A/N: Like the summary says, this is the intro chappie to my newest collection of drabbles. (first posted collection) It's set in the time period of this chapter, but every one from now on will be in Soul Society, with different occurances happening to Karin and Yuzu. Not to say that Rukia, Ichigo, or Isshin won't be back, because it's pretty easy to make the trip to Soul Society to visit. :P I'm not sure how many drabbles I'll have. I just write one whenever I feel like it. So, enjoy :)

One Year


Rukia shifted the shopping bag on her forearm, grumbling slightly about the weight of it, considering that all she bought were ramen and chocolate bars. Her white sundress blew in the wind, giving her slimming figure an ambrosial look. She pushed a strand of her dark hair behind her ear, impatient that it kept falling into her dark violet eyes.

The moonlight lit the path that she was taking back to the Kurosaki Clinic, and the stars twinkled as she sauntered along. She lifted her head slightly, vaguely noting that a group of humans were walking a ways behind her. She wasn't worried about them, though. Unlike Ichigo cautioned, she never considered that someone might attack her, as people did every day to normal humans. She wasn't some weakling girl who couldn't defend herself. She could take on four, five guys easily. Ichigo worried too much.

Rukia thought about what she would do when she got back to Ichigo's apartment. It was summer break, and Ichigo's sisters had both insisted on going to Soul Society to train at the shinigami academy there. They were all too eager to go once they found out that their father had once been a shinigami captain, and that Ichigo was well on his way to becoming one, should he decide to join the death god's ranks. Isshin had been reluctant, but surprisingly, Ichigo convinced him to let the twins go, stating that they'd be safer if they could protect themselves. When a fight between a hollow did break out with one of them—and it was almost assured to happen at least once, what with their high spiritual power—they shouldn't have to sit and wait for someone to save them, he said.

Needless to say, after hearing that reasoning, Isshin agreed, and they made the arrangements. Soul Society was amazed to hear from the retired captain, and after all the help the Kurosaki family had lent them in the past, the shinigami were all too eager to welcome the two girls into the academy. They left immediately, and had plans to stay all year and get training. When the neighbors asked where they had gone, the two men lied that they had gone to spend a year in America, as foreign exchange students.

Karin and Yuzu were going to be in for a big surprise when they got back, and had no idea about American culture.

So, with the twins gone, the Kurosaki household had gotten much quieter—and much dirtier—until Ichigo had sought Rukia out to stay with them. She did most of the household chores, and in exchange, she lived for free in the house, even receiving Karin and Yuzu's empty bedroom. Rukia didn't actually mind the work that accompanied her room and board; she thought it was a great learning experience, to see how humans kept their quarters tidy. Ichigo thought she was crazy. Isshin thought she was a saint.

Rukia's eyes narrowed as she realized that those humans were still following her. She was still a few blocks away from clinic, but distance wasn't really an issue. She could sprint it easily. Of course, what fun would that be? If these guys were stalking her, and she managed to get away, not only would she be missing a fight, but she'd be letting them go free to attack some other defenseless human.

Casually, making up her mind, she turned to face them. They were still about thirty feet away, but they continued to advance. There were four of the men, big guys who looked strong. None seemed older than Ichigo. Judging by the smirks on their faces, she knew her hunch was correct, and that they were planning to attack her soon. By facing them, she had merely moved the time up.

"It's not safe for a little girl to be walking alone at night," Guy #1 crooned. The others chuckled at the idea. "Someone might get hurt."

Rukia sighed and put her shopping bag down. She didn't want to jostle the food when she fought. Straightening, she put on a sweet face, encouraging them, "I was unaware of the dangers. Thank you for warning me."

"We'll do more than warn," Guy #2 stated. "We're going to educate you in why you don't walk alone at night."

"You'll never make this mistake again," Guy #4 laughed.

Rukia rolled her eyes at their comments. She couldn't help it; these idiots thought they were so much better than they probably were. Their few months of street fighting was nothing compared to the hundred and fifty years that she had on them, "Well, someone's going to get hurt, that's for sure."

They looked startled for a minute, clearly shocked that she wasn't screaming and running in the opposite direction. That only spurred Rukia on; she wanted to get these thugs off the streets and protect those other girls they might target in the future.

By now, the four were less than five feet away, and Guy #3 stepped up, cracking his knuckles, "She's pretty, guys. What say we knock her unconscious, take her back to the hideout, and have some fun with her."

Guy #1 shrugged, "Sure. We haven't had someone to play with in a while."

Guy #3 didn't need any more encouragement. He lunged forward, prepared to knock Rukia upside the head. He swung, but she wasn't there anymore. She appeared behind him, landing a strong kick in the middle of his back, causing him to fall forward. Rukia winced as he landed with a thud right next to the groceries, momentarily stunned. Without hesitating, she skipped over and snatched up the bag, moving it to the corner of the street, out of the way. When she turned around, Guy #3 was getting to his feet.

"Stupid bitch!" he snarled, coming forward again. Again Rukia dodged easily, but this time she wasn't so courteous. Instead of merely knocking him to the floor, she hammered punches on his stomach, then moved up to his face, and finished by kicking him where the sun don't shine. Guy #3 let out a high pitched squeal that was quite funny, in Rukia's mind, and sank to the floor, holding his bloody nose in one hand and his crotch in the other. For good measure, Rukia did a roundhouse kick and knocked his head, effectively putting him out of the fight. He dropped cold to the concrete, and she straightened, eyeing the other three.

"Come on, you can do better than that," she invited. "I wanted a fight, not a warm-up."

One nod, and the other three angrily ran at her together. She jumped just out of the way, leaping into the air and kneeing Guy #1 in the head. She heard a sickening crunch of his nose breaking, and smirked slightly, landing lightly on her feet. Guy #1 fell, and she counted him down and out.

Guy #4 was easy enough to take down. Just kick him in the stomach, then the chest, then get his legs out from under him, and he was down as well. His head hit the concrete hard, and if he wasn't unconscious before, he certainly was then.

Rukia turned to face Guy #2, the only one standing now, folding her arms. She gave him a level glare, waiting for him to either start the fight or turn tail and run. He did neither, but a grin spread over his face as he stood. Clearly something was funny to him, and Rukia blinked in confusion.

"Now you'll get yours," Guy #2 stated triumphantly, beaming. Just as he said that, Guy #1 grabbed her from behind, holding her arms so she couldn't move without breaking one. She squirmed, but his hold tightened.

"You're feisty, girl," Guy #1 whispered in her ear. She rolled her eyes and brought her foot down on his toes, grinding them into the pavement. He cursed and let go, holding his foot tenderly. Rukia turned to face Guy #2 once more, sighing.

"Is that all you guys have?"

He growled low and reached into his jacket, pulling out a knife. Brandishing it, he leapt forward, and Rukia grinned.

"Great, now make that knife about three times longer, add some skill, and it's like school all over again!" she laughed, attacking him without mercy. He managed to lightly scrape her cheek, but other than that, he went down quicker than the others. Clapping her hands together in accomplishment, she picked up her grocery bag and started walking towards Ichigo's house.

A few feet away, and she stopped and turned. Three of the guys were out cold, but Guy #1 was still nursing his broken foot. She smiled sweetly again, "Remember this next time you decide to prey on someone else."

By the time she got to Ichigo's house, she was feeling pretty good about herself. She walked through the front door, humming as she shut it behind her. She turned and noticed Ichigo, who was staring at her with a confused and slightly annoyed face. She flashed her trademark grin.

"Having a nice night, Ichigo?"

"What happened to you?" he asked, climbing off of the couch and walking towards her.

Rukia shrugged, "I got to beat up some thugs. It was fun."

He snorted, "That explains the cut, then," he stated, running his finger lightly over her cheek, pulling it away to show the blood smeared on his thumb. He motioned for her to follow him, and headed for the kitchen, where they kept the first aid kit. She obeyed, still smiling, but now blushing slightly as well.

"They were really weak. No form at all."

"Only you would be so happy after beating someone up," Ichigo shook his head. "I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't have to come rescue you."

She took a seat at the kitchen table, "Damn straight. I can take care of myself."

"Didn't I warn you about people like that?" Ichigo demanded, ignoring her statement as he pulled out a cloth and dabbed the blood away. When it was clean, he put some antiseptic on a band-aid and covered the small cut with it.

Rukia sat silently for a minute, waiting for the stinging to subdue. When it did, she opened her grocery bag and pulled out the chocolate bars, "You did warn me, but I didn't listen. And frankly, if those were the humans you were worried about, then I won't need to listen to your warnings again. That was like playtime for me."

Ichigo rolled his eyes and grabbed a chocolate bar, but he couldn't help smirking at her actions. Her reckless attitude was why he liked her so much.

"Just be careful next time."

A/N: There, first chappie done. :) This is the longest of them, because this is an actual chapter, and not a drabble. Clearly I'm an Ichigo/Rukia fan, and there will be Karin/Hitsugaya as well. I'm sort of leaning towards Yuzu/Hanataro, just because they seem to fit together. Suggestions for drabbles are welcomed and encouraged! Thanks for reading :)