Heaven forbid, you end up alone,
and don't know why.
Hold on tight, wait 'til tomorrow,
you'll be alright.
Karin asked herself again why she was there. In the human world she'd done everything possible to ignore or remove the effects of her high spiritual energy - seeing spirits, fighting hollows, she didn't want any of it. She wasn't her brother, and where as he felt the compassion to save every lost and lonely soul out there, they scared her, she felt their pain too much and it became her own, which only lead her to become angry at herself and her lack of care. So why the hell had she enrolled in the Shinigami Academy?
Oh yeah, because the real world sucked. As a child being a tomboy had suited her like the stars to the night - guys were simple, they were funny and they liked playing football. They didn't try to do pretty things in your hair that left it in knots, or plaster you in play make up but at high school life got harder. Suddenly it was awkward playing sport with them as their physical strength grew in comparison to hers, and they no longer felt comfortable to make crude jokes around her, often stopping themselves midsentence in order to avoid the many anti-feminist jokes that are so common amongst teenage boys in order to avoid offending her, and probably an arse kicking. And that was the thing, she was no longer one of the guys but all the girls saw her as too boyish to fit in with them. At about fourteen she'd gone to a sleepover, her first and only, and everyone there had been so excited that Kurosaki Karin, ladette extraordinaire, was about to be converted to the ways of the girls. So much so she spent the night watching arguments unfold over who would do which parts of her make-up, what would look best on her, if her hair would look better curly or straight, up or down. All those things they'd established for each other years before. The next morning she'd left for home as soon as she was dressed and awake, running into the bathroom and for the first time since her mother died, broke her oath never to cry again. The make up they'd hurriedly trowelled on her was garish and clown like, her hair an apparently birds' nest. Was this supposed to make her look beautiful? Improve her appearance? But did that mean that naturally she looked worse than this, was she really that ugly? After scrubbing her face raw and brushing her hair out until her scalp burned she finally left her hide to find Ichigo waiting outside. Neither said anything, they didn't have to. He just hugged her, trying to give her the reassurance only an older brother could, wishing she could cry in front of him just so he would be able to wipe away her tears and tell her everything was okay. Yuzu didn't speak to her either, but for the opposite reason. She couldn't understand. As the perfect example of female youth, she didn't see how it affected her sister and for the first time, the twins realized that they really were two different people. Two completely separate souls, and for those days neither had ever felt more alone.
She'd endured high school with loose friendships with her male friends, and flitting in and out of Yuzu's social group. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with her; it just wasn't the right place at the right time. There were moments when she felt like she was a mistake, and that girls like her were destined to life like this, but then there would always seem to be a convenient visit from Rukia, even more aggressive and loudmouthed than herself, and she saw how perfectly she could fit in with the humans: Orihime, Chad, Ishida and her brother. Especially her brother, it would take an idiot not to notice how in love they were with each other despite their feeble denials. It meant that Ichigo deciding to spent half his time in Soul Society as the temporary captain of the 5th squad was of no surprise to her, but he'd spent more time saying goodbye to her than anyone else. He'd been her rock since that night she'd tried so hard to fit in but they were both starting to realize she needed to stand on her own again, as she used to do so well. And did so until graduation, where she decided that maybe the Soul Society would prove a better, happier and more useful education than any real world college.
Ah, so that was why. Though in all honesty the first three months there had been going like a dream, the first two weeks in Soul Society were spent in the Kuchiki lands with Rukia, who gave her a crash course on shinigami life, then she was transferred to the academy a fortnight before term began, spending that getting to know some of her fellow students and developing the first tender bonds. Following that class had begun, and she slipped in to the life like she was born for it. In spirit bodies, the difference in strength between male and female was barely there, the women, for they were women not girls, were mostly uncaring for appearance having come from Rukongai and valued instead strength, honesty and character, those things which Karin could claim to have. Then there were the children of current shinigami, who treated her with a far superior respect than they treated her Rukongai comrades - she was the brother of Kurosaki-taicho after all. The only remnants of her old life were in the form of the nobles' children who were arrogant, either expecting her to conform to their believe of what she should be or what they wanted her to be, for many of them were ready to use her for her connections to Ichigo and through him the higher ranking members of the Gotei 13. Her new comfort and belief in herself stopped them from getting to her as humans had done, and she began to enjoy herself in occasionally mocking them for their lack of knowledge of life and common sense. She knew it wasn't their fault they were so sheltered but when a girl was all but begging to be set up with Ichigo, who was she to deny her hope? Okay, so maybe after an hour of conversation around him she'd had to break the news he was involved to Rukia but it wasn't her fault someone had considered herself above believe that specific piece of gossip that everyone in soul society knew of.
Neither was it Karin's fault that, like Ichigo, she had an abhorrently high level of spirit pressure nor that she seemed to excel at everything thrown at her, which had finally resulted in the smashing of those delicate forming bonds with her removal from the regular class and placing into the advanced class. Of the year above. So back to square one it was. At least her first lesson of the day was sword skills, the best of her subjects and the most predictable in terms of lesson structure. As suspected, all the students filed in and took the benches around the edge of the dojo. The back and highest tiered ones went first, not because the students were delinquents and couldn't get far enough away from their teacher, but as a safety measure to be as far away from the fight as possible. Despite this the bench Karin was sat on, at the back, remained empty until all but the front row remained. At that time two begrudging men sat at the opposite end of the bench to her and ignored her completely. Karin took a deep breath. No, she'd done so well so far. This wasn't going to get to her. She buried her head in her hands and decided to stay like that until the lesson started.
Only a few minutes in she herd some mumbling and commotion coming from her reluctant company. Looking around she saw they had gone and in their place were three younger looking students, all appearing in late teens. One had taken the minimal space to her right; it seemed he had been the only member of the group narrow enough to fit in it, and the other two to her left.
"It's Kurosaki Karin isn't it?" Said the slim guy, extending out a hand, "Yakan Kage." She shook it and his closed lip smile spread further, Karin felt the edges of her mouth lift in return. Despite the harshly angled structure and cold slate eyes, his face seemed to hold nothing but warmth, aided by the light splash of freckles that looked too childish to belong with such severe features. "These people," he pointed to the other two on the bench, "Are Sento Masaru," a broad featured and broad shouldered boy gave a nod, "and Arashi Tomoko," the red haired girl next to Karin offered an enthusiastic wave.
"Welcome to our class," she said, grin almost taking over her lower face. Much with Kage, Tomoko's face was warm and inviting. However where his had been calm and gentle like a summer's day, hers was like electricity or wildfire – all young, fresh and excited, her bright green eyes almost burning with, what Karin assumed, a pure and simple love of life. In turn, Karin then cast a look at the final member of the trio – Maseru. If she were likening them to the aura they gave, he would have to be like a sparkler; warm, fun and cheeky, but without the slightly erratic edge she felt from the girl. Like a middle ground for the company he kept.
Karin was about to form a reply for them when their teacher for this lesson, a middle aged member of the eleventh squad, called for silence and got his wish immediately. This was neither a disruptive nor was he a person to be disobeyed. Unlike in the real world there were few rules about what was considered a sufficient punishment for misbehaving students and it was well known that the eleventh squad members enjoyed exercising their superiority over the training, and therefore weaker, shinigami.
"We'll be starting today with kendo, and for those of you who still don't quite understand," he looked pointedly at Tomoko her only response was to press her lips into a narrow line, "two hands on your katana at all times and you are to use the katana and the katana alone to attack. Obviously today we'll just be using bokken but the point of this is that when you first materialize your zanpakuto, it will be a basic katana. So learn. To. Use. It"
A student on the far side of the room made the fatal mistake of raising his hand and offering a contradictory point, "What about Kenpachi-taicho and Kurosaki-taicho, their zanpakutos only ever had shikai. Or-"
"They are some of those most powerful captains ever to have existed, you think you can compare to them?" The student shrunk back into his seat, but at the mention of her brother, Karin felt many of the eyes in the room shifting over to her. Her new apparent friends however, kept their unbothered composure. The teacher continued by requesting his latest student victim come to the front and take a ready position, only to have it violently dissected. After, the class were to come to the front and remove a tile from the bag he produced. There were two of each tile and those with matching symbols were to spar. Karin jumped suddenly as she felt Tomoko's chin resting on her shoulder, making a disappointed sound.
"And that's a bad thing because?" Karin mentally halted, only to realize that the minor part of her that had been concerned her sarcasm would be offensive was overreacting, as the other girl continued as normal.
"I suck, so resorting to cheap tricks, physical combat, or just doing anything underhand is my solution. Only, you're new, you seem pretty cool and I would feel bad. So, I actually have to fight properly."
Unsure of whether she was expected to reply and if so with what, she chose to just nod and laughed, giving a confused apology as they found an area to themselves. They stood about nine paces apart, feet shoulder width apart, grounded. Karin flexed her knees a little, where as Tomoko's were looked into a slight crouch, coiled and leaving her ready to spring forward when the chance came.
Karin barely had time to take a defensive stance before the smaller girl threw herself into the battle, though almost immediately after the blow, the pressure behind it dropped, allowing Karin to push her back off, before striking herself, only to have her blow barely parried. Tomoko found herself off balance and threw an arm out to save from falling, blocking Karin's next blow single handed. Remember her teacher's pointed look before, she returned both hands to the bokken handle, just in time to deflect Karin again. Seeing what was likely to be her only opening, Tomoko launched herself forward – to feel a hit to her then unprotected stomach. With a grunt she tripped and fell, momentarily assessing for serious damage before standing and offering a small smile,
"Sorry, that must have been easier than in your regular class."
"Arashi, students on their first day would have been harder to beat then that poor effort." The professor walked over, completely dismissive of his student's efforts. "However Kurosaki, you obviously share the same bold genes as your brother; going in for a hit rather than playing it safe and trying to block that last blow. You had me worried you were going to lose to her for a second, but still, good effort."
He sauntered off, over to where Kage and a short muscular man were in an intense lock. "I swear I must have done something to him in one of my past lives," muttered Tomoko, "I'm ridiculously easy to beat and yet he thought for a second you might lose? Either he's an eleventh squad grunt who doesn't understand sense or he just enjoys insulting me."
"Both?" Karin offered with a smile, feeling a happy warmth as the other girl laughed.
Ta da! Introductory chapter to grown up Karin and the OCs = done! I'm thinking having a little time skip and bringing in some Hitsugaya goodness next chapter. Please review, add to story watch, all that jazz if you liked it