Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo. All characters are depicted as legal age.

Warnings: Language, Spoilers for the Soul Society Arc and Beyond

This is for the 5 True Loves community on LiveJournal, #27: Similarity.

Request pairing for DracoQueen22.

His world is ice and snow, and he is grumpy, draconic temper and eyes older than even the captain-commander. He is contradiction given form, infinite patience mixed with annoyance, certain to have an ulcer before he even reaches a hundred. He's somewhat insecure with copious amounts of pride, independent and filled with the fierce need to protect but unknowingly needy.

He's too incompatible with Hinamori for it to have ever worked. They can be friends, family really, but he knows even before she realizes she wants something more that they'd never truly be happy together. The only man she ever saw was Aizen, and he refuses to be a substitute for that fucking traitor. He is his own person, and Hinamori still has problems seeing him as more than a child, captain status aside.

But even her tears are almost enough to break him, to make his resolve crumble as he turns her down time and time again. He tries to explain it to her, but she simply doesn't understand, can't fathom what it means to be him. She doesn't really comprehend who and what he is.

And perhaps that's why the Kurosaki girl is such a surprise. She knows and doesn't care, sees him as he is, better than even he does. Sure, she didn't realize he was a Shinigami at first, but then, who would? Who in the living world would even think of the possibility?

She's loud and yet oddly silent, just like her brother. She has a presence that's hard to ignore but is so easily overlooked at times in a house filled with such energetic people, her father and her bright if innocent sister. Karin knows what it means to be a protector, to have that ferocious and unyielding urge twisting in her chest but to also need it as badly as she does air.

Just as much a conundrum, a paradox, as him.

That much is a given with her family. If they are good at anything, it's the impossible.

And when she shows up in Soul Society without the aid of a Shinigami just a few scant years after the war's end, she does so with a bang. Not in Rukongai but actually within Seireitei itself, the first and only soul to ever do so. The twelfth division still can't figure it out, even years later.

She is only fifteen, the same age Ichigo was when he first became a Shinigami, and with her sheer amount of reiatsu, it would be tantamount to suicide to send her to Rukongai. She goes to the academy instead, taking to her abilities like a duck to water and making everyone wonder just how much her brother and father taught her beforehand. She graduates early, another given, but doesn't break his still standing record. Still, she's out in under two years, and most of the divisions recruit her, eager to have such potential in their own ranks.

He puts his own squad down on the list out of a sense of curiosity and a lingering memory, thoughts of games and happy times in the midst of blood and bedlam secretly in his mind. He honesty doesn't think she remembers. Or if she does, doesn't place importance on their casual association in the past. He's much more inclined to think that she'll choose Zaraki's division, liking the fight as much as her brother, or perhaps Ukitake's, needing some sense of family in such a new and lonely place. Maybe even Kira's third, little quirks and quiet calm a safe haven in an otherwise chaotic world.

She picks the tenth, and no one is more surprised than him. With her family name and kind of potential, she could have had virtually any division, but it's his that she is in now, though she actually ends up in a lower position than she could have had.

He summons her to his office first thing, a private meeting with the captain a necessary perk of a seated officer. He internally nods with approval when she kneels outside the door before entering, thanking some nameless deity that this Kurosaki at least has manners. He goes through what he expects of his squad and lists her duties, watching as she listens intently.

Few people are willing or able to meet his eyes. Hinamori had once called them cold, sharp as ice and just as painful, but she had been hurt over his rejection, not mindful of her tongue. Still, many people, mostly in the lower ranks but more than a few officers, seemed to agree. His white hair and lack of stature are equally off-putting, and some find it hard to obey a captain who looks so young.

Karin has none of those hang-ups, and his silent approval only grows as she looks at him directly, not seeming the least bit perturbed by the blue-green depths gazing back at her. And when he walks around his desk sometime later, bidding her to stand, their difference in height doesn't even really seem to register.

She's taller than him now, although not by a great deal. And he idly wonders how annoyed she was when she understood that this is as tall as she will probably ever get, even if she isn't physically an adult yet.

He dismisses her then, but she doesn't move, simply looking at him with an unfathomable expression. Karin studies him with an appraising eye, seconds stretching into minutes before a quick hand darts out and ruffles his hair.

"It's good to see you again, Toushirou," she says, genuine warmth in her voice. She smirks then and gives him a formal if faintly playful bow, departing with confident steps, and he just watches her go, unconscious smile spreading across his face.

Something within Hitsugaya Toushirou thinks that he may have met his match.

Ever Hopeful,