Urahara had taught him zanjutsu and cutting his opponent down, no matter what. The ex-captain’s training relied on spirit pressure to block lesser blades, and keep a shinigami alive through what ought to be mortal blows. Li’s fighting style-
Li fights like a mortal.
Dodge any hits you could; human bodies bruised. Avoid sharp edges; human bodies bled. Finish fights as hard and fast as possible, because human bodies got exhausted.
Which wasn’t that far off from how an unseated, power-stripped shinigami had had to fight Hollows. Rukia would like Li. Ichigo was sure of it.
He liked Li. Kind of a lot. Scary hints of a past and all. A guy who had the skills to be a ninja assassin was holding down at least two part-time jobs to keep the rent paid and get his cousin her favorite candy. Kirsi was quiet and shy, but trying to talk to people in fits and starts. And she was kind to cats, patiently coaxing strays out with treats. To the point Mrs. Sasajima had let her put up a little card on the market bulletin board with Lost pets found and a small fee listed. And as for Uncle Kuno… well. Guy was homely, no two ways about it. But he steadied Kirsi when she froze up with people, and if he wasn’t well enough to move fast yet, he had enough patience to outwait the most stubborn old yip-yap dog that’d dug itself under a foundation.
Ichigo liked them. Which wasn’t at all what he’d expected from people who gave him Vizard vibes. Yeah, he’d liked the Vizards too – eventually – but they were all so angry. Not just because of their Hollows. Because they’d been betrayed, and spat on, and under a sentence of execution for a hundred years for something that was not their fault. It was Aizen’s fault, all of it, and the fact the ex-captain had gotten away with it had left every last Vizard bitter to the core.
Li’s family wasn’t bitter. How, Ichigo had no idea. Though maybe because they really were criminals. They’d done horrible things; Li admitted as much. Now… now they just wanted to live.
A/N: Yes, the team pretty much ended up using “real names” as aliases. Meta, so readers have a chance of figuring out who’s who. In-universe? They had a very short time to run, and Huang may not even have had alternate IDs. He was living openly in Tokyo under his real name as a retired cop.
Also – I have the 4th and last chapter of this story roughed, so now it’ll be a matter of poking through and edits. There will be more stories I want to tell in this ‘verse, but don’t worry – this one is complete!