Welcome to the Academy
I stood at the intimidating gates of the Soul Reaper Academy. I have no name, no belongings except the clothes on by back and the food I brought with me from my "home" in the South Rukkon. I felt eyes gaze in me disapprovingly, both from my physical age and where I obviously came from. Sneers from the nobles, some more stuck up then others. Then there were others that just looked at me weird, like I didn't know if should be here or not.
My face is smudged with dirt, or maybe their just bruises that I didn't notice. I did my best to clean up my face before I came here, but it didn't seem to make a difference. My white hair was extremely unruly, like the idea of cleaning it was a foreign concept to me, and my simple white kimono was another story altogether. The bottom of the cloth that used to reach my ankles now barely reached my knees, the edge ripped up and tattered like it was a human's ghost costume. The sleeves were in the same condition, reaching down to the middle of my upper arms. I understood why everyone would look at a ten year old girl that looked like me, with an equally messed up small bag of food.
I know I'm supposed to be here, my spiritual pressure was better then all of these nobles and brutes of the Rukkon. It's the reason I decided to leave the Rukkon, after all. A Soul Reaper Captain had recruited me himself. The one thing I noticed about him was his caring demeanor and white hair. The same as my hair. But the reason mine was as white as snow was because a reason that I couldn't even recall, while his seemed to be caused by some form of illness. Maybe I was born with it. Another thing that made heads turn my way.
That kind Captain had told me that I had so much more potential as a Soul Reaper than as a poor girl on the streets of Hanging Dog. I didn't say anything back, only nodding my agreement. I didn't say anything back, since it had been so long since I had heard my own voice I thought I would sound strange. I haven't spoken in a century, but that would have to change from what I've heard about the incantations of kidō.
"Excuse me, new students of the Soul Reaper Academy! You are requested in the lecture hall for your assigning to a class! First Years only! Second Years and up have already been given their assignments." Proclaimed a loud and eloquent female voice.
I walked over to where the voice had come from and followed the other First Years into a large lecture hall. With a high ceiling and enough seating to spare, the lecture hall was rather impressive indeed. I, having only seen the pitiful shacks from the 78th district was always impressed with what the Soul Society had to offer. The students filed into the room noisily, chatting it up with their friends from their homes. Or in the case of high-and-mighty nobles, whispering in elegant tones of the current gossip.
Nobles I strangely was neutral towards. While others I've heard gripe and complain about the unfair privilege of the aristocrats, I knew that it came with a price. Certain things that normal people would take for granted, like being able to be free to take a walk, were a luxury that nobles couldn't afford thanks to their responsibilities to fulfill. Sure, they had luxuries that they took for granted, like fine clothes and delicious food, while they complained that they didn't have enough freedom to roam as they pleased. But I my eyes, it was even. And it didn't matter what I was now anyway. Street beggar or not, soon I'd be something that some feared and almost all respected. A Soul Reaper.
"Good evening, students!" Called a Soul Reaper in a Captain's white robes and a pink women's kimono draped over it, dark hair spilling out from a straw hat. "I am Captain Kyoraku of the Eighth Division. I've been asked to oversee all of you and make sure that you all get situated accordingly. First of all, I'd like to welcome all of you to the Soul Reaper Academy!"
Some of the students mumbled among themselves as I sat down quietly in the most secluded seat in the very top right of the grand lecture hall. My good eyesight still let me see the Squad Eight Captain rather well. There was no one sitting near me, since most had been sitting near the front to see a Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads.
The Captain continued in a projected voice, "My lieutenant will be calling you down by name to receive your uniforms, supplies, boarding, and schedules. Do not lose these items, because you will not be getting any extra."
And so they began to call names in alphabetical order. I tuned them out, since I would be listed as 'Nameless' anyway, and left to be the last on that list. That gave me a good time to reflect on how I wanted to leave this place in Soul Reaper robes with a Zanpakutō at my hip as soon as possible and continue on to the Seireitei just as quickly. As name after name was called, and with them seat after seat was vacated, the room suddenly seemed much larger without the combined spiritual pressure of all of those First Years.
Sooner then I realized, I was the last of the class. I felt like a soar thumb, subconsciously hiding in the shadows like I'd done to stay alive in the Rukkon. But the Captain of Squad Eighth looked directly into my eyes from the place he stood at the bottom of the stairs. And he smiled.
"Come, child," The man called gently, "You must be the one listed as 'Special Case'."
I rose, strangely warmed by his accepting gaze and soft tone. His lieutenant gave me a small smile behind her glasses, probably because I was a mere child. I slowly made my way down the strongly built steps of the lecture hall. My small, childishly petite feet padding softly on the wood of those same steps. I felt even smaller then I already knew I was. The seats I passed meant to seat teenagers and young adults that had to be a foot or two taller then me at least. The rags I called clothes were stained and looked like the Soul Society's most pitiful kimono, but it was the best I had that would fit my small frame.
Finally I reached the Captain, my chin level with his hips as I looked up at him expectantly. Then I did something that I hadn't done in a long time, and spoke in a soft and delicate tone, "Yes?"
"You have such a beautiful voice. You don't want to introduce yourself, child?" The Captain somehow managed to make 'child' sound like a pleasant title. He got down on one knew so he would be eye level with me so I wouldn't have to strain my own neck to look him in the face.
"I...I don't have one." I said timidly, my eyes looked down at my bare feet, as I felt kind of sad at that fact.
"Well," the Captain said in a warm tone, "We'll have to change that, won't we?"
I looked back up, my heart surging with anticipation and excitement. I merely nodded, and held his gaze. He turned to look over his shoulder at his lieutenant.
"What do you think, Nanao? What would be a good name for such a precious child?"
Nanao smiled, something that somehow seemed strange, "She's quite beautiful, Captain. And her hair is as white as the moon."
"Yes," The Captain smiled, chuckling as he looked back at me, "It does. How does 'Misami Tsukino'?" (Misami= Elegant Beauty, Tsukino=of the Moon.)
"Okay," I nodded, smiling broadly. I had a name. Something I secretly wanted for a century now at least. And thing kind man had given it to me. I couldn't help but feel overwhelming gratitude towards this Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads.
"Well, then, Miss Tsukino," Nanao smiled, "You'll be needing these."
She handed me my uniform and the books for First Years. I smiled as I gladly took them. She gave me my room number, and what building I was in. I nodded my goodbyes to the two Soul Reapers and headed quickly for my room so I could change into my new uniform, and see my new room.
I was excited for this new chance I had been given, to start a new life from the terror I'd been born into so long ago. I passed through the halls, but not unnoticed. People, nobles or not, looked at me with a strange look of pity and something like distaste. I know what they were looking at. A ten year old looking child soul with white hair and petite features. That white hair had grown unchecked down past the small of my back. I must look timid or scared to them since I was so young compared to the general age of the class. I didn't know what color my eyes were, since no one had ever told me and nothing in the Rukkon was shiny enough to give me a reflection. Even then water was murky there, so I couldn't even use that as a mirror. I shrugged of their looks and continued on the my new room, though with no small amount of effort.
The room was directly across from a men's dorm room. I knew that only because when I found my room I heard a heated argument between two men in the room behind me. I ignored them as the sound of punches being thrown sounded through the wall, and knocked softly. The door opened to reveal a woman a head or so taller then me, making her rather short, though I chose not to say anything. She had beautiful violet eyes, and raven hair that wrapped around her head and dispersed as it came to her neck to lay on her shoulders. The lowest her hair went to was just passed her shoulder blades. She smiled pleasantly at me, looking at me to see if I was who she thought I was. She wore Soul Reaper robes but had a badge that identified her as a substitute teacher.
"What's your name?" She asked in a pretty voice, a cheerful and happy tone resonating.
"Misami...Tsukino," I smiled just as much as she did, still in awe of the fact I had an answer to her question.
"My name's Rukia," She beamed at my happiness, "Rukia Kuchki."
I recognized her name and bowed as elegantly as I knew how, which wasn't that impressive by anyone's standards, "I-I'm h-honored to have s-such a noble room m-mate, Miss Kuchki."
"Please don't be formal, Misami," She smiled again, "If that's how our relationship is going to be, then it'll be a long six years for the both of us."
She giggled, and I couldn't help but giggle with her, embarrassed by my pitiful gesture.
"Why are you my r-roommate, Miss Kuchiki?" I asked in my ridiculously small sounding voice.
"Please, call me Rukia, all of my friends do," she beamed, "And there's a few reasons. One, my Captain said that he wanted someone to watch over you while you went through the academy and be tutor if the need should arise. Two, my Captain wanted you to have a roommate that wouldn't make your life miserable because of where you came from. Three, the two idiots across from us are going to need me and you a lot in the future. And last, the Kidō teacher has been feeling I'll so I will be filling in for him. And just between you and me, I've wanted a friend that lived in the Rukkon like I did that was a girl too."
I blinked, it was a lot to take in, every reason she was here was making me feel better about the situation I was in but the last side note she had said made my heart swell with pride, "You w-want to be my...friend?"
"Of course!" Rukia smiled.
I couldn't believe it. A Kuchiki of all souls in the Soul Society wanted to be friends with me of all people, "I've never h-had a f-friend before..."
"Really?" Rukia said, pulling me inside the dorm room, "Then the Rukkon must've have been awful..."
I nodded, changing the subject before the memories if where I came from started to haunt me again, "Who are the two...'idiots' you have to watch?"
she giggled again at the sight of me putting air quotes on 'idiots' and sat down next to me on one of the beds, "That would be-"
But Rukia was cut off by a loud voice as the door to our dorm was slammed open, "Hey, I thought I sensed you, Rukia!"
A tall and lean muscled man slipped in through the door with another man who looked a little more built. The one who spoke had maroon red hair that had been pulled up into a pony-tail. He looked vaguely like a pineapple. He had intricate tattoos on his face, and they seemed to be on his chest as well. He looked at Rukia like he'd known her all his life, and so did Rukia. The man behind the pineapple was quite hard to miss with his bright orange hair and deep seemingly permanent scowl. But when he laid eyes on Rukia, I saw it lessen almost un-noticeably. Only I noticed it it seemed, maybe because if my good vision or this was the first time I've seen him. The orange haired man wore the Soul Reaper Academy uniform, while the red haired one wore a badge that said he was a substitute teacher.
Rukia noticed that I'd regressed to hugging my knees on the bed before I did and motioned to me with a big smile, "Renji Abari, meet my new friend Misami Tsukino."
"Hey," The red haired one, Renji, put on a big grin, "Nice to meet ya!"
"It's n-nice to m-meet you too," I smiled, silently cursing the delicate sound of my voice.
"And the orange-headed idiot behind him," Rukia's eyes glittered at the sight of him momentarily, then went back to normal the next instant as she smiled broadly, "Is Ichigo Kurosaki."
"Hey," Ichigo said, giving me a reassuring small smile, shattering my childish impression that that scowl was actually permanent. His eyes seemed to genuinely smile too, which meant that the smile wasn't too forced. It made me feel more comfortable around him already. He reached out his hand for a handshake. I felt my right hand let go from clasping my shin to my chest, and shook it. A small smile on my face too.
"Nice to m-meet you, Ichigo," I said politely.
"So tell me, Ichigo," Rukia smiled mischievously, "How did you end up here?"
Ichigo looked at Rukia and scowled again, "I was fighting some punks at night, and they shot me in the head..."
Rukia and Renji looked at each other and then back at Ichigo. Then they laughed hard for at least a minute, until they had lost their breath from laughing so hard.
"A bullet ended the great Ichigo Kurosaki's human life?" Renji wheezed as he caught his breath, "And here I thought it would've at least been a Hollow."
Ichigo wasn't amused, "I don't seen why it would matter. At least my Gigai was decently old so they thought I just died of a heart attack or something."
Rukia caught her breath and looked at him with playful dismissiveness, scooting a little closer to me to let me know she hadn't forgot about me. "Whatever, Strawberry."
Ichigo's eye twitched, "What was that, Midget?"
Rukia gave him a hard look, "I am not short!"
"Yes, you are." Renji added flatly.
"No one asked you, Renji!" Rukia have him to same look.
"I don't th-think you're s-short, Rukia," I chimed in.
She gave me a sideways glance, mouthing, "Thank you."
Then she looked at Ichigo and Renji, "You guys go ahead and leave. The classes start tomorrow and it's late."
"Fine," Ichigo shrugged, "C'mon, Renji."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm comin'," Renji said turning to leave.
"It was nice to meet you, Misami." Ichigo called back at me as he and Renji slipped through the doorway.
"It was n-nice to m-meet you too!" I called softly just before the door closed, doubting that he heard me.
I turned my attention to the uniform now laying down on the bed beside me. I only now realized that I didn't know how to put it on. Rukia looked expectantly, at me while I looked at the uniform, trying to remember how I'd put the dirty kimono I wore, but it's been at least a century since I've had it and I had someone who could help me with it. Rukia saw the look in my eyes and looked knowingly at me.
"Do you want me to help you put it on, Misami?" She asked gingerly, like she was worried I would be offended by the question.
"P-Please," I looked over to her with a pleading smile, "I would really a-appreciate it."
"Okay," Rukia said softly, "Grab it and let me show you."
So I lifted the uniform from the bed and handed it to my new friend. She helped me out of my kimono and into the uniform, teaching me along the way so I could do it on my own. I was grateful for the help, embarrassed that I needed the help to begin with. She was so kind, I felt extremely lucky to have some one like Rukia as my friend. As she helped me tuck in the tops into the bottoms if the uniform, Rukia lead me to a floor length mirror attached to the wall. It was then that I saw a couple of firsts.
One was my body clad in new clothing of any sort. Back in the South Rukkon's 78th District, everything that existed that far out was at least a century old and no where near worth anything. Most scrounged up cloth and sewed that clumsily into clothing. It goes without saying, having something on my body that still smelled of the laundry soap used to clean it was amazing.
Second, I saw how delicate my features looked. There was a dirt smudge here and there, I must have missed them when I tried to clean off all the dirt I could see off before entering the Academies grounds so I didn't look like I was a wayward soul lost from the poorest areas of the whole Soul Society. Or maybe they were bruises.
Third, I saw that indeed, I was a good head to half a head shorter than Rukia, who herself wasn't all that tall. I remembered being the sort of mascot for the group of souls that I used to live with, how they all treated me with extra care.
And lastly, but the most stunning for me, was that I could see my eyes for the first time in my life. They were beautiful in my opinion, an ice blue. A stunning ice blue one second, then the instant I felt a different emotion other then happiness, like relief in this case, they darkened a shade or two until they became more of a cobalt blue. My eyes changed shades of blue according to how I was feeling. I felt like that was pretty impressive, while I silent was proud of that fact.
"Your name does fit you, you know," Rukia gave a small smile, sitting down on her bed as I stood before the mirror, "Even at your young age, you are quite beautiful."
I was flattered by her complement that I blurted, "You l-look better th-then m-me though, Rukia."
She laughed softly, "Thank you, Misami."
I smiled lightly, sitting down on my bed, "Do I...go to s-sleep now?"
Rukia picked up my schedule, "You have me for your first class. And I want to be there early so I can setup the area for the training. Do you want to go with me for that or do you want to sleep in until the class is supposed to start?"
"If it's alright with y-you," I said, sitting down on my own bed across from hers, "I'd like to go w-with you when you leave."
"Alright then!" Rukia said, grinning, "The you should probably get some sleep while you can."
"Okay," I nodded, laying down on top of the soft and comfortable bed, "...And Rukia?"
"Yes, Misami?" Rukia asked.
I was already drifting into the blissful unconsciousness, but what I did say before a fell asleep was, "Thank you. Thank you for everything."
Then the world faded away as I fell softly asleep. And there was another first in there:
It was the first time I fell asleep with a smile on my face.