Chapter 1

Seven-Thirty-Five is a beauty hour to begin school, Hinamori thought, as she opened her locker. The bell rang and she sighed. Hopefully being the 'new girl' would excuse her tardiness. It certainly had no other perks. She thought fleetingly of the friends she had left behind, with whom she had crashed bashes and stalked the darkest corners of Honshu Town. Last night she just arrived in Karakura Town, giving her rarely enough time to get unpacked and settled in.

She forcibly banished such thoughts. She was here now, and it was time to begin this new life. Starting with Karakura High.

Her first block was Japanese History and though she located it easily, the class had already begun when she slipped through the door.

"Hinamori Momo?" the teacher confirmed as Hinamori turned over the folded pink slip from the office. Shusuke-sensei was a dark brown hair man around his early 30s whose crisp suit pants and shirt seemed out of place in the high school. He gestured towards the class. "Take a seat…there's one open right next to Abarai Renji-"

"Actually, someone's sitting there," one of the girls in the back of the room called. As Hinamori's attention turned to Renji, she realized that he looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn't place his face in her memory. He had looked up long enough to see who had come in the door, and was writing something in a notebook. The desk next to him appeared empty to Hinamori; the chair was vacant.

Shusuke-sensei looked surprised, but he skimmed the class again.

"There's a seat here," someone else called, and Hinamori glanced to see who had spoken. White hair, clean skin, beautiful aqua eyes. Someone out of the ordinary. She hesitated but Shusuke-sensei was already hustling her towards the empty seat.

"Hitsugaya Toushiro." The boy said, introducing himself as she slid into her chair. He nodded across the class. "That's another one of my close friends, Matsumto Rangiku." The girl he gestured to waved slightly. The girl had gorgeous strawberry- blonde hair, but she wore her uniform a little bit to revealing. Nevertheless Hinamori was aware of the fact that these two were close also by the fact that both of them gave off an uncomfortable aura.

"Nice to meet you," she answered politely though inside she winced. This could be a very long year.

She began to realize that the aura wasn't from the boy beside her but from the 'rest' of the class. Shusuke-sensei was talking to her again, and she turned her attention back to him. "Momo, as you'll see, I like to begin class with a conversation about current events, to keep us involved in the present as well as the history." Raising his voice to address to all the students, he asked, "Now who has something to share?"

The number of hands raised-none-was overly surprising. Most of the students looked like they were still asleep.

"I know it's early," Shusuke-sensei said, encouragingly. "But you are allowed to wake up any time now. Who heard the news last night? What happened in our world?"

Finally a few hands tiredly rose, but most of the students had better things to do. The girl sitting in front of Hinamori was reading a graphic book that looked like manga. Nearby another student was doing English homework. The teacher was either oblivious, or he just didn't care. The news story that was being repeated by a girl in the first row wasn't all that fascinating, anyway.

"Did you just move in?" Hitsugaya asked his voice quiet to avoid the teacher's attention. He had a deep raspy tone, but smooth and unhurried. Hinamori nodded, trying to keep a small portion of her attention focused on the dull classroom conversation, while keeping the rest on the people who were now and then throwing glances at her.

"My father and mother got new jobs in town."

Shusuke-sensei moved back in time to the war of Rukongai, and Hinamori took notes furiously for an excuse to avoid Hitsugaya's attempt to small talk. The class was dull, and she already knew most of the information, but if she made a good impression now, Shusuke-sensei was more likely to cut her some slack later.

Hitsugaya's silence lasted only until the bell. "How'd you hurt your arm?" he asked as Hinamori awkwardly shuffled papers into her bag after class. She had completely forgotten about the car accident last week.

"Glass cut." She half-lied effortlessly. "Just a broken cup, nothing big."

As she lifted her shoulder bag, she wondered how in the world people could possible carry their bags around all day.

"Do you need help with that?" Hitsugaya offered, gesturing to the bag. "What class do you have next?"

"Chemistry." She answered. "I can handle it."

"I didn't mean to suggest you couldn't," Hitsugaya responded smoothly. "You just shouldn't have to bother. I've got biology next, anyway so our classes are near each other."

She examined his expression, but he appeared sincere. For whatever his reasons, he was honestly trying to play the part of an unusually polite teenage boy. She didn't want to make a scene, so she surrendered her bag, and Hitsugaya carried it without effort.

"Thanks." She forced out, glad the words sounded sincere.

Through her chemistry class was blessedly less awkward but people still stared; Hitsugaya's friend was in her art class for the third block of the day. Hinamori's skills with clay were minimal; she had signed up for this class mainly so she could do something low stress without homework. She'd be lucky if she could make a ball. Matsumoto, on the other hand, had a great deal of talent, which helped Hinamori place her in a way that the girl's aura from before was definitely not those of the unfriendly ones.

"That's really impressive," Hinamori offered, surprised to find her words completely swept of bashfulness. Matsumoto was crafting a young man's figure in the soft clay, humming quietly to herself as she worked. He sat upon a rustic bench, a violin perched on his shoulder. The bow was a fine coil of clay supported by a piece of wire at its neck.

"Thanks." She smiled, looking back at the form. "But I can't get the face quite right." She indicated the shapeless globe where the features should be, surrounded by carefully etched hair.

"Better than mine."

Matsumoto laughed lightly. "Considering you just started today, and you're only working with your left hand, it's not bad."

Matsumoto carefully wrapped her figure in plastic so it would not dry, and then shifted over to offer suggestions on Hinamori's project, which was a sickly-looking clay dog. They worked together for the last ten minutes of class.

"You could put a wire in his tail so it wouldn't fall like that. What kind of dog is it?" Matsumoto asked. Hinamori shrugged. "I don't really know."

"It could kind of look like a Lab, if you squared off the nose," the girl suggested. Under Matsumoto's expert assistance the smooth white clay turned into an almost-recognizable animal.

"What do you have next?" Matsumoto asked as they packed the dog in plastic.

"Lunch, I think."

"Great! You're with Toushiro and me."

The girl's exuberance was infectious, but still Hinamori hesitated at her implied invitation. She could be sociable during class, but there were times when she just wanted to be alone.

Still, Matsumoto walked with her through the halls, and even followed Hinamori to her locker when she tried to use an excuse to drop her new friend as much as she disliked it or not. Inside the locker, on the top shelf, Hinamori noticed something she had not put there: a white piece of paper, on which a profile had been drawn carefully in pencil. She immediately recognized the figure as herself; her hair spilled over her shoulders and onto her the desk as she wrote.

Matsumoto just shrugged when she saw the drawing and gave an understanding smile as Hinamori read the initials sighed in light script in the bottom corner. HT. It was from Hitsugaya, he has probably drawn it while sitting right next to her in history class. She slammed her locker door and then she was being led to a cafeteria filled with unknown students, but to her surprise the one table she was being led to was filled with most people.

She had registered less than half of the faces but most of the names which she had no clue belong to whom. The table was a friendly group which was a major relieve for her, but when she glanced around the cafeteria, eyes were all on her; girls with evil glares along with flirtatious and libidinous stares from the guys.She took in a ragged breath of air and sat down. She hadn't realized that she sat straight across from him when he slipped a piece of napkin across the table to her; she read the napkin which had a list of his friends' names. She looked up at him as he smirked then winked at her. She gave him an innocent smile. And just when I had been trying to ignore him.