A/N: Yes, there will be a sequel! This is just the preview of "Karin's Date", and it will be up once I finish typing it. Hope you would like the sequel as much as you enjoyed the first!
Character death early on, be warned.
Hitsugaya felt the terror before he heard the scream. He restrained himself: he must not acknowledge it. The five arrancar Aizen had brought with him this time were far stronger than he had expected, and he must not be distracted...Except that it was the Kurosaki family in danger.
Hitsugaya took a moment to marvel at his dwindling vocabulary, before he flash-stepped to the southwestern sector.
Too late, far too late. The Kurosaki house and clinic were demolished into rubble. He saw it from his vantage point. With a sudden lurch of fear and terror Hitsugaya dashed the last few hundred meters. As he neared the site he was thrown off his feet by a blast of reiatsu. It was familiar, oddly so, and he braced himself to face...
"Dad?" whispered Ichigo who had materialized beside him. The teenager had been much further away than Hitsugaya, at the North pillar. "Dad? Karin? Yuzu?"
There was no response. Hitsugaya had the presence of mind to rein in Ichigo's sudden rush forward into the rubble. The boy looked ready to haul the slabs apart with his bare hands. Kuchiki Rukia and Abarai landed nearby and the tall redhead was hauling Ichigo back from the collapsed building.
"No, no no no... let GO! Dad! Daddy, Karin, Karin, YUZU!!" Ichigo was shrieking. He was almost mad with grief, tears falling freely.
Who could blame him? Despite his prowess Ichigo was only a sixteen-year-old teenager. Hitsugaya steeled himself, his reiatsu scanning the area.
The arrancar responsible for the collapse emerged from nowhere and its claws scratched past Hitsugaya's right arm. The captain snarled and slashed, only to be blocked. It grinned toothily, its thin half-mask like a slipped choker about its neck.
Before he attacked again Hitsugaya shouted, "Keep him back!"
Abarai and Rukia understood immediately. Rukia put a binding spell on Ichigo before the teen could go bankai and unleash far too much reiatsu to assist. Hitsugaya knew Abarai would keep Ichigo down long enough for him to finish the job. He intended to do so fast.
Hitsugaya almost tripped over his feet. It can't be.
The rush of water from behind Hitsugaya soaked the arrancar completely. Releasing his sword, Hitsugaya froze it and it splintered into glittering shards. Then he inhaled deeply before turning around.
Kurosaki Karin was there, breathing heavily, her body slumped against the wall where Yuzu was cradling it. Both girls were bleeding from various cuts. But they were alive.
They are alive.
Abarai released Ichigo, who sprinted to his sisters and hugged them both tightly. Yuzu wrapped her arms about Ichigo's neck, and Karin pushed herself out of it to stare at the fallen house.
"Wait a minute," Ichigo said suddenly, his face still blotchy with tears. "Yuzu, you can see me?"
"Yes. And Rukia-chan, and Hitsugaya-kun, and Abarai-san. And I suppose you're... you're the same as them, right?"
"No time for explanations," Hitsugaya interrupted coldly. "Kuchiki, Abarai, take Yuzu and Karin to Urahara's for treatment. Then when you're ready, all three of you should rejoin the battle. There are still four more arrancar out there with Aizen."
"Yes taichou!" Rukia caught Yuzu's hand with her own, while Abarai hoisted Karin's body and Karin's spiritual form over his shoulders. Karin didn't even struggle, which was something far too odd in itself. Ichigo followed at a brisk pace, assuring himself that his sisters were fine.
When he judged them to be far away enough, Hitsugaya coughed. "You should come out now."
"Yeah, I really should," said Kurosaki Isshin, his shinigami uniform fluttering. The ragged remains of his captain's coat was still tied over his shoulder. "Hitsugaya-taichou, thank you for your assistance."
"Kurosawa Shino," greeted Hitsugaya warily. "or should I address you as Kurosaki Isshin?"
"Isshin-san will do. I've been using that name for too long." The bearded shinigami rubbed his nose. "What do you reckon I should tell them?"
"How about the truth?" Hitsugaya was almost angry – not on his own behalf. "But you better do it soon before they accept that you're dead and gone. Else it'll be a double shock."
Isshin sighed. "I am dead, as far as my body is concerned. At least I died young and handsome."
"I have to return to my duties." Hitsugaya returned Hourinmaru to its customary position behind himself. He strode away as fast as he could, trying to find out why he hadn't just told Karin the truth immediately. He would tell her, eventually, that he had known before they did.
But he knew he would never tell her that the moment he saw her alive was one of the happiest in his long existence.