Now, as far as troublemakers went, Tatsuki didn't think she was much of one.
After all, it wasn't like she went around looking for fights, like some of the boys in school. If a fight came around, Tatsuki sure as hell didn't let it get away without a good licking, but the convenient thing about being an ordinary, harmless-looking girl was that most of the time, they didn't notice she was there.
Which suited her fine, really. Teachers kicked up such a fuss about broken noses and her mother grumbled way too much about 'why can't you act more like a girl' as it was. If trouble didn't come looking her way, she didn't go looking trouble's way either. She didn't need it.
It wasn't her fault she happened to share the same route home from school as troublemaker extraordinaire, Kurosaki Ichigo.
Crossing the river, she'd heard the shouts. Leaning over the side of the bridge, she eyed the melee below, curious. Two black uniforms - easy enough to spot when one of them belonged to a familiar orange head, and the other to a well-built boy she didn't remember seeing around before (was he really from Mashiba? He looked like he should be in high school). The other... twelve, she counted, were green. Puke green. Shohoku.
Oh yeah, it just figured Ichigo had to pick a fight with the biggest gang in the district.
They weren't doing too badly, considering they were outnumbered a good 6-1. But they weren't going to get out of this too good either. Tatsuki sighed. Just as well she didn't have anything on after school today.
Swinging herself over the end of the bridge, she tossed her bag on the top of the grassy verge that sloped down to the river bank. Took stock of the situation below - the fight had already left 3 Shohoku thugs on the ground, and Ichigo was aiming a good punch at a big lout with what looked like the ugliest afro she'd ever seen.
Tatsuki threw herself down the verge at a sprint, launched herself with a yell -
Two skinny boys were scrambling to throw themselves at Ichigo's back. They never saw what hit 'em.
Her flying kick caught Skinny #1 upside the head and sent him hurtling straight into Skinny #2. Two down.
Ichigo turned, "Tatsuki?! What the -" Turned back to narrowly duck a punch, and swore loudly.
Hitting the ground, Tatsuki rolled to a crouch and swung a kick into someone's stomach - he doubled over with a groan and she shot to her feet to aim another good kick at his head. Another one down. Blocking a punch, she saw, out of the corner of her eye, Ichigo's friend - he had to be a friend, she didn't see anyone else wading willingly into this mess if they weren't - throw one boy into another with an ease even her flying kick hadn't pulled off -
Just as someone grabbed at her from the back, wrapping thick arms around her - she scowled and kicked back hard, aiming for the kneecaps the way Sensei had shown everyone in those insane 'How to Deal With Perverts' lessons he'd given everyone last year - the grip loosened, then suddenly let her go.
Twisting, fast, she drove an punch into Thick Arm's stomach, before looking up, surprised, as Ichigo's friend released Thick Arm''s collar to let him slump on the ground. Another yell as Ichigo twisted and threw the last boy over his shoulder -
For a moment, silence.
Nudging a still-muttering boy with his foot, Ichigo glared at the carnage around them. "Idiots."
Tatsuki rubbed at a bruise on her arm and eyed him. "So what was it now?" She asked, jerking her head at the unconscious bullies around them.
A snort. "I don't know. The whole bunch of them just came out of nowhere and started acting like some idiot big shots or something... You'd think they had better things to do." He muttered sourly.
"Uh huh." She gave Ichigo's friend a sidelong look and met a dark eye studying her dubiously from under the curly dark hair. "You new here? I've never seen you around before." She asked, curious.
He nodded and stayed silent. Ichigo looked up to add, "Oh, this is Chad. He just transferred here last week."
Tatsuki thought she heard a very soft "Sado" from the taller boy, and blinked - but he didn't say anything else, only nodded at her when Ichigo gestured at Tatsuki.
"This is Tatsuki. Knew her from karate class... What are you dong here anyway?"
"I have to walk home, remember?" Tatsuki pointed out. "And what did I see but..."
They were interrupted by a groan. Ichigo hadn't done a good enough job on Ugly Afro - he was trying to climb back to his feet. He glared at them. "Oh, so you need a bitch to save your ass now, do you, Kurosaki? Well, don't -"
They never did hear what he was going to say. Ichigo barely stepped out the way in time to watch Ugly Afro go sailing past, landing with a satisfying splash in the river where, if he was lucky, the cold water would wake him in time to swim out before he drowned.
Tatsuki's grin was wide and suggested that she ate rats for breakfast. "You're lucky I showed up. One of these days, you're going to get yourself into more trouble than you can fight your way out of."
Leaving the remains of Shohoku's meanest behind them, they started climbing back up the bank. The bruises on her arms and right shoulder were starting to hurt, but hell, she'd dealt with worse before. Meanwhile, the sky was blue, the sun was hot and there was still the rest of a long Thursday afternoon left before she had to go home and explain why she'd gotten into another fight...
"Yeah yeah... we were doing fine. Hey, I didn't ask you to help... it's not like I was on my own anyway, Chad here could have kicked their asses with one hand."
"Yeah, sure... hey, Mrs Tanaka takes your class for Math too, right? Did you hear about -"
There were worse ways to spend an afternoon.