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05 March 2009 @ 10:15 pm
Scents of Fear  
Title: Scents of Fear
Rating: PG
Fandom: Bleach
Characters: Kurosaki Kaien, Kurosaki Renji
Theme/Prompt: Fear
Disclaimer: Bleach and it's characters do not belong to me. However, Kaien and Renji (Kurosaki, not Abarai) do.

Panting, he felt the sword's point grow heavier as the etched black blade dipped lower, it's tip dropping into the sand with a muffled thunk as one hand came up to rub across his forehead, wiping the sweat away. Hueco Mundo was a hellish place at times, and most definitely not his location of choice, but when it came to training -- especially with Kaien -- there wasn't much that could be said for dissuading his brother, especially when Kaien dug in his heels and leaned back on that well-known Kurosaki stubbornness.

Besides, Kaien spent enough time wandering the rock-scattered dunes to know the best spots. "Best spots" being the places where they were least likely to attract attention of the wrong sort. At least, that's what Renji hoped, given that he himself didn't think it particularly a good idea to wander around leaking Hollow reiatsu -- not to mention his shinigami reiatsu -- in the Hollows' backyard. But if his brother could do it, so could he. And the parched white dunes were the perfect place to hide from the critical eyes of the rest of the division.

Growling slightly under his breath, Renji fixed angry copper-hued eyes on the taller figure standing a few feet away, Kaien's black-garbed figure blurring slightly in the blistering haze of the desert sun as his brother sighed audibly, Yamibari's slim deadliness resting lightly across one shoulder, the bloodred tassel swaying slightly in the wind as the noonday sun glinted off the armoured guard on his shoulder.

Raking his own dark bangs from his eyes, the younger Kurosaki gritted his teeth at the expression on his brother's face. So damned superior all the fucking time, and to top it off, Kaien didn't even understand. It wasn't Kaien who was standing here, hands blistered from friction, lip bloody from the concentration required just to keep his control over the raging voice in the back of his head. Not the orange-haired elder brother standing, blue and white academy uniform dark with sweat and stained with dirt and blood.

No, his elder brother was cool as a cucumber, standing there with his weight resting on one foot, gloved hand hooked into the ties of his hakama as he tapped the long black katana against one shoulder, orange head cocked to one side, eyes glinting black and green with his Hollow's influence.

With a heave and a grunt, Renji lifted the weight of his own zanpakutou, hefting the broadsword into the air in front of him, mentally pushing and tensing against the surge of angry reiatsu he could feel welling up from that voice in his head, that voice that screeched with malicious laughter at his -- in it's opinion -- feeble attempts to push it back.

Of course Kaien didn't understand. If he had, then those violet eyes wouldn't be watching Renji struggle with their look of mild frustration. Frustration at the brother who couldn't just get it together, the brother who -- unlike him -- didn't have some sort of eerie symbiosis with something that, by all rights, shouldn't have existed in the first place.

Kaien hadn't ever had to work like this -- hell, as far as Renji was concerned, his elder brother had never had to really work for much of ANYTHING in his life -- so he couldn't possibly conceive of the difficulty, the effort involved. But above all of that... Kaien couldn't understand the fear. The constant terror that dwelt in the back of your mind, the constant worry and concern that one day, when you pulled that bone-white visage over your face, all that made you you would wash away like soap bubbles in the rain, and the only thing left would be the demonicly grinning face staring back at you.

It was the type of fear his father understood. The sort of fear that Hisana understood, she who feared her own hollow perhaps more than Renji feared his. But not Kaien. Not Masaki, or Hiyourin, or even Shinji. They'd all been born Vaizad, so it wasn't as though THAT had anything to do with it. No, the rest of his peers, those who understood what it was like to have an otherself lurking in the shadows of your mind, they didn't share his fears. And why should they? They had control, they had poise and confidance that he lacked. To them, the Hollow was just a tool, another thing to be used for their own ends, the same as kidou or their zanpakutou.

Kaien was really the only difference, and that just made things even more difficult. Biting back a growl of anger as he felt himself pushed backwards further by Yamibari, the nodachi's long black steel length seeming to effortlessly bat aside the much heavier weight of his own shikai -- at least he'd managed to stay in shikai this time without the Hollow taking over -- he muffled a very Rukia-like curse as he felt the surge, sensed the shift as his eyes began to turn, glaring back at Kaien's green and black orbs staring calmly back at him from a face that wasn't even wearing a mask.

Unfair, unfair and frightening, to know that, were their situations reversed and the changed eyes his own, things wouldn't be nearly so simple. That while Kaien could easily and without hardly any effort draw on his Hollow's power even to simply satisfy a whim to change his eyes into their eerie other state, he himself could barely maintain the control needed to train with his mask on.

Letting loose a snarl of frustration and giving in to his own anger, Renji felt the reiatsu press, the creep of the cool bone as it swept up his face, the darkening of his own vision for a moment before it sharpened into the heightened senses of the Hollow. Still in control, still the one calling the shots. He watched as Kaien backed up, the older boy calculating, black and green eyes shifting slightly as his own mask slid seamlessly down to cover his face, Yamibari held at the ready.

The seconds ticked by as they fought. Four. Five. Six. Halfway to seven before he felt it, felt the mirror break as the Hollow gave a scream of rage, the black surging over his vision, mouth opening wide into a cero. And there was the fear, the raw terror as he felt it claw it's way up, pulling him down into that darkness for a moment until he could beat it back, pull his way into the light again.

The mask cracked as he dropped to his knees in the sand, bloodied and blistered hands burying themselves in the gritty white silica as he gasped for breath, fought the bile rising in his throat as he reminded himself that it hadn't happened, the thing in his soul hadn't won, and he was still himself; Kurosaki Renji.

Curling fingers tightly, feeling the grit rub against the raw skin, he clenched his teeth together as he heard the soft impact of waraji against sand, registered the approach of Kaien's taller form before his brother's shadow fell over him. Ironic, really. Tilting his head upward, he glared up at the other shinigami, flame-hued eyes boring into black and green as Kaien simply stared down at him with an expression bordering on boredom.

No.... his brother really didn't understand. But that didn't matter, or at least that's what he told himself as he pushed off from the sand, lurching back to his feet. One day, Renji would wipe that arrogant expression off of Kaien's face and then, then.... he'd show his brother that there really was something to be afraid of.