Ichigo spars with Renji. The pause you hear is the sound of thoughts collecting. Written for LJ's Bleach Contest theme #3 - mercy.
In music, there is a technique known as a rest.
The angular shape of Renji's limbs are well highlighted through the folds of his kimono, now sticky and drenched in sweat. Moisture gathers at his brow and slowly drips down the sides of his face; to Ichigo, he resembles someone who has recently exited a rain storm. The swift movements of their arms and legs do nothing to relieve the immense heat building in their muscles or the red glow illuminating their cheeks.
They spar with wooden swords, and the air brims with the sound of lacquered wood striking wood. A quick turn of the head, and Renji narrowly avoids the tip of Ichigo's blade, a no-nonsense move typical of the young man - a move that also leaves him temporarily defenseless. With the palm of his hand and a short blast of spirit energy, Renji pushes Ichigo back into the opposite wall of the training room. The boy quickly recovers, using the momentum to return to his classic sparing stance, sword held in front of him and at the ready.
It is used to signify a pause between notes, sometimes as an artistic choice when writing music.
After a quick resumption of their stances, the two men are at it again, blocking and striking with all that they've got. Outside watchers (if there would be any) might wonder how the Ichigo and Renji would be able to resume their anti-Hollow patrol the next day, what with all the spiritual energy they were using in this frenzied sparring match.
Renji watches Ichigo's movements, studies them, is thoroughly impressed by them. The last time they had seriously sparred was within the high walls of Soul Society. That world seemed a hundred years ago. Now, in an era when shinigami wore bone masks and Hollows called themselves Espada, the improvements in Ichigo's fighting skills continued to daze the red-haired man completely. Not enough, though, to distract him in the heat of battle, as Renji deflects another thrust of his opponent's blade and strikes back with his own.
For one blissful moment, Renji has Ichigo at his mercy, his wooden blade seconds away from knocking Ichigo's out of grasp, making him the victor. He thinks to himself, rather gloatingly, that Ichigo really didn't grow up as much as he had hoped. Then, Renji strikes, watching his sword make the final arc through the air to victory. The Karakura punk has no idea what's coming, Renji thinks.
This moment, crystallized: Two combatants are suspended in air, each with sword out to catch the other up; Renji's face screwed up in total concentration on that one strike; Ichigo looking taken aback by his fellow shinigami's power play; the shine of sweat and lacquer and even a little blood creating a bright sheen on their bodies like fairy glamour.
Sometimes, the rest is only the calm before the storm, before the final crescendo is played. It can be very misleading.
Seconds later, Ichigo knocks Renji's blade to the side with a turn of the wrist, and with one movement sweeps Renji's feet out from under him. The thudding sound that echoes throughout the room is tainted with Renji's ill-gained humility.
Ichigo bows to his defeated opponent, resembling more of a maestro than a swordsman. He lifts his head, and Renji sees, as a familiar flush of anger crawls across his face, a wicked smirk on Kurosaki's face.
"I had you," Renji spits out, anger entering his tone. He manages to get into a standing position, but by that time Ichigo is already placing his wooden sword back into storage. "Acknowledge that I had you, damn it!"
Ichigo turns to face Renji, still looking like the newly crowned king of the universe.
"No, it was I who had /you/," he said, the voice of a victor. "The fact that I didn't cut you in half in the first minute was me showing mercy."
The youth exits the room, still smiling even as the echoes of Renji's angry yelling and cursing and cries of "Cheat!" follow him out into the open air.
Rests can also be very useful if your name is Ichigo Kurosaki.