Rukia looked bewildered. “But I thought this was a school for-”
“Adventurers?” Ichigo snorted. “You gotta learn not to take Keigo too seriously. Yeah. A lot of people here want to go into that kind of thing. Keigo’s got sorcery in his blood, Mizuiro wants to be a bounty hunter, Chad’s saintly enough to make paladin, half-orc or not… heck, even Orihime’s training to be a priestess. But some students are just here to learn how to do the stuff that’s not flashy. The kind of stuff a town like Karakura needs, that’s got nothing to do with adventure. Like Tatsuki; she doesn’t want to be heroic, she just wants to be a good magehunter with the Watch someday, and make sure what wizards did to her relatives never happens to anybody else. And me? I’m in beginning alchemy. Hand to hand I’m okay in, it fills the P.E. requirement and it’s fun going up against Tatsuki. I don’t know anything about kenjutsu. If I hadn’t gotten the drop on that Hollow last night, we’d both be dead. I’m going to be a doctor, like my Dad, and lead a quiet, boring, normal life.” Outside of the ghosts. Darn it. “Look. We’ll find a wizard, or sorcerer, or somebody who can get this rock off me. You can tag somebody in the Watch instead, they’ll be glad to-”
Red glove. Skull with blue flames on it. Coming at his chin like lightning, even Tatsuki wasn’t that fast.…
Perfect palm-heel strike, part of him noted. The rest was burning cold, drowning in shadows, can’t breathe-
Breathing. Collapsed in a dusty, incorporeal heap on the walkway to the field, but breathing. Cold – and yet not, like stepping into welcome shadows on a blazing summer day. Shadows that were even now slipping over him to settle in folds like silk, and solidify into a sheathed weight on his back.
“I can’t use my amulet. I never said I couldn’t activate it.” Rukia latched onto his hand, firmly as he would a particularly annoying ghost. “You.”
It echoed in his head, like that binding spell he’d broken last night, like Rukia’s swift hiss before her zanpakutou pierced his heart; a whisper of extra syllables that melded with shadow to redefine himself and the world. Only instead of locking his arms behind him, or shifting power from one soul to another, this called to power.
:You. You are-
:One who remembers duty.:
Shadow magic was kidou’s heart, but these fragments – what he would later learn were truespeech – were its soul.
“Come with me!”
Little or not, she could pull.