Chapter Twenty-One

Beginning and End

~Time Skip: Two Years~

Karin sat at the table, one leg crossed over the other, the skirt of her dress draped in a lazy fashion that showed just how much she wasn't paying attention to the world around her. Sitting before her on the table was a forgotten piece of Orihime and Ichigo's wedding cake. It had been sitting there for the last twenty minutes; Karin however had been sitting at the table for the last three hours. Glancing at her new-found sister-in-law Orihime turned to Ichigo and touched his shoulder lightly. Directing his look to Karin, Orihime shook her head.

"Is she still upset about…?"

"Yeah" Ichigo sighed. "She's been like that ever since that day."

Shaking his head Ichigo lead Orihime away letting Karin have her space. Karin never noticed it though, for her attention lie on the newspaper in her lap. The latest story about the billionaire teen pasted all over the front page. The headline: Billionaire Teen Donates 2 Mil to Lost Kids Foundation. Looking down at the recent picture of Hitsugaya, Karin couldn't help but think back on the last two years. After being rescued from Aizen and Gin, Hitsugaya had been rushed to the hospital for his gunshot wound. For the next two weeks he had spent his days in the critical care unit, with no one allowed to visit him. There had been cops posted outside his door, even though Aizen and Gin were safely behind bars.

Once he had recovered the trail had begun. Aizen had been charged with: three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, and a list full of federal charges. Gin had been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and had been pasted with most of the charges Aizen had because he was involved in them. Karin had been called to the trail for the kidnapping and murder charges, but otherwise it was a high profile case and she wasn't allowed to be involved in it. On the days she did get to go though she briefly saw Hitsugaya before she was ushered out. Though she couldn't see Hitsugaya, she had often gotten notes of apology from him and flowers. At first she had cried over them and how much she missed Hitsugaya, but after a while the flowers got few and far in between until finally Isshin decided not to risk it anymore and never answered the door for another flower company. Ever since Karin had no news from Hitsugaya, the only way she knew what he was doing was by the newspapers.

Sighing Karin let the paper slip from her lap, too tired to look at it anymore. Ever since she hadn't heard from Hitsugaya she had often sat in one place for hours on end looking at the pictures of him. In this most recent picture he was wearing a dark suit with a light blue button up shirt and a black tie. Though he was dressed handsomely he looked tired and stressed. There were even rumors about his health. That had been in last week's newspaper. Somehow a reporter had gotten a picture of Hitsugaya when he had severe bags under his eyes. To this day, that was still all over the news, which is why Karin couldn't bring herself to watch television. Any time she turned it on; there was always something about Hitsugaya. Oddly, it would make her tear up and start crying again. After the tenth time of this Isshin had cancelled cable and removed all but the living room TV from the house. He thought Karin didn't know about him trying to disconnect her from Hitsugaya, but Karin knew, she was just too hurt and tired to fight it.

Looking up from the paper Karin looked around at the festivities and frowned. The only reason she had come to this wedding is because Ichigo had brought her, he had thought it would do her good to get out of the house and to his wedding, which had all their friends and family there. Karin really didn't care though, right now all she wanted was to go home and hide in her room, where no one could ever reach her. She paused suddenly when she noticed that several people were pointing at her and whispering up a storm. Before she could ask what was going on she felt a hand touch her shoulder, instantly she caught the scent of Old Spice. Holding her breath she couldn't find the strength to turn around. Seconds later her eyes were following those sea-green eyed beauty that was kneeling down beside her. Instantly she could see the years of tears and pain and misery that had plagued him. How his figure had sunk into that of a beaten, worn person who had many sleepless nights because they were haunted by some regret. She watched as Hitsugaya carefully reached out and took her hands.

"Tou-shirou" she breathed.

"Karin" he responded his voice small. "I… I couldn't do it anymore. I can't go on with my life if it means being there without you. At night I lay awake bawling because I've heard nothing from you. I can't eat, can't focus, I can't do anything. I'd give all the money in the world away if it only meant I could spend these five minutes with you."

"Tou-shirou"

"Karin, my Karin" Toushirou swallowed fighting back tears. "I can't do this! I'm not me without you! If I would have known I had to go on living my life without you, I would have rather been shot and killed. I love you Karin."

He gasped slightly when Karin slipped out of her chair and wrapped her arms around him, tears streaming down her face. Hearing her sob he felt his own tears rise, shaking them away he wrapped his arms around Karin and held her close, ignoring the fact that he had attracted a crowd. After a minute Karin leaned back so that she was looking into his eyes. Waiting Hitsugaya was trying to fight back his fear of a rejection.

"Toushirou" Karin started her eyes still watering. "I love you oh so much but…"

"But?" Hitsugaya asked a lump forming in his throat.

"What took you so long?" Karin asked.

At that point Hitsugaya couldn't help it anymore; he broke out crying even though he was laughing. Soon Karin joined in. Shaking his head Ichigo turned to his guest.

"Come on people give them their space, jeez, you act like you've never seen a couple in love before"