A/N: It has come to my attention that Karin has not been getting the respect she deserves in my fic Chasing the Moon. There's a reason for that, sadly, Chasing was always intended to be somewhat Yuzu-centric, because that tends to happen when you build your plot around getting a couple together. HOWEVER, Karin is an awesome character and deserves better. I have a lot of ideas for her, and she doesn't get as much air-time in Chasing as I would like. So that's why this fic is here. Like Phases, this fic is going to be somewhat slice-of-life-y, and like Phases, I don't have much of a plot besides "progress from Point A to Point B" in time. So I can't tell you what to expect, except Eleventh Division awesomeness (I hope). Currently, I'm leaning towards treating this like a series of one (or two or three) shots, with some sort of chronological order between them.
Newcomers, the prequel to this collection is Phases of the Moon. If you want to read it, you are absolutely, 100% totally welcome and encouraged to. It will help you understand some of this story. If you don't want to read it, (is long) all you need to know is that Karin and Yuzu are shinigami, and that Ichigo has become captain of the Fifth (I started writing Phases before the Vizards became captains; it's now an AU because canon marches on!). The AU follows canon up to Aizen's defeat and gets a little fuzzy after that (because I started writing these stories in 2011, like I said), so assume the Fullbring Arc and the 1000 Year Blood War Arc don't factor into the story until presented with evidence to the contrary.
Oh yeah. And Ichigo and Rukia are a thing. And so are Karin and Toshiro (Karin and Toshiro are a NEW thing at this point, IchiRuki have been together for a while).
And Isshin used to be the heir to a DIFFERENT noble house related to the Shibas before defecting from Soul Society to marry Masaki. He was also the captain of the Tenth Division, and is cousins with Kukaku, Kaien, and Ganju. (*fingersnaps* So close. I was sooo close!*headdesk*). That house, in this AU, is known as the Ankoujin Clan, and some characters from there will be showing up here, particularly Ankoujin Masaryu, heir to the clan, Karin, Yuzu, and Ichigo's cousin, and Isshin's nephew. (*points at Phases again*)
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. At all.
Chapter 1: Into Eleventh
The gates of the Eleventh Division opened, admitting the Division's captain. Zaraki Kenpachi grinned, stepping into the barracks with his vice-captain hanging from his shoulder. Behind him trailed a group of newly-made shinigami, most of them looking around nervously as they followed their captain in. The majority of them were here because of skill at zanjutsu; a handful of them were here because they could take a punch. None of them had actually chosen to be here—those choices weren't given to the ordinary rank-and-file.
Well, none of them except one.
Kurosaki Karin, newly-made 20th seat, followed the others into the division, looking around at what her decision had gotten her. A bunch of the old hands had gathered around the outsides of the courtyard, crowding in for a glimpse at the new members of the Division. She felt eyes on her, and kept her back straight, one of her hands resting on her zanpakuto's sheath. Her expression didn't change, her dark gray eyes hard as she stepped into the center of the courtyard. If they were looking for fear from her, she decided, they would be sorely disappointed.
That was the first thing she decided, when she agreed to take on a post at the Eleventh. She wasn't going to be afraid.
Zaraki-taicho came to a stop as they reached the building. Karin stopped as well, frowning. The captain of the Eleventh grinned, turning towards the bald man that stood leaning against one of the pillars that held up the building, his arms folded as he looked out over the group.
"Oi, Ikkaku," said Zaraki, continuing to walk. "They're all yours."
Madarame Ikkaku, 3rd seat of the Eleventh Division, grinned, looking over at the new recruits. Several of them shrank back.
Karin met his stare head-on.
"Listen up," said Ikkaku, standing in front of the group. The new recruits were standing outside, in an open field meant for practice. They weren't carrying their zanpakuto, each of them holding a wooden sword instead. Karin tightened her grip on hers, holding it so that the point faced the ground. She kept her eyes on Ikkaku, watching as the third seat paced the ground in front of them. "I'm gonna explain how things work in Zaraki's Division. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, or where you came from. All that matters is whether or not you're strong. If you're strong, you'll do well here. If you're not, you'll either die or you'll leave. And until you're strong, you're not worthy of Zaraki-taicho's time." He paused, his wooden sword resting on his shoulder as he turned to grin at them. "You're gonna have to deal with me. Oi, you there—" Ikkaku's eyes narrowed, and he turned, pointing his bokken at one of the recruits. "You got a problem?!"
Karin glanced over her shoulder. The recruit in question was a hulking shinigami, at least a foot taller than she was. He'd been caught whispering to the recruit next to him. A murmur of conversation washed over the group, some of the ones around him shying away. For a moment, the guy looked like he was going to do the same thing, but then he stood up, his eyes narrowing as he stepped through the gap in the group.
"Yeah, I just got one question," he said, leveling a finger at Karin. "What's that chick doing here?"
Karin scowled as she turned towards him, her eyes narrowing. A few of the shinigami around her stepped back suddenly, nervous looks on their faces. Ikkaku glanced at her for a moment, before turning back towards the shinigami. "You got a name?" he asked.
"Nakashima," said the shinigami. "Nakashima Yoshito."
"Alright, Nakashima," said Ikkaku. "What's your problem with 20th Seat Kurosaki?"
"You're kidding," said Nakashima, looking back at Karin. He snorted. "That little thing's a seated officer? Thought this was supposed to be about strength!"
Murmurs sprang up around Karin at the mention of her last name, spreading through the group. Karin caught the words 'Kurosaki-taicho's sister' once or twice, along with 'Hitsugaya-taicho's girlfriend'. She stood still forcing herself to say nothing as the gap around her widened. Nakashima grinned, hearing the whispers getting spread around.
"Oh?" he asked, straightening up. "Hitsugaya-taicho, huh? It makes sense now." He turned towards Ikkaku. "Hey, 3rd Seat Madarame, which captain do I have to sleep with to get promoted in this Division?"
Karin kept her eyes closed, the corner of her eye twitching at Nakashima's words. Her grip tightened on her sword. Around her, the reaction was mixed. Some of the group, the stupid ones, hooted and jeered at Nakashima's words. The smart ones took a few more steps back, getting out of the way. Ikkaku's reaction was to glance at Karin, ignoring Nakashima for the moment. "Oi, Kurosaki. You wanna take this?"
Karin opened her eyes, turning to face Nakashima. Reiatsu crackled around her, her eyes narrowing into a glare. Ikkaku grinned, taking a step back. "That's what I thought," he said.
Nakashima turned towards Karin, holding his sword in both hands. He was grinning. "I just gotta beat her to take her seat, right?" he asked. "That's how it works in this Division?"
"If you win, we'll talk," said Ikkaku, still grinning.
"Alright," said Nakashima, turning towards Karin. "Sorry about that, girlie. Guess you ain't keeping your seat."
"Your funeral," said Karin, scowling. She gripped her sword in both hands, pointing it in front of her.
Nakashima frowned, the grin fading from his face. "You like to talk tough, don't ya?" he asked. "I'll show you what happens to people who mess with me!"
He charged forward with a yell, raising his sword. Karin said nothing, lifting her own bokken to meet it.
"Hmm?" A pink-haired girl looked up as reiatsu crackled through the air, turning her attention to the source. Yachiru leaned over Kenpachi's shoulder, squinting as she turned towards the training field. "Hey, Ken-chan, I think Rin-chan's fighting!"
Kenpachi grunted in response, turning his attention to the training field. From his and Yachiru's positions on the roof, they could see most of the drama playing out below. Karin was standing in the center of a group made up of the other recruits, facing off against one of the other recruits he'd rounded up on his way back from the Academy. Naka—Naka something. Both of them had bokkens in hand, but the reiatsu that filled the air was all Karin's. He would have recognized it without being told—if you didn't know what to look for, it was easy to mistake it for Ichigo's.
He rested one arm across his knee, leaning forward slightly to get a better look. "Oh...?"
The two of them came together, Nakashima's sword slamming against Karin's with a loud crack as she raised it to block. Nakashima stepped to the side, letting out a loud shout as he transitioned into a side cut. The blow struck Karin in the side, making her stagger as she stumbled to the left. Nakashima quickly followed through with a diagonal cut upwards, catching Karin in the jaw and knocking her head back. Not done, the hulking recruit shifted the direction of his sword, pivoting around in the air and bringing it down across Karin's shoulder with a crack. That sent her stumbling back, crashing to the ground. Kenpachi frowned, his eyes on the scene in front of her as Nakashima swiped his sword out in front of him, looking triumphant. He pumped his fist in the air, grinning as the training yard went silent.
From over his shoulder, Yachiru let out a moan of disappointment. "Well that wasn't fun..." she said.
Kenpachi said nothing, his eyes still on the field. Ikkaku made no move to call the fight, even when Nakashima turned towards him and pointed. He'd probably seen it too, the fact that Karin hadn't even raised her sword.
That reiatsu crackled back to life, filling the air again.
Karin propped herself up with the bokken, pushing herself back to her feet. Reiatsu flared around her, the crowd going silent again. She watched as Nakashima turned towards her, his face frozen in an expression of rage. She shifted her grip on her sword to one hand, using the other to rub at her jaw where he'd struck her. That one had actually hurt—she'd give him that. Her shihakusho was hanging open from where he'd slashed at her. She frowned, then loosened the ties with one hand, shrugging the upper part of the uniform off so that it hung around her waist and leaving her in the sarashi under-wrappings. The cloth wrap covered up enough, she reasoned, and it was easier to move in for now.
"That all you got?" she asked Nakashima, who was staring at her.
They were all staring at her.
When he didn't say anything, she nodded, placing her other hand back on the hilt of her sword. "Right," she said. "My turn."
Karin flash-stepped forward, disappearing in the air. She reappeared at Nakashima's side, swinging her sword. He spun to counter her, eyes wide, but he was too late. "Too slow!" she said, the wooden blade slipping under his defense and smacking him in the side. He stumbled, one hand grasping at his side as he swiped at her with the other hand. Karin darted out of the way, taking a step back and moving out of the reach of his sword. She raised her bokken up over her head with both hands, bringing it down over Nakashima's knuckles with a loud crack. He grunted in pain, dropping the sword, but Karin wasn't done. She stepped in, swinging her blade with both hands at his head. He raised one arm to block her, the arm taking the brunt of the blow as he took a step back. Karin slashed twice more in quick succession, Nakashima letting out grunts of pain as each blow smacked his arm. She jumped back as he grabbed at her, sliding back in the air. Karin ran to the side as Nakashima scrambled to pick up his sword, taking another flash step before he could reach it. She slashed at the side of his head, the blow catching him in the cheek just under the eye. The force of it nearly sent him toppling over, but he kept his footing somehow. As he stumbled, she spun, shifting her grip on her sword to one hand as she let out a loud shout.
Her foot caught Nakashima just under the chin. He went flying, crashing back into the group of stunned recruits.
He didn't get back up.
Karin landed neatly on the ground, swiping her sword in front of her. She opened her eyes, resting the flat of the blade on her bare shoulder and looking around at the others. "Alright, who's next?!" she shouted, her eyes narrowing. No one answered, a few of them stepping back. Another wave of muttering started up among the group. Karin waited, counting off the seconds. "No one?" she asked, after a while. "Really? Okay, then let me make a few things clear." She stepped forward, waking towards the unconscious Nakashima. "First of all, Kurosaki is my brother. The name's Karin. I'll take Karin-san if you really have to. Second of all, yeah, I'm 20th Seat. Any of you want that from me, you're welcome to try. Ask your pal Yoshito how that turned out. Third of all—if any of you punks have a fucking problem with me being a girl, you better say so right now while I've still got a wooden sword, because when I get Ongetsu back, it's not gonna be pretty."
She paused, coming to a stop in front of Nakashima. Karin stared down at him, then placed her foot on his chest, straightening up.
"Oh, yeah, and one more thing!" she said, facing the stunned group. She swiped her sword out, pointing it at them. "The next time any of you asshats have a problem with who I date, you can take it up with me!"
Kenpachi watched from the rooftop as the rest of the recruits surrounded Karin and Nakashima, Ikkaku clapping his hands and yelling something that brought back some sort of order. Karin slipped her wooden sword back into her belt and stepped back, slipping her arms back into the sleeves of her shihakusho. She tugged it back into place, the group of recruits parting as she took her place back in the ranks.
"Ne, ne, Ken-chan, that was a good fight!" said Yachiru from beside him, clapping her hands in excitement. Kenpachi glanced at her, watching as she draped herself over his shoulder, still smiling. She was getting a little big for that now, but did it anyway, turning her head to smile at him. "Don't you think so, Ken-chan?"
He looked back at the scene, a shark-like grin spreading over his face.
TO BE CONTINUED
A/N: The second Karin fight scene was written to the tune of Number One. (And finally, the gender of the "you're the queen of the scene" line actually matches. XD)
Omake: Masa's Shinigami Diary
The lights fade, focusing on a single dark-haired, blue-eyed shinigami. He stands in front of a blank wall, a pointer in his hand, as he faces the audience. The shinigami clears his throat, pointing at the screen.
"Hello," he says. "My name is Ankoujin Masaryu. Welcome to my Shinigami Diary. Today, we are going to discuss Ongetsu, my cousin Kurosaki Karin's zanpakuto."
The image on the screen changes, becoming a katana with a black hilt. In the background, a scythe can be seen, a broken chain attached to one end of the shaft. Masa points at the scythe, his expression stern. "Ongetsu's shikai reveals itself as a scythe," he says. "The blade, shaft, and flat are all black. It has a suspicious black aura. Also, it can use Getsuga Tenshou. The zanpakuto is meant to represent the new moon. It—."
"It's actually very creepy, isn't it?" asks a female voice.
Masa looks up, his eyes narrowing at the shinigami who has just arrived, standing on the other side of the screen. She is a brown-haired woman wearing round glasses, and is shorter than him. "What are you doing here, Iwase?" he asks. "This is my show."
"I thought you might need some help," says Iwase Kohaku, grinning. "Besides, it's not like I'm getting any screen time in this fic."
"Screen time?" asks Masa, frowning. "Fic? What are you talking about, Iwase?"
"You don't know?" asks Kohaku, frowning at him. She sighs, resting her hands on her hips. "Well, I guess you wouldn't. You're just an original character, after all."
"Original?" asks Masa, frowning at her. "Oi, what do you think you are, Iwase?"
Kohaku only smiles, turning towards the audience. "Anyway, see you next time!" she says.
The screen fades black, revealing the words 'To Be Continued'. On the other side, Masa's voice can be heard.
"Oi, Iwase! Don't just fade out my own segment!"