I'm sorry it's taken so long!
I had been meaning to get this done as soon as I could, but I had exams, and then got inspired by an old fic that I've been meaning to rewrite, then full-time work during the holidays and then my laptop crapped out! HN wanted me to pay 200 dollars to get a new power cord,which, being a struggling student I could not afford! So I've been kinda stuffed cos' I can't get on the Acer all of the time.
But it's here! And completely unbeta'd!! But oh well!
Before we begin though, a major shoutout to the most wonderful chick ever, who has been absolutely awesome as I have /ground/ my way through this chapter by providing endless amounts of ego stroking, the one, the only, MATSUMAMA!!
Make sure you go check out her work, okay? As a special thanks for helping me get this chapter done.
And a big thanks to those who have reviewed since the last posting! 135 reviews! You guys rock so hard!
Right almost there. Just letting you know that Chapter Three of the Proposal threeshot should be out soon, and I hope you have the time to check it out!
Anyway, hope you enjoy the chapter! And have the time to leave a review!
"Yes, Karin-chan?" Yuzu glanced up from her plate, frowning slightly as she caught sight of Jinta practically inhaling his food at his place across the table. "Slow down please, Jinta-kun."
He made a face and reached across to steal a bread roll from Karin's plate as she turned to face Yuzu. "Whatever."
"Shut up, Jinta." Karin leant across the table and thumped him on the shoulder before successfully stealing back her food. "Pig."
Jinta stuck his tongue out at her and shovelled more food into his mouth, chewing noisily. "Says you."
"That's really gross, Jinta-kun. Could you please not talk with your mouth full?" Yuzu shook her head at her friend and reached for her glass, taking a sip of water from it before placing it back on the table. "What did you want to tell me, Karin-chan?"
Karin sighed and twirled her fork idly above her plate, gaze fixed on its movement. "I tried ringing Ichigo before dinner."
Yuzu grinned and twisted in her chair to face her sister. "That's great, Karin-chan!"
Jinta snorted. "Not really. She didn't actually talk to him."
"Jinta, stay out of it!" Karin crossed her arms and glared at him, resisting the urge to throw the fork at his smug face. "It's none of your business!"
"Why didn't you talk to him, Karin-chan? Was he not home yet?" Yuzu shook her head at Jinta, who also looked to be dangerously close to throwing something. "Calm down please, Jinta-kun."
Karin looked down at the table again and sighed, shaking her head. "I hung up after the first ring."
Yuzu frowned, but nodded understandingly. "Maybe that's a good thing, Karin-chan. I think you really need to speak to Ichi-nii face-to-face. It's only fair."
"I guess so." Karin stared down at her plate for a few seconds, before pushing back her chair and standing up. "Thanks for dinner, Yuzu."
"But, Karin-chan, you've barely eaten anything!"
Karin shrugged and turned to leave the room. "Sorry Yuzu. I gotta' go somewhere."
"But Otou-san will be home soon! And there's still dessert!"
There was no answer, just the loud thumping of Karin running up the stairs and rushing around their room.
"I take it she's done with this then?" Jinta reached across the table to steal Karin's plate. "Where do you think she's going to go?"
Yuzu just shook her head as a bit of celery sprayed out of Jinta's mouth, rising from her seat and placing her plate in the sink. "I'm not sure, Jinta-kun. But I think I should find out before she goes and does something silly."
With a sigh she turned and left the room, leaving Jinta scowling down at his plate.
"Hey! Am I still gonna' get dessert? Yuzu!"
Ukitake looked up from his paperwork, brush poised in mid-air as he focussed his gaze on his vice-captain – who was peering around the door to his office. "Yes, Rukia-san?"
Rukia pushed back the door properly and knelt on the mat just inside the threshold, bowing her head respectfully. "May I have a word with you please, Ukitake-taichou? It's a personal matter."
Ukitake smiled and put his brush away, motioning with his free hand towards a chair in the corner of the room. "Of course. Take a seat, Rukia."
She nodded and pulled the chair across to sit in front of his desk, folding her hands in her lap as she avoided his eyes, choosing to stare at one of the paintings behind her captain instead. "It's about Ichigo."
"Ah. I take it you have heard the news then?"
"Yes." She sighed and looked down at her captains desk. "I didn't think it would be so soon, Ukitake-taichou."
"I suppose he didn't either. But there's not a lot we can do about it from what I've heard." Ukitake leant forward in his seat and rested his chin in his hand, scrutinising his vice-captain carefully. "What do you think of the time being cut so short, Rukia?"
"I don't know – I wasn't expecting to have to face him almost straight away. It was hard enough seeing him in the bar, and that was only for a few minutes."
Her captain looked confused. "In the bar?"
"Renji tried to play matchmaker again." Rukia shook her head. "It just made things worse I think, as usual."
Ukitake nodded. "Abarai-fukutaichou has never been one for tact though, has he?"
Rukia allowed herself a small smile. "That's true."
"So putting the encounter at the bar aside, have you had a chance to speak to Byakuya yet?" Ukitake leant back in his seat again, watching as Rukia went an interesting shade of red. "I can assume he wouldn't be hard to find, he's been swamped with paperwork judging by the amount of times Abarai-fukutaichou has been seen sneaking out of the Sixth's office windows since their return."
"It wasn't him. Just Hideyoshi trying to throw his weight around." She buried her head in her hands and twisted her fingers in her hair. "I've screwed up, haven't I? Really screwed up. I can't believe I took his word for it."
Ukitake shrugged, a gesture that looked slightly strange on the captain. "Maybe not. You can always try to fix things, you know."
"How?" Rukia tugged at her hair desperately. "What do I do when I haven't got a chance of Ichigo taking me back?"
Ukitake shook his head and sighed, getting up from his chair and moving around the desk so that he could crouch in front of Rukia. "Do you love him?"
"Yes. Of course."
"Do you think he loves you?"
She sighed. "Maybe. He told me he did at least."
"Then it's simple, Rukia. Do what Ichigo would have done."
Rukia looked confused. "What do you mean, Ukitake-taichou?"
Ukitake smiled and reached forward to rest his hand on her shoulder. "Don't give up just because some hot-headed Kuchiki noble wanted to stroke his ego and somehow managed to catch you off-guard." He removed the hand from her shoulder and smiled gently. "You need to fight. Ichigo loves you, Rukia - there will always be a chance."
"Karin-chan?" Yuzu ignored Jinta's blustering behind her and stepped into the hallway, watching as her sister balanced herself against the door as she pulled on her running shoes.
"What?" Karin twisted to face Yuzu, wincing as she knocked her elbow against the wooden doorframe. "Shit."
"Don't swear Karin." Jinta stepped into the hallway and nudged Yuzu as he grinned cockily at Karin. "Look Yuzu, I'm being responsible. Can I have dessert now?"
"Shut up, Jinta. Telling me not to swear is hardly being responsible. And get your own fucking food for once." Karin snorted and swung her bag onto her back, tightening the straps irritably as she turned to leave. "Pain in the arse."
"Karin-chan, where are you going?" Yuzu frowned and reached out to grab her sister's shoulder. "It's going to rain...and please don't swear."
"Sorry. I'm going to see Ichigo."
Yuzu stepped around her and blocked the doorway, looking slightly hurt. "By yourself? But I thought you said you wanted me to come with you?"
Karin shook her head and sighed. "I'm sorry, but I need to do this alone, Yuzu. While I still have the guts to."
With that she opened the door and ran down the street.
In the few minutes that he had been inside, the weather had turned to shit. Wind whipped leaves around his legs as he shouldered his bag again and slammed the door shut behind him, running a hand through his hair as he hurried down the path towards the pile of junk masquerading as a car that his father had bought for him when he had passed his licence. The idiot still insisted that it was a machine built for speed with precise aerodynamics, but the reality was that it was a miracle if the damn thing started within the first ten tries. Not to mention it was upholstered in orange leather – which Ichigo thought was Isshin's idea of a bad joke which had caused endless months of teasing from his friends.
Ichigo swore as he fumbled for the keys in his pocket (he only bothered locking the useless thing because the driver's door swung open of its own accord when not secured) and threw his bag into the back of the car. He yanked the door shut behind him as he slid into the tattered seat, locking it before it could fly open and jammed the key into the ignition, sighing in relief when the engine started on the second turn of the key.
He drove on autopilot for most of the distance towards Karakura, only snapping out of his reverie when something darted in front of the car and he was forced to slam on the brakes, swearing loudly as he felt the back end come loose and the car stall. Heart still racing from the shock, he coaxed the engine back into life – gesturing rudely at the object that had almost sent him off the road, straining to get a better look at the thing so that he could open the window and yell at it some more.
Wait...was that Karin?
Ichigo swore again and pulled across the opposite lane to the curb on the other side of the road, rolling down the window as he slammed the car into reverse and pressed down on the accelerator so that he could catch up with her – precariously driving backwards along the empty street. "Hey!"
She looked back, her eyes widening as she spotted the car following her and started running faster – glancing back over her shoulder at him as she went, probably expecting him to give chase. Which in any other circumstance would have made him secretly proud at the fact that his sister actually had some common sense locked away in her thick skull – but today, it just made things more difficult for him.
She stopped running, and turned to face the car. "Ichigo?"
Ichigo nodded, despite the fact they Karin probably couldn't see him through the rain and turned off the engine. "What are you doing all the way out here, Karin? It's pissing down."
She hung her head and stepped closer. "I needed to talk to you."
Ichigo shook his head and reached into the back seat, grabbing his spare coat from the worn leather and tossing it out the window at her. "Get in."
She hesitated for a second and he ran his palm down his face with a frustrated sigh. "Get in Karin. I may be pissed off at you, but I'm certainly not going to let my sister stand out in the rain and freeze her arse off. So hurry up and get in the damn car."
She nodded and pulled off her backpack, pulling on his jacket as she circled around the front of the car and opened the door carefully before sliding into the worn seat, refusing to meet Ichigo's gaze as she fastened her seatbelt. "Sorry."
He ignored her and started the car yet again, pulling back across the lane and merging easily with the traffic headed in the direction of Karakura. They drove in awkward silence for a while, Karin fiddling nervously with the straps of her bag as she watched the window wipers swish back and forth across the windscreen and Ichigo focussing solely on the road in front of them.
He sighed and glanced over at her. "Yeah?"
Karin shifted in her seat to face him, shivering slightly despite the fact that the heater was blowing warm air directly onto her. "Are you still mad at me?"
She frowned at his half-arsed answer. "On what?"
"You believe me yet?"
Karin bowed her head at the harshness in his tone. "I guess so. I mean, Yuzu told me everything..."
Ichigo tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited for her to continue, watching her out of the corner of his eye. "And?"
She pulled his jacket tighter around her. "I'm sorry for not trusting you, Ichigo. And for being a bitch and accusing you of just wanting to be with Rukia and please don't throw me out of the car?"
Ichigo snorted. "I'm not going to throw you out of the car, Karin. Jesus, you've been hanging around with Jinta too much - I didn't know stupidity was actually contagious. I'm much more creative than that."
Karin scowled and crossed her arms. "Hey, watch it."
Ichigo smiled slightly and reached out to give her shoulder a shove. "It's true. The boy's an idiot. I don't know what Yuzu sees in him."
Karin nodded, not sure what to say. It was weird, bantering like this again - especially since it hadn't even been that long since they'd been at each other's throats.
There was slightly awkward silence again, until Ichigo sighed and half turned to face her in his seat as they pulled up at an intersection. "I'm sorry, Karin. I should have told you as soon as I knew about this."
"We had enough to worry about Ichigo. You were right to wait." She scowled. "Don't you dare say anything."
Ichigo threw a cocky grin her way. "About me always being right?" He sobered and rested his hand on her shoulder. "I'm still sorry about everything though - you deserved to know straight away."
Karin shrugged and they sat in a now more comfortable silence until Ichigo pulled the car up outside the clinic and she turned to face him - twisting her bag straps between her fingers again.
"So...we're both forgiven?" She coughed and made a face. "Sorry, that sounded really cheesy."
Ichigo just grinned and moved his hand up to ruffle her hair. "Yeah. We're forgiven."
Please don't hate on me! I really do hope that you liked the chapter - and have the time to review! Thanks for reading!