Hi everyone! Here is the fic I promised. See, I got it up really fast. Just to give credit where credit is due, ideas for this story came from Nefarious Seraph 13 (especially Karin's zanpakto), Lillix Vail, and Aris-5221 and kbookworm3 (who had the exact same idea). And of course, I have original ideas in here too, so it's like a great big HitsuKarin collaboration! Ok, I'll shut up now. Enjoy!
One important thing: I wrote this story with the assumption that all souls keep their memories. The anime is really vague about it, Urahara says they don't, but Chad's parrot boy says they do. So assume that everyone remembers what life was like when they were alive. It makes things much less confusing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any of its characters. I only own my own characters and ideas.
Karin was going to kill him. Ok, technically she couldn't kill him. He was already dead. She was too for that matter. But she was still going to murder him.
"You IDIOT!" she screamed, punching him again and again. "You just had to go and learn how to drive and you just had to take Yuzu and me with you to show off your stupid skills! Now look where we are!"
"Hey!" Ichigo countered, trying to protect himself from her barrage of punches. "It's not my fault that you said left when you meant right! It's your fault!" That was true, but it hardly mattered anymore.
"Who cares!" she barked, landing a well aimed right-hook. "You're still the one who crashed into the pole! And where the heck are we now?!"
"I know exactly where we are, so quit complaining." This statement shocked Karin so much, she paused, her arm frozen in midair hovering dangerously close to Ichigo's jaw.
"You do?" she asked incredulously.
"Of course I do!" Ichigo huffed, backing away from her before she could start assaulting him again. "I brought you here!" That was also true, but all he had done was stick out some sword and lead them through this weird door. Now they were standing on a hill top looking out over rows and rows of identical traditional Japanese style buildings.
"Ichi-nii, Karin-chan," Yuzu begged. "Please stop fighting!" She hated when her family shouted at each other.
"Well?" Karin said, glaring daggers at Ichigo and crossing her arms. "Are you going to tell us where we are or not?"
"We're in…" he started to say, but before he could finish, they were interrupted by the arrival of someone else.
"You IDIOT!" Rukia screamed, side-kicking Ichigo in the face. "What the heck did you do?! Oh, hello Karin, Yuzu, nice to see you!" The change in her facial expression and tone of voice from furious to friendly was slightly nerve-wracking.
"Uh, Rukia," Karin said, clearly confused. "What are you…?" but she was also interrupted.
"I can't believe you were taken out in a car crash! You moron," Renji said as he approached behind Rukia. He seemed thoroughly amused. "I mean, you survive ever scuffle in the Winter War, go home without a scratch and get killed by a pole! You're pathetic. Grimmjaw's having a nice laugh right about now."
"Shut up!" Ichigo said, flustered. "It's Karin's fault!"
"Is not!" she retorted. "And who are you?" she demanded, whipping around to face Renji. "What war?"
"How do you know it was a car crash?" Ichigo butted in. Karin jammed her foot down on his, payback for ignoring her. Renji howled with laughter as he watched Ichigo jump up and down, cursing.
"6th squad's been in charge of monitoring Karakura ever since Rukia got pulled off the job. Seems that Kuchki taicho wanted to keep a close eye on you."
"Huh?" Ichigo asked, pausing in his rabbit impression to be flabbergasted. "Why does Byakuya care?"
"Can't think of a single reason," Renji said, eyeing Rukia slyly, who blushed. Luckily, she was spared her embarrassment by the arrival of several more people.
"Ichigo!" Ikkaku said jovially. "How are you doing?"
"You died?!" Yumichka said haughtily. "And you brought your sisters with you. How ugly."
"Who's ugly?" Karin spat, but no one was paying any attention to her at this point.
"Anyway," Ikkaku continued, "we came to warn you. Zaraki taicho knows you're here and he's hankering for a fight. Of course, it'll take him a week to find you, but just be on your guard." Ichigo scoffed.
"Thanks for the warning."
"Ichigo!" cried another excited voice, and Matsumoto bounded up to the group, chest bouncing as she ran. "You've finally come to stay for good have you?"
"Oi, doesn't anybody care that I'm dead?" he asked annoyed. Matsumoto shrugged her shoulders.
"Not really. It doesn't matter either way does it?"
"Yes it does!" Ichigo snapped. Matsumoto giggled.
"Anyway," she continued, "taicho told me to tell you that Yamamoto soutaicho wants to speak with you as soon as possible." Ichigo groaned.
"So I'm in Soul Society for five minutes and I'm already a taicho. That's got to be a record."
At this point, Yuzu was scared out of her wits and Karin was fed up with being ignored.
"Please don't, Karin-chan," Yuzu begged knowing exactly what her twin wanted to do, but Karin ignored her.
"Oi!" she shouted as loudly as she could. Everyone present stopped their friendly banter to stare at her.
"So, these are your little sisters?" Renji asked curiously.
"They've got some pretty decent reiatsu," Ikkaku noticed, sizing them up. "Almost as strong as yours, Ichigo."
"How'd you get them here without a soul burial?" Yumichka asked, looking them over like they were rather interesting potted plants.
"I brought them through a senkai gate," Ichigo told him. "I thought it was safer that way. I don't trust that soul burial crap, you never know where you're going to end up."
"Will you stop analyzing us and tell us WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!?" Karin bellowed at the top of her lungs. "Who are you people? How do you know Ichi-nii? WHERE ARE WE?!" There was stunned silence for a moment, then several people broke down laughing.
"Oi, Ichigo, you never told your sisters who you really are?" Ikkaku said in surprise.
"Karin knows, kind of," Ichigo mumbled.
"That doesn't look like 'kind of' to me," Renji commented. "More like, completely in the dark." Karin looked like she was about to explode, but Rukia took control over the situation.
"Karin, Yuzu," she said calmly, "this is Soul Society. It's the place you go after you die. We are shinigami. We protect souls." Karin had a thousand more questions, but Yuzu looked on the verge of tears so she refrained.
"Anyway," Ichigo broke in, "you two should head off to the Shinigami Academy. I've got to meet with the soutaicho."
"Wait," Karin said in surprise. "We're not staying together!? I don't think Yuzu can handle that." Yuzu responded by sniffling loudly. Ichigo looked at his sisters and sighed.
"Sorry, but now that we're here for real, I've got stuff I have to do."
"Oh, yeah right," Karin said sarcastically. "You never took responsibility for anything at home but you do here?"
"I did take responsibility for stuff," Ichigo said uncomfortably. "The thing was…it was all shinigami stuff." Ichigo looked slightly embarrassed at his confession. Rukia punched him in face.
"Don't be so modest, dolt."
"And what's this 'Shinigami Academy' place?" Karin continued. "I'm dead! Why do I have to go to school?" Rukia looked at her sympathetically.
"You know Ichigo," she said, "they don't have to go straight to the Academy. They're still really young, they could live in Rukongai for a while…"
"No!" Ichigo stated soundly. "No sister of mine is living in that hell hole!"
"It's not all that bad," Rukia tried to reason. "The first couple of districts are…"
"Did any one of you come from a better district than 75?" he asked bitterly, scanning the crowd around him. No one responded. "Didn't think so. They're going to the Academy and that's final!"
"Why don't you ask them what they want?" Renji said, indicating the two girls, one furious, one petrified. "I think they can make that decision themselves."
"Before we make any decision," Karin said angrily, "I want a better explanation." Ichigo sighed.
"Sorry Karin, but I don't want to keep the soutaicho waiting. He's the scariest man alive if he's pissed at you and he'll have you executed without a second thought. I really don't want to start out my taicho career with that hanging over my head." Karin gaped at him.
"You really are different here, Ichi-nii," she said, impressed and slightly sad. "It's like…you've finally come home." Ichigo scratched the back of his head awkwardly.
"Yeah, I guess it is. Anyway, why don't you guys go with Rukia for now, and I'll come get you later…"
"Sorry Ichigo," Rukia apologized, "but I'm actually busy right now. I have to run some errands for Ukitake taicho and I'm already running late because you had to go and get yourself killed."
"I'll take them!" Matsumoto said cheerily. "It'll be a great excuse to avoid some paperwork!"
"What, do we need a babysitter?" Karin asked cynically, but she was internally grateful. She still had no idea where they were and she wasn't really in the mood to get lost in what looked like an impossible maze of identical buildings.
"Thanks Rangiku-san!" Ichigo said appreciatively. "I'll be back to get them as soon as I can. In the mean time, why don't you fill them in? I think Karin will have a couple heads if she doesn't get some answers soon." Karin almost took a head at that comment, but Ichigo and his posy were already heading down the hill.
"Come on girls, let's go!" Matsumoto said cheerily. "I'm Matsumoto Rangiku, 10th squad fukutaicho. We've met before, haven't we?" It was then that Karin remembered.
"Toushiro!" she said excitedly. "You're Toushiro's...um…" Matsumoto smiled.
"Fukutaicho," she finished the sentence for Karin.
"Yeah, that's it, fukutaicho!" She looked up at Matsumoto expectantly, hoping to finally get some answers. "So, what's a fukutaicho?"
"I'll explain everything when we get to the office," she said, leading them towards 10th squad. "It's more comfortable there. And I'm sure taicho will be glad to see you."
As it turned out, Hitsugaya wasn't in the office when they arrived.
"Must be at a captains meeting," Matsumoto guessed. "To induct Ichigo as a taicho. Anyway, what do you want to know about Soul Society?"
"Everything," Karin replied. The three of them sat on the couch for the next hour while Matsumoto gave them the run down.
"And Ichi-nii knew all this and didn't tell me?" Karin asked, slightly affronted. "I hate him." Matsumoto laughed.
The door slid open to reveal a rather disgruntled Hitsugaya.
"Two Kurosakis!" he mumbled to himself. "One was bad enough, but two!"
"What do you mean two, taicho?" Matsumoto asked cheerily. Hitsugaya scowled.
"Kurosaki Isshin! He barged in in the middle of the captains meeting, demanding his old spot at 3rd squad taicho back. Something about all his family being dead so there was no point in him staying in the living world any longer."
"Oyaji!" Karin cried. "Him too?!" Yuzu gasped in surprise.
"And the soutaicho gave him the position!?" Matsumoto asked, startled. She didn't even seem to have heard Karin's outburst. Hitsugaya sighed.
"If the situation had been different, he probably wouldn't have, but we're in desperate need of taichos at the moment. Hello Kurosaki," he said blandly, turning to Karin for the first time. "I didn't expect to see you in Soul Society for quite a while. I guess you have that idiot of a brother of yours to thank right?" Karin shrugged.
"Whatever, my whole family's here, so I don't really mind. Oyaji's a taicho too?"
"Yeah," Hitsugaya said with a frown. "They're waiting for you two outside." Yuzu scrambled out of the room as fast as she could, but Karin held back for a moment.
"Hey, Toushrio, you up for a game sometime?" Hitsugaya gave her a patented icy glare.
"Kurosaki," he said seriously, "you're in Soul Society now, so you have to address me properly. It's Hitsugaya taicho and don't you forget it. And taichos do not have time to play soccer with Academy students. Now go, your family's waiting." Karin stared at Hitsugaya for a moment. She wasn't the least bit intimidated by his words. In fact, she found them highly amusing. She had seen his softer side, if only briefly while he stared at the sky, lost in memories, but it had been there. She would crack his shell no matter what it took.
"Yeah, whatever Toushiro!" she said cheerfully. "See ya!"
Matsumoto at least gave her taicho the decency of waiting until Karin was out of the office before breaking down in hysterics.
"Oh taicho," she chuckled, "that girl is going to be the new bane of your existence!" Hitsugaya scowled, knowing that Matsumoto was right. But for some reason, that thought didn't bother him as much as it should have.
Karin ran out of the squad house and into her father's open arms. Well, actually, it was her foot that barreled into his chest, but with the Kurosakis that amounted to much the same thing.
"You're as bad as Ichi-nii!" she shouted furiously. "You were a shinigami and didn't even tell us!" Isshin laughed heartily.
"Karin, you wouldn't have believed me if I did tell you, so what was the point?" Karin crossed her arms in a huff. "Anyway, we're all here now, so does it really matter?"
"Yes it does!" Karin insisted, but no one was really listening anymore.
"Onii-chan, you look so regal in that haori!" Yuzu gushed, admiring Ichigo's new captain's cloak.
"You like it?" Ichigo asked, trying and failing to hide the pride in his voice. "You're looking at the new 9th squad taicho!"
"Why 9th?" Yuzu asked. "Why not 5th?"
"Well," Ichigo replied, "the 9th squad fukutaicho was killed taking out particularly nasty Espada a couple months ago, so that squad was in most need of leadership. And speaking of leadership, I've got to go find Rukia. I want her to be my fukutaicho."
"That's cute," Karin said sarcastically. Yuzu giggled, and Ichigo blushed slightly.
"Whatever. See you around!" he said as he ran off. Karin shook her head in disbelief. Ichigo really did seem like he belonged here.
"And as for you two," Isshin said to his daughters, "I agree with Ichigo. It's off to the Academy for you. And don't complain," he preempted as Karin opened her mouth to protest. "It's better than rotting in Rukongai. Besides," he said, a slight gleam in his eye, "it's not like school was before. I think you'll really enjoy it."
Sorry for all you Hisagi fans out there, but I really wanted to make Rukia Ichigo's fukutaicho, and this was the best way to do it.
And I know this chapter was kind of pathetic, but I couldn't really think of another way to set the stage, and I thought everyone crowding around Ichigo would be amusing. Anyway, I promise the story gets a lot better from here on out.
Oh also, I apologize again for the weird spaces in my story, it's where there are page breaks in my word document. If anyone knows how to get rid of them, I would love the advice. Thanks.