Ficlet. Zaraki + Byakuya = "sparring match"
There could not be two captains whose fighting styles are more different: raw, brute strength vs. lightning-fast precision. Single, overwhelming strikes vs. the swarm of Senbonzakura's petals. The fight should be over in a heartbeat. And yet, because they are who they are, it goes on and on. Byakuya cannot block the overwhelming power of Zaraki's strikes, yet he is swift enough to evade them. Zaraki cannot dodge Senbonzakura, yet he laughs, removing his eyepatch, and his aura swallows the thousand petals as if they were their namesake and he a bonfire.
The fight goes on, almost a dance, almost a meditation, both striking to no effect. Any onlookers grow bored and wander away, though neither of the combatants notice.
"Come on, rich boy. Can't hit any harder than that?" Zaraki's nameless zanpakuto slices through the air where Byakuya used to be standing.
"Strong words from a man who has yet to land a strike," Byakuya retorts, flash-stepping behind Zaraki and slicing at his back, Senbonzakura repelled by the sheer power of the man's aura.
And then, perhaps Zaraki decides to end the stalemate. Or perhaps just to change the rules. He pivots with alarming speed, his zanpakuto catching Senbonzakura's tip and sliding down to lock hilts. His bulk towers over Byakuya, his strength bearing down, and Byakuya attempts to retreat instinctively, to back away and gain some ground. Zaraki follows, grinding metal to metal, grinning, and Byakuya stops as he feels Zaraki's press pushing him off-balance. He'll need to flash-step to get away from this, and he's loathe to do it for reasons he can't fully set words to.
"You know, the 11th's got a word for sparring matches like this," Zaraki says, conversationally, as if he isn't slowly forcing Senbonzakura's tip down through sheer brute force.
"Really," Byakuya replies, distracted, shifting his weight imperceptibly in preparation. "And what might that be?"
The 11th Division captain leans forward, and Byakuya has to fight to hold his ground. The man is toying with him....
Zaraki grins. "Foreplay."
Being this close to Zaraki is like being in the lee of a mountain. Byakuya blames it on the heat of the fight when his lips pull back from his teeth in a close approximation of Zaraki's own sneer. Byakuya flash-steps and Zaraki's zanpakuto slices down to bury itself in the ground, so swift that Byakuya can feel the wind of its passing.
"That," Byakuya says, from the other end of the practice yard, "would still require you to catch me."
Zaraki wrenches his zanpakuto out of the rubble with a grin, both eyes watching Byakuya as if he'd suddenly done something interesting. "Heh. To first blood, then?"
Byakuya nods, finding that he's lost track of exactly what they're referring to, of what exactly is the prize here, but for some reason he can't quite bring himself to care.
After all, it isn't as if he is going to lose.
They come together again, and their storm shakes Seireitei.