Karin likes to think that for all people there exists this one thing that they can just do. Any sort of thing, like always getting the measurements right when you bake or never taking a wrong turn; like always knowing just the right person to go to for help or get that nail polish on just perfect in one coat. Ordinary things, most of the time, except Karin knew this man once who never sang because when he did people fell in bitter love and a girl that could lift three times her weight without any training, and the spectrum for normal doesn’t seem to extend that far.
(Karin thinks, sometimes, that if she were to look a little bit more closely the world as she knew it would be very different.)
That one thing for Karin is not particularly useful and, truthfully, she doesn’t think of it often. It just is. A thing that is true and a thing that is hers. That makes it enough because Karin has never needed to special, she just likes being.
Karin can throw, is the thing. Everything and nothing, if it has a shape that she can hold in her hands she can throw it and never miss.
(In a while, though she won’t know it, Karin will meet a boy who can run as fast as the wind. There’s not anything special about that, either.)
She’s never tried throwing a football before. Not an American one, at least. Its shape is foreign in her hand and she thumbs the stitching for a moment before she draws her arm back just enough. She doesn’t think on it now, why the ball was at her feet or why some teeth glint in the light of the sun, she just throws. Maybe that’s a mistake. Maybe it is not. The thing with things is that you take them for granted.
Karin doesn’t consider what she can do to be worthy of notice.
(Thing is, Karin isn’t the one who gets to decide.)
Karin joins a club and not maybe because she wanted to. Some people are just really hard to say no to. Not because they can’t take rejection, not because they don’t understand the meaning of no. They just can’t seem to grasp that the thing they love, that thing that is everything to them, can be of no consequence to others. And some of them are so naïve and good that it seems an awful offence to break that moment, where they hope and expect and are not quite listening because for them the answer has always been obvious. The people who love with all they are, Karin knows, are the most dangerous kind of people.
People with flamethrowers are pretty dangerous, too. And not particularly easy to say no to either, Karin finds. Standing before both of them at once and not give in is impossible.
Karin doesn’t exactly mind. Not really. She doesn’t dislike this whole football thing, it’s fun even, in a predictable sort of way (because boys and their manly sports only take so many forms) and nice (because she likes being useful) and while Hiruma’s methods are not something she’d ever recommend to someone, they do have their (occasional) charm.
(Deimon High is all new, her parents moved and she moved with them and while her friends are a phone call away they’re no longer the next classroom over. Being claimed in front of everyone is not all bad. Is not bad at all. Is nice.)
(Karin likes belonging. Likes being wanted. She’s only human.)
She doesn’t play always, either. Throwing is the only thing she’s good at (when it comes to this at least, when it comes to right now) and while she’s learning to dodge and other things there’s really only one place on the field where she fits. Quarterback. The centerpiece and control tower.
Hiruma’s place and position, many times more so than hers.
She’s an ace in the hole, really. Someone their opponents do not expect because when they look at her they dismiss her at first glance. Thinks manager. Thinks girlfriend.
(And really, Karin is not quite sure why Hiruma started that particular rumor. While it has it uses in letting Karin get away with practically everything at school and beyond, she’s not sure if it is worth the hassle.)
It’s amusing, in a way, to don the armor and helmet and step out onto the field. See eyes bug out and watch the lack of understanding give way to impressed horror. Boys are so predictable when it comes to things they consider theirs.
(Maybe meeting Hiruma, throwing him that fateful pass, changed more things than just her workout routine. Karin recognizes herself in the mirror each morning, the look of her face has not changed, but sometimes she laughs where she used to hide and the books in her hands doesn’t feel quite like shields anymore. Her shields are very big, instead, fat and muscles and sometimes coarse and anatomically impossible language. They talk and they move because they’re people, not books.)
(Sometimes she considers her thing and thinks of it as special.)
(Sometimes she wants to gloat.)
Karin’s always had people, she’s a likeable sort of person, but having people (having friends) is not quite the same things as having a team. She doesn’t think so, at least. People as friends don’t push her like this, doesn’t demand success and not let her stay down to lick her wounds when she falls short. They don’t punch people, don’t dig their feet into the mound to give her space, room. They don’t bribe people and they most definitely don’t carry bazookas in their backpacks.
Karin’s not quite over the bazooka thing. She has real doubts whether she’ll ever be, really, because no matter what Hiruma (and his unconventional sort of associates) thinks, bazookas as a conversation starter isn’t really very appropriate. It’s a thing, obviously though. And oddly fitting even as it is slightly terrifying.
(But it’s Hiruma and Karin forgives as easy as breathing.)
Karin throws. An irregular ball with an unpredictable bounce that people can practice throwing their entire life and never become good at. Karin never misses. Not once.
(And someday maybe a boy will run and run and run, just to catch it, because he can and because it is a thing that they do. Good enough alone but always better together. The world bending for them.)