Title: Anchor

Fandom: Bleach

Pairing: Chad/Karin

Rating: PG.

Word Count: 533

Summary/Description: In any case, you are always there, tremulous breath at the end of my line. ("I'm gonna anchor you to this earth, you big idiot.")

Warning/Spoilers: Some language. No spoilers.

A/N: I don't think much background is needed here, but this is a future!fic (let's say ten years or so), and Chad has gotten himself badly injured in a fight with some evil spiritual bad guy or the other. Inspired by Sylvia Plath's Medusa (http://www. americanpoems .com/poets/sylviaplath/1412, copy and paste, remove the spaces), which doesn't really have ANYTHING to do with the fic, but hey! Making sense isn't my style or forte. And I need to stop reading poetry and writing fanfiction and start studying for my History exam.

Disclaimer: Yes, I've got several bottles beneath the sink.

"You idiot!"

She slammed a fist into the bedside table. It creaked and shivered. Chad did not open his eyes.

"Kurosaki-san," the nurse spoke up tentatively from a few feet away, "I am going to have to ask you to quiet down, or else you will be asked to—"

"Leave?" Karin raised an eyebrow high on her forehead, giving the white-clad woman a sceptical look.

Catching on, the woman flushed, gave a deep bow, and hastily left the room.

She and Chad were alone.

She slumped down into the bedside chair, hands covering her eyes. Sometimes, she thought that if he had it his way, he would be alone all the time. Alone to fight his battles. Alone to prove himself. Alone to protect the ones he loved and have them worry themselves into an early grave in the meantime.

Chad was silent and complacent, but he was also one of the most stubborn people she knew. She could tell him a thousand times over that she didn't need protecting, that she could look out for herself, and he would still put his life on the line for her. Just like Ichi-nii. But she didn't need two protectors. Hell, she was a grown damn woman; she didn't need one.

Why didn't he understand that all she needed was for him to love her?

She sighed, and grabbed hold of a bronzed hand that was limp, but still fraught with strength. She traced the dark lines on his palm, remembering how this same hand had slammed into her stomach, effectively pushing her out of the path of the Menos' attack, and putting Chad in direct range of the monster.

He'd had no time to block.

"Coulda been killed, you moron," Karin whispered harshly. Chad made no reply.

Karin knew, without even having to think about it, that he would die for any of his comrades in a minute; for her, even less. He would lay down his life for a cause he fought for, give up anything to protect the innocent. That instinct to protect, to safeguard, to hold, was deeply ingrained in him. She couldn't get him to kick the habit anymore than she could move a mountain.

Her grip on his hand tightened.

"Fuck if I'm gonna lose you, though."

She hadn't been prepared to do it when she was ten years old, and she wasn't prepared to do it now, or ever. He could fight, defend, and push himself to his limit and beyond all he wanted; she would always be the breath that brought him back.

"I'm gonna anchor you to this earth, you big idiot." She said it softly, folding in his arm, letting his hand close around his medallion. "I'll always be here."

When the nurse came back an hour later to tell her that Kurosaki-sensei wanted to see her, she found that the petite woman had fallen asleep; pulling her chair as close to the bed as possible, and making a pillow out of Chad's stomach. A tiny hand had fisted itself into the hospital uniform; try as she might, the nurse couldn't get Karin to let go.

When Chad opened his eyes, she was still there.

A/N: Tell me what you think. :)