Ever on the Move

I. The Most Difficult Step is Always the First

oOo

Damn it! Why do I have to be so very late? On my first day, no less…

Still, perhaps it is for the best. What's the worst that they are going to do to me? All I have to do is allow the fake tears to show and whimper as only I know how.

"I'm so sorry…" I would cry, a cloth dabbing at my watering eyes as I would try to repress my sobs. They'd be pleading with me to stop; that they didn't mean to be so harsh. "No, it's perfectly fine. Totally understandable. You have to…set a good example. It's only right that I be punished." By the time I'd be finished with them, they'd be bending over backwards to cater to my every whim in a heartbeat. It's happened at every school before this one.

It will happen again.

As I race along the streets of this strange new town – Karakura, I believe is its name – I find that I like what I see: rows of dainty flowers; tall trees; seemingly friendly people. Yes, this is somewhere I can get used to. Too bad it will be ripped away from me in a few months.

I refuse to allow myself to become overly attached to this place. It will simply cause me pain at a future point when Hisana is given a new area to work in and I am forced to follow like her baggage…

I don't really mean that. I know she can't help where her job takes her. It's just…frustrating when all I want to do is make friends with people. Such a small thing, yet I cannot do it. What is the point of starting a friendship with somebody you know you will be forced to leave in a few months? Completely meaningless.

A loud peeling breaks through my thoughts. I look ahead and see the school building. I can see a few people racing into the grounds. Perhaps I'm not so late after all. Speeding myself further, I turn the corner and run headlong into a solid mass. I tumble to the ground, landing squarely on my behind.

"Hey!" I snap irritably as I try to arrange my skirt and conceal my underwear. Perhaps it is a good thing I was so fortuitous in this choice as when I raise my eyes, I spy a tall boy with wavy brown hair obscuring his eyes. Who wears a Hawaiian shirt in this day and age? A heavy golden locket dangles from his neck.

He extends his hand to me. "…Sorry." I look askance at him before I accept his proffered hand. He lifts me to my feet with ease. "Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine," I sigh as I look at my dirtied skirt and scuffed shoes with distaste. "It was my fault. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." He holds out his hand again. "What?" I ask defensively.

"Sado Yasutora," he announces with a very slight smile. "It's nice to meet you."

Even though I have only just met him, I feel as though a connection has been made between us. Such a shame it will be torn apart all too soon. Still, it can't hurt to know someone while I'm here at the very least. Perhaps he can show me the way things are done in this school.

"My name is Kuchiki Rukia," I say with little air as I shake his hand. "Let's be friends, Sado-san." How easily the lies slip from my mouth. He simply grunts in response before he turns towards the building.

"Are you coming, Kuchiki-san?" he asks as he gestures forwards. I nod my agreement before falling in step with my new 'friend.'

"Tell me, Sado-san," I begin as we walk through virtually deserted corridors, "why were you standing outside when classes have already started?"

"…I was waiting for somebody," he answers after a brief moment.

"Your girlfriend?" I inquire, being purposely nosy. It helps to maintain the façade of a new friendship.

"…A friend," he answers vaguely. "This is my stop," he says as he comes to a stop outside a room. '3-A" is labelled above the door.

I root through my bag in search of my acceptance letter. Finally retrieving it, I scan the page. "This is my classroom as well," I beam at the boy beside me. "Ochi-sensei, right?"

"Wait here a moment," he says as he opens the door.

"Late again?" I hear through the opening before he shuts it behind him. I can hear muttered words that don't penetrate the door before it opens again and a woman steps through.

"Kuchiki-san, I presume? I do hope you aren't going to be a regular latecomer to my lessons like those other delinquents," she says without pausing for breath or giving me an opportunity to respond. "Well, I suppose this is your first day. You probably got lost on the way here. Okay! I'll let it slide for today, but don't make a habit of being late."

"…I won't," I apologise once I'm sure it's alright for me to speak. With a short nod, she bounds back into the class.

"Students! Your attention, please. We have a new pupil joining our class today. Make sure you look after her. Yes, I'm looking at you, Asano. I don't want to hear you've been dragging her down into your depraved circles."

I search the room for the aforementioned Asano, but I don't spot anything out of the ordinary. I spy Sado near the back of the room, an contemplative expression on his face. A beautiful girl with long hair sits in front of him, her…assets…nearly overflowing from her shirt, garnering more than a few perverted stares from the male populace. Clearly I will have to watch out for perverts in this class. One of the males has a deep-set frown on his face as he witnesses the unashamed stares the other boys give her; spectacles adorn his face and he is wearing a star-shaped pendant around his wrist. Perhaps there are some, such as this boy, and Sado who will be more than just hormonally imbalanced creatures.

"Ochi-sensei! How can you say such a thing? I'm hurt, truly!" declares a boy with wavy hair as he jumps from his seat in seeming distress. "The very suggestion that I, Asano Keigo, will treat this rather beautiful young lady as anything other than a princess is, quite frankly, far too insulting for words, no?" he finishes as he gives me a thumbs-up.

On second thoughts….

Ochi-sensei merely fixes him with a distasteful stare. "Of course, Asano, and I am actually running for President of the United States," she says sardonically. Asano blinks dumbly as the statement washes over him.

"Sit down, Asano-san, you're embarrassing yourself," says a calm-looking boy with spiked hair, his face set in an unassuming line.

Asano turns with tears in his eyes. "How can you be so heartless, Mizuiro? To call me, your very best friend in the whole wide world, Asano-san…like we're nothing more than acquaintances…"

"Asano!" snaps Ochi-sensei, a look of anger on her face. "Sit down now or face detention after school. Our new student is yet to introduce herself, and no doubt she is feeling embarrassed by your display. Now, behave!"

Asano grumbles to himself but complies with the teacher's demand.

"Now then, if you would?" She looks at me with expectation in her eyes.

Wow, way to put someone under pressure.

"Um…my name is Kuchiki Rukia. Let's be friendly to one another," I say with a forced grin, feeling highly embarrassed and very self-conscious. My faked smile falters as I spy the boys who had been openly ogling the chesty girl turn their attention to me and begin to grin appreciatively like inane animals.

Is this really what the boys of this school are like? In fact, scratch that; all boys are like this. In every school I've attended, the open stares began within a few seconds of my introductory sentence. Perhaps they cannot help themselves. I guess they find me attractive, although I wish they would look at something else. The attention quickly turns from a compliment into being awkward and plain obnoxious.

And yet…there are a few exceptions.

The boy with the glasses is looking in my direction, definitely, but he doesn't seem to be paying me any attention. Rather, he seems to be looking past me as he attempts to fathom something in his mind. Sado is looking at me as well, but he smiles atme rather than simply harassing me with his eyes.

The girls heave a collective sigh as they witness the frenzy beginning and shake their heads pityingly.

"Thank you, Kuchiki-san," says our teacher. "Please, if you would, sit by Inoue-san."

The aforementioned girl looks up at her name being spoken, gives me a cursory glance, smiles widely, then points at the stated desk, her eyes wide.

I move with a purpose through the throng of desks, not purposely trying to, but still hearing snatched sentences from the students conversations.

"She's gorgeous," says one, an idiotic look of contentment spreading across his face.

"The two hottest girls in the school sitting next to one another," breathes another in amazement.

"Just imagine if the two of them make out," chuckles one as I walk past him. His disgusting comment makes me want to vomit, yet I control my anger and continue towards my new 'home' for the next few months.

Slinging my back across the back of my chair, I sit and sigh deeply.

"Excuse me?" A timid voice reaches my ears. Turning, I see the girl named Inoue wringing her hands together, looking pensive.

"You're Inoue, right?" I ask, watching her face light up.

"Yes. I am. Inoue Orihime," she manages before flashing bright red. I wait patiently for her to recover. "You're…Kuchiki-san?"

I have no time to answer as Ochi-sensei's face turns to us, a frown of disapproval etched there for all to see. I simply bow my head minutely in apology before turning to Inoue, giving her one stiff nod in agreement, then lower my eyes to my desk, all in anticipation of the day's work.

I hear, rather than see, the classroom door open and our sensei gives an exasperated sigh.

"Again, Kurosaki?" she cries in dismay.

I hear a sheepish chuckle.

"Sorry, Ochi-sensei. You know how it is, right?" comes a rich male voice.

"I can't say I do, to be honest, Kurosaki," is the snipped reply.

I glance in their direction; a tall, lean boy with vivid orange hair has his hands behind his head in a nonchalant gesture. An amused grin is on his face and his eyes are alight with mischief.

"Can I sit down?" he asks, his eyes already searching for his seat. I follow his eyes; he notices Sado and gives him a meaningful wink before Ochi-sensei sighs.

"Fine, fine. Take your seat, Kurosaki."

Kurosaki nods sagely before rushing down the aisle. As he passes me, he gives me a cursory glance before continuing on his way. As he passes Sado, they shake hands and I hear them greet each other.

"Ichigo," says Sado with a grin.

"Chad," mimics Kurosaki, shaking his hand. His back is to me, but I can imagine that he will be smiling. Their hands slide out of one another before they bump them together.

"When you're quite finished, Kurosaki; Sado-san," is the teacher's short statement. The class snickers as Kurosaki scowls good-naturedly and takes his seat.

"Now then, class, today we will be studying English and its applications in a modern Japanese society. Turn to page 134 of your textbooks…"

Her words fade into the background as I idly retrieve the book and turn to the correct page. My mind is too ablaze with all the new information it's absorbing. I'm in a new school, filled to the brim with new people. The majority of these new people seem undefined and generic. A very vast minority are actually fully-formed and interesting. Intriguing, even.

I have to stop these thoughts. If I attempt to unravel this place and all its secrets, I will be allowing my heart to create bonds; a solid foundation upon which to build a portfolio of reasons as to why I should belong. Better to remain aloof and uncaring than to be hurt, again, by my own inability to remain.

"Excuse me? Kuchiki-san?" Startled from my thoughts, I turn my head to notice Inoue looking down on me, her bag held primly in her hands, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Are you coming to lunch?"

I gape stupidly at her.

"Wha–? It's lunchtime already?"

She nods delicately.

"You didn't seem to be really paying that much attention to Ochi-sensei, but I didn't want to draw attention to you, so I left you alone," she explains as she waves at a couple of girls heading out the room.

"Thank you," I say appreciatively, scouring the room for any lurkers. Finding it empty enough for my satisfaction, I lean in and whisper into her ear conspiratorially. "Listen; would you feel comfortable showing me around?"

Her eyes express surprise for a span before they clear and radiate happiness.

"Of course, Kuchiki-san. Follow me."

She takes my hand – a very comfortable gesture in my opinion, considering we have yet to say more than greetings and basic, expected pleasantries – and pulls me along. I have little choice but to tread the path along with her.

oOo

Author's Notes: Finally, I managed to get this first update finished. I realise that an awful lot of people have written highschool dramas for Bleach, and that this is my first attempt at a true AU story, but I hope that you will give it a chance and judge it on its own merits.

My thanks go to bohba13 and SomethingInTheWater for their reviews and I do hope that others will let me know what they think as well. One and only time I will plug for reviews, promise...

~finaldragonquest~

27/12/2011