Title: Hinamori's Apprentice
Summary: Momo Hinamori struggles to get stronger, learn to work with her new captain, patch up a strained relationship with Toushiro Hitsugaya, and earn the respect of other Shinigami. As she faces these challenges, she is assigned yet another responsibility, training Ichigo's sister, Karin!
Characters: Momo Hinamori, Karin Kurosaki, Toushiro Hitsugaya, and Ichigo Kuroski.
A/N: I came up with the idea of a story featuring Hinamori having an apprentice a few nights ago, and liked the idea so much that I started right away. Initially I was just planning to use an original character, but decided on using Karin as she already has connections to Ichigo and Hitsugaya. I know there's a lot of antagonism between Momo and Karin fans, but I like both characters, and hope fans of both will give the story a chance. There will be no romantic pairing, but Hitsugaya will be a fairly prominent character in the story.
Momo Hinamori leapt out of the way, avoiding Renji Abarai's strike. She landed back on her feet in a defensive position, holding her sword in front of her. Renji struck again, this time with more force. Momo immediately turned her blade to block the strike, forcing the tip of the blade down and sidestepping before delivering a downwards strike herself. Renji blocked this, forcing her blade back. With a grunt, he forced her blade to the side and delivered an aggressive slash at her. Momo leaned away, missing the strike by inches, and brought her own sword back, pinning Renji's blade against the ground.
"Hey, watch it!" she said, "You nearly hit me that time!"
"If I didn't fight seriously you wouldn't get anything out of this," Renji said. He pulled his sword straight back and raised it for an overhead strike. Momo blocked it with the flat side of her blade a few inches above her head.
"That's not my point! You're being too aggressive!"
"Well what's with your form? Usually you don't fight this way, your usual form is entirely different," Renji said, delivering a cut from the side of Momo's head, with her swinging her sword up to block.
"I'm trying to perfect a variation of my regular style so that I'll be more versatile in combat," she said, ducking down and slashing at Renji's torso, forcing him to leap back.
"Bah, you were never good at swordsmanship," Renji said, "I always beat you back at the academy."
"I beat you a few times! Besides, when it came to Kido I always beat you!" Momo said, performing several short swings that Renji effortlessly dodged merely by stepping from side to side and forward and back.
"Yeah well you're not going to get very far with the fighting style you're trying out now! If I were you I'd stick to your old style! The stuff you're trying now is way more aggressive than the stuff you usually do," Renji said.
"I plan to stupid! This is to supplement it, not replace it! I'm fine with my regular style, but when I'm forced to use abandon that, I always lose! I need a more defensive form that I can use alongside my current one," Momo said.
"I say you're just making excuses because your swordsmanship is so bad! Matsumoto says that you're aiming to become the new Captain of Fifth Division before Ichigo assumes the position! She even says you're planning to work on Bankai!"
"It's obvious that Kurosaki will become the next Fifth Division Captain, it would be foolish for me to try to get there before him," Momo said, ducking one of Renji's swings, "As for Bankai, so what if I have a goal? It's not like I expect it to happen right away. Besides, if you can do it how hard can it be?"
"What? Why you…" Renji rushed forward and gave a powerful downwards chop. Momo immediately stepped out of the way and brought her sword down straight behind his, hitting it just above the hilt, simultaneously moving the blade towards her and pulling it from Renji's hand. Renji looked at her in shock, to which she only gave a tiny smile.
"See?" she said, "My new style is a success!"
"Hey…that stuff you did earlier…that wasn't your new style at all!" Renji said, "It was all part of your plan to get me into the right position!"
"That's right!" Momo said brightly.
"You tricked me you cheater!" Renji said in annoyance. Momo laughed.
"No, I just planned things out better than you!" she said, "I'm obviously not strong enough to overpower you, so I outplanned you."
"You didn't just outplan him," Izuru Kira walked over from the side of the dueling area, "Your movements at the end were entirely different from your usual style."
"That's right!" Momo said cheerily, "Zanpakuto combat has never really been my strongest area of skills, but hopefully I can reach a greater level."
"That'll never happen," Renji said, "You'll never get up to my level, or even Izuru's level!"
"I just beat you!" Momo said indignantly.
"Yeah, but it didn't count because you cheated," Renji said.
"You want me to beat you again?" Momo said daringly.
"Ha! We'll see about that!" Renji grinned.
"Okay, okay, I think that's enough," Izuru said, "Momo is already above the level of most Shinigami, so is there really a point to this?"
"Yeah! To go beyond that!" Momo said, "I want to get strong enough to earn people's respect! I'm working with Kido and physical combat as well! I'm going to get stronger all around and earn people's respect."
"Don't you mean Captain Hitsugaya's respect?" Renji said, giving her a meaningful look.
"What? N-no, that's not what I meant at all!" Momo said, "I want to be respected by everyone, not just him!"
"When will you two make up?" Izuru said, "It's silly to avoid eachother over a little argument."
"We did make up! We're just…not seeing eachother as much. But we're not avoiding eachother, it's only a coincidence!" Momo said.
"Whatever you say…" Renji said, rolling his eyes.
"Hey look," Izuru said. A hell butterfly had just fluttered into the training grounds. Momo reflexively extended her finger, which the butterfly landed on. It flapped its wings, conveying the message, before flying away.
"Darn it," Momo sighed, "I've gotta go, there's another meeting with Kurosaki."
"Don't you mean Captain Kurosaki?" Renji said.
"He's not Captain yet. Besides, we don't even know for certain if he will actually end up as Captain. Therefore, I do not refer to him as Captain," Momo said.
"What's your problem with him anyways?" Renji asked, "You always seem to get tense whenever he's mentioned, and you don't seem to like him much."
"I don't have a problem with him! I just…don't think he's Captain material," Momo said.
"Oh, and how is that?" Renji asked.
"I…I'd better get to the meeting," Momo said hastily, beginning to walk off, "Bye, thanks for training with me!"
"That's Captain Hitsugaya!"
"Not to me!"
Karin Kurosaki ran over to Captain Toushiro Hitsugaya as he stood in his Shinigami uniform atop the school.
"So, what are you doing up here?" Karin asked.
"I've been assigned to watch over the area for hollows," Toushiro replied.
"Is it normal for Captains to be put on patrol duty?" Karin asked.
"No," Toushiro said shortly, not looking at Karin.
"So why are you here? Rangiku told me all about what's been happening and-"
"I'm docking her pay for giving out information like that," Toushiro growled.
"Well, anyways, she told me all about what's been going on and said that this guy you were fighting was defeated! So why are you still here if that's all taken care of?"
"If you must know, arrancars and hollows have been attacking the area at greater than normal frequencies. We're thinking that it's rogue individuals who don't know what to do after they lost the glory they had under Aizen," Toushiro said, "Now go away, I'm on duty."
"Come on, won't you get lonely?" Karin asked.
"What about Ichigo, when will he be coming back?" Karin asked.
"What do you mean? He's at your house right now."
"No, that's Kon. Rangiku told me everything. A Captain…what an accomplishment! So how often will he be visiting home?"
"You sure ask a lot of questions. I don't know when he'll come back here. He hasn't been confirmed as Captain yet and he still has to get things taken care of here first. As far as Soul Society is concerned, he is only a Shinigami representative at this point, and we need to work things out. It is highly likely he will be confirmed as Captain," Toushiro said, getting increasingly tired, "Now go away, Shinigami aren't supposed to interact with humans."
"But I wanted to talk to you some more!" Karin said, "So how is that friend of yours doing?" Toushiro froze and turned to look at her for the first time in the conversation.
"Your friend, you mentioned your friend before. How is she doing?" Karin asked. Hitsugaya sighed.
"Yeah, she's fine. In fact, if he's confirmed Ichigo will have her as a Vice-captain," Toushiro said.
"Really? That's cool!" Karin said. Toushiro sighed in relief, glad he was able to deflect a question over his and Momo's…strained relationship.
"I'll be going now," Toushiro said, leaping over to the next building, wanting to go away before Karin asked him more questions.
So…what did you want me for?" Momo asked. She was at a meeting with Captain Ukitake, Captain Kuchiki, Ichigo Kurosaki, and Captain-commander Yamamoto. Yamamoto sat behind his large desk with the others standing in front of him. Momo felt overwhelmed by the presence of the immensely powerful individuals around her. She attempted to put on a strong face, but was aware that her nervousness probably showed.
"As Kurosaki here will soon be entering the Fifth Division, it will be necessary for him to be introduced to the duties of Captain of that division," Yamamoto explained.
"Why, hasn't he already studied that? Does he really need me to explain to him how everything works? Shouldn't a Captain candidate already know how a division is run?" Momo asked, a rough edge to her voice.
"Watch your words Vice-Captain Hinamori," Byakuya Kuchiki said, "That is your future Captain you are speaking of."
"I…I" Momo stuttered, her composure falling apart under the stern looks of the Captains before her. She straightened her back and gave a respectful bow. "My apologies for my insolent words. It won't happen again."
"Forget it, you don't need to beg for forgiveness, I don't care," Ichigo said, roughly patting her on the shoulder. Momo bit her lip. Shouldn't a Captain be offended by remarks like the one she made? She had disrespected him, and he brushed it off like it was nothing. It wasn't that she wanted him to be angry at her, but she didn't like the way he responded to it.
"Well then," she said quickly, "What specifically should I do to introduce him to the division's inner-workings."
"You are the Acting-Captain of the Fifth Division, I would think you know the vital details of how to operate a division," Yamamoto said gruffly. Momo paused for a moment before bowing again, not liking this one bit but knowing that she had no choice.
"Understood sir. I will take Kurosaki to the office with me tomorrow and show him-"
"Today," Yamamoto interrupted, "You will take him today. The sooner he is introduced to the Division's workings the better."
"T-Tomorrow would work better for me," Momo said.
"He'll be going to work with you tomorrow as well. He'll need more than one day to memorize the workings of the division thoroughly and be able to effectively handle the division. Remember that you also must find time to train him in Kido. You haven't been living up to your commitments," Yamamoto said.
"But I have a report to do on sentries in District 71! With him there I can't complete-"
"You will complete it and Kurosaki will be there to watch. You will demonstrate the proper way a Division is led, and when you're done you will train him in Kido to make up for the hours you missed last week. No more excuses, understood?" Yamamoto said. Momo gulped.
"Understood sir," she said tensely.
It was nearly dark, and Karin Kurosaki was walking home with her friends after playing soccer for several hours.
"Did you see the way I kicked that ball! I'm going to be better than you someday Karin!" one of them said.
"Don't count on it, I'm still way better than you," Karin said, dragging the ball behind her in a bag.
"Yeah, well as guys we will beat you some day," the same boy said, "After all, guys are stronger than girls. We just need to wait and-" He got cut off by a smack to the side of the head.
"Anyone else think that men are better than women?" she asked, cracking her knuckles. The others quickly shook their heads, not wanting to get on her bad side.
Suddenly Karin froze, a familiar feeling overcoming her. She turned around and looked behind her.
"Oh no, not now…" she muttered. Behind her was a large hollow. She couldn't see it, but knew instinctively it was there. She turned to the others, who continued to walk at a leisurely pace, unaware of the danger behind them.
"Hey guys!" Karin said anxiously, "Why don't we pick up the pace! I want to get home early!"
"You pick up the pace yourself! We just got done trying to keep up with you for an hour, we deserve a leisurely walk home!" one of them said. Karin glanced over her shoulder and saw that the hollow was already there.
It was huge, the size of a three story building. It had a demonic look about it, and instead of hands had two huge curved claws on each arms. It was advancing forward slowly but steadily. Karin was beginning to panic. She had to get the others away from here.
"Guys! I just remembered, my sister was making a cake tonight! If we hurry you can come over to have some before going back you your place!" she said quickly.
"Yeah right, like we'll believe that!" one of them snorted.
"Come on! We've got to go!" Karin yelled at them.
"What the heck is your problem?"
"Go!" Karin yelled. She looked back, but to her surprise the hollow wasn't there. Everything was still for a minute. Then there was suddenly a huge crash behind them. The hollow was there, its claws smashed into the road, cracking the concrete.
"What's going on, an earthquake?" one of the boys yelled as the hollows footsteps caused the ground to shake.
"Run!" Karin screamed, getting out her soccer ball. The boys finally began to run, not knowing what was going on but well aware that something serious was happening. Karin turned and kicked the soccer ball straight at the hollow's mask. The ball hit it in the mask, causing a scuff on it but causing no real damage. Karin groaned. She suspected that the soccer ball trick wouldn't work, it was only effective against weak hollows.
She turned to run but in her haste tripped, falling down. She could hear the huge hollow approaching, but knew that now she wouldn't be able to get away in time. She covered her face in fear, not knowing what to do and not wanting to see the beast when it killed her. The earth shook around her as it stepped forwards. She screamed as its foot landed right next to her, crushing the concrete. She was shaking, sure that any moment would be her last. After several minutes had passed however, she looked up and saw that the hollow had gone past her. She sighed for a moment in relief, before realizing that this meant it was now going after the others. Quickly standing up, she ran over behind it.
"Hey! Hey! Over here!" she yelled, waving her arms and trying to get its attention, "I'm over here you big stupid beast!" Looking around her, she reached down and picked up a piece pavement broken by the monstrous hollow's footsteps. With all of her might, she threw it at the hollow. It hit the hollow right behind the head, causing it to slowly turn around.
Just as the hollow turned its head, Karin realized to her horror that she had just gained the hollow's attention herself. Within moments it had raised its huge spiked arm. Karin was frozen in fear, unable to run. The hollow swung its spiked arm at her with tremendous force.
The next thing Karin knew she was standing over her own body, a chain coming from her chest.
Thanks for reading! I know that some of my usual fans might not necessarily like Karin, but I'm hoping everyone will at least give this story a chance. Please review!