Title: An Eternity to Wait

Fandom: Bleach

Pairing: Chad/Karin

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 1,014

Summary/Description: All she has to do is wait. …Easier said than done.

Warning/Spoilers: Karin and her dirty mouth. No spoilers.

A/N: And the saga continues. Heh. Uh… let's say this is about six months after Getting It Straight, and these two have an actual relationship going on, and there is some nameless catastrophe going on in Soul Society (what's new?). This one is a lot different in tone than the others.

Disclaimer: I have temporarily run out of witty ways to say 'I do not own Bleach.'

Hugging Chad was like hugging a solid mould of steel. There was absolutely no give, no vulnerability, no weak point and no giving leverage, until he started to hug you back, and you felt like you were going to be crushed by warmth and strength, and that nothing could compromise the feeling of safety and security that those muscled arms gave. In Chad's arms, you could do any and everything. You were untouchable.

…Karin was not going to cry.

And just so no one thought so either, she pushed Chad away prematurely, before the hug had even properly started. The startlingly hollow feeling that she got almost immediately was like a blow to the back of her knees. Was this what it would feel like, bereft of him? The alleyway in the back of the Urahara Shouten already felt colder.

He remained silent (like always, and forever; steady and dependable; like clockwork; oh God) while she fought with what was inside of herself. Why did it always have to be so hard?

"I still don't see why I can't go with you all," she choked out. She wrapped her arms around herself to fight the chill, but it wasn't the same. Nothing was; would ever be.

Chad shifted slightly. Could he feel the chill too?

"Karakura will need protecting while Ichigo, Ishida, Inoue and I are in Soul Society." He said it slowly, factual and soft.

Karin almost stamped her foot in anger.

"Damn it, Jinta and Ururu-"

"Will need all the help they can get," he interrupted. He sounded almost stern, and she hated when he got like this, because she knew that there was no arguing, no negotiating. Facing off against a stubborn Chad was like bickering with a slab of mountain rock. "The Shinigami do not like outsiders, and even though they have accepted us four, they will still regard you as a ryoka, Ichigo's sister or not."

Karin shook her head blindly in a show of vehemence, not even sure what she was vetoing. He just couldn't

"Besides," he continued firmly, clasping her shoulder in his iron grip, "I have to protect Ichigo. It was a promise," he went on adamantly when she would have interrupted. "And if you are there… I won't be able to concentrate on my task, and the last thing Ichigo needs is for my strength to be undermined." He gave her a squeeze. "You will be safe here."

Karin was red in the face by this time, breathing harshly. The tears that she was not going to cry were filling up her indigo eyes as she practically ripped his hand off of her in lividness.

"I'm not fucking eleven Chad!" she screamed, unheeding of the others nearby who might hear. "I don't need you to fucking protect me; I can protect myself!" She was shaking now, her anger and her fear and her anguish coalescing into a volcanic force inside of her. "I just can't see you go off like that without me, not knowing if you could get hurt, not knowing if you'll ever come back." She didn't realise the she was pounding her fists against his chest until her knuckles became sore from the effort. He didn't try to stop her, only looked down at her through the curtain of wavy brown hair. It was getting harder to remember that promise to herself, that she would not shame herself by way of stupid, silly tears. "It's going to be hard enough with Ichi-nii; it's always hard seeing him go. And now, you too?" Her voice quaked dangerously. "I can't… I just… can't. Damn you, Chad, I-"

And suddenly, she was crushed against that wall of steel. Chad was pretty damn fast when he wanted to be, and she hadn't even seen him move. But all of that was inconsequential now, because she was in his arms again, tight and safe, and if she closed her eyes she could almost make herself forget, that just metres away, Urahara and his stupid contraption were waiting to take her brother and her boyfriend away from her. She pressed her face into his shirt (stupid Hawaiian print; didn't the idiot own anything else?) before baring the wet surface to him, clawed her nails into his arms before curling her fingers around his neck, let their legs entangle before standing on his toes. It took a while to get themselves on more or less the same level, but as soon as he had ducked his head a bit, she could push all that hair out of his face (revealing soft, soft brown eyes, placid and hurting), and kiss him.

She tried to climb him, practically mauled him, did everything to press herself deep, deep down and underneath his skin, and it still didn't amount to enough. She wanted to soak herself in him, so she couldn't, wouldn't forget. She wanted his imprint on her, searing her skin until she was him. His mouth was warm and slick, his tongue deep-delving and quick; the kind of things that made you lose your mind. She lost it and herself and everything else in between in him, kissing him like it was the last time.

He was the first to break away, and found himself having to pry her off of him, unlocking her legs from his waist where they'd inexplicably found themselves, and setting her on the ground. His large hands gripped her shoulders, and they stared at each other for a long while. The dark blue of Karin's eyes implored, asking for something she knew she could not be granted; Chad's walnut browns were firm, but sluiced with hurt and regret.

"All you have to do is wait for me," he finally said softly, like it was the easiest thing in the world, when they both knew it was anything but. The pain in his voice was muted, just barely.

"Yeah," she agreed hoarsely, while the ghost of his touch was still on her lips and she could believe in every word he said. "All I have to do…"

A/N: And yeah, it's done. I guess that was kinda like a series… First Date, Getting It Straight, and An Eternity to Wait. (The rhyming thing, BTW? Totally coincidental. Totally. Tooooooooootaaaaaaaaalllllllly.)

I have vague plans for future!Chad/Karin smut. But they are very vague. Anyway, I'm trying to move back to snark. All this melodrama doesn't suit these two.

When I mentioned Jinta and Ururu in the fic, it got me thinking. They'd be seventeen/eighteen around this time too, right? Living together, kicking spiritual ass… Now, I totally want to write a Jinta/Ururu. I think I will.

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