Disclaimer: If I owned Bleach…well…a lot of people wouldn't like me because I'd turn it into a sappy romance show (though I do love the action of Bleach), but I don't. Why can't there be more romance in Bleach?
Here's Ch.14 guys! I really should be updating other stuff since it's been a long time, but I'm feeling the love for this one! I have this feeling you'll absolutely love this chapter!!
XD rEAd and EnJoY XD
XIV Three Things
"Toshirou! Wake up!" A familiar voice shouted not too far away. Toshirou barely opened one eye, but closed it again, and turned on his side.
"Hitsugaya Toshirou! Wake up this instant!" The familiar and obnoxious voice repeated. Toshirou deliberately ignored it, deciding it was simply his imagination imitating the voice of his mother.
A light that probably defied heaven above sprang into Toshirou's vision, and he made the costly mistake of opening his eyes.
"I'm serious Toshirou. I'll pull you out of that bed myself if I have to." Hatsuma, the real thing, not from his imagination, threatened. Toshirou shook his head before pulling the blanket over his head, closing his eyes for the second time.
"Give me a minute please." Toshirou groaned out.
"You don't have time for a minute! I've been standing in this room for the last five minutes just trying to get you up!" Hatsuma muttered. A second later, the blanket that had been covering Toshirou's warm body was pulled off of him, coldness being replaced by the warmth.
He opened his eyes slowly and cautiously for two reasons. One, the light from the outside was extremely bright and hurt his eyes, and two, Hatsuma was more than likely standing directly in front of him with her hands on her hips. Toshirou really did love his mother, but that didn't mean he ever wanted to wake up to seeing her grouchy face any day.
"What time is it?" Toshirou mumbled, scratching his and looking around the room. He would do anything to avoid the glare that was being thrown at him at that precise moment.
"It's 8 o'clock in the morning! You've slept an hour longer than usual! Of all the days to sleep late too!" Hatsuma began, and continued for a long time. She rambled on saying something about how he should be more responsible.
"You do realize that your wedding is but a month away? Actually, it's less than a month! You're going to be married Toshirou, and this is how you act?" Hatsuma asked. Toshirou sighed, crawling out of his bed.
He didn't want to get married.
There it was again, her voice.
He'd been hearing her voice more and more often, and it made him feel happy.
That's why he'd been so tired the past week, which was probably why he'd slept so late. Didn't maids usually wake him up in the first place? He knew it wasn't Karin; otherwise he'd be up in a heart beat.
It had been about five days since Toshirou had taken Karin to the sakura tree, and he'd never been so distracted in his entire life. Talking to her was the only and most important thing on his mind, and when he wasn't with her, he was thinking about her constantly. He'd think about her at night, and because of that, Toshirou did not get much sleep. To him, it was worth being tired, but he wasn't going to tell anyone else that, especially his mother of all people.
"So what is so important that I need to do today mother?" Toshirou asked as he changed his clothes. Hatsuma now had her arms crossed over her chest, staring at Toshirou's messy and unmade bed.
"Like I was saying, the wedding. We're sending out the invitations today, and I've got someone coming into to fit you for your ceremonial kimono and hakama." Hatsuma replied.
The words were enough to make Toshirou's entire body cringe.
"You have exactly five minutes to eat breakfast, and then I want you down in the west wing. That is where I will be." Hatsuma called out as she walked towards the door. She paused before leaving, throwing her head back. "Remember what I told you just days ago. Do not get too close to that maid, or I will dispose of her personally."
With those last and sudden words, Hatsuma was gone. Toshirou stared at the doorway, not even daring to blink.
His mother must have been blind, because Toshirou was already way too close to her, Karin.
He knew he was young and probably crazy, but he knew it was true. There were many things that Toshirou knew he didn't understand about the world, but he knew what he was feeling for Karin.
Toshirou closed his eyes and turned away.
Karin had told him that nothing was impossible, that Toshirou could marry whoever he wanted, but how? How could he do such a thing? It did make him feel relieved that his father had once loved and married a commoner like Karin, but how did Hitsugaya Jiten accomplish such a thing?
Toshirou sighed again and began walking out the doorway. It was going to be a long and brutal day.
His grouchiness soon went away when he reached the dining room and saw Karin sitting on one of the seats, all alone.
"You're late." Karin stated with a soft grin. Her elbow was propped onto the table.
"It's not the first time I've been late to something, and I'm sure it won't be the last." Toshiro replied with a smile of his own.
"I think your breakfast is cold." Karin mumbled, staring at the plate sitting at the seat next to her.
"I also only have two minutes to eat it." Toshirou mumbled back. Karin chuckled, leaning her head back onto the seat.
"This is random, but how is your ankle feeling?" Toshirou asked.
Karin sat up a little bit, staring at Toshirou's plate still full of food.
"It still hurts, but I can tell its feeling better." Karin replied. Toshirou nodded and did his best to devour his food. He felt a little sad to know she was finally properly healing. Toshirou wanted more than anything for her ankle to heal, but he also knew that as soon as her ankle was healed that she would no longer be his maid.
He laughed at himself at the thought of calling Karin a maid, because she just didn't seem like one. Karin didn't really even do much for him because he wouldn't allow it. The only times she served him was during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, where his parents were. Other than that, she generally just stayed by his side and talked to him.
Karin only had one more week as his maid. It felt like she'd been with him for so much longer than that.
"I think your two minutes is up." Karin mumbled. Toshirou snapped his head out of his thoughts, realizing he'd only taken just a few bites of his food.
Toshirou put his spoon down and stood from the table. Karin arose with him, and when her hand reached down to grab his plate, he grabbed her wrist. Her eyes quickly met his, confusion written on them.
"I'll put it in the kitchen." Toshiro replied. Karin looked ready to argue, but it was too late, Toshirou was already walking away from the table, plate in hand.
"You don't even know how to rinse off a dish!" Karin shouted from the dining room. Toshirou rolled his eyes and grabbed a rag, rubbed it over the plate, and set it next to the other dishes.
"Wow, my family is lazy." Toshirou mumbled, turning on his heel to go back to Karin.
"Did you break anything?" Karin asked. Toshirou shook his head.
"Are you sure? Did you clean the plate all the way?" Karin asked.
"I did just fine. I've cleaned a dish or two in my lifetime." Toshirou said back with a grin.
"I find that very hard to believe." Karin mumbled back. Toshirou rolled his eyes, and the two made their way out of the dining room.
He felt gloomy when he realized where he would have to go.
"Where's Urahara-san?" Karin asked, turning her head from left to right.
"He won't be with us today." Toshirou mumbled, trying not to sound too aggravated.
He'd completely forgotten about his mother that morning, and the plans she had for him that day.
"What are you doing today?" Karin asked.
Toshirou said it slowly, because the words were hard to form. Any words having to do with the wedding made his stomach churn.
"I'm being fitted for my kimono and hakama." Toshirou mumbled.
"Kimono and hakama?" Karin asked, still not catching on. He'd hoped she would understand without him actually having to say the word.
"For my wedding." Toshirou forced out.
There was a silence, but Karin finally spoke.
"Oh right, your wedding." She mumbled.
Toshirou dropped his head for a moment, closing his eyes.
"Well come on, we better get going then." Karin replied, her voice sounding much more enthusiastic than before. Toshirou followed behind, ignoring the fact that she'd just basically told him what to do.
"Toshirou! There you are!" Hatsuma cried with a huge grin. Toshirou smiled back, wanting nothing more than to turn around and never come back. "Come inside, you too." Hatsuma urged on, pointing at Karin to come in.
An older woman was next to her, a needle and thread already in her hand. Now Toshirou remembered why Hatsuma was acting so…kind. The older woman, he couldn't remember her name, was the country's best and most talented designer. She made clothes for only the wealthy, and for her to come to them was truly an honor, whether Toshirou's family was royalty or not.
"So this is the groom?" The woman asked with her head held high.
"Yes, this is him." Hatsuma replied.
"Come over here." The woman demanded.
"Toshirou, this is Kikyou Shintamaki, and will make your ceremonial attire superb!" Hatsuma cried. Toshirou was sort of glad that Hatsuma was acting nice, even if it was completely fake. It certainly beat getting yelled at over nothing.
"Place your hands up in the air." Kikyou demanded. Toshirou did as he was told, hoping he didn't look too ridiculous. Karin was across from him, leaning against the wall.
"Karin, you will help Kikyou-san get her materials." Hatsuma demanded. Karin nodded her head respectfully and moved to the older woman's side.
"My my, you are a rather small boy aren't you?" Kikyou stated as she measured Toshirou's waste. Toshirou tried his best to keep a straight face. Talking about his height wasn't one of his favorite subjects. He was 5'9", a respectable height.
"Well you do have a little bit of muscle I suppose. A good king needs that, especially if he wants to please his wife." Kikyou went on. "When is the wedding exactly?" Kikyou asked, looking at Hatsuma.
"In about three weeks." Hatsuma replied.
"Yes that's right. It's going to be costly on you for having me come only three weeks before the wedding." Kikyou added. Hatsuma only nodded with the same exaggerated smile.
"Yes, I understand." Hatsuma replied.
"Girl, hand me another needle." Kikyou barked, turning her head to look at Karin. "Faster! We haven't got all day!"
Toshirou was tempted to throw the old lady a rude look.
Karin quickly handed the needle to Kikyou, who yanked it out of her hand.
"I'm going to need your help again in a moment, and I hope you move much faster than just now." Kikyou warned.
Karin simply moved back to her spot, and already, Toshirou was fuming. It didn't help that Hatsuma's smile didn't look fake any longer, but as natural as a smile can get.
It really pissed him off.
"So who is the bride?" Kikyou asked.
"Tell her Toshirou." Hatsuma demanded.
"Hinamori Momo." Toshirou mumbled back.
"Turn around so I can measure the back." Kikyou demanded. Toshirou did as she said, and was glad he was facing Karin. Karin looked frustrated about something, but met his gaze eventually. "Hinamori Momo, her name sounds familiar. Well, I wish you two the best in life. Girl, get me another needle."
Karin was off of her feet, moving quickly to get the needle.
"You're slower than last time!" Kikyou snapped. Toshirou gritted his teeth together. He didn't care how well-known the old hag was, there was no need for her to be so harsh.
"Time is wasting away!" Kikyou ranted on. Because Karin was moving in such a hurry to get what Kikyou needed, she didn't see the large bag directly in front of her full of Kikyou's sowing equipment. It happened quickly and effortlessly. Karin's foot made direct contact with the bag, and she fell, her arm slamming into the ground.
Toshirou moved away from Kikyou quickly, bending down to Karin.
"Are you alright?" He asked. Karin sat up slowly, her face filled with pain.
"She's fine, now we have work to do!" Kikyou snapped. "And I am still without a needle girl!"
Toshirou had heard enough.
"Her name is Karin, and the reason she's not moving to your liking is because she has an injury." Toshirou finally snapped.
"Toshirou!" Hatsuma cried, a shocked expression written on her face.
"I don't know what kind of stunt you're trying to pull mother, but it's not going to work. I think it would be best if Kikyou-san left. She obviously doesn't know how to respect others."
Kikyou looked downright appalled by Toshirou's words, but he refused to take any of them back.
"How dare you young man! Fine, let your clothing be rags for your wedding, I really don't care. You will still be charged though Hatsuma-sama for completely wasting my time." Kikyou shouted.
"Is your ankle ok?" Toshirou asked, examining it carefully.
"Yah, I tripped over the other foot, so it's fine. I'll be ok." Karin replied. For an instant their eyes locked on one another, and the fact that there were two screaming women behind him didn't even register in his mind.
"Please Kikyou-san! Don't leave! My son has a lot of stress on his mind with the wedding and all!" Hatsuma cried.
"I do not care to hear your petty excuses! I fear for anyone who lives in this kingdom if your son is to be the future king!" Kikyou shouted, and they were her last words. Toshirou slowly helped Karin up and helped her to a nearby seat.
"Hitsugaya Toshirou, you are in big trouble." Hatsuma muttered furiously from behind.
Toshirou said nothing, and he ignored the look Karin was throwing him as well.
"You've completely disobeyed me haven't you? This girl, Karin, you've gotten closer to her, too close." Hatsuma asked, answering her own question. "You should be ashamed of yourself for acting so coldly! To her of all people especially!"
Toshirou at this point had stood to his feet, facing his mother. "It's all about show for you, and appearance! All you care about is yourself and no one else! The only reason your putting effort towards my wedding is so that you'll get attention right? You want me to be a good leader so that people will know that you helped raise me, right?" Toshirou shouted.
Hatsuma stared at him with a shocked expression.
"Don't tell me how to live my life." Toshirou finally finished.
With that comment said, he helped Karin out and the two walked away.
"Are you ok?" Karin asked. Toshirou stared straight ahead as they walked.
"I've never been better." Toshirou replied with a grin.
"So what do you have next?" Karin asked. He knew she was trying to change the subject, to lighten the mood, but it only helped a little.
"I have nothing planned for the rest of the day, at least I think." Toshirou replied.
"Do you want me to show you something?" Karin asked. The question immediately sparked a new interest inside him.
"You want to show me something?" Toshirou asked. Karin nodded.
"Well it's not much of a surprise, but I just thought we could go there you know?" Karin asked. "Just follow me."
Toshirou did follow her, and was extremely tempted to help her walk, even if she wasn't really limping. He didn't understand how she could not have gotten injured from the fall she took. Karin hit the floor pretty hard.
They took several turns down many hallways, until Karin stopped.
"Is this it?" Toshirou asked.
"Yah, it is." Karin replied. There was a silence, and Toshirou was extremely confused.
Karin rolled her eyes. "Remember how you showed me that sakura tree? Well I thought I'd show you something important to me that know one else knows about, and this is it."
"What is?" Toshirou asked, still extremely confused. Karin threw her arms up, pointing around.
"This! The hallway!" Karin cried. She began walking forward, touching the paintings. "When I first came to this palace, I hated it so much. All the other maids teased me and treated me poorly, it was awful." Karin paused, staring into one of the paintings. "But then I was walking through the hallways one night, trying to find my way back to my room when I stumbled upon this hallway. I don't know why, but the paintings really stood out to me, and I found myself not being so angry anymore, but more relaxed."
Toshirou watched stroll from painting to painting, her eyes perplexed on the pictures in front of her.
"People think that I'm not very girly, that I'm a tomboy, and in a lot of ways I have to agree with them, but there are three things that you and just about no one else knows about." Karin began, stopping in front of a painting. "First of all, I love flowers. If I ever admitted that to my sister she would burst into tears with laughter. Second, I found out that I give pretty good advice. It probably sounds dumb, but I helped someone really close to me get through hard times while here, and she's really happy now."
Karin paused, a humorous grin on her face. Toshirou still didn't understand why she was suddenly telling him all these things.
"And third, and this is the hardest to admit, is that I love the color pink. It is by far the most girly color in the world, but it's got a fix on me." Karin finished. Toshirou could tell she was purposely avoiding looking at him.
"Ok, so what was the point of telling me that?" Toshirou asked. Karin chuckled, looking down.
"I just thought you should know that, since you didn't before. I wanted to bring you here because it makes me feel better, and clearly you were angry, so I thought it would help you feel better." Karin mumbled.
"Well thanks, I feel a lot better now." Toshirou replied with a smile. Finally, Karin looked up at him, her eyes locking on his before.
"People actually call you a tomboy?" Toshirou asked. Karin looked away again.
"Yah, they do." Karin replied.
"Well that's just stupid." Toshirou muttered.
"I do agree with them in a way, I mean, I'm definitely not the prettiest girl in any means —"
"I beg to differ."
Karin's eyes went wide for a second, and Toshirou could see a light blush coming to her cheeks. Toshirou fought back a grin and continued looking at the paintings he'd seen growing up. He'd forgotten about them since he'd walked down the hallways so often. It was funny how easily beautiful things got taken for granted.
"So which one is your favorite painting?" Toshirou asked. Karin looked at him with a big smile.
"It's over here." Karin pointed. Toshirou walked down the hallway and came to a stop when they reached the last painting.
His entire body froze.
"This is my favorite painting. The woman is just so…beautiful looking. I always wondered what she was looking at as she stared out the window." Karin described.
"That's my mother." Toshirou whispered. Karin turned her head to Toshirou in confusion.
"This is your mother Hatsuma-sama? She does look a lot like this girl." Karin mumbled, disappointment written on her face.
"No Karin, not my step-mother, my real mother, my birth mother."
Karin's expression changed quickly, to one of shock and awe. "This is, your mother?" Karin stuttered out.
"Yah, it is." Toshirou replied, his body relaxing. A soft smile hit her features, her eyes gazing at the painting.
"She's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." Karin said softly.
"Do you know what she's looking at?" Toshirou asked, moving closer to Karin.
"No I don't." Karin mumbled.
He took her hand softly. "She's looking for the sakura tree." He whispered to her. Slowly, Karin turned her body so that she was facing Toshirou, staring into his eyes. He pushed her back gently so that she touched the wall.
"You have her eyes." Karin whispered. Toshirou began leaning his head in slowly, carefully. He'd wanted to do this for a long time, and he couldn't take it anymore.
Her favorite painting had been one of his best memories. Toshirou remembered being a small child and watching as a man painted his mother staring out the window. His father, Jiten, had been next to Toshirou as well.
It was nine o'clock in the morning, a time where anyone could turn down the hallway and see the two, but Toshirou just let it all go.
His lips connected with hers gently, and when she kissed him back, he placed his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to him. Karin wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him deeper. He'd never kissed anyone before, and it came so naturally to him, it came so naturally for them both.
It was proof in his mind that what he felt was real, and he wasn't going to let it go no matter what the cost.
A/N: AH! They kissed!! I'm so happy! I've been planning the hallway/painting scene since the very beginning of this story. If you're confused on the painting stuff, go back to chapter one, it explains it all there. But I loved this chapter! You've all been waiting for a kiss scene, so here you go!!
Well, as much as I'd love to add on to this, I have homework that is awaiting me, and I probably need to get it done…(Ah, the joy of college!)
Please review! It would make me so…happy!!