Ok, yes it's another HitsuxKarin fic, but they are just so much fun to write about. I promise to update this often, really often, since I can't stop writing once I've started.

Disclaimer-I do not own Bleach or any of its characters. I only own my own characters and ideas.

Hitsugaya was in his office, doing paperwork. Again. He wondered vaguely where Matusmoto had run off to, since she usually popped her head in at this time of the afternoon. He sighed. It had been a long week and he was bored. He reached up to the stack on his desk and pulled down another sheet of paper before dipping his brush in ink.

He felt, rather than heard Matsumoto running down the hall. He could recognize her reiatsu anywhere, which gave him the much needed opportunity to brace his ears.

"Taicho!" Matsumoto cried, throwing open the door, deafening Hitsugaya in the process. "Guess what, guess what?!" She was much more cheerful than usual, and Hitsugaya was sure she couldn't have good news.

"What now, Matsumoto," he said, slightly aggravated, not looking up from his work.

"Taicho, we've been assigned to a mission in the human world! Finally, a break!" Matsumoto said excitedly, a broad grin on her face.

"Missions aren't breaks, Matsumoto," Hitsugaya stated, leaning back and crossing his arms, glaring at his fukutaicho. "So, what's the mission?"

"Karakura town. Apparently, there's been a group of Adjuchas that have been attacking it lately, and there are too many of them for the Kurosakis to handle on their own."

"That's unusual," said Hitsugaya, wondering just how many Adjuchas there had to be for the Kurosaki siblings to need help. He sighed and stood up.

"Well, there's no point in waiting around. Let's get this over with." He headed towards the door, Matsumoto on his tail.

"I wonder how she's doing? I bet she's really strong now," Hitsugaya thought to himself as they headed for the senkai gate. He was referring of course, to Kurosaki Karin, the shinigami representative he had trained himself.

He remembered the shock he had received when she had shown up at Orihime's door, where he had been staying at the time, in black shinigami robes, zanpakto stung across her back, insisting that she needed someone more stimulating to fight than Urahara. Hitsugaya hadn't even known she was attempting the shinigami transformation, yet here was living proof. He had debated with himself about whether or not he wanted to help with her training. Ichigo would probably murder several people when he found out about Karin's new status, but then again, Hitsugaya had had nothing to do with it, and Ichigo would probably have a few more heads if Karin wasn't prepared to fight. So he had acquiesced and trained her to the best of his abilities. She had been incredibly strong then, but he couldn't imagine what she was like now, especially if she had maintained her rigorous training like she said she would.

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It didn't take long for them to reach Karakura. It was almost nostalgic, returning here after an absence of over 10 years. Hitsugaya looked over the town, and memories flooded back to him. But they weren't the ones he was expecting. Instead of seeing the blood, tears, and dead bodies that had littered this town after the Winter War against Aizen, he found himself remembering happier times, like playing soccer with Karin, and swelling with pride as she singlehandedly defeated an Arrancar without receiving a single injury.

Hitsugaya and Matsumoto donned their gigais and headed towards the Kurosaki residence. They knocked on the door.

"Hai hai, one second," called a familiar voice from inside. Ichigo opened the door and was stunned to see who was standing there.

"Rangiku-san! Toushiro! What are you doing here?" A tick mark appeared on Hitsugaya's forehead.

"First of all," he began through gritted teeth, "it's Hitsugaya taicho. Second, are you still so bad at sensing reiatsu that you didn't know we were here? And third, Soul Society sent us to help you deal with your little Adjuchas problem." Matsumoto burst out laughing at the look on Ichigo's face.

"Who said we were having an Adjuchas problem?" he asked, his face turning red. "Karin and I are perfectly capable of taking care of them on our own. And what's with the crack about my reiatsu sensing ability?"

"You suck at it, you always have, Ichigo, don't take it personally!" Matsumoto laughed as Ichigo scowled again.

"Anyway, Toushiro, you've grown a lot since I last saw you," Ichigo noticed. "Back then, you didn't look older than 12!"

"Shut up. And it's Hitsugaya taicho!" Hitsugaya insisted. The truth was, he had grown. A lot. The intensity of the war had somehow sped up his aging process so that he could now pass for at least 18, but older if someone could hold his gaze long enough to stare into his eyes. Eyes that had seen so much. No 18 year old could have those eyes.

Ichigo lead Hitsugaya and Matsumoto inside. They sat around the kitchen table and Ichigo, still slightly miffed, began to tell Hitsugaya and Matsumoto about the current situation.

"It's not that bad, really, I don't know why you bothered coming," Ichigo sighed, resting his legs on the table and leaning back in his chair. "A few weeks ago, this bastard Adjuchas, I think his name was Kyojin or something like that, showed up with about 30 other Adjuchas. I think he emptied the menos forest to be honest, I don't know where they all came from. Anyway, they started wreaking havoc, eating souls, you know, the usual, until Karin and I showed up and beat the crap out of them. But they all seemed to have orders or something to return to Hueco Mundo as soon as they were injured, so we didn't really get to kill many of them. The whole group has shown up a few times, but they regenerate before they return here, so we haven't been able to do a lot of damage. I guess that's why they sent you to help."

Hitsugaya asked for more details, such as the Adjuchas's fighting style and how often they were appearing. In the middle of their conversation, the front door opened, and two people came in.

"Give it back!" Karin yelled playfully, jumping to recover her soccer ball, which was being held hostage by a rather handsome young man, who looked to be about Karin's age.

"No!" he laughed, pushing the soccer ball behind his back.

"Oi, Kentaro, it's my ball and I want it!" Karin stuck her arms around his waist, grabbing desperately for her ball, but Kentaro squirmed just right so that she couldn't reach it. Hitsugaya, but probably no one else, noticed a slight flush appear in the boy's cheeks as Karin wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face to his chest. For some inexplicable reason, this made Hitsugaya angry.

Karin, using a flexibility obtained from her shinigami training, weaseled under Kentaro's arm and snatched the soccer ball, holding it up in triumph.

"Ha, I win!" she cried, but was interrupted by Kentaro, who had gone for her waist and was tickling her furiously.

"Stop, Kentaro, oi, stop!" she laughed hysterically, doubled over in laugher, while trying futilely to push Kentaro off. Hitsugaya had definitely decided that he did not like this person.

"Ahem." The noise came from Ichigo, who had had quite enough of watching his sister be attacked. The two stopped and Kentaro turned to face Ichigo, grinning.

"Sorry, Ichi-nii, but you see, Karin here deserved it. She…oof," he grabbed his stomach as Karin removed her fist from his abs.

"Kentaro, stop causing trouble. All I did was beat you at kendo. Why can't you just admit I'm better then you!" She laughed joyfully, but the smile faded quickly as she turned and saw who else was seated around the table. She hadn't noticed Hitsugaya and Matsumoto's presence before that, she had been too engrossed in her…interaction with Kentaro. Kentaro seemed to notice Karin's face.

"Ah, sorry, I didn't realize you had guests! I guess that was kind of embarrassing. Ok, well, see you tomorrow Karin!" He waved at her, but Karin simply nodded. Kentaro glanced at the people at the table. There was a very attractive strawberry blond woman and a white-haired young man he didn't know. The man was glaring at him in a not-so-friendly way. Kentaro shrugged unconcernedly and headed home.

Karin seated herself at the table.

"It's been a long time, Rangiku-san, Toushiro-sensei," she said calmly, not looking at Hitsugaya. She had taken to calling him Toushiro-sensei during their training together, and Hitsugaya kind of liked it. It was endearing yet formal, and he knew that she meant it both as a term of respect and affection. But her reaction to seeing him bothered him. Was she upset about his presence? He didn't think they had left on bad terms, so why wouldn't she look at him? No one else seemed to notice however.

"It's great to see you Karin-chan!" Matsumoto said merrily.

"Karin, Toushiro and Rangiku-san are here to help us with those Adjuchas," Ichigo clarified. "And by the way, I think you and Kentaro are getting way to close! A woman your age should know better than to have a friend like him! I don't like the way he looks at you!" So they weren't dating! Hitsugaya realized, then wondered why this suddenly made him feel a little better. Karin scowled at Ichigo.

"It's my choice who I'm friends with, you have no control me Ichi-nii," she stated soundly, glaring at him in a very impressive imitation of Hitsugaya-an expression she had picked up subconsciously after spending so much time with him during her training. "And besides, you don't have to worry about me, you know better than anyone that I can defend myself!" And with that, she stormed upstairs. The slam of her bedroom door resounded throughout the house.

"I wonder what's gotten into her?" Ichigo asked aloud, while Hitsugaya stared longingly up the stairs.

Ok, shameless plug, I know, but recycling a character seemed easier than creating a whole new one, and besides, he might as well be the same person. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Kentaro is introduced in my story, "Advice", which is part 2 of my "Hatsukoi" series.) I'm not as confident in this story, so please let me know what you think so far. Thanks for reading!