Author's Note: For those of you who came here through my other fic, this is not a rewrite. This a completely different fic that will focus mainly on Karin as shinigami. Plot/Powers/Villians/Etc. will differ from the last fic. There will be pairings, but they will not be the main focus of the story.
As for when this story is set, a couple of years after the anime ends. I never finished the manga, so the Thousand Year Blood Arc will not be introduced in this. However, there may be some manga components in this story such as, Rukia's bankai or things of that degree, so if you don't want spoilers I would recommend not reading this. As far as Ichigo's powers, I'll leave them as they are at the end of the anime since I haven't brushed up on how they changed in the manga that much. Happy reading!
It was supposed to be just another day.
Any other day.
But nothing ever goes right for the Kurosaki's, and especially not Karin Kurosaki.
Staring down at the broken chain and her lifeless body before her, Karin barely has time to process just what any of it means before the hollow in front of her comes bearing down with the full force of an earthquake.
"Come on!" Yuzu barks at Karin, "We're going to be late for school!"
With a huff, the hardheaded twin finally ties her shoes before grabbing her bag. "Yuzu it'll be fine. School doesn't start for another 20 minutes!"
"I wanted to see our math teacher before classes start. He's giving me some extra notes that will be helpful for our test!"
Rolling her eyes, she knows the Yuzu means well. She is after all, the brains of the household. Not to say that any of the Kurosakis were academically lacking, they all made excellent grades. But Yuzu was really buckling down as far as school, her aspirations to be a nurse giving her the drive and push to do even better. College entrance exams were no joke, even if they were four years away from now.
Finally ready, the twins head out the door side by side. "Say, it still feels weird without Ichi-nii gone doesn't it?"
"Hm? Oh yeah, I wonder what he's up to right now," Karin mumbles as she briefly looks towards the sky. 'A good day to play soccer,' she thinks with a twinge of a smile as the clear sun beats down on her.
Ichigo is no doubt off somewhere in Soul Society, doing only Kami knows what. It's been almost a year since he regained his powers, and now Karin can't help but wonder if he's going to stay up there all the time.
Those thoughts quickly come to a screeching stop as she reminds herself of what kind of person her brother is. Ichigo isn't the type of guy to go leaving his family outside the mortal realm despite the more and more time he spends away. With college on the horizon, he would be leaving them but going away to University and going away to Soul Society are two vastly different things.
"Do you think he'll take off to Tokyo? To that big university?" Yuzu finally pipes up, forcing Karin's gaze away from the few lounging clouds. Leave it to her twin to voice her thoughts out loud. Sometimes it's scary how just in sync the two are despite being fraternal. "Hard to say. It's a good school from what I hear. I know Ichi-nii is hesitant to leave us though." Recounting the amount of incidents her family have gotten into with hollows in her mind, it's no wonder that her brother is worried to leave Karakura town. 'Imagine leaving it all up to afro-san,' she thinks with a shudder.
A look of horror passes over Yuzu's face before she grabs her twin's shoulders, "No! We can't hold him back, Ichi-nii needs to do what's best for him!"
'Crap,' Karin quickly backtracks, not wanting to upset her sensitive twin. Sure, the two sisters would miss him, and no doubt living with their father would be much harder without Ichigo around, but that's not to say that they want him to miss out on life's opportunities. He's spent nearly his entire high school career fighting and protecting people. College would be a new start, a chance to take a break from his Shinigami life and start living his own human life.
"No, Yuzu it'll be fine. I'm sure Ichi-nii wants to pursue his own goals. We aren't little kids anymore."
Both of the twins stop walking to stare at each other, Yuzu's lip already quivering. The thought of her brother giving up his dreams just to stick around for them is downright glum. Karin clasps her twin's shoulder and gives a small reassuring smile. They may be a bit older now, but Yuzu is still as sensitive as ever. The memory of Yuzu crying at five years old because of baby bird falling out of a tree plays in the back of Karin's mind like a movie.
"We'll tell Ichi-nii, I promise. It'll all work out." Yuzu bites her lip now, determined not to cry before school. With the reassurance of her twin, they fall back into step heading towards school. Previous worries and conversation all forgotten as Yuzu begins to hum happily, settling her sights on the concrete sidewalk. She appears free of worry - carefree. Her twin knows that's not the case, and that Ichigo's plans for the future still weigh in heavily on her. Whatever he decides will impact them both, but it's not as if this hasn't been a long time coming. They both knew that there would be a point where he would inevitably leave the household, being the eldest of them and all. It doesn't change the fact that it still stings though, life with out their brother is a strange concept and neither are sure that they can wrap their heads around it.
They finally come within sights of the school, students flocking just before the bell rings. They've barely made it on time, and Karin can't help but wonder if it's because she dragged feet this morning. "Sorry Yuzu," she murmurs to her twin sheepishly.
"Don't worry about it Karin-chan! I'll just get the notes after class," comes the cheery reply.
Karin stares at her school with a sigh. Here they are, fifteen years old and freshmen at the lovely Karakura highschool. Soccer is consistently Karin's world, and she can't help but wonder if that's what she'll still be doing in four more years. The prospect of being a pro-athlete brings her satisfaction. "I'll see you at lunch Karin-chan!" Yuzu waves her twin off as she strolls into the building. "See you at lunch!" With a twinge of sadness, she remembers having classes with Yuzu all throughout middle-school. It's kind of sad she thinks, going separate ways with her twin.
'Damn I've got to stop thinking about this stuff,' she grumbles to herself as she saunters off to her own classroom just down the hall from Yuzu's own. It's not as if the two are completely apart. They are still in the same school, same house after all. Shaking off her all her worries she settles down into her seat in the back of the room, waiting as the students trickle in.
'It's gonna be a long day,' she sighs resting her chin on her hand. The teacher's ramblings fading away into the background as the noise of her thoughts become louder.
Long at last, the bell rings finally saving the Kurosaki from further persecution of her math teacher who, she is fairly certain loathes her very being. Maybe it's because she fell asleep in class that one time Karin ponders, but that's hardly grounds for such ill-intent she complains in her mind.
The clatter of books and shuffle of bags brings her attention back to reality as she prepares to leave.
"Kurosaki? Could you stay behind a moment?"
This causes an inward campaign of curse words. "Hai, Sensei." Quickly gathering her things and swinging her bag over her shoulder she marches up to, 'Sensei Perfect.' Karin continues to find herself among the handful of girls in her class who appear immune to his model-like charm. Jet black hair slicked back, with a chiseled jaw to boot and don't even get her started on those cocoa-colored eyes which continue to make everyone in the class swoon but not her. He's almost too perfect.
"I wanted to discuss something with you," he finally says looking up from his papers. Worry starts to swirl in the pit of Kurosaki's stomach and she frowns. What could possibly be wrong? She knows she hasn't done any delinquent-like activities recently, and she certainly hasn't made any bad grades to warrant the attention of her teacher. "I was going to wait until after school, but it seems this is an urgent matter that cannot wait."
The worry grows into an even bigger pit, now infesting her insides. Sensei Tanaka finally takes off his black rimmed glasses and folds them neatly on the table. Meeting her level gaze, he slowly slides the chair out from under him and towers over her much like a predator. Karin takes a step back, warning signs going off in her head like neon signs on the highway. She's never sensed an ill-intent from her teacher before, and certainly never sensed anything unusual about him.
"You Kurosaki's continue to be a pain, and really, I think this has been a long time coming." Now in full-fight mode, she continues stepping back even more. Surveying the two doors and window, calculations for a quick exit run through her mind. She has no knowledge who this guy is more precisely what he is, but he is most definitely not a teacher. The classroom is a couple stories up, and jumping out would only injure her, rendering her useless. Weak hollows are one thing, but she's still not even sure this guy is a hollow. With what little spiritual pressure she has, she's not even sure she can take him.
"Really? I'm so sorry to be an inconvenience to you!" she spits, inching back even more.
This brings a mirthful chuckle from her teacher as he slowly advances. Nothing holding him back anymore. "Tell them bastards up in Soul Society that we're coming!" Before Karin has anytime to process, he lounges out at her with the sharp, sharp claw of a hollow. With a quick sidestep, she launches a kick of her own powered with her own spiritual pressure. Over the past year she's learned that she doesn't just need a soccer ball to fight back.
'I've got to draw him away from the school,' she thinks in frustration as she dodges another swipe. Tanaka's ungodly left arm has changed into the stuff of nightmares, almost like Freddy Kruegar. Karin hardly has time to to pay attention to the details as she makes a break for the exit, saying a quick prayer that everyone has cleared the halls by now. Huffing and puffing, she nearly flies down a flight of stairs and miraculously doesn't fall down them. School exits in sight like the finish line of a marathon, but just before she can reach them her former teacher does some type of hollow crap that causes nearly the entire east wing to blow up.
'Why does everything happen at this school!?' Karin coughs through the dust as she struggles to stand up. Her upper lip is now bleeding, but there's no time to worry about that as she looks around the rubbish to ensure that nobody is caught in the crossfire. Luck might be on her side after all, as she notices none of the classrooms appear to be blown to smithereens aside from the one she just escaped from. Dashing out the now blown-wide exit, she makes a break for the court-yard, Tanaka not far behind.
"Did you really think you could escape? You haven't gotten any powers, not like your brother. We've watching you know, just waiting for him to leave." Tanaka now appears before her, larger than life, warped and finally completely transformed with a hollow mask. So much for 'Sensei Perfect.' He isn't like the average weak hollows she can take on her own, not with the absolute suffocation she's experiencing. It's getting harder to breathe, and harder to fight back. With another lounge, she scrambles to the side before his claws can penetrate her guts and takes off in another sprint towards the courtyard. A quick glance behind tells her that he isn't far behind, and that he could probably easily catch up. 'He's toying with me,' she thinks bitterly. Cat-mouse games are really, really annoying.
'As long as we're away from the school...'
Another explosion erupts, nearly yanking Karin off her feet. Plumes of smoke begin to rise from opposite side of the school and it is then that Karin decides she really is unlucky. Concern for Yuzu's well being courses through her mind and almost stops her in her tracks, but there's no way she's leading this monster towards her sister.
"I'll let you in on a secret," Tanaka whispers as he breathes down her back. In just no time at all, he's cut the distance between them and fear chips away Karin's rationality as she turns around with wide-eyes. "I'm not the only one here!" He says in a little sing-songy voice before crushing down another blow. Whoever said that death happens in slow motion is a big fat liar, because everything happens in seconds. Ice-cold fear pumps through her veins, and the whole world folds inward on her. Inside, her mind is screaming to move, but her outside her body stands frozen as the claw goes straight through her chest. There's no time to think, not even time to scream. There is only a red hot flash of agony and a searing pain before Karin feels nothing anymore.
It's only a matter of seconds as she watches the hollow pull his claws out of her chest and her body lands with a dull thud. Now she's standing above her body, staring at her own lifeless face and massive gaping hole where her chest should be. The most noticeable thing however, it's the sudden chain that's sprouting from her own chest, broken. She's seen this before she realizes, on spirits. Dead people.
The hollow allows her no time to process anything just as his claws come bearing down on her for the second kill. This time Karin isn't sure what it is, but the fear dissipates as adrenaline pumps through, kicking on her survival mode. Jumping just above the mark his claws aimed for, her own foot aims towards his face with the most amount of spiritual pressure she can muster in those few seconds. With a surprised grunt, the hollow staggers backwards and Karin swipes out her foot to knock him off balance completely. Karin takes off in a sprint as he lands on his back, hoping she's bought just enough time for the town shinigami to notice the hollow by now. Hell, she'd even settle for afro-san right about now.
Karin's lungs beg for air as she sprints ahead full force towards the school. If Tanaka isn't the only hollow around then, she needs to grab Yuzu and get the hell out of dodge.
But of course, nothing ever goes right for the Kurosakis, and especially not Karin Kurosaki.
A familiar presence jerks Karin away from her battle, and across the court yard she spots her sister Yuzu. The look of pure terror on her sister's face is enough to know that she's in danger. Behind her twin appears a...woman? What on earth? The woman appears to be dressed in a glaringly white shihakusho. It doesn't take more than a moment for Karin to feel the incredible weight pushing down upon her, nearly forcing her to her knees. It feels like the ocean is above her, weighing her down and sucking out all the air in the atmosphere. Is she a shinigami? No...her reiatsu is so, thick - like a hollow.
Upon first glance, it appears that Yuzu is being chased by a woman with long ashy blonde hair. Upon further scrutiny, a long protruding horn from the left side of the woman's head confirms Karin's suspicious that she is indeed a hollow. Never having seen a hollow with half a mask before, Karin's certain that it's not a good omen. What on earth kind of hollow is that?
"Yuzu!" she cries out, hoping that somehow, her twin will be able to see her.
The woman behind her twin barely lifts a foot, leisurely chasing after the vulnerable Kurosaki. Without a moment's hesitation, the hollow flash-steps, covering the bit of distance Yuzu has put between them. She closes her hand around Yuzu's neck, leaving her gulping for air. Rendered powerless by the long stretch of field before her, Karin can do nothing but run, each footstep weighing like a stone. And just like that, the hollow tosses Yuzu towards her sister like a flimsy rag doll. Skidding backwards with the force, Karin grabs her twin and shakes her vehemently.
"Yuzu! Yuzu!" To her avail, it doesn't work. And then she notices it, a chain leading a trail up to her standing sister who is now staring in wide-eyed shock. But her chain, it's not broken. A small ray of hope glimmers in Karin and she knows that somehow, she has to get her sister away without getting her chain broken.
"Karin? What's... what's going on?"
"There's no time to explain!"
Tanaka materializes behind Karin, leaving Yuzu to watch in horror as she watches her sister get peeled off the ground and into the air. "Let me go!" Karin cries out, kicking. 'Ichi-nii...where are you?'
Like a prayer answered, she sees a flash of black before she's dropped back onto the ground wheezing. Turning around she takes in the sight of her brother sticking his big butcher knife into the screaming hollow. 'Serves him right,' she thinks bitterly before turning back to her sister. The hollow chasing Yuzu gives a cry of surprise before turning around and fleeing.
"HEY!" Ichigo cries out, hesitating on whether or not to chase her. He glances at his sisters, and decides he'll deal with her later. With his backup on her trail, she shouldn't get very far. Karin thinks that she catches a flash of the familiar shihakusho chasing after the hollow but it's too quick for her to really realize anything, and there's other matters at hand to deal with.
Putting sword up behind him he finally has time to take in the situation, and brings himself locked on the sprouting chain in Karin's chest.
"No..." his face distorts into rage and bitterness. "Sorry Ichi-nii..."
Yuzu bites her lip, not really knowing what to make of it all. Nothing makes sense right now, but she knows that something is very, very wrong. "Ichi-nii...what's going on?"
Karin tears away from her brother and slowly steps towards her sister with a sad smile. "I promise, we'll explain everything. But first things first, you gotta get back inside your body."
A cloud of confusion passes over her twin's face, as she finally notices the trail from her, to her body. Giving a quick tug on her chain, realization dawns upon her. "Karin-chan...your chain. It's broken?"
"We'll talk about that later. Come on." Yuzu's lip quavers and holding her twins hand they both walk towards her body with their brother not far behind.
"How- how do I?"
"You just pick it up, and step into it," her brother replies softly, resting his hand on her head for a minute. He's done this a million times, and speaks from experience, Yuzu doesn't miss that part. She's naive when it comes to the spiritual world, but she's intuitive enough to know her brother isn't what he seems.
Without any further hesitation, Yuzu picks up her body, and slips right into it like a glove. Blinking, a few times, she stares at both her brother and sister as she gets up off the ground. Karin wonders if her sister will be able to see spirits now, and supposes that she probably can given that she's staring straight at her.
"We're going to Urahara's to sort this out," Ichigo murmurs as he walks across the field and picks up Karin's discarded, lifeless body.
"Yeah..." Karin trails off as the realization finally begins dawning on her.
"Oh my, oh my. This is quite the pickle you've gotten yourselves into," murmurs Urahara, snapping his fan shut. His face shows nothing of surprise, and Karin can't help but wonder if he's expected this. He's always been a super-shady dude.
With a sigh, Karin sits down and finally prepares to address the situation. She's dead, so what? Maybe, maybe there's another way out of this. One thing is for certain though, and that is that she will not go to Soul Society.
Ururu brings out a tea tray and sets it down while looking at Karin sympathetically. Yoruichi pads out from down the hall, her tail swishing about as her. No one says anything for a few moments before Yuzu finally collapses on on her knees, crying uncontrollably. Karin knows it's a weak gesture, but she puts her arms around her sister and says nothing, and Ichigo does the same. Jinata's face turns into something of anger and sympathy and gets up from leaning against the door frame. Karin isn't his favorite person, and sure they squabble a lot but damn, she hadn't deserved to die.
"W-what are we going to do?" hiccups Yuzu, finally calming down a little bit.
"We could take Karin to Soul Society," Yoruichi pipes up gently, knowing it's probably a futile suggestion.
Before Karin has a chance to protest loudly the door slides open, and a familiar face greets her. The famed captain of the Tenth Squad, Toshiro Hitsugaya steps in, and meets Karin's gaze, and then his eyes travel to the chain sprouting from her chest. The usual-cool demeanor slips off as his eyes widen in shock. "Hey Toshiro," she greets glumly. His shocked expression is replaced by a frown and he says nothing as he takes his seat beside her. His lieutenant not far behind with a, "Captain?"
The no response doesn't settle well with Karin and she turns to him with a frown. "Oh hi, it's real nice to see you again too!" she mocks.
"What am I supposed to say?" he gestures towards her broken chain. "Sorry you died?" Karin bites her own sharp tongue, knowing that now isn't the time to argue.
"What are you doing here anyway? I thought Captains rarely came here." She asks, deciding to change the subject.
"We came as soon as the alarm went off in Soul Society. Normally captains wouldn't, but there was an abnormal rise in spiritual pressure detected, equivalent to an Espada. A select few from my squad as well as I and my lieutenant got immediate orders to deal with the situation."
"An espada? You mean that hollow with a broken mask?" Karin murmurs. Whatever an espada is, it doesn't sound good.
"You saw it?"
"Yeah, it was chasing Yuzu. Ichigo got here just in time though," Karin motions with her hand turning her gaze on her brother.
He sucks in a breath of air before answering, "Yeah I was with Rukia at the time the alarm went off. As soon as I heard Kakura town I left and got here as soon as possible but..." he trails off unable to bring himself to look at Karin's chain anymore, "I was too late."
Silence fills the room, like a balloon threatening to pop at any given moment. With each passing second, Karin feels a like a pound is added to her chain of fate. How long before it finally bares down on her lungs and suffocates her? Will she need to breathe air now that she's dead?
"The question remains, what are you going to do?" Urahara finally breaks the silence with the snap of his fan.
"I refuse to go to Soul Society," Karin decrees. She will not leave Yuzu and everyone she loves behind.
"You really think it's a good idea to wonder around as hollow food?" Yoruichi murmurs.
"Not if I become a shinigami!" Karin 'humphs' and crosses her arms, daring anyone to challenge her.
"Absolutely not. Do you really think the soutaicho will allow this?" Toshiro turns his incredulous look towards her. He really can't figure out if she's incredibly stubborn, or really, really dumb. To think, the captain commander would allow another substitute shinigami to run around town? Ichigo got a free pass because of the Aizen melodrama, but Toshiro highly doubts Karin is getting one.
"Hm, don't know him and don't care."
"You don't get it. You're dead. You're going to stay here and watch all your friends and family grow up while you don't. You won't go to school, play soccer or do anything of things you used to do. You won't belong," Toshiro says firmly. There's a reason shinigamis avoided most mortal things before the appearance of Ichigo Kurosaki.
"I don't care. If my team wants to keep playing soccer without me fine. If we have to make up some elaborate story about my death, fine. If Yuzu grows up and goes off to college, fine. I don't care, as long as I can stay and protect Yuzu." Stubbornly, the Kurosaki has put her foot down, and Toshiro knows that when she's got that determined glint in her eye, not even the Soutaicho will get in her way.
Before anyone else has a chance to argue, Yuzu finally pipes up. "Karin-chan," she speaks in a soft voice. She sounds so fragile that she just might shatter right then and there. "You don't- don't have to stay for me. You can't just turn into hollow food," casting her eyes down, she can't bear to look at her sister. Telling her to go away of all things. Karin's the one who's dead, and yet she's still the one being comforted. 'How weak of me,' Yuzu thinks.
"Hey," Karin speaks in a soft voice only specifically reserved in times of Yuzu's distress, "I can't leave you. I can't leave dad, and Ichigo. I just can't, and I won't. Besides, you think I'm gonna listen to a bunch of no good shinigamis up there? Wrong." Yuzu gives a small weak smile at her sister's hardheadedness and starts hiccuping again, threatening more tears.
Hitsugaya gives a sigh, and runs his fingers through his hair. "Kurosaki, care to comment?"
"She's not leaving, and that's final," Ichigo stands firmly. He doesn't want to see his sister turn into hollow fodder, but he also won't force her to do anything against her will. She'd never forgive him for making her leave Yuzu behind.
Toshiro finally stands with his lieutenant behind. "I'll address this with the soutaicho and see what can be done."
"Should I come with you?" The stubborn twin stands up, facing her long-time soccer teammate. "I wouldn't do that," Urahara warns, "Once you enter soul society you will be considered property of soul society."
Property of Soul Society...
Karin shudders, already feeling the oppressive forces of the other realm. Staying here, watching everyone around her change and leave her behind, or go and leave everyone she loves behind? She can't do that to Yuzu, she came into this world with her twin, and she'll be damned if she doesn't leave this world with her twin.
"In the meantime however!" Urahara cheerfully announces, "You can stay with us!"
"Absolutely not," Ichigo deadpans, swatting the shopkeeper's fan out of his way.
"Now, now don't be rash! In your home, she's food for the hollows. Here, we will train her to be a shinigami," Urahara points out.
Ichigo narrows his eyes, distrust turning the corners of his lips down. He's not sure that Karin staying and following the guidance of Urahara is that much better than being hollow food. "Ichi-nee, isn't this the same guy who trained you?" Karin interjects. Sure, Urahara is a pretty shady fellow but he can't have all bad intentions...can he? At the very least, he wants what's best for the greater good... she hopes.
"Doesn't mean much," Ichigo snorts. Urahara crumples up in a fit of sadness and despair. "Oh Ichigo - it hurts you think so lowly of me! I am but just a shopkeeper trying to make ends meet!" With a wave of his hand added for melodrama. Quite the star, Karin thinks to herself.
"Oi! Ichigoooo! My sweet daughters!" The sudden voice from outside the shop along with banging on the door brings everyone's conversation to a screeching halt. Karin's blood runs cold, 'Oh crap' bouncing around off the walls in her head while Ichigo runs his hands through his hair frustratingly. Yuzu presses her hands together, swallowing the lump in her though, figuring that her dad probably knows everything to. She's the last to know.
'What are we telling him,' - the thought passing through the three of them. Everyone looks at Ichigo expectantly, and he finally gives in with a sigh and swings the door open to his loving father's face. "We're having a moment in here!" he yells as his father's fist collides with his face.
"Oi what the fuck!?" Ichigo screams from the floor as he holds his nose with tears gathering in the corner of his eyes. "Reflexes are getting slow Ichi-" finally their father cuts off uncharacteristically as his eyes fall upon the scene in front of him. "Hey dad," Karin says weakly with the background of Yuzu's sniffling. A solemn expression passes over his face, and it's only then that Karin finally realizes the seriousness of the situation. The ability to count the number of times that her father has made that face puts her stomach in knots and she realizes she's never even considered him in all of this.
Toshiro's abnormal response puts a rushing hold on all of her thoughts as he chokes out, "T-Tachio!?"
Karin turns to him with an incredulous gaze, "Tachio!?" she repeats back with shock. Matsumoto forgos any of the seriousness and shock as she cries out excitedly, "Tachio!" Yuzu just glances between everyone, blinking in curiosity.
Humming, Urahara just pours another tea.
Wow I hope there isn't too much dialogue in this. Anyway, I don't think Karin ever knew her father's identity, although she knew of her brothers? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it made this scene funnier.
Also, found the cover art through a quick google search of Karin as a Shinigami. It's done by jfish1111 on Devaintart if you guys wanted to check it out.