His eyes widen as he gasped with shock and he rushed to his feet. “Your face, are you ok?!” just as he stood, he winced to his right knee.

Azami walked into his view and looked down at him, face healed and in fine condition, smoking no less. “You got a lot of nerves worrying about me.” She claimed softly, with a hint of pride in her tone.

Masato knew the source of the pain and raised his t-shirt to inspect where he was punched last night. There on his stomach was a large purple, almost black, bruise that swelled slightly. “Yeah” he said disgruntledly. He wasn’t happy with the, Seito inflicted, wound, but thought he deserved it. He was never a self-proclaimed gentlemen, but last night did reflect the first time he hit a women and he, by no means, held back. He looked back up at her and expressed his concern for her wellbeing again. “Still, I was seeing red when I hit you. You seem fine but I guess I should apologize. Sorry.”

Taken aback by his apology and concern, she blushed from embarrassment. She started the conflict and he, in the process of defending himself, was tag teamed by her boyfriend. She began to feel bad for Masato, but of course wouldn’t show so. “Alright, alright, apologies–“she emphasized on the plural, “–accepted.”

Masato stood again, this time prepared for the pain and willing to endure it. The nightmare he awoke from had him missing his daughter. He collected his items and walked for the exit. His hand made contact with the gate handle when Azami called to him.

“I would eat if I were you, or at least have some water.” Azami suggested from behind him, as she put a pink apron on.

Masato hadn’t noticed, perhaps because he never looked, but there was an electric stove in Seito’s little living space. He figured that she was willing to cook breakfast for them both and the thought of filling his stomach was tempting, but seeing his daughter was his only priority. With his back still facing her, he rejected her offer. “I’d love to, but my daughter and mother must be worrying about me.” There was truth to those words, but he was the actual worried party. He opened the gate in one swift movement and noticed instantly, his destroyed bike. “WHAT THE FUCK!” he shouted in anger and awe. The first person he suspected was responsible was Azami and he turned to her to confirm his suspicions and to his horror, she glared back at him sadistically grinning. “You feel like eating now?” her question, obviously rhetorical.

Masato reluctantly sat quietly as she finished cooking and placed a plate of food in his hands. He assaulted her with a barrage of questions earlier but she ignored them all, so admitting that the rice stuffed omelet, top with seasoning and green onions, smelt delicious, would’ve been accepting defeat.

Azami worked as a proud chef and presented the food to Masato, expecting immediate praise. With her hands to her sides and chin up she posed proudly and waited for the complements– then waited some more. “Maybe he’s waiting for it to cool.” She thought, as her extended back arced slightly and her arms grew tired of disappointment. Finally she heard him take his first few bites. “Surely this is where he gives my well deserved credit.” she said internally. *clank* the sound of the empty plate was the only thing she heard. “Say something.” She demanded weakly, now completely slumped forward and disheartened. 

“Seconds?”

“LIKE HELL!” Azami shattered his plastic plate on the pavement in anger.

Some bantering later, Masato addressed his broken bike again, this time Azami wasn’t cooking and willingly answered. “We need your help in defeating the Quarterer.” Azami stated sternly. “Last night was reassuring that you, with some training and time, can be a huge asset in this fight.”

It didn’t take long for Masato to recall where he’d heard the name “the Quarterer”, two nights ago inside Seito’s car. It was there that he learnt his wife wasn’t merely murdered, but dismembered. Only the limbs remained of the Quarterer’s victims, and Asuna was no different. Naturally his mind then connected azami’s statement about “hollows preying on other spiritual beings” and quickly held his mouth shut with both hands as to not lose his breakfast.

“So what do ya say Hizorashi Masato, will you help us kill this sick bastard?” she asked with determination, confident that he would accept. Naturally he, raised his head and with a slight nod, accepted their request. “Good, I really didn’t feel like fixing your bike.” Azami sighed in relief, more so for gaining a new formidable ally and less so about replacing a bike she broke.

“So why did you break it?” Masato asked bluntly in a menacing tone.

Azami was in too much of a celebratory mood to acknowledge his frustration. She rushed in front of Masato and lifted him to his feet gleefully. She glanced at his disgruntled face and knew she needed an excuse quick. Beads of sweat dripped from her head and she, with closed eyes, and a large and forced grin responded.  “It was all a part of your new endurance training.” In truth, she was joy riding and accidentally destroyed it in the process. To her surprise Masato accepted the excuse and began to stretch in preparation for, what he expected was, the usual “run from point A to point B”. He completed his stretches and made for the warehouse exit when, with bringer light, Azami appeared directly behind him and placed three, thirty kilogram plates, in the backpack he was wearing.

“It’s half past ten, if you walk, you should be home at 1:00 PM.”  Azami stated boldly before adding the “asterisk”, “according to Seito.”

Masato intended to run all the way through, but the added weight to his bag, coupled with a bruised stomach, would make the task especially challenging. With his straw hat and sunglasses keeping his head cool, he began the journey back to his apartment, settling on jogging. The shifting weight, and up and down momentum of his bag forced him to engage his core for stability. The various inclines and declines push Masato’s legs to their limits. About 40 minutes into the jog Masato took his first break and drank from a public water fountain by the side of the street. Though slightly refreshed, Masato’s brain was completely out of focus when he finally pressed on with the jog. He tried to maintain and upright and proper running posture but his head in exhaustion would periodically find itself dangling at the whim of the rest of his body. The once firm and controlled movements of his arms became sporadic, and eventually dangled by his sides as he was now speed walking. His blank thoughts worked as a double edged blade, preventing him from finding motivation to press on and distracting him from the immense pain or the entire experience. The urban neighborhood he observed and appreciated, became a blurry haze and from then on, Masato didn’t remember anything. That is until he was walking under shade, mindlessly up a flight of stairs and into what was clearly his apartment. There was no one inside and Masato removed his backpack from his sore shoulders, the relief of which brought a joyful chuckle from his very dry mouth. He dropped to his knees, then his stomach, and immediately fell unconscious. It was 4:00 PM when he stepped into his apartment, and he wouldn’t awake until the following morning.

 

W/C: 1750

 

Edited by but im not writer
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Masato was once again in a strange but familiar kitchen with his daughter Reina, who stood atop a chair to wash dishes. The large window, opposite to the kitchens main entrance, was covered by thin, orange and semitransparent curtains. The combination of the intense and bright morning sunrays and orange curtains, decorated the kitchen, and much of the rest of the house, with the warm colors of autumn. Yet engulfed in all this beauty, Masato found himself distracted by the recognizable face of a woman, dressed in a, hooded, cyan coat. She had sung his name to capture his attention, and his attention she had.

“It’s finally finished” She claimed gleefully before pouting with crossed arms. “I wish I didn’t promise you it though” She jested.

Masato was speechless, and too dumbfounded to respond coherently. The women didn’t hesitate to interrupt him in his mumbles. “It’s a good thing you stopped me from throwing it away. I wasn’t sure at first, especially about the purple wolf on the shoulder.” She began to unzip the coat, revealing the yellow sundress she wore underneath.

From behind him his Daughter chimed in. “Me and papa knew it would turn out good.” She leaped from her chair to the ground and pointed her index finger, still covered in bubbles, at the woman in the doorway. “Now do mine next!” Reina demanded with adorable confidence and bravado.

“Now, now, that is no way to ask your mother.” The mother and wife known as Asuna, retorted as she handed the coat to a seemingly paralyzed Masato. He couldn’t recall raising his hands to receive the coat, but it rested on his forearms while he stood, without a word, and watched his daughter and wife banter and play in the kitchen. The flow of time felt strange; it paused and progressed at a pace that seemed in sync with the inquiries of his mind. As he thought “shouldn’t I be heading to work”, there he was heading to work. He descended the brief flight of stairs and was walking towards his bike in the garage to his right when Asuna called for him at the entrance.

“Honey wait! Don’t wear that to work!” she pleaded in a slight panic to her husband.

“Why not?” Masato responded dismissively as he had every intention of wearing the coat despite her pleas.

“Because” Asuna paused to think of an excuse. She doubted herself and the quality of the coat she made for her husband. She feared he would be embarrassed or mocked by his colleagues, but gave a less honest but more reasonable answer. “We’re in the summer, you don’t need it. You hate the heat.”

“I’m going to show it off at work. How many guys can brag about having a one-of-a-kind, tailor-made coat?” He climbed onto his bike with a smirk. He knew what she was attempting and wouldn’t stay long for her to succeed. “Anyway I’ll see you soon” he air-kissed her and paddled away.

 

The sound or pouring rain showered on a frowning Masato as he stood at the gravestone of Asuna. A certain cyan and tailor-made coat kept his shoulders and down dry but his head and neck weren’t protected. The coat of course, had a hood but he didn’t wear it and had there been anyone around to ask, he couldn’t explain why. The grey and cloudy sky, the beating of heavy rain, and the shivering cold of that morning would’ve all solicited tears from him just two weeks ago, before the news of her death came to him. In Seito’s car was the last time he cried and ever since, he’d grown tired of it; except at the grave of his wife. The funeral ceremony ended three hours ago and he had been standing alone for almost just as long. He cursed his inability to shed any tears, even as his in-laws and family wept and sobbed in his arms. Once they left he resolved himself to stand at his wife’s grave until he bawled his eyes out in grief. However, standing for three hours to no avail, he began to doubt himself and the presence of his own humanity.

“What kind of person doesn’t cry at the funeral of their loved ones? But did she love me? You wouldn’t abandon your spouse if you loved them right? What the hell's wrong with you, that doesn’t matter. No one deserves to go the way she-” it was at the thought of a dismembered Asuna that Masato’s shoulders began to shudder and he felt a bittersweet relief that the waterworks were coming. “I’m still a good person” He felt with clenched teeth and an awkward frown-smile on his face. But his shoulders slowly lost their movement and Masato sensed his moment of relief fleeing. He shut his eyes and dug deep in his memory, for all his regrets and wrongdoings, hoping to find enough guilt to conjure a single tear from. His efforts were futile.

“Shit.”

_________________________

W/C: 830

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Masato jogged in the rain which had severely calmed since he left the cemetery, where he recently buried four limbs, the only remains of his estranged wife. The summer was nearing its end while autumn gradually introduced itself with light rain. The heavy grey sky and clouds struggled to subdue the might on the sun which flaunted itself with arcs of light that peeped through holes in the clouds.

Autumn was Masato’s favorite season, the literal in between of a stupidly hot summer and an insufferably cold winter. But like everything else that day, Masato felt indifferently towards it all. He simply jogged with haste to the only place he grew attached to in these past two weeks. He wasn’t dress for a prolonged run, and the black leather dress shoes suffered the most because of it. The repeated splashing in puddles or rain married with the occasional scrape of the tip of his shoes against the asphalt, did a number on his brand new shoes. His destination was the warehouse and training ground he spent most of his free time in. the various gym equipment for strength training, his instructor and sparring partner Azami, and the daily endurance training of a six hour run, were what his life became. He spent less and less time with Reina and at work for the sake of getting strong enough to assist with the extermination of the Quarterer.

It took him just under three hours to arrive from the cemetery to the warehouse. He entered through the great sliding gate unannounced, a testament to how at home he felt, and unabashedly demanded to Azami.

“Sorry I’m late. Let’s get back to work.”

He couldn’t see her, but Masato was certain that she present inside. He could sense her strong presence “a mile away” and peered in the dark shaded corners of the warehouse to find her body.

“I thought I told you to take the day off.”

Azami yelled from behind the partition separating them both. Her words resonated slightly with an echo. It was clear from her disgruntled and tiresome tone, she was drunk and agitated.

“C’mon, Seito said it himself, we need to be prepared for the Quarterer.”

Masato countered as he approached the partition to get a look at just how wasted she was.

“Besides even while drunk, I’m still no match for you.”

He stooped to manipulative flattery to get her fired up, his words however weren’t untrue. In their first skirmish Azami greatly underestimated him, a mistake she wouldn’t make again in the time since. Though in terms of physical prowess they were equals, without the speed to react, Azami could quite literally run circles around him. As he crept behind the partition he locked eyes with her. Looking up to him from the bed she sat on, Azami responded.

“Look, I think we…you need some time to cope. I don’t mind you staying over but no fighting today.”

In her right hand was an almost empty can of cheap beer and beside her on a nightstand was a marble ashtray baring a still smoking cigarette. Azami drank alcohol the same way a sea sponge drank water, but never had Masato seen her this plastered, it must’ve been the five other empty beer cans scattered around the floor. She snorted briefly with rashes, from excessive rubbing, underneath and beside her red eyes. They were an indication that she had been crying before Masato waltzed in. Masato wondered if the tears were for his wife, a woman Azami never even knew; he presumed they were. He came to her for a distraction and opportunity to clear his mind, and perhaps also his conscience, but decided to put Azami’s needs before his own. “I guess we can’t all be heartless pricks.” He thought, referring to himself. He walked towards the small kitchen space and squatted before opening the mini fridge that contained what he was looking for, a cold bottle of water. He grabbed it and returned to Azami’s side handing it to her.

Azami looked at him again and read his expression. “Drink this and get some rest”, she imagined an expression literally speaking and chuckled at that thought. *sniff*

Masato cleared random objects and dusted off her bed for her to sleep. Their first encounter was rather rocky but since getting to know her and exchanging fist, he came to respect and treat her as a chain-smoking and alcoholic older sister- who occasionally cooked for him. As he prepared her bed she noticed the bright cyan coat, she never saw him wear. It called for attention, something Masato used to enjoy, but now contrasted heavily with how dull his personality had become. She rested her head down on a soft blue pillow, and faced toward Masato walking towards the exit. It was partially curiosity and partially her desire for company that compelled Azami to inquire.

“That’s a pretty cool coat. What’s the brand?” *Sniff*

She asked cooped up under her cover while laying sideways. Masato stopped and thought longer than he should have, for a name to Asuna’s Imaginary clothing brand. For all Masato’s effort he created an original name on the spot and turned to Azami to answer plainly.

“Asuna brand.”

“laaame.”

She mocked not the coat, but Masato’s creativity or lack thereof. He using Asuna’s name for the coats brand made a connection that she didn’t bother to make in the past. She could recall him commenting about his wife’s fashion designing career dismissively, and she treated that information the same, just conversation filler. A metaphorical light bulb suddenly sparked above her head.

“Do you like it?”

Azami asked with a scheming smirk.

“I mean-“ Masato paused the wonder. “The colors no longer my style but it means a lot to me. I think I embarrassed her wearing it everywhere. It was the first and only clothing she made for me.”

As he spoke of and inspected his wife’s keepsake he unknowingly smiled. Azami was slowly becoming more confident in her assumptions and the plan she had concocted.

“I’ve decided. There will be training today.”

She sprung off the bed from underneath her cover. The once sickly master was now energized and determined to realize her hypothesis.

“This won’t be like every other days training. It’s going to be intense. Are you still up for it?

She asked almost rhetorically for she was certain he would say yes.

“Alright.”

Masato accepted as his smirk grew bigger. He gave up on convincing her to help him blow off some steam, so hearing her volunteer of her own volition was a pleasant surprise.

“Don’t blame me if you die.”

Azami was known to say bold and outrageous things as such, at times she was serious and others she exaggerated- this time Masato couldn’t tell.

A few minutes later after some preparation, mostly Masato pushing the gym equipment further to the walls to clear the center of the warehouse, they began their unique training. Azami carried her beloved wooden sword, which she used to discipline and whip Masato in shape, over her shoulder with her left hand and smoked a cigarette through her right. Masato took off all his footwear, exposing his soles to the cold cement floor. He rolled the sleeves of his pants to his knees and began to unzip his coat. Azami stopped him before he could finish.

“Leave it on.”

She demanded while suddenly pointing the wooden sword to his face. This of course confused Masato, he wanted to keep his coat intact and contemplated questioning her demand, but decided against it. She taught him a lot in the past two weeks and refused to insult her teachings with doubt. Against the desire to keep his wife’s keepsake safe, he removed his hand from the coats zipper and glared Azami in the face before nodding slightly, letting her know that she had his trust. Azami lowered the swords tip to the floor and used her left hand to keep it standing.

“You’ve learned how to pull the soul of the ground to perform bringer light but you kind of suck at doing it in the air.”

Azami retorted with a small shrug of her shoulders, almost as if she couldn’t understand why herself.

“Is that what we’re doing today?” Masato wanted to ask, but didn’t as it there seemed to be no connection between bringer light and the necessity of wearing a coat. He stood and waited for the point in her previous statement.

“When controlling the souls of objects you can bring out their full potential. We’ve focused on pulling the ground, air, and some unfamiliar objects. Increased speed and strength are Important but only scratch the surface of what controlling souls entails.”

Azami dug in the right pocket of her blue denim shorts, and pulled from them, a golden zippo lighter. She held it up in front of Masato before she continued her explanation.

“Object affinity, that’s what we’re doing, watch!”

Just then her lighter glowed turquoise and began to morph into a long but short rectangular shape, roughly a foot long, and two and half inches wide. It was Impossible for Masato to identify the object until the glow dissipated, revealing a folding fan with the color patterns and design of a peacock.

“I have an ‘affinity’ for the lighter you just saw” "because your addicted to smoking” "And because of it, I can Fullbring its potential, turning it into this fan.”

Azami unfolded the fan and displayed its feather-like leaves. Masato was Impressed and completely grasped why he had to wear his coat. The thought of walking around, dressed secretly in a sword, or gun, as ridiculous as it seemed, excited Masato and he couldn’t wait to find out what his secret weapon was.

“So what can I transform my coat into?”

Masato asked with a deadpan tone, trying his best to subdue his childish glee. Azami however could see it in his eyes and regretted to inform him.

“I don’t know. It’s something we have to figure out together. So brace yourself.”

The warning “brace yourself” was one Masato grew very familiar with from all the surprise attacks she used during their training. Her wooden sword was in no position to attack so the incoming move had to come from her right side, so he quickly guarded his left. As he predicted, Azami was swinging her open fan towards his left side and he felt proud to discern her strike and block it, at least he thought he did. As the tip of the leaves approached Masato noticed how far out of reach they were, furthermore strange was the lack of force Azami put in her swing. He lowered his guard in agitation. “Is she making fun of me?” he thought, peering disappointingly into Azami's cocky face.

“Are you-“ just as he spoke, a concentrated  gust of powerful wind pushed Masato to the furthest wall to his right. Although focused at Masato, the wind was still powerful enough to sweep weights and other lighter objects, towards the same direction Masato flew. Azami stood straight in the center of the warehouse, she grinned at Masato’s futile attempts to block air.

She wasn’t really concerned for any injuries she could’ve caused with such a powerful attack. The wind of her fan, although having an unstoppable push, didn’t inflict much damage on its own. Still she wasn’t sure if he hit the wall headfirst, or maybe bumped against something in the wrong place, so she asked. 

“You OK?”

Masato coughed in the smoke her fan, and his collision with the wall created. The brick walls that stopped his flight were completely shattered and probably a poke away from collapsing.

“Yeah. That didn't hurt too much.”

He stood to dust himself off.

“You need to Fullbring the soul of your coat and block my next move. My fan ‘burning to quench’ has two main abilities. 'Blow and push- “

Azami dropped her wooden sword, bent her knees and twisted her torso. Holding the fan in her right hand and over her left shoulder, she held her pose in preparation for a second swing.

“- and cut and burn.”

“W-wait, what if my coat turns into like a bottle of gasoline? What if I can’t take your hit?”

A now fearful Masato questioned his teacher and held up his hands in protest to stop her.

“Just bring ‘it’ out. Don’t worry about failure. If this doesn’t work out, you won’t be alive to suffer.”

There it was again, Azami's outrageous exaggerations, only this time it wasn’t. In that moment as Azami initiated her second swing, Masato’s two weeks of built up trust in her fled faster than he could, his only course of action was to attempt a block.

From outside the warehouse a sudden and brief roar of crimson flames burst through the wall Masato stood behind. Smoking debris from the warehouse filled the sandlot and some of the road in her attacks path. The ground up to where Masato stood was charred and smoking as well. Masato’s eyes were closed and he held his arms in front of his face as a shield. He could hear the roaring and sense the burning of Azami’s demonic flame attack, but as they both subsided, he peeped at his arms then shortly after his torso. Despite the destruction and collapse of the wall behind him, he sustained no injuries, and as he lowered his arms to see Azami, he was aware why.

There, laying between himself and Azami was two large cyan arms originating from the shoulder areas of his coat. They were still on fire and smoking with steam, but stood firm and protected him still, even after Azami’s attack was over. The realization of his ability made Masato even prouder of his wife’s keepsake. He expected some conventional weapon but was more than satisfied with this outcome. He laughed with joy in his accomplishment, and perhaps because he was still alive. He stood upright and observed the destruction to the warehouse before turning his sight on Azami.

“I’m not cleaning that.”

With his right thumb he pointed to the missing wall behind him, the matching cyan arm mirrored the same gesture.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

W/C: 2370

Achievements unlocked: Incomplete Fullbring

Edited by Mumen Writer
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-Masato’s Apartment-

Masato fell on his back to his fully spread-out futon mattress, exhausted. His scheduled run home was no longer as challenging to him, repairing walls with an ability he had attained that very same day however, very much was. The task of tirelessly stacking bricks made him more comfortable controlling the new pair of arms and tail he discovered he could conjure and control from his coat, his Fullbring. The weight of the bricks, gifted by construction workers neighboring their warehouse, weren’t heavy enough to pose that big a challenge, but the Reiryoku and concentration required to perform such meticulous small motor skills drained everything out of him. Though it shamed him to admit it, he walked home from the warehouse for the first time since he began his training. Azami never forbade walking but Masato imposed the ban himself, just another personal failure to stack to the pile of disappointments in his life, not that they bothered him anymore. “Burning to quench”, the title of Azami’s Fullbring, I need a cool title too, “One-tailed Chakra Mode? Nah.” He pondered with his fingers clasped and the back of his head in his palms, and periodically raised his head to gaze at his coat, hanging from a coat hanger behind his door. He unknowingly fell asleep, empty stomached and in sweat, a tradition not uncommon for him as of late.

-2:17 AM-

 Masato remained sound asleep as two figures crept into his apartment. They conversed through whispers and took exerted efforts to not wake him from his slumber.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Later that morning, Masato awoke with a mild headache, and a dried throat and lips. He rose from the futon and peered around his apartment drowsily before the sound of his toilet flushing emerged, from the thin walls between his bed area and the bathroom. The realization of an intruder shuck him from his daze and he rushed to his coat for self-defense. He wasn’t sure if wearing the coat was a necessary requirement for Fullbringing its ability, the man that exited the bathroom however, wouldn’t present him with a chance to find out.

“Woah there, if you put that coat on you will regret it.”

The dark-skinned man with an orange afro threatened, with a deep, calm, and confident tone. From where he stood, Masato could tell that they didn’t differ much in height, with the stranger surpassing him only slightly. He was dressed in Masato’s clothing, fitting blue denim jeans, and a black and white T-shirt, striped horizontally at the center.

The man’s glare demanded Masato’s reconsideration to resolve his problem physically and Masato did. His reaching for his coat was instinctual and so was his decision to step down. His gut was sure that had the stranger wanted to, he could’ve taken his life, and if his gut was wrong, the suffocating pressure he suddenly felt, hacking at the constitution of his knees certainly wasn’t. Masato decided in his best interest to deescalate the tension. Through his slight sweating and heavy breaths he posed some obvious first questions.

“Who are you and what do you want?

Just as he spoke, the pressure he felt weighing him down lifted as the stranger let out a long sigh in relief. The stranger walked out of the bathroom doorway to face Masato directly before introducing himself.

“I go by Fujimura Yuuto; just Yuuto is fine. I’m an acquaintance of detective Kakaabi. He’s had only good things to say about you, Mister Hizorashi Masato. ‘Pleasure finally meeting you.”

Yuuto grinned to his eyes completely closed, bearing his perfect pearly white teeth, he extended his right hand out to Masato for a shake.

Masato, though still suspicious of the man, couldn’t stop the feeling of relief of knowing Yuuto was familiar with Seito, the lifting of the atmospheric pressure he created may have also contributed. He stared the man down, only now noticing why his clothes looked familiar and after his long observation, rudely declined the handshake. Far be it from him of all people to lecture someone about cleanliness but even he wasn’t that much of an animal.

“You didn’t wash your hands.”

Masato said embarrassingly to a grown man, who appeared to be much older than him, in his mid-thirties. He felt like a nerdy child preaching of hand sanitizing in the playground.

“Hmm? Oh so sorry.”

Yuuto took a single but long stride back into the bathroom, then reemerged with wet hands in no more than ten seconds- Masato counted. “No soap?” he thought to himself and wanted to ask, but felt Yuuto, for someone uninvited, had already overstayed his welcome, and wanted to end their business as soon as possible. Thankfully Yuuto didn’t extend the handshake for a second time.

They sat on the floor about four feet away from each other, each with a cup of tea to drink from. Yuuto took a large sip of his tea and sigh greatly from joy.

“Sheeeesh, this tea’s great. Human taste buds are definitely superior. That or you just need to give my squad some tea making lessons. Anyway congrats on the Object infinity thing or whatever. Azami told me you were the clad type and grew a tail. I think you should name it, one-tailed chakra mode.”“No thanks.”

Masato noticed the “human” remark his guest made, and questioned if he somehow wasn’t. He could distinguish humans from hollows, and Yuuto didn’t fit the descriptions of a hollow Azami and Seito taught him. There was no point awaiting answers, Masato thought, Yuuto was too comfortable and distracted by tea to be proactive in their discussion

“so You’re not human?”

“I’m normally a Shinigami, but I’ve done some errands for that bastard to get this vessel. I don’t wanna admit it but his works pretty amazing.”

Yuuto glanced around his own body, acknowledging its likeliness to his Shinigami form.

Masato, through exposure from popular fiction, was familiar with supernatural concepts like spirit hosts and the like. With the “who and what” of his visitor now answered, he was now steering the conversation towards why.

“I see. So what business do you have with me? “

Masato’s response was blunt and brief.

“What, you get me already?”

Slightly Impressed by Masato’s quick understanding, Yuuto almost spat his tea out.

“I guess this much should be expected.”

He restored his composure before continuing.

“I’ve tasked Seito with helping me slay a hollow you know as the Quarterer. As a Shinigami my obligations are split with slaying hollows and granting pure spirits safe passage to the spirit world. Unfinished business keeps them attached to this world and I’ve vowed to help them with that business. You get me?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve come here to connect with you, well I was hoping I would come across your wife, Asuna’s, spirit here; maybe she was lingering around her sweetheart.”

The thought of Asuna’s lingering spirit never occurred to Masato. He’d seen and ignored roaming spirits but didn’t think of communicating with them, let alone granting them safe passage to the spirit world. If Asuna was one of those roaming spirits and she hadn’t shown herself to him then he must’ve not been her “sweetheart", but this realization wasn’t new for him.

“Then you’ve come to the wrong place.”

“C’mon dude, we all need our space sometimes.”

“If that’s all you’re here for you can go.”

Yuuto paused and contemplated talking further in an attempt to mend Masato’s still clearly broken heart, but concluded that it wasn’t his place to do so.

 “….yeah.”

Yuuto rose from where he sat defeated, and walked to the exit. As he put his shoes, in a square ditch just before the door, on, he threw a business card similar to Seito’s, to Masato.

“Ring me if you see her around. Karakura’s hollow activity is becoming more frequent.”

Masato was tired of Yuuto showing more concern for Asuna than he did. He had no intent on reconnecting with him in the future and chose his next words to convey that clearly.

“Don’t bother returning the clothes.”

Yuuto got the hint and chuckled with pity.

“Heh, alright man. Goodbye.”

He exited the room and paused just outside the door.

“I’m sorry. He doesn’t seem ready yet.”

He claimed sympathetically to the tune of sobbing from his left. Covering her mouth to not be heard, in the form of a spirit, Asuna cried.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

W/C: 1395

Edited by Anti-Writer
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Masato sat with his back against the wall in the living space of his apartment. He was famished, as anyone going on almost twenty-four hours without food would be, and prepared in his hand was a bowl of cereal for breakfast, with a carton of milk and box of cereal next to him awaiting on standby for the inevitable seconds, thirds, and possibly fourths. He was sensitive to sweet foods and grew caution of his diet since the time he began training, as such, his choice of cereal consisted of oats and dried fruits. The glass bowl in his left hand grew cold from the refrigerated milk he poured into it, the sensation wasn’t pleasant to his wet hands, which had just rinsed the cup Yuuto, his recent visitor, drank from. Nevertheless, the feint smell of cereal kept him focused on its consumption and following the clanking sound of his spoon meeting the bowl, he scooped and took his first mouthful of cereal. The cold milk irritated his teeth, perhaps from the hot cup of tea he had not long ago, but a meal was a meal and the irritation wouldn’t stop Masato from quenching his hunger. After briefly chewing and swallowing his second mouthful, he abruptly stood, and walked towards the cabinet wherein a container of sugar lied. Upon retrieving the sugar he returned to where he sat and poured an estimate of nearly half a cup of sugar into his bowl. Leaning against the wall once more, he took his third spoonful but to no avail. His cereal, sweetened with a heap of sugar still tasted like cardboard. Knowing now that his meal wouldn’t be as tasteful as he anticipated, Masato forced the remainder into his mouth, no longer chewing.

 Since the departure of Yuuto, the talk of souls lingering around people their closes with taunted him. The idea of getting to see Asuna, and potentially communicating with her flooded Masato with mixed feelings and thoughts.

“Would she not linger around him, had she still thought of their relationship as close? He hadn’t seen her spirit so obviously not. But according to Seito she was on her wait to reconcile their marriage when she was…”

Masato sat in contemplation of what to do and how he should feel about the new information Yuuto presented with. In his thinking, he did not ignore the events of the day Asuna left him. It was a cold and grey morning, much like the one he was currently in, and he remembered it as if it were yesterday. He remembered the last text she sent him when he was at work and remembered leaving work just as he read it. The running in the pouring rain, meeting his wife just outside of their home, her in a yellow raincoat while carrying her packed luggage. The memories of that fateful day were embedded deep in him as nothing but grave psychological trauma and had the opportunity been given, he would’ve surely erased them. So it was with great irony that those memories, with all their sorrow, were the ones that compelled Masato the most to move. He showered and dressed himself with haste and left his apartment, wearing of course, his cyan coat. He needed answers to the suffering Asuna caused him and made the resolve to find them before it was too late.

“Maybe she was lingering around her sweetheart”, the words of Yuuto hinted Masato on perhaps why he hadn’t seen Asuna. Perhaps the “sweetheart” for her was their daughter Reina, so he rushed to the Hizorashi’s household, where his mother, and most importantly, daughter currently lived.

He arrived at the home he lived his entire childhood in, the nostalgia of it all did not escape him. He slowed his pace from a comfortable jog, to a speedy walk, allowing him to catch his breath and cool his temperature. The grey sky brightened greatly since leaving his apartment, but the humidity didn’t, leading to a very sweaty and hotter than he should’ve been, Masato. He stopped at a corner across the street from his old home, and scouted in the shade that the wall he hid behind provided. He gave special attention to the few spirits he observed during his jog, but of course with none of them being Asuna, he chose to wait outside in case she showed up. In his wait he did patrol the surrounding area, but grew impatient with every passing minute in the sun. in total he waited two hours before giving up, by then it was nearing the evening and Masato was ready to leave with nothing to show for his day, but he would make a final stop on his way home; a hail-Mary stop at Asuna’s work place. Since the destruction of his bicycle at the hands of Azami, jogging was his primary mode of transportation, and asuna’s former workplace was far enough to guarantee he would arrive at his apartment pass midnight if he decided to go by foot.

He took the three hour bus ride to the office studio a good number of towns away, all while gazing at the slow sunset. The red sky was turning purple when he finally reached the lobby of the building her studio resided in. it was of course, after regular working hours so only the building’s watchman was there to greet and chat with him. It wasn’t their first meeting but neither could claim that the status of their relationship was anything more than just “acquaintances.” Nonetheless, Masato did enjoy his brief chat with the middle-aged man, who expressed his condolences for Masato’s loss twice, at the beginning and end of their conversation.

 By now the sun and any signs of its direct light were no longer visible, and only the blue light of a full moon kept Masato out of complete darkness. He gave up on making it home before midnight, in an exchange for a peaceful and lonesome walk, to make his already wasted time, worth it. Besides, with no other soul around, the moon was his personal nightlight to stare into and lose track of any thoughts in the process. He planned in his head to do a single walk around the block of the studio, then return to the bus stop and catch a ride leading straight to his neighborhood. The walk, as Masato hoped, was quiet and uneventful, and the gaze into the moon until he was thoughtless worked too. He approached the starting point of his patrol around the block completely relaxed, with knees blissfully worn out from all the running and walking; it felt as though had he stopped moving, he would’ve fell asleep standing.

Thankfully he didn’t fall asleep as he would need to be awake to fully comprehend and believe the sight he witnessed. At the entrance of the building lobby, where he was chatting, no more than forty minutes ago, a brown, approximately seven feet tall, muscular and feathered figure stood, horizontally holding the watchman’s corpse, stomach side up, with both its hands. Spatters and smears of blood all around the pavement and building walls conveyed the intense struggle and resistance the man held up before meeting his demise. Its arms and hands combined, were long enough to reach the ground standing, or its legs were entirely too short for a creature of his frame, the possibility that the large arms were for flying did exist, but its stocky frame contradicted that logic. The bird/bodybuilder hybrid possessed a white and black mask resembling an owls head, atop its long and thick neck, and its eye’s buried within circular holes in the masked, glowed a bright yellow in the dark.

The gnawing on the flesh of the corpse he held created more blood spatters on its sharp beak. The sight of the blood, the lifeless and shredded corpse, and the monster, all hit Masato simultaneously and he froze, unsure of what to think, do, feel or say. Unfortunately for Masato, the monster wouldn’t wait for his introduction and began to speak to the paralyzed man, a good twenty feet apart from itself.

“Oh, hello there young one. I knew I was mistaken this man for yourself. His spirit energy was just too meager to be the one I was tracking.”

The monster turned to Masato and eloquently spoke. It’s perfectly pronunciation, and gentlemen like dialect contrasted heavily with its horrific and brutal face, covered in blood, and the vibrating deep tone of its voice that shuck Masato from his paralysis, though his fear still remained. The bird-man turning to face Masato, revealed the hole in its chest, clearing all Masato’s suspicions, it was indeed a hollow; the first he had ever seen.

*gasp* “how rude of me. My name his Charles Quillton. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Your appetizing aura brought me here.”

Charles continued before awaiting a response from his original prey, but through dead silence he sighed with disappointment in Masatos lack of speech. Masato's gaze was fixated on the man he had just gotten to know better, and the wave of negative emotions, not barring anger, were too strong for him to think of anything coherent to say. Charles noticed the distraction and switched his glance from Masato to the watchman briefly, before redirecting it back.

“There’s no need to be jealous young one.”

He claimed while discarding his old meal in preparation for a new one. The seven feet estimate didn’t account for the forward tilt Charles made, to consume the watchman’s innards. Standing straight with his back fully extended at ten feet tall, and now fully facing Masato, Charles’s grin stretched to the outermost part of his mask and his cheeks pushed against the bottom of his eyes, giving the yellow glow for eyes he had a crescent shape.

“YOU HAVE MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION!” He sadistically exclaimed as saliva gushed from his mouth and the vibration in his voice grew heavier.

W/C: 1660

OOC: Time to earn some of those scars from my character sheet bio. :3

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In a sleeping neighborhood, lit only by a full blue moon, Masato stood before what he recognized as a hollow, almost doubling him in height. The appearance of which could be briefly summarized as a muscular human and owl hybrid, coated in brown feathers. He was fortunate to bring his coat with him before leaving home that morning, but all the running and walking had him exhausted and not in the best condition for a fight. Despite the disadvantages he knew he had, Masato was confident in his ability to if nothing else, run and survive. Because of the stretching capabilities of his fullbring, and the large amount of energy the hollow must’ve expended to carry its weight, Masato planned to keep a medium to long distance and tire the beast before delivering the killing blow. His only mistake was applying the logic of reality with a supernatural being.

The hollow, who identified himself as Charles, within seconds spread his arms out wide and bent his knees to an almost deep squat position before jumping straight for his prey, broken pavement and dust burst from where he stood as he leaped. Charles, though drooling like a baby and deranged for human flesh, was not ignorant of the potential threat Masato posed, it was after all what brought him here. He wouldn’t waste time as he did with the watchman and intended to clothesline Masato with his right forearm with a strike powerful enough to instantly knock him unconscious, if it didn’t take his head off first.

In nature, larger bodies equated to slower and more telegraphed movements. That was the assumption Masato followed until he was suddenly facing a large brown arm and the pressure of wind its mass created. With split seconds to react and not enough time to attempt a block, Masato, through fullbringing, created a tail protruding from the upper area of his back and into the ground. With it well anchored, he pulled himself to the ground, ducking to narrowly evade Charles attack successfully. Thankfully Charles needed time to break the momentum of his lunge, time Masato used to recollect his composure and reevaluate his strategy. He was no longer confident in tiring his opponent, nor interested in gambling with his own life.

Missing his target, Charles was pleasantly surprised, especially of the cyan tail his prey sprouted. He wasn’t aware of the superhuman capabilities of fullbringers, nor their existence, but chose not to contemplate it. He was focused and didn’t need unnecessary thoughts clouding his objective. He raised both hands to the right of his head then, with tremendous force, thrusted his arms to his left and at a downward angle, producing enough wind force to spin himself clockwise and break his momentum. As his feet hovered over the ground preparing to land, Masato’s tail wrapped around Charles’s ankles.

Masato concluded in his strategy that infighting with such a behemoth was the best strategy to success. Charles needed to build up his attacks for the speed and power they displayed, so a fast onslaught to take that opportunity was Masato’s new plan. He pulled Charles’s ankles, causing the hollow to fall to the ground, then using the shrinking ability of his tail, he pulled himself towards a floored Charles with a front spin kick, leading with his heels.

The revelation of just how far the tail stretched caught Charles off guard, but didn’t faze him in the least. He looked over his chest to see Masato’s oncoming kick and chose to block with his right arm. With his left hand he intended to grab the tail binding his ankles, which would grant him some control over Masato’s movement, and a handle with which he could swing his opponent around with.

However, atop of the speed created from the pull of his tail and the increased strength attained from training, Masato had two other tricks to increase the potency of his attack; Coating his leg in reiatsu and bringing the air above his foot to boost his heels downward trajectory. As a result of Masato’s loaded kick, the moment his heels reached Charles's arm, the strength and weight of the kick was heavier than he anticipated.

The force of the kick sunk Charles’s once raised arm, deep into his chest, his carefree expression turned enraged. He endured the pain until the pressure of the kick letup, before swinging Masato off and into the sky above him. The priority to stand was greater than getting a temporary hold of his foe. He turned the swing into a roll, which he used to move off his back, though having his back turned to Masato wasn’t the most ideal position to be in.

Off the ground again and facing the back of his enemy, Masato looked for the place that would best hurt Charles, and decided on a bringer light empowered front spin and landing with a dropkick to the nape of the hollows neck. The execution was a success and the soles of his shoes connected, pushing Charles’s neck inward and his hands slightly into the pavement. He was happy his strategy to fight up close was working, but the strange movement from the hollows neck worried him.

Charles grunted in anger. “Can I get a turn to move?” he thought to himself and as the dropkick and the pain subsided, he knew it was his opportunity. It took some adjusting and twitching of muscles but Charles rotated his neck clockwise, a full 180 degrees. Charles counted on the twitching muscles and sudden neck rotation to startle and divert Masato from his slowly rising arms. Masato would eventually catch on to the hands surrounding him, but was too slow to escape their grasp. What’s worse, the rotating head was more than a simple distraction. Charles's beak opened wide before a black orb, with a red exterior, formed directly in front of his mouth.

The orb increased in size between Masatos torso and Charles's beak, its heat not going unnoticed by both parties. Masato attempted to escape the obviously threatening energy blast, known only by Charles as a cero, but his movement was constricted by his opponents grip. Even the pulling of his tail proved futile and Masato jerked his body in a panic as his face grew pale with fright.

The blast was finally released at an upward angle and pierced the sky with a thick pillar of red and black energy that tapered at both ends. Its brief existence gently lit the street and surrounding neighborhood in red light, before it shrunk horizontally and broke into segments of thin red strings. Smoke emitted from Charles's target, who miraculously still stood atop his back. The hollow expected to sacrifice a good portion of his hands in his own cero, and yet he could still feel their presence. “This can’t be possible.” He thought at the surprised realization that Masato in fact, still had an upper body. The smoke cleared and blocking most of his chest was a shredded cyan arm, which had taken the brunt of the blast, though it wasn’t completely successful. A glaring weakness Masato was now aware of, the endurance of his fullbring left much to be desired, and where the arms width was thinnest, he sustained a considerable amount of damage. His opponent knew this only by observing the purple burn mark that stretched just above Masato’s left eye and across the side of his head, a chunk of his hair and coat's hoodie were also missing.

Charles grinned and his yellow eyes bent into a crescent once more. He pulled the human from his back and into a horizontal spin before releasing him with a throw, into a nearby concrete wall. The impact kicked up dust, which blew away quickly as two consecutive swooshes of compressed air cut at Masato’s chest. Masato attempted a block but was too sluggish from the cero and throw to conjure a full arm of defense fast enough. The slashes cut what little resistance the coat made into ribbons before finally reaching their designated target, leaving an x shaped, and bleeding injury between Masato’s chest and abdomen. He yelled in agony as the wind force buried him deeper through the brick wall and into another.

The blades of wind were created from Charles by flattening his arms and sharpening his fingers, to mimic the shape of bird wings. However unlike bird wings, light and feathery they were not, but dense and heavy. The back edges of his arms and tips of his feather-like fingers were as hard as steel, with which he created the slashes.

Charles stood a few moments at the black hole as the dust cleared. He peered at the hole he expected to see Masato in but saw nothing. This put him on alert quick enough to detect a bloodied Masato approaching from above, with to giant clasped hands intended to flatten the hollow. The attack was powered by nothing more than his raw physical strength, as such, Charles found evading it easy, leaving Masato to only hit the ground, and himself an opportunity to counter. 

With the desire to capitalize on the opening, Charles prepared a direct diagonal cut with his right arm. As the attack drew closer Masato remained still, waiting for Charles to realize the trap he had set. Rushing at the opportunity blinded Charles to the thin but abundant strands of thread he was running into, only catching on once he was stuck.

Masato stood in the face of Charles and raised his tail to show the abrupt stop, from which Charles understood, the tiny strands came from.

“You’re strong, but not very smart.”

 Masato, with heavy breaths, teased the hollow, hoping he would try again to come closer, and tighten the hold of the threads. It was unsuccessful as the only reaction Masato’s taunt garnered was an angry growl.

“Had you not killed that man, I would probably let you off the hook.”

Masato said with a slight smile. Although he didn’t intend this time to taunt, these words insulted Charles more than the former.

“Tsk” Charles, in the blink of an eye, cut himself free with the arms for blades he had. Now more enraged than ever and shouted.

“YOU, A HUMAN SHOWING ME MERCY?!”

Masato knew it was possible to cut free from his confinement, but not with such ease. He stared at the falling shredded threads, glinting from the bright moon, in despair. The shocked left him unprepared for the next attack – a continuation of the diagonal cut, only this time landing. The attack was aimed for Masato’s left shoulder and would’ve been strong enough to cut him into two had he not blocked the cutting arm with two cyan arms of his own. Though successfully keeping his body attached, Masato was still pushed to the ground from the force of the cut.

“To conceive that mere yawn could constrain a being such as I, Charles Quillton, for your hubris, you will suffer the same death that poor bastard laying there did.”

The shouting had ended and Charles returned back to his composed gentleman self. His arms regained their sturdy and muscular form, as they were when the two first met, and he tightened his fists to pummel the human with.

Masato witnessed the change in Charles’s arms and fists and raised all four of his arms for defense. The first punch was bearable, the second punch pushed his arms to his chest, and the third crushed him under his own fullbring. The punches gained speed as they rained and by the first dozen, Masato lost consciousness. His guard was punched away, leaving his face and torso exposed for the flurry of punches, which Charles did not hold back with.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I’m home.”

Masato announced his arrival through the door and into the house he recognized as the one he once shared with his wife and daughter. It was the first day he wore the coat Asuna made for him, and it was during summer. As expected, he was sweating smelly.

“Mom, dads back!”

Reina yelled as she stopped scribbling with crayons to rush and hug her father.

“Oooh! If only mommy was this excited to see me.”

Masato joked as he lifted Reina up from her armpits and hugged her tightly, before moving her to his side and carrying her through the living room and into the hallway.

“How was school, did you use my secret technique in art class today?”

“Yesh sir! “ She replied and saluted with pouted lips. “I used pershpective and beat everyone in...”  *sniff* “you stink!”

“whaaat, it’s the coat, not me.”

Masato rebutted with whispers, as to not be heard by Asuna. They both laughed in the hallway as they approached the kitchen on their right.

“No, don’t come in the kitchen that smelly. Go wash up, I’ll have dinner ready when you’re done.”

Asuna exclaimed while standing at the stove, before a steaming pot of rice.

“Not even a small kiss?”

Masato extended his head out with puckered lips, waiting for a kiss he knew she wouldn’t give.

“I’ll kiss you papa.”

“Thank you sweetie.”

Reina said before pecking her father on the cheek.

“pleh, saltyyy.”

She stuck her tongue out and cringed.

“That’s enough of you. Get outta here. Go clean up your crayon mess.”

He put Reina down and sent her off, before entering his bedroom and preparing for a shower. From the living room he could hear “my art is not a mess!” which caused him to chuckle.

Following his shower, the family of three sat at the kitchen to eat dinner, rice topped with chicken and potato curry. The drop light directly above the table they sat at, emitted the kitchen in warm hues with the yellow light it created. They ate and chatted about their days and other lighthearted topics before Asuna’s mobile phone rang, interrupting their conversations.

“NO ELECTRONICS AT THE DINNER TABLE.” Masato and Reina berated playfully at Asuna, at the rule she herself made.

“Quiet yous.”

She leaned forward, angrily pointing her spoon and staring at her critics.

“It’s work.”

She stood from the table to take the phone call in the hallway. The atmosphere was suddenly slightly tense. A phone call from work this late implied it was something serious and as she always did in the past, Masato and his daughter suspected that she wouldn’t stay for dinner. The field she worked in was competitive and cutthroat so there was an understanding, however the negative feeling of being unable to eat dinner with the mother of the house was still felt.

Asuna sat back down at the table and returned to eating, leaving the rest of the table confused.

“Wasn’t that work?”

“It was.” Asuna responded dismissively as she sat upright and chewed her food, eyes closed.

“You’re not gonna go in?”

“You’ve been cooking dinner all month and the one time I get to, they call me in? Not a chance.”

Asuna responded proudly before grinning and poking her tongue out at her two awestruck spectators.

“I married a badass.”

“LANGUAGE!” Reina exclaimed.

“It’s true.” Asuna agreed proudly with Masato, dropping Reina’s jaw in disbelief, as her mother would’ve normally reprimanded cursing. 

The atmosphere resumed to its bustling state of chitchat and explosive laughter, until the eating was complete and cleaning began. Reina assisted briefly before being sent to bed, Masato cleaned the dishes, and Asuna wiped off the dinner table. She couldn’t stay for long as despite her confident display, she still had to go to work, just later than she was demanded to.

Putting her shoes on, Asuna wasn’t happy about leaving that late and her expression greatly showed it. She placed her hand on the doorknob and hesitated to open it. She stood with her head down and defeated, tears swelled in her eyes and before she could let out a sob, Masato called from behind her.

“Babe, is everything alright?”

He asked worryingly, as although he didn’t see her teary eyes, he sense something was off.

Asuna turned towards Masato to reassure him, but not before wiping her tears.

“Everything’s fine. I’m just a little tired.”

Masato approached her with a hug and wrapped his arms around her.

“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

He said in an attempt to comfort her, but his ignorant words only increased her need to work. His family was economically upper middleclass; her family scavenged the slums until her father was employed by Masato’s. His job was guaranteed and inherited, with a salary much higher than others in the same position; she had to attain a higher education to be in her underpaying job.

When her family joked about relying on the Hizorashi’s forever, and arranging her marriage for status, she vomited inside. Her love for Masato was evident without her family’s meddling and she loved spending time at home with her daughter… but her pride couldn’t stand being, what she viewed as, a “leech” on her husband’s wealth. She was determined to prove her self-worth and independence from handouts, but perhaps more devastating than leeching, was being a slave to a job that dictated when she could or couldn’t see her family. The decision was her pride or her love, but she chose to bear the weight of both and it crushed her every day.

As Masato hugged her, the memories of the next day flashed before him and he recognized exactly what day it was. This triggered a mental breakdown and he bawled his eyes out as he tightened his grip of her. “Why...?” he asked.

The question confused Asuna as the decision to abandon her family the very next morning was an impulsive one that she herself didn’t know she would make.

“w...What do you mean?” she asked, now more perplexed than sad.

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE. I WONT LET YOU.” His hug grew even tighter.

“Stop… you’re hurting me.” She pleaded to no avail.

“TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT. ILL DO ANYTHING JUST DONT-”

“She doesn’t have the answer for you idiot.”

Exclaimed a disembodied voice, as Masato’s surroundings turned into a white room, with all surfaces consisting of large tiles.

“She hasn’t made that decision yet and ‘only way you’re finding out is if you ask her yourself, in the present of course.”

The voice spoke again, giving Masato the opportunity to register its tone and accent. It resembled closely to Masato’s only much older, with a slight scratch added to it.

“I have to survive against Charles, if I'm ever going to get an opportunity..”

“Uh-hum.”

“Which isn’t likely.”

“I wouldn't say that. You still haven’t used me to my fullest potential.”

“As I thought, you’re my coat. Do you have a name?”

“That’s for you to decide. I’m just a bundle of thread, a sentient one, but a bundle of thread no less.”

“So what else can you do besides the arms and tail thing?”

“Well you can use my head.”

Just as the voice responded, its once directionless voice was focused behind Masato. He turned around to see a giant dark purple and black wolf with yellow eyes.

“The wolf emblem!”

“Exactly.”

The wolf spoke, but without any movement of its mouth.

“What does your head do?”

“Mostly bite, hear, smell, talk, y’know, head things.”

“I can’t block or cut with your threads, they’re too weak.”

“Well arms are convenient, but you can shape them into whatever you’d like. Don’t blame me for your lack of creativity.”

“….”

“Didn’t he condense his arms and turn them to blades? Imagine doing that without the worries of bones and muscles, or a limited mass. C’mon man use your brain.”

“I got it. So what’s the plan now?”

“Don’t die.”

 

-Back in reality-

Masato rested in both of Charles’s hands, being held upright with the purpose of getting a clean bite to his neck. He was soar beyond comprehension and could feel his broken left fingers, arm and several broken ribs. The skeletal exterior of his left eye socket was cracked, and his eye swelled purple, like much of his face. Charles fingers constricted his arm, leaving him with only his fullbring to resist the beak of certain death. He used his tail as a bladed whip to cut the fingers binding him, and Charles in the process. No longer asleep in the grasp of his enemy, and with some new abilities to test, Masato faced Charles standing once again.

Masato’s sudden awakening was more than enough surprise, but the ability to now cut was infuriating, especially considering the method by which Masato did. In their entire fight Masato only used blunt force attacks so the cutting possibilities were unfathomable, especially this far into the fight after he had suffered so many injuries, and yet it was. He lost both his thumbs and obtained a deep cut across his body, from Masato’s escape, all in an instant. This infuriated him and now more than ever, he wanted to rip his opponent to shreds and paint the town with his blood, but his experience cautioned him against it. He raised a finger to Masato’s tail that bore a sharp edge.

“Why are you mimicking me; have you no decency?”

He asked with regained composure. Masato wasn’t interested in conversing and as such, remained silent.

“Have it your way.”

Charles flattened his arms into their thin, wing like form and swung them repeatedly, sending a barrage of wind slashes at Masato to avoid. With the wind attacks keeping the human preoccupied, he charged Masato with both arms at his front. When he got close enough, he intended to use his arms as one would use scissors to cut Masato’s head clean off.

Masato deflected the wind attacks with ease as he could now turn his fullbring sturdy enough to withstand most of what Charles could throw at him. He saw the charge the hollow made and decided to match it with one of his own.

Charles’s forearms met the palms of Masato’s fullbring hands and their clash broke the pavement beneath where they stood. With Masato holding Charles's large arms crossed, he decided to use his tail and human fist to jab and cut at the hollow’s stomach multiple times. Spatters of blood flicked from his tail and fist to the ground in rapid succession until Charles couldn’t endure it any further.

“DAMN YOU!”

Charles screamed before charging a cero from his opened beak, aimed directly down at Masato, who kept at the tearing and bruising of his stomach. The cero charged quicker than last time and Charles was certain of the options Masato had. “You either fuck off, or get burned to a cinder.” He thought smugly, wincing slightly with every hit he took.

“I’m on it.”

From the back of Masato’s coat emerged a wolf’s head of the same color, bearing its fangs with jaws wide open. It bit Charles’s beaks closed before it could set off, resulting in an internal explosion within the hollows head.

The cero, due to its rushed and incomplete creation, wasn’t nearly as powerful as the former, but did significant damage no less. Its creators vibrating screams filled the night as he panicked with a head set ablaze. Masato watched from a distance as Charles raged and crashed into objects maniacally, perhaps searching from Masato for retaliation or a liquid the quench the flames of his own making. The panic lasted for a good five minutes before Charles collapsed to the floor and the fire subsided.

Masato stood victorious and limped to the watchmen, just to ascertain that he was beyond saving. He reached the building entrance and saw up close just how far gone the mangled man was.

“I’m sorry.” He said under his breath. His victory over Charles suddenly felt less gratifying knowing that it was his presence that brought the hollow here from the start.

“NOT YET YOU AREN'T!”

“WATCH OUT!”

Charles appeared behind Masato with a punch, breaking his right arm at the elbow, and sending him flying. Masato broke the momentum of his involuntary flight with a new tail, and grunted at Charles who somehow survived the explosion. Upon regaining his balance, he noticed the hollows naked and featherless head, and the absence of yellow light in his eye sockets. 

“Have you noticed now human? I no longer have functioning eyes.” He pointed to his own face. “I apologize for the sucker punch, but as you can assume, I need all the advantages I can acquire.”

Charles walked from the sidewalk and into the street once again, carrying the watchmen over his shoulder before dropping him. With his index finger, he drew a circle in the asphalt with himself standing in the center.

“No more cunning tactics, no more tails, and no more bites. We shall settle our fight here in this circle fist to fist as gentlemen would. If you do not accept, I shall flee with this man’s corpse and feast on what’s left of it. And Upon my eventual recovery, I will kill more innocence in your name. Do wish to have that on your conscious?

Masato brought his tail back into his coat and wrapped his broken arms with condensed yet flexible cloths, which kept his muscles and bones together so he could fight once more. As he walked into the brawling circle glaring at the hollow, Charles grinned with delight for Masato’s decision.

“I expected no less.”

Charles cemented both of his ankles into the ground to keep himself in the circle.

“I suppose with this regard, I’ll allow for your tails assistance.”

Masato quickly dug his tail into the ground, anchoring himself as Charles did.

“Shall we… BEGIN!”

Charles threw the first punch, a left hook to Masato’s head. Masato raised and blocked with his right shoulder, and delivered a quick jab to Charles chin. The punch blew Charles’s head back but he came back in with a double jab. The first jab Masato bobbed and dodge, but the second scraped the left side of his head. Before he could collect himself for a counter, Charles executed a successful right cross, hitting his opponent square in the face. This left Masato with a blurry vision and unable to retaliate. Charles attempted a jab cross combination to take advantage of Masato’s weaving head, but the jab brought his opponent back into the fight and gave him an opportunity to dodge the cross with a duck. With his right side exposed, Charles expected a gut punch, but received two from Masato’s double uppercuts. The hollow instinctively reacted with a wince that opened up his left guard, giving Masato the clear for an overhand right, blasting Charles left of his head and chipping his mask.

The tactical fighting lasted only briefly before their punches became random and thoughtless, prioritizing power over technique and speed over accuracy. Their knuckles drew blood from each other’s flesh and they cried for dominance, silencing their doubts and aching bones. The circle they stood in turned red with blood and after a twenty minute pummeling, the fight was over.

Masato looked down at an exhausted Charles on his back.

“You’re not going to beg for your life?”

Wheezing from a shattered mask and drawing his last breaths, the hollow responded.

“No. though would you have let me live, even if I didn’t kill him?”

Charles countered with a question of his own.

Masato recalled the face of his wife who died by the hands of a hollow.

“....Yes.”

“Heh, liar.”

Masato pierced Charles from beneath his chin and through the top of his mask. The hollow disintegrated into the wind, taking all traces of his existence with him.

*Pant* "hey… you there?”

“Yeah. What’s up?”

“This is the end isn’t it?”

“Looks like it. but you did good kid.”

Masato collapsed to the ground, his eyes swollen shut, still managing to squeeze some tears.

“I really wanted to know why.”

“Me too. But you can’t die crying man. You don’t want to go out like a bitch.”

“Ha-ha yeah.”

Masato grinned revealing all his teeth, save for the missing canine he lost to Charles’s punches. He tried to hold it in but the tears running down his face wouldn’t obey. He sniffled with his runny nose and his cold body stopped its shivering.

“I…” *sniff* “should’ve seen my mom and Reina when I went to their place”

“I guess your old crybaby self is a fitting way to die too.

Masato coughed blood instead of releasing his intended chuckle.

“You’re not helping.”

“I’m just a bun…”

"Bundle of thread" *pant* "So I should call you Ōkami no taba.”

“Sounds good.”

Masato relaxed himself and chose to accept his death with grace. A lesson he learnt from Charles not long ago. Bearing a large smile, runny nose, and teary eyes, Masato flat lined in a puddle of his own blood.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

W/C: 4820

Spoiler

113761.thumb.jpg.17ccfbb500bcaacf0199116605928473.jpgCharles only without the feathers. 

 

Edited by Mumen Writer
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Midnight
In Masato’s apartment were, save for himself, four figures. 
Azami, sat closest to Masato to treat his wounds. “There, I’ve finished my part. Do your thing Shinigami.” She exclaimed proudly with crossed arms, looking down at her handiwork.
“You know I could’ve done this without your bandaging?” Yuuto responded as he switched places with her to perform his own method of healing.
“You can't her mama bear instincts to help a dying child” Seito jested. 
Azami turned to him quickly after she placed a cigarette in her mouth “FUCK YOU SAY?!” she shouted. 
“Um… Should you be…” Asuna tried in inquire about smoking next to a recovering patient, but her low voice could not compete with the couples bustling chatting.
“Babe, I was complimenting you.”   
Yuuto was all too familiar with how they bantered and learnt to ignore it. “Here goes.” He said before tending to Masato’s severely injured body, with a green and spherical light of reiatsu, which formed at the palms of his hands. He hovered the light over an unconscious Masato.
Azami pointed to Yuuto’s glowing hands before asking, “When are you going to teach us that too?”
“Oh, I’m not sure if I can teach healing kido to non-Shinigami. Besides, you two don’t seem like the healing type.” Yuuto turned to her and replied, eyes closed and smiling as usual. 
Azami didn’t like what the shinigami’s words suggested. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she question with peered eyes.
Yuuto wanted to focus on the healing of Masato’s reiatsu and by extension, his wounds too. “Uh…” he struggled to find words that would satisfy Azami, so she wouldn’t distract him. All the responses he came up with, he was sure Azami could misconstrue into something negative. The minute he hesitated to speak felt like an hour, so Masato’s sudden groan was a great sign of progress from the topic of their conversation, and of course his healing process.
With the pace of the conversation much slower, Asuna was finally able to be heard. “Should I still be hiding?” she asked the Shinigami, who swore to assure her safety until she passed to the spirit world on her own terms. 
The Shinigami was quick to respond with a nod. “please, he’ll be awake any minute now.”
“What if seeing me is enough for him to...” she couldn’t complete her question before Yuuto interrupted, clarifying the intentions of his words.
“I understand what you’re going through, but I don’t think he’s mentally prepared to give you the closure you need to move on. In fact his close encounter with death could’ve set him back further than he was before. I won’t force you to do anything, the decision to stay or leave is and always will be yours.”
Asuna stood and quietly contemplated what to do. “I leave him in your care.” she said with a voice of defeat while bowing, before leaving through the walls of his apartment; a privilege reserved only to spirits. 
Moments after she left, Masato winced in discomfort as he regained his consciousness. 
“Welcome back. How are you feeling?”
Seito and Azami rushed to look over a still laying Masato. 
“Give him some space guys.” Yuuto requested as the light around his hands dissipated, only to be dismissed by the couple. 
“Nice work. ‘Was worried we’d lose you.” Seito commented as he extended his right hand to help Masato up.
Azami delivered a playful but hard jab to Seitos ribs. ”Ouch” “Don’t ever doubt my disciple. Though I would’ve never advised him to fight before he could fully use his fullbring.”
Masato accepted Seito’s assistance, with his wrapped up right hand, and rose from his back. Save for his pelvic area, face and hair, Masato was entirely wrapped in with bandages; certainly the work of Azami he thought. To his surprise, he felt rejuvenated for someone that was so close to deaths door. The light atmosphere and his good mood left when he remembered why he confronted Charles. Over the banter of Azami and Seito, his resounding inquiry silenced the room. “Did you save that watchman too?”
The room remained silent with disheartened expressions. Despite how familiar the humans were with death, the guilt of losing a life within your reach didn’t get easier. Yuuto however, was unfazed death, yet empathetic to the humans emotions. He realized only he was capable of consoling Masato, and to some extent, Azami and Seito as well. 
“Are you lot sad for his loss or your own? He is in the care of the most capable Shinigami, in the spirit world. This is the cycle of spirits you are all familiar with. So I ask again what are you lot sad for?” Yuuto spoke loudly with a confident and firm tone, deviating from his joyous and whimsical self. The questions were rhetorical, but had they not been the status of the room would’ve remained as it was, dead silent. The swelling eyes were wiped before Yuuto continued. “Completely shattered arms, dislocated shoulders, blind in his left eye, every rib broken, fractured skull, and much more. Do you think our friend here slacked when he confronted that hollow?!” his question was first directed towards Azami and Seito before he turned to Masato again and asked him the same, “Did you?!”
Masato lowered his gaze to his bandaged hands and replied softly “no”.
“You’ve fought your hardest and given your all, what else could you have done? His blood isn’t on your hands.”
Masato raised his head and disagreed with Yuuto’s notion. “But it was my reiatsu that brought him there!”
“Then we’re lucky!”
Masato’s face became more distraught hearing Yuuto speak, but before he could respond, Yuuto continued. 
“What If that hollow decided on a different victim and walked away alive. How many more do you think would’ve died by its hands? We can't prevent every hollow attack. admittedly we've been on damage control ever since that dreaded war. As far as outcomes go, tonight was undoubtedly a success.”  
Humbled again, Masato couldn’t deny Yuuto’s claims. but pragmatic as they were, the shinigami's words still didn't alleviate his guilt. He clenched his fist in disappointment, not noticing Yuuto slowly walk to his kitchen area, before a cold can of beer flew suddenly into his lap. 
Yuuto had extracted a bag of alcoholic beverages from Masato’s refrigerator. “I understand your feelings but that man has moved on in life, and we all should too. Let’s celebrate his life and honor his passing with joy.” He tossed beers to Seito and Azami before cracking one open for himself. “To Yoshida Tamotsu!” he proceeded to down his drink.
“Bottoms up!” Azami cheered before she and her boyfriend began to drink. 
“This doesn't taste that bad .” Seito remarked as he was already showing signs of drunkenness.
“psh, what a lightweight. You embarrass me.” Azami joked as she sat cross-legged, patting Seito on the back. 
As always, their conversation turned into lighthearted banter, which returned the intense air of the room to its jovial state. But Masato hadn’t touched his drink and continued to wonder how the Shinigami knew the name of the watchman. He wanted to ask how but with some thought, he assumed Yuuto spoke to the man’s spirit in the time he was unconscious. But as if his mind was read, the shinigami’s next words left no need for assumptions. “He wanted me to thank you.” Through all else, Masato heard the words clearly and faced a Yuuto who smiled reassuringly. 
Masato was finally comfortable smiling slightly and began drinking with the crew. They drank and ate until sunrise, in memory of the human known as Yoshida Tamotsu. 

WC: 1280

Edited by Mumen Writer
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Seito’s warehouse – 8:00AM

Masato stood in the center of the warehouse, dressed in his Cyan coat, above standard gym clothing. Not far away was Seito, clad in his usual grey suit. They both awoke late and hungover from last night’s binge drinking. Azami however, was much more adept at functioning through hangovers. She was up earlier than the rest and prepared a sobering breakfast to start their morning. After their meal, before going to work, Seito decided to have a sparring session with Masato. He left the task of training Masato to Azami, but with the evolution of his Fullbring and real combat experience, they both needed a higher standard to surpass. He feared they’d grow complacent as the gap between them was no longer significant.

Masato conjured arms from his coat and gestured to the detective. “Aren’t you going to use your Fullbring too?” he asked with a slight smile, conveying smugness. He hadn’t sparred with Seito head on up until now, but presumed his strength was at least in the same league as Azami’s. He would come to realize how misguided his presumption was.

Azami sat on a bench and spectated from the sidelines of the gym space. With a cigarette in her mouth she clapped and cheered for Masato, “he’s underestimating you kid, don’t let him get away with it!”

Seito turned to his girlfriend dumbfounded “you’re supposed to be supporting me.”

“Pfft, I root for the underdogs.” Azami countered with a shrug.

Masato was excited to see how his Fullbring fared against Seito, and wanted his attention on their fight, “you’re already an hour late for work man. ‘Think we have time for this?" Masato tried to taunt Seito into going all out.

“You’re right, but I’m not using my Fullbring. Besides...” Seito replied, facing Masato once again. With his knees bent, his left fist aiming towards Masato, and the other at his waist, he assumed a fighting stance. “I prefer fair fights.”

“Heh,” Masato chuckled before his face turned straight and he leapt towards his sparring opponent. He paced his steps carefully as to use the ideal range of his Fullbring. He learnt this important lesson from Azami.

(When you have the range advantage against your opponent, it is good practice to not abuse it. Firstly, you don’t have the speed to retract your arms fast enough to block counters should your opponent evade. Keep the range close enough to make the most of your natural speed. Secondly, you can catch your opponent off guard. Lead them to believe they are safe at a certain distance, and when they least expect it, got em!)

The second reason didn’t apply to Seito, or anyone else who understood the properties of his cyan coat. But he very much needed his speed against the orange-haired detective. Masato’s Fullbring was fluid and perfect for adapting to situations. Good footing, accurate strikes, attention to balance, calculating distance between oneself and their opponent, and many other concepts of combat; all were considerably easy for him when his coat was equipped.

Power comes from the ground up. As demonstrated against Charles, he could use his tail to keep balanced and to the ground, and return to it should he find himself inflight. His multiple appendages lessen the risk of counters should he miss his target. With his real arms he could prioritize blocking while striking with the cyan ones. Their seemingly endless reach made distance calculations less crucial. All these advantages were compiled considering he was currently combating an unarmed human. But there was a weapon he hadn’t been exposed to yet. One that his opponent would seemingly conjure from thin air.

With his cyan right hand making a sweep for Seito’s legs, and his left one horizontally swinging at Seito’s chest, Masato thought his opening approach was simple but effective for taking the detective off balance. (If he chooses to recede, I'll press the attack; if he comes closer, block long enough to restrain him with my Fullbring.)

Seito’s smirk never left his face. With his innocent and jolly expression, he would show is disciple how far they were apart. His nonchalant attitude to life would lead one to underestimate his dedication to fighting, or anything for that matter. However, the gift of martial arts passed on from his father was to not be taken lightly. Seito would get into the zone when in combat, with a focus sharper than any blade.  Quotes like, “To blink was to forfeit against this young prodigy,” and the like were common for anyone skilled enough to face a young Seito.

Unlike Masato, he needed his legs to keep balance; so avoiding the sweep was crucial. With a short but fast counterclockwise twist of his left foot, he summoned a translucent barrier of orange Reiatsu. (So he's using his Fullbring after all?)The rectangular shield was purposely positioned with a slant to redirect the sweep. The strength to stop Masato’s attacks head on was perhaps too much for gafu of that caliber to block. Besides, redirecting your opponent’s attacks provided more opportunities for counters. By not bluntly stopping Masato’s arm’s momentum, Masato himself would have to. Realistically, the window to capitalize off this kind of parry was mere seconds, if not less. But in serious battles, those milliseconds could mean victory or defeat. 

With the sweep successfully avoided, Seito ducked forward smoothly and impossibly low, completely avoiding the attack aimed at his chest. He followed the weaving motion of his duck to raise his torso again. Then, with a right punch faster than Masato could process, Seito would make his first offensive move by creating another rectangular barrier; only now it was positioned horizontally and, presumably, pushed by Seito’s punch, into Masato’s stomach.

Masato hadn’t the time to spare if he didn’t want to tank the barrier attack head on. Giving his defensive capabilities, it was certainly a cost effective option. But if Seito was anything like his girlfriend, Azami, then he wouldn’t let up his assault. The recoil from blocking was Azami’s favorite window to rush her opponents. Masato decided to deflect the attack by raising his left elbow and pushing the barrier from its bottom side into the air. There was a brief push back in as a reaction to meeting Seito’s barrier move, but it was too soon to exploit. Furthermore Masato pressed on with a full powered leap; performing a bringer light and blitzing behind Seito. He was attacking with a downward kick to his opponent’s head. He gripped the ground with his Fullbring hands as a contingency for if his target was somehow fast enough to flee; He would press from the ground to follow.  His teacher was much less reliant on close combat than he initially suspected; as such, Masato tried to keep him reactive, and unable to shoot barriers.

The bringer Light and repositioning of Masato did not impress Seito, who had seen his disciple’s fighting pattern on many occasions. Rushing and striking his opponent from behind was Masato’s go-to action, and its effectiveness certainly did not escape him. However against opponents faster than himself, the move could backfire horribly.

(Never rush yourself to attack your opponent. The initiator only holds an advantage when the second party is not expecting. If you recklessly strike at all openings, you submit yourself to chance and whatever your opponent has yet to reveal. Always assume your opponent has a trump card.)

Of the only options Masato left available, Seito chose none. Instead, he jumped into Masato’s kick, allowing it to land atop his shoulder, before it could build momentum to cause any harm. With the immediate threat of attack no longer present, Seito would grasp the leg on his shoulder with both hands and swing Masato forward, throwing him into the ground in the process.

The pavement of the warehouse would crack underneath the impact of Masato’s body being slammed into it. He landed on his back first with the back of his head following. His body’s freakish durability, compounded with his cyan coat made sustaining damage easily avoidable. He wasn’t aware of it, as he never witnessed Seito’s full strength, but with his current defense capabilities, none of his teachers had the sufficient strength to actually harm him. He couldn’t compete against their speed, but the protection of his coat made even their strongest attacks obsolete.

With that said, Seito was under no delusion that raw strength was the only determining factor when in battle; had it been so, he would’ve succumbed to the gripping jaws of the many hollows he’d slain. Every being has a weak spot, and with so little real fighting experience, Masato had many. “I think that should be enough for now.” The orange haired victor proposed as he smiled and extended his hand to Masato, offering to help him back to his feet.

Masato quickly bounced back up own his own before requesting to continue, “Are you sure? I can keep going.” He dusted himself off quickly and assumed a fighting stance to show he was ready.

“Yeah, there was a lot of commotion last night at one of the train stops. I don’t want to upset my colleague by being late. I’ll leave you with this; real life fights aren’t like those in your favorite battle Shonen. Flashy air kicks and other telegraphic moves do waste time, opportunities, and will be exploited. Jumping into the air behind me like that is a quick way to get a cero blasted through your chest. You don’t have the speed to surprise me, nor to catch me, should I choose to run. If ever you find yourself against an opponent who outclasses you, especially in speed, hold your ground, observe their subconscious patterns if possible, and prioritize counters. They will expose themselves the most while they are striking.”

“Understood.” Masato’s reply was short as to not hold Seito any longer. He was curious about the translucent barriers, but elected to hold his questions for Azami later. He recalled his fullbring’s limbs, thus restoring his coat to its natural state, before taking it off and rearranging the gym equipment of the warehouse. It was how he kept from third-wheeling Seito and Azami; allowing them to do their lovey-dovey couple stuff before he went off to work.

*shik, shik* Azami lit herself a cigarette as Seito had since left, and it was her turn to beat some lessons into Masato. She took a single deep inhale through her cig before speaking, “Alright, alright, have a seat. Class is in session.”

He hadn’t completed his tidying task but knowing how frequently the warehouse got disorganized, it didn’t bother him. With a white towel wrapped around his neck, he sat cross legged before his teacher. Normally, when he wasn’t being tormented by her Fullbring, he sat quiet and absorbed whatever info dump she offered him. But the techniques deployed by Seito clouded his mind too much to not inquire about them. She went to speak but before she could complete her first word, he interjected, “what technique did he use to deflect my attacks? He even threw one at me.”

Azami’s plans for this days lessons were long, as such she didn’t want to spend time on unrelated things. She figured giving her usually silent student a concise answer would satisfy his curiosity and allow smooth sailing for the rest of her scholarly lecture, ”it’s a basic form of gafu. He’s pretty good at it. As I was saying—““what’s Gafu? Have you used it yet, or taught me any?” Masato wouldn’t relent about the Technique he once assumed was exclusively available to Seito.

The string of questions he hurled Azami’s way were a sign of her failure to understand her disciple. She growled from frustration before reluctantly explaining, “Gafu is a broad term that’s mostly used to describe the manipulation of one’s reiatsu. Think, the Shinigami kido you’ve seen from Yuuto. Most people who have an affinity for Reiatsu based techniques can pick up gafu quite easily. As for my usage of it, if you can recall the night we first met, the ball of reiatsu I shot you with, that was also basic Gafu. You aren’t hardwired for it though; your reiatsu’s too violent, and you suck at controlling it. It’s why the first thing we taught you was how to subdue it. You did a number on Seito’s car the first time you unleashed it, remember?”

The fateful night when he received the news of how his wife died was one he hadn't fully recovered from. The dreadful emotions that overcame him then were beginning to brew inside him again. But rather then anger, Masato dropped his head in a faint and helpless sorrow. He lost all the enthusiasm for learning

“Too soon I guess,”Azami thought to herself. She handled sappiness best when she didn’t at all. Instead she tried to power through with positivity and uplift his spirit again, “what do y’know, that’s a great Segway into what I wanted to start today. I think its time you’ve upgraded your Fullbring, into its complete form. But this warehouse can’t take that kinda beating; so we might be relocating for this specific training. ‘Got any place in mind.it has to be vast and pretty far away from civilization. “

Suddenly she quickly reached into the right back pocket of her jeans and pulled from it her lighter, her object of affinity, from which she hastily released her fullbring, Burning to quench. Masato would also rush to and put on his cyan coat. Their similar actions was a sign that they both sensed the same thing. The threatening aura of a wild beast. From its pacing and gradual increase in intensity, the pair assumed they were specifically being targeted. An uneasiness fell upon them as the negative aura became more concentrated at the front entrance of the warehouse. They couldn’t be sure, but it felt as if they were being watched through the sliding steel gate. They readied themselves for the beast’s inevitable attack, but as the gate burst open, a sense of relief and confusion would befall Masato, and even more so, Azami.

“AH HA, you thought I couldn’t sense you?!” the, once assumed beast, turned out to seemingly be a normal human. He was brutish, almost a foot taller than Masato, and scars could be seen anywhere his tight, white, T-shirt and blue loose fitting jeans didn’t cover. Additionally the hostile aura the stranger emitted turned warm and friendly the moment his eyes locked onto Masato. His jaw dropped in awe rendering himself speechless. Masato would be the one to break the brief and awkward silence between the trio, “Dad?! What are you doing here?” He asked, causing Azami to turn her attention away from the intruder and to her disciple, “what the fuck is going on?” she thought to herself. Normally she spoke what came to her mind but she elected to hold her tongue and let the alleged father, son duo carry the conversation, and maybe provide her with answers. She was most curious about the father’s reiatsu.

The intruder would walk closer to Masato before answering, in an almost yell, “Its been a long time son! I came back from my business trip last night; your mother said you spend your days in this area lately! I thought I’d pay you a visit when suddenly I felt… Never mind! Look at you; you’ve gotten huge!” He would stop walking once he reached Masato, hugged him tightly, and turned to the woman on standby. His giant and tough as nails right hand would dwarf and engulf hers as they shuck hands. “Oh and you must be the esteemed Fujiwara Azami, the one in charge of whiping him into shape. You have my sincerest Gratitude.” The giant man followed his handshake with a deep and passionate bow. “Azami, this is Hizorashi Kosuke, my father.” Masato gestured towards Kosuke, while introducing him.

Azami’s face bore a smug grin ever since the man mentioned his return from a “business trip”. “So you’re papa Hizorashi, the business man huh? What exactly do you do on your long trips away?” she asked attempting to corner him. Kosuke was a suspicious character in her eyes, and obviously hid much from even Masato. Why her disciple didn’t question the previously raging reiatsu emitting from his own father? She chalked it up to his understandable joy in seeing his father for the first time in years. Either way, she would catch him in a lie, and force him to quell her suspicions.

“Oh, the business trips are just a front! For two decades I’ve been torturing some monster for its lucky teeth! It’s how we Hizorashi’s have lifted our curse!”

“WHAT?!” Masato shouted with shock. Azami would nonchalantly add, with an almost disappointed tone of voice, “wow, that’s all it took for you to crack. lame.” Her quip was quite belittling to Masato’s state of disbelief.

“After I captured the Kin no kuma, its monster friends took him for an easy meal! I’ve spent most of my time away, defending him from his own kinfolk! It was quite depressing! He kicked the bucket recently and all the collected teeth I had disappeared, along with his corpse! Now, why did I sense the presence of one of those things from you both?!” Kosuke answered and questioned Azami specifically.

Masato’s sights alternated between Azami and his father, as they make quick exchanges and spoke with each other candidly, as if they were long time acquaintances.

“You can detect the similarities in reiastsu between us Fullbringers and hollows, pretty impressive. Your sons inherited hollow-like abilities, most likely from all the exposure you’ve had to them. We’re currently training him in preparation for avenging Asuna.”

Kosuke crossed his arms and stroked his beard with his gaze directed to the floor. He pondered, “Hmm, I should’ve known one of them was involved. How can I help kill that Bastard?!”

“You said you held a hollow captive. Wherever you did so, should be safe enough for your son to complete his Fullbring.”

(what a coincidence.)

“I still have many questions but they can wait! I’d like to spend the rest of today with my family! We can head out first thing in the morning.”

“Agreed.”

WC: 3050

Edited by Mumen Writer
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Masato returned to the hizorashi household with his father kosuke, and spent the night there with the rest of his immediate family. That night was the second in a roll of rowdy binge drinking and little sleep as they all celebrated Kosuke’s temporary return. The intentions to take Masato on his next business trip was protested a lot less by Fuyumi Hizorashi than either of the father and son duo expected. Perhaps she was more lenient because of the bonding opportunities she felt Masato missed out on, as of all her children, kosuke was absent the most from his upbringing. She assumed amidst the horrible hand life had dealt her only son, fatherly wisdom would help Masato through it all. If only she knew all the turmoil Kosuke’s fatherly wisdom would bring him in the following days.

Masato would somehow escape the shackles of his drunk family, and leave for his apartment to pack and rest up, as suggested by his father. “I haven’t the faintest Idea what Mrs. Azami has planned for you! I would be cautious and bring extra everything to be safe, especially water and toilet paper!” the words of his father repeated in his head as he filled two suitcases of clothing, a first aid kit, his cyan coat, and of course, lots of water and toilet paper.
_________________

 

Kosuke wandered into a quiet and seemingly abandoned market strip of Karakura. He turned to his right and looked at the silver garage gate of his old acquaintance’s shop. From the small creak beneath the aluminum gate, he could see the peeping of an orange light, signaling that there was someone present. He walked closer to the gate and listened. Through it, he could hear three separate voices, two male and one female. They were all familiar to him, and the reason he too left the Hizorashi household following his son.

He knocked three times gently on the aluminum as to not disturb the… stray cats.

“Who is it?!” the female voice asked aloud from behind the shops gate. Kosuke wouldn’t reply as his being there was intended to be a surprise. Instead he waited silently, knowing the nature of the female, she wouldn’t make him wait for long. The gates rattled open and the women, roughly in her mid-30’s spoke dismissively to her visitor before caring to see who it was. “We’ve been out of business for years now. What do you want...” she finally looked up and gasped at the sight of a grinning Kosuke, who placed his pointing finger over his perked lips and whispered mischievously, “Shh.”

The shop Kosuke’s old friends inhabited once belonged to an old women, who gave fortune telling’s and warded off bad omens to pay her bills. In his youth, Kosuke used to visit her frequently after the mysterious recovery of his mother’s declining health. The two males inside were his best friends, one of which was married to the old shop owner’s granddaughter Reika, the female who was present. 

While catching up with all his friends were Kosuke’s intentions, on this specific night he came for the second male. Who wept and drank at the shops front counter. From outside the shop, Kosuke could hear the two others trying to counsel the man who endlessly cried. Seeing just how bad the man was, Kosuke elected to not perform his juvenile prank. Rather he let his presence be known by clearing his throat aloud. “Boss?” The husband of Reika, Tadashi instantly recognized the voice and stood from the bar to greet his old friend. “It’s been ages!” Tadashi smile gleefully as he shook hands with and hugged Kosuke firmly. He turned to the back of the still weeping man, who hadn’t flinched at the news of Kosuke’s arrival. For a second he had forgotten just how bittersweet the trio’s reunion was. The ordeal that brought them all to their old hangout spot.

Kosuke walked to the man’s left, where Tadashi had just stood from, and sighed before taking his seat. He downed the half full cup of sake on the bar's counter before saying anything to the father of Asuna. After a silent wait that felt like ages to Tadashi and Reika, Kosuke finally initiated a conversation. “Genta, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to protect her.” The soft apology finally caught the man’s attention. “I can’t do anything to bring her back. But I swear to you…” as Kosuke paused, the shop gradually began to shake erratically. The sound of various small objects clanking and some glass breaking filled the shop’s silence as an enraged Kosuke struggled to continue. “I swear to you… that whatever attacked our Asuna, will not go easily!” two thin streams of tears poured from the outer ends of his eyes, over the reddening complexion of his face; on which, his pulsating veins were highlighted. 
_________________

 

Morning- 5:00AM
Masato only had time to rest for 6 hours. His prepacked luggage meant that the 20 minutes to wash up was all he needed before he was ready to go. The arrangement was for his father to meet him downstairs at 5:30, so masato stood and watched through his window for any signs of his father’s arrival. At 5:15 he would finally see the tiny figure of a man all the way down the road, across from his building, the large distance made discerning the amount kosuke packed hard to determine, but using his frame as a reference, the giant camouflage bag he carried almost doubled his body in size, and Hizorashi Kosuke was anything but small.

He would eventually make it to Masato’s apartment building just before 5:30. By then, Masato was already down stairs and waiting with the two suitcases of his own. The route was discussed as they walked to one of the final landmarks signaling the end of Karakura’s bounds; the meeting place where they would meet Azami. She was fashionably early, and used mobile video games and smoking to keep herself occupied awaiting the Hizorashi's.

“Good morning!” Kosuke called from a few feet away. Neither he nor Masato could clearly make out her expression as she sat directly in front of the rising sun.
“Good morning Sensei.” Masato would follow his father with his own greeting and a faint smile. He held a hand horizontally against his forehead to block some of the sun's intense brightness. As he and Kosuke came closer, her wrinkled and exhausted face would set the tone for how they would deal with her.
“Uh, Azami, are you sure you’re up to this? We can reschedule if you’d like.” Masato spoke gently. The understanding and compromising approach hurt the ego the least. If ever she wanted to give up and save face, now would be her best chance. Azami however, was a special brand of stubborn.
“No, Seito’s been swamped with police stuff, and I promised him I could finish this task. Papa Hizorashi’s time will also be wasted if we don’t hurry up.” She replied after closing her flip phone and standing up straight.
“Oh, don’t mind me! I have nothing but time on my hands!” now even Kosuke extended the olive branch. If she refused now, she’ll have no more excuses for rescheduling. But that didn’t stop her.
“I said I’m fine guys. I’m just a little impatient that our ride hasn’t arrived yet. Are you sure you called the Uber before you left the house? She asked while wiping sweat from her forehead and looking around the barren desert outskirts of Karakura. Her question was met with an uncomfortable silence. She refused to accept what her mind had already guessed. But her concerns were too worrisome to not confirm for certain. She turned around to face Kosuke again. “Don’t tell me you expect us to get their by foot? In this heat?!” she questioned the brutish man who stood unremorseful and indifferent to her nagging. 
“In the many trips I've taken, I can say for certain that walking the way will take us a week! If we run at full speed, it should take only a day and a half! I don’t own a car and with no more lucky teeth, I can’t afford to spend recklessly!” Kosuke explained and justified his own decisions proudly, sealing his words with a passionate thumbs up.

Masato was also surprised to hear the journey would’ve been taken by foot. However, the tedious morning runs Azami put him through every day and afternoon gave him some much needed confidence. With his jogging sneakers on, he tapped the tips of his feet on the ground one at a time, making sure his footwear were tight and secure. He followed up with stretches to wake his body fully up in preparation for his longest run.

In that time, Azami came up with a great idea to not quit, while simultaneously not running at her top speed for a two days straight. “Actually, this all works out in the end. The first step to completing your Fullbring is complete exhaustion. When your body depletes itself of Reiryoku, it becomes sensitive to other spiritual signatures, like the souls of objects. That is the best time to attempt to fully bring out the potential of your coat. Your first assignment starts here. Release a steady flow of Reiatsu as you run to drain yourself. Cardio isn't enough of a challenge. So you'll be carrying your father's things too. There is to be no assistance from your coat. You’ll wear, and keep it activated. But you'll be only using you raw physical strength.” she exclaimed, pointing to the camouflage bag. “Oh and my suitcase too,” she added as she walked up to her disciple and placed her suitcase in his hands.

Masato was somehow more worried about her small suitcase, than Kosuke’s giant bag. Did it magically weigh tons? He was hesitant to accept it in his hands, but was pleasantly surprised when he finally did. His expectations failed greatly; the case was rather extremely light. This would normally only raised more suspicions but Masato could only be glad that his burden was less heavy than he predicted. He managed to find space in his father’s bag for all of the trio’s luggage; this made carrying it all much more convenient with his limited amount of hands. With the bag strapped on his back, and his father by his side, Masato was all set to run. There was just one problem, “aren't you coming with?” He turned to and ask Azami, who was making her way back to karakura and, unbeknownst to him, her bed. “I’ll catch up to you guys in a heartbeat, 'might even make it there before you. I just forgot I left the warehouse unlocked, those delinquents have a sixth sense for unprotected property.” Masato and Kosuke both stared blankly and unconvinced by her excuse. Their uncomfortable silence compelled her to find another lie, hopefully a more convincing one. “Crap, I left the electric stove running from this morning when I made breakfast. I wanted to make sure I was satiated for this crazy run." kosuke noticed and prepared to catch her in the lie she had just told, but his son would quickly interject before he could speak, “Alright, see you there.” He too noticed the glaring flaw in her story, but every second they stood chatting, was a second his shoulders and back cried for relief. Unsurprisingly, kosuke’s bag was the heaviest one, weighing easily over half a ton. kosuke’s sharp eyes were perceptive and got the message Masato was making. “Try not to get lost on your own in this desert!” he advised her before turning in the general direction of the route he memorized by heart. “LET’S GO!” and with those final words, the father and son duo took off on their journey to train in the green mountains.

5 Days Later
Masato swayed left to right with his strides, which bordered on just regular walking. The duo were both drenched in their own sweat. To escape the direct rays of the bright and yellow midday sun, Masato’s coat was sufficient; and kosuke’s tan explorer’s fedora kept him safe as he seemingly jogged in place, at Masato’s right side. He could’ve long since arrived at their intended destination alone, but abandoning his son was absolutely not an option. Against his fatherly desire to ease his son’s pain, he understood the importance of fulfilling and staying true to one’s own commitments. His help would sour his son’s taste of victory and pride of surpassing his limits. Instead he provided words of encouragement to his boy, whose head dangled atop his severely bruised neck and shoulders. “Look son, you can see the green mountains ahead! We are very close! Should we end this on a high note?!” he asked Masato, who hadn’t spoken in at least 2 hours. “Son?!”

Masato would finally reply, but not at all how his father expected, “zzzz, zzzz, zzzz!”
“Gahahaha! What a riot! Wake up boy, we’ve probably kept Miss Azami waiting long enough!” Kosuke laughed and exclaimed while using his left hand to shake the large bag his sleeping son still carried. The sudden jerking motion successfully awoke Masato.
“Huh?” his half-awake response satisfied kosuke enough for him to stop the shaking.
“Your tank’s supposed to be empty! Take care of that before we arrive!”

“Right.” Masato stopped walking before he removed the group’s luggage from his back. With his eyes now closed, he took his deepest inhale through his nose and held it for roughly 10 seconds. While he held it he turned to his father and peeked with an expression that said, “are you sure you don’t want to back up?” kosuke was too excited to see how his son progressed to care for his own safety. Masato’s reminder snapped him into reality. “Oh right, I’ll take the bags too!” he spoke as he grabbed his large bag and rushed some 20 meters away.  He used their luggage as a barrier of protection from what they had been routinely doing for the past 5 days. In truth, their journey should've taken them only 24 hours, possibly less. But Kosuke thought it would be a waste to not take advantage of the vastness of the desert. Since departing, they stopped every 5 hours to allow Masato to flare his Reiatsu at its max, until he was completely exhausted. In addition, he would complete 500 reps of pushups and sit ups, while still baring the weight of the luggage. At first, only 15 minutes of excreting his energy was all it took to render Masato unconscious. Five hours ago, he lasted for 7 hours. Taking into account he hadn’t fully replenished his Reiatsu, one could only imagine his endurance once fully fed and rested.

Upon seeing his father at a presumably safe distance, Masato would exhale with a loud roar. From the ground beneath his feet, suddenly burst a black flame-like energy with purple accents. The initial eruption easily pushed and uninitiated Kosuke, and the shield he hid behind. The direction of the purple flames circled slowly around Masato’s body; but as time progressed, the circular movement gradually ceased. What remained was a smooth, thin, semitransparent pillar of Reiatsu that snake-danced from the ground up; eventually tampering at the top. The sun had completely set and the roaring of his bursting energy was no more. He was completing the weighted exercise and conversing with his father while maintaining the constant flow of Reiatsu, almost effortlessly.

“I don’t… see myself… tiring any time soon.” He paused to inhale deeply before proceeding. “Should we… just head to the forest?” Masato asked his father by the fire place, as he performed and neared the completion of his final reps.
“I guess this isn’t much of a challenge for you anymore! I can’t think of a reason why we shouldn’t!” Kosuke replied while also doing pushups. He then raised his body with a single burpee and kicked a heap of sand into their campfire. ”If you actually run at your top speed, you should make it there in a few hours.”
Masato would also stand straight and question his father’s statement. “You’re not coming? Don’t tell me you left the stove on too.” Masato quipped with a faint smirk. “Gahaha, that’s not it! I just don’t want you carrying all that for much longer! You don’t need me slowing you down, I’ll be right behind ya!” Kosuke reassured his son with his iconic, passionate thumbs up and charismatic smile. Masato looked at his father with a soft expression that conveyed more than words could do, how grateful and appreciative he was for the five days of one on one bonding they shared. He would then approach his father and share a tight and genuine hug.
“Thanks dad.”
“Don’t mention it.”
After they broke away from their hug, Masato turned away to the direction of the forest. He could only see the black of the night, as his eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the natural light of the moon. Even still, the mountains in the distance appeared to be nothing but a mass of black terrain, barely discernible from the earth’s horizon. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot.” Masato exclaimed, before leaping into the air, as his body began to naturally fall under the immense weight of everything he carried, he leapt again. As if skipping in the air, Masato had learnt to utilize bringer light to semi-fly. There was a bit of confusion on Kosuke’s part as he wasn’t sure what Masato could’ve forgotten. Suddenly he felt a tight grip upon his waist, which instantly drew his attention. “Hmm?!” before he could fully register the events, He was snatched into the air by the tail of Masato. This was his first time seeing his son’s Fullbring. “This is pretty incredible! But weren’t you told to not use it?!” Kosuke asked aloud while gripping the cyan tail with his left hand and holding his fedora in place with his right. Masato would shout back to assure that his voice was still heard through all the whistling of strong wind. “We’re late and this is much faster! Besides you’ve never been flying before!” “Fair enough!” Kosuke replied with a grin and some laughter, while taking notice of how high from the ground they were.

 

Deep into the forest,
Azami sat with her back against the stone base of a mountain, in front of a campfire of her own. Its flickering orange light illuminated her surroundings from which, many stories of battle could be read by the conditions of the terrain. Broken and scarred trees, suspiciously shattered surfaces, a few brown stains of long since dried blood. Azami was sure their agreed upon meeting point, wherein she currently resided, was the former living courters of Masato’s father. Most likely where he battled many Hollows. The thought that she was currently sitting out in the open, on the battle grounds that could attract even more hollows, never bothered her. In fact, it never crossed her mind that she could be the one in danger, when her disciple had kept her waiting for 4 days. She could sense his and his father’s presence approaching by foot, but was too exhausted to give them the earful she wanted to. The sound of their footsteps and rustling through various bushes gradually increased until both parties could finally see one another. The purple Reiatsu dancing from Masato had thinned slightly since he took off flying with his father. From its consistently smooth and controlled flow, Azami could easily discern that more than running had occurred on their way to her location. It was less work for her, and she couldn’t resist feeling proud for her student's progress. But despite it all, she felt nothing but resentment. Her mixed feelings about Masato’s arrival would simmer her initial words. But for what reason did she have to be angry? There had to be a good reason.

Azami was the first to speak, in a disgruntled tone no less. “Took you both long enough. You have any Idea how long I’ve been waiting for you?”
In his approach closer to Azami, Masato replied while removing their luggage from his back, “Sorry. We would’ve rushed over had we knew you were actually coming. We couldn’t sense your Reiatsu until we were already 4 days late. Why didn’t you call us? Actually, how did you even get here?”
Azami drained her phone battery on her first day of a rival. How else would she kill time as she waited for, what was supposed to be, a single day. As for how she got there…

 

Day of departure from Karakura, Azami’s apartment
“Aye Yuuto, how have you been… I'm doing great thanks, I hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time… great, I need to borrow your Senkaimon… Yeah it’s very important…“
Yuuto’s side of the phone call
“I’m sorry, that’s too far out of my jurisdiction… yeah but they record and log opening gates, especially ones to the world of the living, you know this… that lie isn’t very convincing, sigh, I’ll see what I can pull off. But you owe me big time for this.”

 

Present
Azami was for the most part, uninterested in answering how she cheated her way to the forest, and much less so, how the plan backfired horribly. Her priorities, and the real origin of her sour mood, was in the suitcase she left with Masato, and expected to reunite with on that very same day. She grunted with irritation before replying to Masato’s inquiries, “doesn’t matter, just give me my case please.”
Masato had forgotten about it to the point that a sense of understanding overcame him, and he genuinely felt sorry. He wouldn’t have wanted to be without the suitcase of his valuables for 5 days too. But recalling just how light it was, he wondered just what was it that could have such a negative effect on her, should she go without it. After removing Azami’s case from the camouflage bag, he popped it open to have a peek at its contents. Curiosity from the initial peek compelled him to open it fully. His discovery and worst fears were realized, causing his face to cringe with disgust and disappointment.
“What is it?!” Noticing the displeasure in his son’s face, Kosuke walked over to inspect the contents as well. And there he saw it, stuffed with no space to spare, a suitcase filled to the brim with cigarette packets. His knee jerk reaction was eerily similar to Masato's, only instead of having his back to Azami, Kosuke let her see just how little respect he now had for her with his expression. Azami felt ashamed and acknowledged her smoking addiction for the first time. “STOP ACTING SURPRISED! YOU KNOW I HAVE A PROBLEM!” she exclaimed while trying her best to avoid eye contact.

The trio would banter and share a meal over Azami’s campfire, all while Masato expelled Reiatsu. He would then be tasked with collecting wood while the others rested. The mission was to drain his energy to the point where his body was forced to take from his coat. Thus pulling its full potential. To arrive at that level of exhaustion, his physical body would also need to be exhausted. For all the help his training did in the desert, the additional volume and control of his raw Reiatsu made the act of depleting him much harder. Thankfully with her month supply of smokes, Azami was willing to wait out the clock.

They occasionally sparred in their wait, wherein Masato had bested her in most occasions. Even her speed was beginning to lose its edge. But the more he gained on her, the more determined she was to push him further. Masato wasn’t sure why. Azami wasn’t the jealous type, but to be this motivated for his progress; it certainly wasn't her regular level of enthusiasm. In the end, Kosuke and Azami’s efforts took another week of time before Masato was in the condition necessary to ascend to a complete Fullbringer.

Masato laid on his stomach, panting heavily while drenched in his own sweat. His hair was understandably more untidy than usual, compiling that was it's greyish tone from all the dirt it held. His body was absolutely sore and he could barely move an inch. From his sunken face, stomach, and ribs, one could easily discern that he was in a very deep state of starvation. Somehow however, that was the least of his worries. Azami stood above him, levitating in the air. In her hand was her folding fan. She held it over her shoulder in preparation for a devastating attack; a gust of wind fast enough to cut through flesh, as demonstrated by the many fresh scratches all over Masato. One would mistake the predicament the young man was in as unwanted abuse, but they would be wrong. Masato willingly accepted the ludicrous proposal and voluntarily signed up for what was essentially torture. What would drive someone to this level of sacrifice and depravity? What purpose did Masato have, that drove him to willingly destroy the very vessel he had tirelessly honed since his first meeting with Seito. To find that answer, Masato would have to reopen a wound that had only just begun to recover. This was of course, not of the physical nature, but the spiritual and psychological.
_________________

 

“Hey, we haven’t spoken in a while. That would normally mean good news, but you’re here on purpose. Why?” a familiar deep voice spoke from Behind Masato. The human was confident in Identifying who the disembodied speaker was. An old friendly animal, whose guidance turned the tide of his battle with the Hollow Charles.
“It’s been a while Useless Bundle.” Masato turned around, looking up and expecting to see the giant purple wolf creature that once was. But his eyes gazed upon nothing, for the furious and intimidating wolf was now naught but a docile and harmless pup. “What happened to you?” Masato asked while looking down upon his friend.
“Well, you haven’t given me the fire I needed to sustain my old existence. Our relationship is give and take. I still think I’m getting the short end of the stick.” the pup replied, it’s still deep resonating voice betraying its small and innocent appearance.
Masato contemplated the words of "give and take" that the pup used to describe their partnership. “You’ve clearly given me strength when I needed you the most. But what have I given you in return?” he asked, unable to decipher his companion’s words.
“The need!”

With those two words, the weight of the air grew intense quickly. Masato’s inner world, so to speak, was a blank white room, but with the intensity of the atmosphere, the walls turned jet black and robbed Masato of his senses, save for hearing and seeing. But until there was anything to hear or see, Masato became breathless in a panic. The serenity of his internal universe was no more. Compared to this timeless nightmare, Masato would’ve much preferred Azami and his father’s torture.

“This is your moment. Dig deep for a reason I should lend you more. You’ve lost the fire that created me. The void that brought you to me has since been filled with a small and loving supportive group.” The deep voice finally spoke, images of the ones that Masato was closest to flashed around him. Seito, Azami, his mother, Daughter, siblings, all appeared to remind him of his blessings. People still in his life to cherish and protect. The voice would add, “You’ve even had an addition to that support group.” A large and bright image of his father, grinning from ear to ear, appeared in front of Masato. His panic had slowed before, but seeing his father put an end to it entirely. “With your current strength, you can protect them all. What reason do you have for more?”

The room went silent and dark again. Masato rested on all fours, searching for reasons.
What reason… What reason?

He clenched his fist tight enough for his palms to bleed, tough as they were. Had he grit his teeth any harder they might’ve shattered. His mind scrabbled as his eyes swelled up with tears of rage. The reason he started this journey, accepted this torture, and pushed his every limit. He needed only remember the words Seito spoke that night, “She was... gonna come back man."  Following that memory, an image of the severed limbs of Asuna always followed. The indignity of how her remains rot in some alley on her way to him. Why would the being who shared his every memory, pretend to not understand?

His chest was heavy and in his anger, he had stopped breathing. The negative emotions and memories suppressed and ignored were once again coming to the surface. The desire to lash out wasn't easy to endure, but through remembering the death of his wife, the only target of his rage was also remembered, The Quarterer. His fist unbuckled slowly and began to regain a steady breathing pattern. He wiped his tears and stood to his feet to speak softly to the abyss. "Since you share my thoughts and memories, you know my answer." 

The black room was suddenly set ablaze with the black and purple energy of which he was accustomed to. Normally he was protected by its presence, but now the flames engulfed himself too. From his feet to the tip of his head, the purple flames consumed all but his eyes and ears, so he could see the giant and fiendish yellow eyes, as well as hear the final words they spoke.

“I'm sorry for letting you down, Asuna.”
_________________

Azami could easily sense the sudden brewing Reiatsu from the exhausted Masato. It was the sign she needed to tell he was beginning to pull the residual energy of his coat, completing the task they came for. “Here it comes, get back. It’s more than I expected… Further!... SHIT!”
_________________

 

Masato’s awoke from the inner conversation he had. The last thing he could remember was the useless bundle’s apology. The sun rising as opposed to setting gave him an estimate of the amount of time passed. After he rubbed his eyes, his vision cleared enough to notice all the drastic changes in his surroundings. The mountain, surrounding trees, their campsite, everything had been replaced with a humongous crater, in which he was centered. The eerie total silence of the forest was the only thing more worrisome than his missing father and Azami. He stood up and immediately began to Search for his peers. To leave the crater he resided, he elected to blink to its edge with the use of Bringers light. Following the brief green flicker from beneath his feet, Masato noticed he covered the distance much faster than usual, and upon arriving where he intended, he was given an unpleasant surprise.

“Ah!” he shouted as he felt the bones of his right landing leg fracture. He hypothesized that the new increase in strength and speed was too high for even his well-trained vessel to manage. As such, he would have to walk in his search for his father and Azami; lest he suffer more injuries. On the topic of injuries, all the ones he had sustained from yesterday’s torture had been healed. "If only my stomach was full too." He thought while observing the still starved condition of his body. As much as he wanted to find the company he trained with, he needed to eat first.

Fish was on the menu for his breakfast, so Masato walked his way over and through the hard rocks and moist moos of the forest. His destination for now was the shallow river he usually fished from, but barefooted and without his cyan coat, though cupped hands he still called for Azami and his father. The otherwise silent forest replied only with the chirps of birds and a songs of Japanese cicadas.
_________________
 

WC: 5360
-Complete Fullbring achieved

Hizorashi Kosuke

 Hosuke01.thumb.jpg.7d5a49d12ddf56b960f919b609138e97.jpg

Edited by Mumen Writer
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The songs of insets and birds complemented Masato’s humming as he stood  knee deep in the rocky, shallow river of the forest. In his right hand was a durable yet flexible twig, which he picked from one of the many trees he passed on his way. With it, he intended to catch some fish, in quite the unorthodox way. His aching bones and growling stomach hadn’t the patience to fish conventionally, rather, he planned to use the twig as a whip to swat any aquatic creature he deemed appetizing. 

It didn’t take long for his prey to present itself; a pike feeding close to the creek’s bank. With the twig raised over his left shoulder, readied to strike, Masato would walk diligently and cease his humming as to not scare off his breakfast. With a concentrated swing of the twig, he struck the pike just near its gills. Ideally, the fish’s meat would remain intact from the hit, but with a gross miscalculation of his own strength, Masato would accidentally whip his prey’s head clean off. His eyes halved with disappointment from his lack of control. “Of course.” He muttered before picking up what remained of his pike. He would resume his humming as he left the river and walked closer to his campsite. 

With each of Masato’s barefoot steps into the wet mossy ground, his new catch dangled slightly. Despite the toughness of Masato soles, there was still a painful discomfort of stepping onto the wrong object, perhaps a splinter or some thorns, so the majority of his attention was placed on the ground just ahead of him. “Hmm.” Masato would temporarily halt his humming again, as he noticed the sudden silence of the forest he sung with. He paused to observe his surroundings. And after a brief period of complete silence, the forest’s songs returned, and so too did his walking, 

At his new chosen campsite which, as of now, was merely some flatten dirt, Masato made a fire using the Ferro rod he brought in his backpack. He couldn’t find his father’s large bag with all their shared cooking tools, so he resorted to simple grill after filleting his pike. As he ate his breakfast, he contemplated the type of shelter he’d make. The thought of returning to Karakura had crossed his mind the moment he woke up, but if Azami and his father left him in here, he assumed there was at least a decent reason why. With that in mind, he prepared and planned for the long term, with the possibility that he might be staying in this forest for weeks, if not months. Despite the myriad of tasks he mentally listed for himself, Masato was of clear mind to break things into smaller manageable bites. This meant starting with a simple shelter, then building upon it later, as he saw fit. 

Masato tidied his campsite by clearing more of the debris in the flat areas he intended to sleep on. Then he ventured for wooden logs to serve as poles, rolled up bundles of moos, and dead tree branches nearby. The pole would make up the framing to his Wicki-up. The moos blocked the wind and rain, and formed a bedding. And the branches prevented the moos from sliding down the poles. 

By digging a hole nearby the river, the earth would naturally filter the water to make it drinkable, Though Masato still decided to boil the water and let it cool before consuming it. With those basic necessities covered, Masato could rest easy, and focus on the true reason he came to the forest. He resumed the consistent training regimen of his father, by steadily releasing a concentrated stream of his own Reiatsu to practice control. Meditating, working out, or hunting, he was always practicing control of his strength, rather than increasing it. 
To Be Continued

WC: 640
 

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The night in the forest Masato presided was deathly silent. The Fullbringer meditated near his shelter, while still maintaining a steadily leaking stream of Reiatsu. What little light the night’s stars and moon provided was obscured by the campfire’s, positioned just ahead of its creator. Masato had begun his meditation prior to the sun’s set. Had he bothered to peek at his surroundings, he would’ve noticed that save for what his fire’s light reached, he was in the eerie palms of complete darkness, and at the mercy of all they contained. But his oblivion didn’t protect him from his fear of the unknown, for he was deeply in tune with the nature he currently called home. Through all its entwining roots and the secrets the trunks kept, Masato soul perceived far and wide what his eyes couldn’t. Unfortunately, in the serene garden, lurked a serpent who stalked him since the morning. Its reluctance to make an appearance tested Masato’s patience, as he refused to sleep with such a threat nearby, but how long did he have to wait?

The Fullbringer sighed as he abruptly stopped the leakage of his Reiatsu and stood from the ground; picking up a small pebble upon his ascension. “Come out already! I’m not sure what you are, but I’m shooting to kill regardless, if you don’t show yourself!” He exclaimed into the pitch black darkness, which slowly turned deep blue as his eyes adjusted to the natural light of the sky. He awaited a response or the emergence of his stalker, but the forest managed the impossible and grew even more silent. “Suit yourself” Masato murmured lowly while assuming a pitching pose. He then threw the pebble into the forest with a loud roar, in the direction he sensed his hidden company. The pebble, infused with its thrower’s Reiatsu, failed to pierce the trees as the wind pressure it generated obliterated everything in its path.
“Ok, ok, I give!” a shrieking voice surrendered as its owner revealed itself.

Unsurprisingly, it was a hollow. “Oh, sorry I missed.” Masato quickly retrieved another pebble from the ground and took aim.
“Wait, have some mercy!” The green hollow pleaded. By now it was close enough to the campfire for Masato to make out its appearance clearly; essentially an anthropomorphic chameleon.
“Why should I?” Masato raised a brow with confusion of the hollows audacity to plea to its prey to spare it.
”I came with a proposition. The last human that claimed this forest as his home was interested in challenging hollows. It was a mutually beneficial deal for both of us. You remind me of him. I wanted to ask if you were interested, since the previous human up and disappeared.”
Masato’s expression accentuated his doubt in the hollow’s explanation. “I’ve been in this forest for months with the man you’re talking about and in all that time, I haven’t sensed your presence until now. How do you explain that?” 
The hollow scoffed as the tension in his shoulders let up, he was getting visibly more comfortable. Masato’s strings of questions showed his curiosity, and possible willingness to negotiate. “Oh, so you two were acquaintances? I was away, tempting fellow hollows looking for an easy meal. There is a good sized group of them expecting my return with your location. We can set up the ‘hunt’ elsewhere away from your camp. Though the guy before you didn’t seem to mind fighting where he slept.”
Masato paused briefly before smirking. “Too late for that.”

Suddenly a second hollow, dwarfing the first in size, emerged from the darkness. “Oh, you weren’t lying ‘bout a good meal in this nowhere forest. Just a shame you were rooting for his victory, instead of ours.” The giant hollow spoke with confidence as it looked down on his companion.
The half chameleon attempted to feign ignorance. “What do you mean? I was just…” his sentence was cut short by a backhand twice the size of his head, swatting him to the side ground.
“Don’t move, I’ll have you for dessert after I’m done with my main course.” The large hollow proclaimed as it cockily cracked its neck and knuckles.
(This is bad. That human is strong, but no amount of pebbles will be enough to defeat Bajo. He’s has an extensive reputation for killing the most Shinigami in that group. What do I do, if this human dies, I’m next.) 
The brutish hollow gave his introduction briefly, before Masato's interruption. “My name is Bajo of the-“
How many friends of yours should I be expecting?” He asked, still pitching for his pebble throw.
But the hollow wouldn’t provide a clear answer. “Huh?”
This led Masato to think of a way to frame his question that would make this buffoon of a hollow comfortable answering. “I want to know my odds of escaping this forest alive.”
“Oh,” it paused to assume a charging stance. “There’s quite a lot of us. You don’t stand a chance against them, much less my death charge. I’ve sunken many Shinigami with this attack.”
Masato chuckled at the thought of Tenzaimon and the other idiot, whose name he didn't bother to remember, being swept away by the winds of Tomoe. “That’s not a hard bar to pass.” However, rather than sharing a bond for their low opinions of Shinigami, the hollow grew furious of how lightly he was being taken, by a mere human of all creatures. His enraged growl came before his shouting roar, and charge at Masato. “Get lost.” Masato threw the pebble at the hollow’s center mass, and puff, just like that, the hollow disappeared, leaving only a large splatter of its blood as proof of its former existence. The chameleon hollow stood wide eyed and dumbfounded by this human’s strength, which far outclassed the previous. It took Masato addressing him directly to snap him out of it. “Hey! Are they all this weak?”
“Uh… no there are some stronger ones, two Vasto Lordes” The hollow replied as it stood to its feet. “There aren’t any remains for me to eat.”
Masato crouched over his campfire, and stoked its flame with twig. “my bad.”
“No, no, it is my fault for bringing weaklings. But I couldn’t have possibly accounted for your monstrous strength. Who are you?” it diligently walked towards Masato, testing his boundaries. To its surprise, the Fullbringer had no reaction to the hollow’s approach.
Hizorashi Masato. You?”
“Oh, you’re both actually related?! What a coincidence” the hollow’s jaw dropped in disbelief. “Actually,” the half chameleon tilted its head contemplatively. “It makes perfect sense. So where did he go?”
Masato’s answers remained nonchalant as he still tried to revive the flames. “I don’t know, but you never gave me a name. Pretty rude.”
“I go by Melo.”
Masato reached for the pike fillets he wrapped in large leaves to preserve. “You lost your Hollow meal, want some fish instead?”
The chameleon hollow declined the offer with a shake of his head. “I’m fine. We’ll try again whenever you’re up for another one.”
“Sounds fair. Have a seat. I want to hear about your relationship with my father.”
“You’re really interested? it’s a pretty long story…” Masato's mouth said nothing, but his expression replied “I have all the time in the world.” Acknowledging this, the hollow took a seat across the fire and began his tales. “Well, it began eight years ago. Back then I was just a small hollow looking for a…

For the next two weeks, the pair would cooperate to thin the numbers of the hollows Melo lured to the forest. On many occasions they shared a campfire and chatted about menial things. The experience provided Masato with a new insight into the hierarchy of Hueco Mundo, and behavioral tendencies of the hollows. For Melo, it was the constant stream of meals he would otherwise be unable to enjoy. But alas all things must come to an end.
__________________________________________________________

 

Masato and Melo chatted after another successful victory over three hollows, who expected a free meal.
“You’re battle instinct his still Improving. You really are a beast. Maybe you should handicap yourself and drop the pebbles, haha.” Melo jested with a light chuckle.
“I’m already handicapped without my coat.” Masato’s muffled reply came through the sides of his mouth as it held a cooked rabbit.
“Right, right, the magical coat capable of conjuring anything.” Melo responded sarcastically, voicing his doubt of his friend’s Fullbring.
“C’mon, it can’t be that hard to believe. With all the stuff you witnessed, a magical coat sounds almost comical.”
“From a Shinigami maybe, but a human, that’s just too bizarre.”
“Maybe, but the running theory is that the source my power actually comes from your kind.”
“Speaking of my kind, there’s only two left. I saved the strongest stubborn Vasto’s for last. After their defeat, I’ll search for even stronger ones for you to hone your skills.”
“Well, I appreciate your hard work. Calling it a night. See ya.” Masato finished his rabbit before standing up from the camp fire and laying in his shelter.
“Sleep well friend!” Melo called as he walked away. Though he couldn’t see, Masato raised a hand and waved him bye.

The following morning, the Fullbringer was doing his early work out when a Senkaimon split, and opened the sky just above him. His persistent training, focusing on strengthening his senses, had sharpened his perception. He could easily discern who his visitor was. “Yuuto. Long time no see. What brings you here?” Masato asked while maintaining the pace of his pushups, weighed with a giant boulder.
“Azami and Seito called in a favor, I’m to bring you back to Karakura.” The afro-ed Shinigami exclaimed high above Masato for him to hear.
Upon hearing the news, the Fullbringer shifted to his left, allowing the boulder to roll off his back before standing straight. “Its about time.” He smirked gleefully before picking three pebbles from the ground, and throwing them with all his might into the thick trees of the forest. Yuuto watched, puzzled by the human’s action. “Are we going are what?” Masato asked with his hand suddenly on the shoulder of his Shinigami friend.
“What were those rocks about?” Yuuto tried to keep his composure and hide his shock at Masato’s blurring display of speed.
“Oh, it was nothing. Just some target practice.”

WC: 1730
OOC: Melo's appeareance, only his face is covered with a hollow mask
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Edited by Mumen Writer
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