Disclaimer: I do not own bleach or any of its characters. I'm just a fan who wants to manipulate its characters and make what I want to happen, happen.

Author's note: Please read and review. This is my first time to write a Karin/Hitsugaya fiction, and I hope that it turns out well. This is just a oneshot—so I'll leave the interpretations to you.

Thanks!

Please Read and Review—it means so much to me!

I hope you'll like it.

Note: Italics are flashbacks while those enclosed in '_' are thoughts


Look After You


The day was about to end, and it was almost sunset. Karin was on her way home from soccer practice, and she was feeling very tired. In her head, she was mulling over what her brother has been up to for the past few days. His school kept calling that he's been skipping classes, and whenever he got home, he didn't talk with them anymore because he was too tired so he just went straight to his room.

Other than that, from the time she encountered a hollow when she saw her brother in a black robe, she's been sensing more of them, more often. It was as if everyday, a new hollow was appearing somewhere in the town, and then a reiatsu just appears and vanishes—almost immediately. She begun already to associate his brother's sudden absence to the presence of the weird reiatsu.

"Kurosaki Ichigo," Karin overheard a voice say it as soon as she got home and sat on the living room sofa. It was upstairs. The house was quiet because her father was out on a house call. Yuzu on the other hand was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen.

"What is it? What do you want now?" Ichigo said, in a hostile manner. He sounded tired, and Karin assumed he was, because just less than an hour ago, there was that 'presence' she felt.

"I've heard that you are undergoing a special training…" the voice said. He sounded like a boy, and Karin was trying to place where she has heard it before.

"What I'm doing is none of your business," Ichigo replied, and it sounded like he was moving some things in his room.

"I'd just like to warn you, Kurosaki Ichigo, be careful with the trainings you are undergoing, you have to know how Gotei 13 is keeping an eye on you as a substitute shinigami." And the voice said it with finality.

Karin decided to just go to Ichigo's room to take a look and see who her brother is talking to. She didn't bother knocking, and just opened the door. Before Ichigo replied, what she saw in front of her was a familiar white-haired boy, his back to her, like he had been the last time she saw him—always his backside.

Ichigo noticed that Karin was looking straight at Hitsugaya and said, "You can see him?" speaking to Karin. Hitsugaya didn't bother turning around.

She was only able to nod her head. She wanted to say that she knows this boy, but words left her. Karin remembered his last words to her, right before he left.

"Here again, viewing the sunset, I see," she said.

"This really is the best place to view the sunset," he replied. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"About what happened at the soccer field…" she paused, "I'm glad to find you here, today." She replied. She stepped closer and stood a few steps away from Hitsugaya and faced the setting sun.

"There's no need to thank me," he said, his expression still non-chalant, unchanging. "I'm a shinigami, it is what we do."

"It's not the only reason I came to find you…" she said. Stopping to catch her breath, Karin closed her eyes and decided not to continue. She wanted the tension to disappear. This boy standing beside her isn't a boy, she has seen what he can do, she has seen his subordinate Rangiku, and he was so different from her. How could he look so normal, when he isn't even human…at least not anymore? Why does he appear and feel so normal?

Hitsugaya closed the cellular phone he was holding, put it in his pocket, then sighed. He could feel the tension—this girl beside him wouldn't understand how his existence fits all that she thinks is true. He decided to speak, anyway.

"I'm sorry I have no answers about your brother," he said to her. Karin turned her head immediately and listened intently. "The truth is, I haven't encountered a substitute shinigami before." He stopped. He waited for Karin to reply, but his wait ended in vain. She didn't speak. He turned to face her, and she was waiting for him to continue. "What is it that you would like to ask?" he said, his expression turning just a little bit softer.

"Do you really need a substitute shinigami, if there is someone like you in this town?" she asked. This question never occurred to her, only until this very moment, when they are talking about Kurosaki Ichigo. "I mean," she uttered, "Ichi-nii is still just a student, and he is special, since he can see ghosts and shinigamis, but is that alright?" After she has said it, she felt that there was really no sense in what she is saying. She just wanted him to continue talking.

"There is an assigned Shinigami to this town—it's not Ichigo—and it just so happens that Ichigo can be of help."

"Okay," she replied, apparently lost in their conversation.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't answer the question, did I?"

"It's okay," Karin said, then stretched out her arms, and put them down again. It was a little relieving to move about when she couldn't even understand why she was really here. "So, what is your role in all of this?" she asked, finally. She badly wanted to know why he was here in her town.

"There just has been an abnormal rate of presence here the past few days, and I was sent to check." He replied flatly once more.

"Oh…so you're here temporarily?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"I guess that means you can't save our team anymore in our upcoming matches," she smiled, though she felt her eyes warming up a bit.

Hitsugaya shrugged lightly, and got his cellular phone from his pocket again. He pressed some keys and said, "I'm leaving."

"What?" Karin wasn't able to hear what he said, and just said as he was turning to face the other way, "Wait!"

Hitsugaya stopped and faced her, "What?"

"Your duty is done, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"You can't stay any longer?"

"Yes."

Karin wasn't able to hold her tears any longer, and a tear slid down her cheeks. Hitsugaya couldn't see it from his distance, but he saw here face break.

"Is it your leg? Does it still hurt from the fall you had during the game?" he asked, foolishly. He didn't want to delve into such things. Such is a life between shinigami and living humans.

Karin felt embarrassed, she was Kurosaki Karin—tough girl—and this white haired boy just made her cry, and she had no idea why. "Will you ever be back?" she said, through soft whimpers.

"Maybe not in your life time," he said and turned to walk away. "So long, Kurosaki Karin."

'Maybe not in my lifetime, he said,' she thouht to herself, and before she knew it, Ichigo was in front of her, snapping her out of her trance.

"Yo, Karin, are you okay?" Ichigo asked.

"Ichi-nii," she said softly, still out of reality. She peeked from Ichigo's side, and saw Hitsugaya Toushiro.

"So you can see him, this is Hitsugaya Toushiro." Ichigo stepped aside and pointed to Hitsugaya.

Hitsugaya couldn't help but comment, "That's CAPTAIN Hitsugaya Toushiro to you," under his breath. His eyes were looking on the floor.

"I know." Karin answered.

"Huh?" Ichigo was surprised. "You know him?"

Karin tried to act casually and convinced Ichigo, "Yes, during the soccer match when we beat the middle schoolers. He helped us out."

Ichigo assumed that Karin had no idea about shinigamis and just said, "Sorry about the way he dresses, he's…uhm…foreign."

She just nodded her head and said to Hitsugaya, "Yo!"

Hitsugaya was astonished how she acted so casually after those first few awkward moments. So he just replied, "Yo!"

"Okay, I just checked out what the noise was all about from up here, and Ichi-nii, please be at the dinner table tonight, you don't know how Dad has been these past few days when you were always not around." And she just closed the door behind her and headed down.

"Does she know?" Hitsugaya asked Ichigo.

"No," he answered so matter-of-factly, when he didn't even have any idea how much she knew already.

"Okay, I'm leaving," he said and jumped off the window.

Meanwhile, Karin decided to take a stroll. She wanted to relax a bit. Hitsugaya was here again even when he said he won't be back—at least not in her lifetime. Perhaps he wasn't counting on them meeting again. Why was she feeling like this again? There was a feeling of rush and excitement, but it was paired with unease and nervousness. When she got out of the house, she saw Hitsugaya head out from the window.

"Toushiro!" she called out.

He stopped from the roof of their neighbor and she walked closer to the house. He moved down from the roof and stood in front of her. She just stared into his teal colored eyes, and his eyes staring back at her. Silent moments passed them by, both not knowing what to say.

"I thought you won't be back?" Karin said finally, her hands clutching the sides of her shorts. She could feel them cool and shake, and she was trying to keep them still.

"I said maybe," he replied.

"What were you and Ichi-nii talking about?" she asked. "Is Ichi-nii alright?" she asked, she was indeed concerned about her brother, but she also asked just to have something to say to Hitsugaya.

"It's nothing that you should know about, and yes, you're brother is alright." He replied flatly.

"Thank you for not telling him that I know about shinigamis," she said, "I want to respect his own time in telling us."

"How do you know that he doesn't know, or that I didn't tell him?" he asked.

"I just know." She replied. "I think I can trust you with that." She faced sideways and started walking.

"Where are you going?" Hitsugaya asked.

"Well, since you're here, we can still catch the best view of the sunset that you found," she smiled whole-heartedly.

Hitsugaya just nodded his head and followed her. They walked silently on their way to the cliff, and when they arrived there, they still captured the setting sun.

"Is my brother in trouble?" Karin asked, as they both faced the orange-tinged sky.

"No," he replied.

"When can you play soccer?" she asked.

"I'm about to leave soon," he replied.

"Always on the move…must be hard being you." She said, as if she was talking to a boy her age.

"Well, it is." He replied, he let his walls fall for the moment and just cool down.

"I mean, you're just a boy—" she replied, but he interrupted.

"And that's just it, I'm not just a boy," he said indignantly.

"I'm sorry..."she hesitated, then said, "you just always seem so normal and casual that I forget you are a shinigami."

"It's not a problem." He replied, though there was still more he wanted to say.

"Do people like you age?" she asked, she's been wondering about this since the first time she saw him as a shinigami.

"Yes, but compared to you, it's like we don't at all."

"Ah…" was all she could reply.

"Karin," it was the first time he addressed her by her name today, "I didn't expect you and I to meet again."

Karin was dumbfounded and didn't know how to respond. Hitsugaya decided to continue, his brows were creased and his eyes were sullen—he was not like the Hitsugaya Toushiro she has seen before.

"When I said that I won't be back in your lifetime, I wanted to mean it. But you see, it's impossible, since I am always being…sent here. I'm sorry if you think I lied to you. It's just that living as a shinigami, I've forgotten most of what it's like to be human, but the way you treated me that day—I felt human again. All the emotions, and I mean all of it. Karin, it's impossible for a shinigami to…" His eyes widened at the sound of a voice, and he was interrupted. His brows relaxed and he was back to his cavalier state.

"Captain!" the voice called out. It was Rangiku.

"Yes, Matsumoto?" he asked.

"We have to go back to—" she stopped upon seeing Karin, "Oh, Hi, Karin-chan!"

"Hello!" she replied, and the two were in mid-conversation when Hitsugaya interrupted.

"What is it, Rangiku? You seemed distressed earlier."

"Sorry, Captain, we have to go back to Soul Society, Gotei 13 is having a meeting." Then, she faced Karin, "Karin-chan, sorry, but we have to go. We'll be seeing you."

"Good bye," she replied. As Toushiro turned to leave, he glanced back at her, and he and Rangiku disappeared.

The sun has already set, and Rangiku's words came back to her, "We'll be seeing you." Of course, they can always see her, without her really noticing them, right? Perhaps she was just getting ahead of herself.

When Karin got home, it was still early for dinner time, and her father was still not home—though Yuzu was done in the kitchen.

"Hi, Karin-chan!" she greeted her so cheerfully.

"Yuzu," was all she could say. She felt alone again--Like she felt that day he left. Again, just his backside was the last view.

"You okay?" Yuzu asked thoughtfully.

"I'll just have a talk with Ichi-nii." she went upstairs, leaving Yuzu somewhat confused.

She went to his room and found him still awake, listening to his ipod.

"Ichi-nii." She said.

"Yes, Karin?" he said, and as if enlightenment hit him, continued, "Oh, yes, where have I been, huh?"

"Actually, not." she said. "About Hitsugaya Toushiro."

"What about Toushiro?"

"I know he is a shinigami." She said straightforwardly. Ichigo's eyes widened in surprise. He sat up.

"So you know, huh?" he said more to himself than to her.

"I know about you too, I've seen you in a black robe wielding a huge sword." she stared directly into her brother's eyes.

"Does anyone else know?" he asked, and she shook her head."Can we keep this a secret?" he said, and he relaxed a bit.

"It already is a secret." she replied.

"Thank you, Karin…" he paused and continued, "what were you asking about Toushiro?"

"What was he doing here?"

"He was warning me about something," he said. Then he gave it more thought, "Now that I think about it, for the past few weeks, I always find him on our roof."

"Huh?" she replied, "Our roof?"

"Yes," he replied, "Weird guy, really. Other times, I pretend he is not there. The first time I asked him why he was here, he said that our house has the highest reiatsu in all of Karakura and that since I wasn't always around—he felt he needed to protect the town."

"Really? I thought there was a shinigami assigned to every town."

"There is, which is why I said he is a weird guy. Then now he warns me that I am under observation, but when I saw Rangiku earlier today, she said that they were just visiting, no missions or whatsoever."

Karin felt her face flush—then realized she might be just getting ahead of herself.

"Why'd you ask?" Ichigo asked, she was relieved he didn't notice.

"Nothing, he is just a good soccer player and maybe we can use him on our team." she said. She was able to make Ichigo believe that it was all.

"That guy!" he snickered. "He won't do anything for anybody, he's just so high up there, if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, you're probably right. Maybe that was just a one-time thing for him when he helped our team." She stood and said, "Thank you, Ichi-nii. You can trust me on this one."

The next day, when she returned home from soccer practice she saw Hitsugaya Toushiro just sitting on their rooftop and the words he said yesterday came back to her.

I'm sorry if you think I lied to you. It's just that living as a shinigami, I've forgotten most of what it's like to be human, but the way you treated me that day—I felt human again. All the emotions, and I mean all of it. Karin, it's impossible for a shinigami to…"

'What was it you wanted to say Hitsugaya?' she thought to herself. She was just staring aimlessly at him, and she thought she saw his eyes meet hers, but it was too quick and he disappeared.


Thanks!

Please Read and Review—it means so much to me!

I hope you liked it.