Mentions of Ep.132. not canon. I don't particularly care. AU-ish.
Warnings: profanities, character death, familial angst, and maybe OOCness.
Disclaimer: My name is not Kubo Tite. Not even close.
-to atone for our sins, and kiss them goodbye.
the moon is our witness
I'll catch a falling star
for all your broken tears
we'll be able to breathe
He sees her one afternoon.
Sitting on the middle of an empty soccer field, her arms tightly hugging her knees and seemingly oblivious to the outside world, she's there all alone.
He notes the soccer ball laying there beside her and wonders idly for a second if she still plays — plays it like before — plays it so brightly, and shakes the thought right after.
When he looks at her face, he can't help but look away.
Her eyes are a dull shade of gray, like a torch without its usual flame, unlike before when they used to shineshineshine, and her pale face is a contrast to the vibrant colors of orange and green from the sunset and the lush surrounding trees.
She stares off blankly to nowhere in particular, and he thinks that she seems so calm at that moment — too calm, and the Karin he knew wasn't ever this calm.
This girl was so tranquil, so seemingly fragile that if he touches her, he's afraid that she will shatter. So he approaches her carefully, hands inside of his pockets and icy blue green orbs calculating the teenage Kurosaki girl.
A gentle breeze blows as he stops walking, and he stands a meter away from her. He suppresses a sigh when she does nothing as to even acknowledge his presence, although he notices her arms tightening their hold on her legs as if she was afraid that he might hurt her.
(so fragile. so small. so beautiful. so afraid—)
Hitsugaya holds his gaze over her for a few more minutes and gives up a little later, because expecting a response, he thinks, from someone as stubborn as her is pointless and a waste of effort.
But him being as stubborn as her, he does not so give up completely.
The white haired shinigami picks up the ball beside her and dribbles it, and as he predicts, she watches him at the corner of her eye. He runs forward and tackles with an imaginary opponent, and he gives the soccer ball a slicing kick. GOAL.
The corner of his lips tugs upward, showing a picture of a small smirk, and he sees her gaze directed towards him.
She frowns and sighs, finally releasing her legs from their tight embrace. His eyes follow her every movement, even the tugging motion that she makes on the tip of her now long ebony locks, and she seems to notice this when she frowns even more. She had always hated it when people watch her intently.
"Go away", she mutters and reverts her eyes somewhere else, avoiding his blue ones, which are piercingpiercingpiercing through her.
He scowls and moves closer, daring her to do something. God knows how much he has tried to leave her and let herself rot to oblivion, but his attempts always lead to the same result. His conscience forbids him to leave her be, and the image of Karin sinking so low makes his jaw clench and he cannot take the sinking feeling at the pit of his stomach whenever he remembers that anymore.
(the foreign feeling of guilt, goddamn guilt. he does not like that feeling)
"I don't need pity", Karin spats, fists clenching the short grasses on the field, plucking them out of their roots, "…especially yours". She opens her palm and the grass fall down, released form her tight grip.
He feels himself wince ever so slightly and his body grows tense at her words. He averts his gaze, she doesn't understand that he merely wants to help, and that he feels as if it's his duty to help her. After all, it's his fault that Karin is alone, oh so alone and brok—
Hitsugaya still does not move and still does not look back at her, he is too consumed in his thoughts that he doesn't notice Karin sigh softly. Then he feels her standing up, fists once again clenched and gray eyes staring of into the orange horizon.
(so orange that it hurts, the color—it…it's…)
"It wasn't your fault", she says and she glances up at him and unclenches her fists. She has been doing this a lot lately.
He stares at her, eyes widening a little, feeling panic bubble up in the back of his head. She's looking away and her lips are slowly tugging upwards, forcingforcing to move up. At that moment, he wants to escape his gigai, escape Karakura, and just be anywhere but here, because he knows that he can't bear the next words she is going to say and he does not want to take those words in. And he does not want to see that sadsadsad, so painful smile forming on her pale pink lips.
He does not want to see her like this, see her smile like this, to see her so—
So—oh so very much—
"I…I know that it cannot be helped. He's…They're…t-they're gone, okay?".
"It's not fair, you know, not fair at all",
"It's freakin' not fair that you were only gone for a year, and you come back then you're suddenly four inches taller!"
"No need to be that bitter, Karin. Shorty."
He follows her when she leaves.
There is a cold silence hanging between the two of them and Hitsugaya hates it. He is not used to Karin being silent and him starting the conversation, because reality-wise, it should be the other way around. And as they walk, he cannot help but notice the fact that he has grown accustomed to the Kurosaki girl during the five years they have known each other since the soccer ball incident, that he knows what and how they are supposed to be acting like.
It scares him a little.
Karin comes to a halt and he does the same, expecting her to be stubborn once again and question him about follo—
"Why're you following me?" she asks, irritated that he would not seem to be getting the hint that she does not want any company, particularly his.
He only stares back at her blankly and replies a cold, "I'm not".
She cocks a brow and looks back at him skeptically, before she scoffs and starts to walk again, visibly ticked off.
"I'm simply going to the same place as you are", he states as a matter-of-factly and suppresses a smirk as he knows where these type of conversations usually lead to.
(he likes to pretend nothing is wrong. moments like this. he liked this pretend moment.)
She looks back at him, only to give him a deadly glare, which does so little as to even affect the icy captain.
The earlier cold silence melts and is replaced by a sort-of comfortable one, if not warm, then certainly less awkward. This reminds him of old times, where they would go to the field to play soccer, just the two of them having a little bit of competition and a little bit of fun.
(little bits of something he has buried a long time ago)
They would play for hours without even noticing it, and when the sun sets, they would head back to town on this path. The walk would be a quiet one, with him walking two steps behind her, and she'd look back at him when they arrive at the house with a small clinic and bid their goodbyes.
And it kind of hurts to remember the question that she always asks, with a small smile playing at her lips, before he leaves—
—"you'd come back, right?"
He stops when they arrive at the said house, and looks at her with a questioning gaze. She still lives here? How can one small girl live in this big house that used to be a big home?
Karin looks up at him and she stares again with that dullness in her eyes, so dull that it suffocates him—scaresscaresscares him. Her shoulders are tense, and he notices her hand fidgeting with the hem of her uniform's skirt.
(the Karin he knows never fidgets)
"Orihime-san, she offered me to live at her place", she speaks the words, almost whispers and he nods slightly for her to continue. She swallows and looks back at the house that used to be a home, "But I just can't leave, I—I can't…" her voice slightly breaks at the last statement, and she starts to head slowly for the gate.
He senses the bitterness in her voice. Orihime probably only wanted to help, they are alike after all, they both are alone, with only so little to hold on to. But this girl does not move on like the older girl did, the source of her emotional strength is gone and hard to admit as it is, the strong façade people were used to seeing is gone.
He watches each of her steps, like a father watching his child take her firsts, that if he does not watch carefully—she'll fall.
"Hey, just talk dammit! Geez, why are you so mad about anyways?"
Scowl. "Not mad."
"Yeah right, and I can't see your shinigami form," snort. "Wait, you're not mad about Takeuchi-kun asking me out, right?" smirk.
Scoff. "Of course not…"
"No way! You so are!"
"I am not jealous, Kurosaki. NOT".
Snort. "I never said you were jealous."
"Well, I'm sorry for being inconsiderate Hitsugaya-taichou", smirk. "From now on, you can have me on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and Takeuchi-kun will take Wednesdays and Thursdays." Booming Laughter.
Grumble. Mutter. Mutter.
"Is that a curse word? Tsk, bad Hitsugaya-taichou. Wha—wait, you're blushing!"
Scowl. "Just shut up. And I do not do that."
"You so are."
So he follows her inside.
She does not even bother to close the door, so he does it instead. Nothing has changed here, he notes, and everything is like before, not a picture frame out of place, except for the unfamiliar silence and emptiness that it used to be filled with.
Karin sits at the wide sofa, she sits at the far left corner as if she's saving the large space for people that would never come again, and she hugs her knees once again, like the position he found her earlier in. and he wonders if she does this everyday, repeating this over and over again, ever so lifeless and so—so alone.
He sits at the sofa too, at the far right corner and he hates that he can't sit closely because he is still too afraid to be near her yet. They are no longer like before, when she tells him soccer techniques animatedly on the same sofa and he'd listen on while occasionally piping up a comment. And her sister would be cooking something in the kitchen, their father reading a newspaper and watching them from the corner of his eye, and Kurosaki—
He swallows slightly, the shinigami representative which was her one and only Ichi-nii would also be watching them from behind and being a stupid overprotective brother, as Karin called him.
"If you could just reconsider Urahara's offer to train you, I'm sure that—"
Karin frowns and cuts him off. "Is that the reason why you came here?" he can hear the bitterness in the tone of her voice, after all she has never liked the idea of being trained to be a shinigami, and he does not know the reason why. But he tries everytime, nevertheless.
(someone she knew used to be one. wearing black hakama and wielding a huge sword.)
(it hurts to remember. he used to be…they used to…)
He thinks that the former taichou's offer would be a resolve to her wallowing, and that she can protect herself without him constantly worrying over the stubborn girl, although he would never admit that to her. If she were to become a shinigami like her brother, surely the soutaichou may consider taking her in to Soul Society.
Then maybe, just maybe that there will be a chance to for her to see them again and that she would not look as miserable as she is right now. He knows that what he is thinking is stupid and selfish, it is impossible but he cannot stop himself to hope—that the damn guilt would leave him alone and that horrible dull eyes would stop being so, so, so…lifeless and not like her at all.
(he thinks of Hinamori after Aizen's betrayal and their eyes are almost the same. their dimmed expression that hurtshurtshurts him. and he realizes that Karin hurts him just as much, seeing the light sucked right out of her.)
He stands up abruptly.
(he can't stand it anymore. this is not stubborntomboyishbeautifulenigmatic Karin. this is-is, is someone who's happy ending was taken away from, someone who waits for a father, a brother, and a twin who will never come back. this is not the young woman he lo—)
"Quit being so stubborn Karin! I came here so you'd at least think of stopping from wallowing on self-pity. Look at you, you're so miserable that I can't even recognize you! I know that it's hard accepting the truth that—that they're gone, but you should know that they'd want you to move on with your life and not sit just sit there looking like hell!"
He snaps, the gates open and the emotions run like a tornado. Hitsugaya Toshiro does not snap, he is calm, cool and collected at a young age. But at this point, he does not care about reputation anymore.
"Ne Toshiro, what happens when a soul actually dies?"
"Geez, I was only asking out of pure curiosity, no need to make a weird face like that."
"Reincarnation. Or so they say…"
Blink. "Eh? Really? Well then, could you promise me something?".
Stare. Blink. "Promise?"
"Well you see, with the war going on and Ichi-nii…uhm, yeah, right. What I'm trying to say is—"
Deep breath. "—will you promise to make sure Ichi-nii comes back home, safe? Ah, well because you know searching for a reincarnated person in a big place like Earth would be hard and Yuzu'll be pretty depressed if he doesn't make it back and Oyaji'll worry and—"
Half smile. "I promise".
Smile. "and that you'll be the one to take him back home, the two of you…'Kay? Thanks."
His words float about her head. It stings and what he says are the truth, that's why it hurts even more. She hugs herself even more tightly and she wants to cover her ears so that the words would stop being so friggin' right, but she is scared that if her arms would leave her from their embrace, she might freeze and break like thin ice.
(it's so cold, so cold, so cold. I want to, I—want…I…to go…ho—)
Those cool blue eyes are staring at her again, she knows that he is expecting an answer, but Karin does not—cannot do anything. Her body is rigid and she does not want to admit that she is afraid, scared shitless that he might provoke memories. Unwanted memories.
"Just…just go away, Toshiro…" she mutters, her voice raspy and barely a whisper. His name tasted strange on her tongue, she doesn't even know why when she has said it a thousand times before.
He glares at her in return. "No. I won't", he says firmly, still looking at her and there is something in his eyes that she cannot comprehend. It is painfully familiar to something like warmth, warmth that it does not usually show so openly.
"Why?" she asks him with disdain in her features, and she feels her fingers trembling; she asks it more to herself, truth to be told, "Why do you still try? Why, when you know that I'll just keep on shoving you on? Don't you ever get tired of it?"
(that's because…because…he is, he…he lov—)
The truth is, Karin is scared of him, so scared because if Hitsugaya comes closer, she's afraid that she can never let go and that it'll kill her if she ever lets go. Just like how she clings to a non-existent family that she knows will never be reunited again.
It hurts just thinking about them…that they are…gone. DeadDeadDead. The fact that they have left her all alone with nothing to hold on to anymore makes the pain even worse and she now realizes the reason why she still sits of what used to be their home—that it is the only thing that holds the pieces together.
(memoriesmemoriesmemories. a father, a mother, a brother, a twin sister)
It is like a lifeline that holds every piece of her together and that if she leaves she cannot imagine what will become of her. Or maybe it is because she's actually afraid that if she leaves, the next most precious thing will be the only lifeline she has.
(the next most precious thing is…the only remaining precious thing is…is—)
The next thing she knows is that her are suddenly wide open, the grey irises are trembling with fear and hesitation that never in her life had she felt before. She's still to stubborn to admit that she's beginning to realize something.
His voice, it calls out her name worriedly,
—but he still does not take a step forward.
(that voice, so familiar…it is…is—)
"What's wrong? Hey."
Karin snaps out of her train of thoughts and she's staring at Hitsugaya wide eyed. His mere presence at the moment makes her fingers twitch and she is ignoring the voice that seems to whisper stupid, annoying, senselessnonsense, stupidstupidSTU—Shut up!!!
(the remaining precious one, he's standing right in front of you, isn't he?)
She hates the voice so much, she wants to bang her head to make it stop, to stop telling her things that might be—would be the truth.
"I…no…he, he isn't…", she talks back to the voice in her head and it makes her feel like she's crazy, talking to something that is not real. But hey, there's a soul reaper in her house.
And suddenly Karin laughs. She laughs at herself for replying to nonexistent things and for being crazy because of stupid tragedies that have taken most of her life. HAHAHAHA. No, she is not laughing because the voice replies and tells her that she's wrong and maybe in denial, and that that person in front of her really is, and DAMNIT could she just swallow the truth.
(this time he takes a step forward and Karin is too busy fighting with her head to notice. Stepstepstep. Suddenly he's inches away from her.)
"He is NOT! No! NO! Shut the fuck up—!!!" and then all she knows is that there were strong arms wrapping around her shoulders forcefully and her head is buried on a warm chest. She lets out a gasp and her body is tense again from the closeness that's a little bit suffocating, and no she does not feel comforted—NO, this was not Histsugaya Toshiro embracing her.
deny. deny. deny.
Karin has never cried since her mother's death, and she has silently vowed that she never will for the sake of being strong for her family. But if they're all gone now, she's already weak, and he already has provoked them to coming out, can the tears come out of their years of rest? She admits that it is kind of hard to keep them in for so long, and their starting to well up in her eyes.
Dammit Toshiro, this is all your fault.
"Hey, you know what?"
Scowl. "Damn snarky…"
Smirk. "Matsumoto says it's a talent".
Forced Cough. "Anyways…before you leave for the next thirty minutes, I…erm, I wanna"
Raised brow. "Parting speech?"
Scoff. "Hey! I am a girl too, you know…closure? I just…" Blush.
"Oh, so you are a girl, never really noticed."
"Just listen! Geez…" Scowl.
"Alright…what is it?"
"Right…erm…I just wanna say that…I'm sorta' glad that the I kicked the soccer ball too hard that day—"
"—and that you were the one who managed to catch it, as corny as that sounded". Smile.
Blink. Look away. "…then I'm sort of glad too". Smile.
The next thing he knows is that the he takes a step and it becomes two steps, three steps and all of a sudden he's touching her. He is a little bit muffled himself at the thing he just did.
Hitsugaya embraces Karin tightly and protectively. He pulls her close to him as if it's the end of time itself.
He can feel her tremble beneath his grasp, she must be scared, and it confuses him more when he remembers her eyes staring at him with something like fear. Then his eyes shut, and for a moment he asks himself why he hasn't done this sooner.
Karin might have returned back to earth and out of madness when she begins to push him away. Oh no, I'm not letting you do that. He doesn't let go even if his ears are ringing from her shouts of protest. Instead, if possible, he hugs her even more.
Lemme go! Lemme go!
"Stop -ow- struggling…it's, it's going to be alright…", he tries his best to comfort her (because he has never been good at that) and somewhat, the words he says taste bitter in his tongue. A lie is still a lie. But he'll do it if it's the only thing that could help her. Maybe if all the damn things that were happening could be set straight, she'll forgive him and he'll finally be able to let go—wait, let go?
She hisses at what he says and she pounds her fists on his back with more force, "No it's not gonna be alright! I know that it's not! The world fucking hates me!", she shouts bitterly, annoyed that he is still holding up longer. " And you know what? I fucking HATE it too!" all of a sudden, the buried emotions are bursting out.
(her eyes are heavy. let them flow, Karin. don't be so darn stubborn. They're still unshed)
Maybe if he holds on still, everything will be alright. And so he does while saying the last part to her over and over again, even if she might get tired of it. Because he knows that he's here, hugging her, which he normally doesn't do, and she better realize it sooner that it's REALLY going to be alright because his back is starting to ache.
"I fucking hate it when the world bitches with my life! I hate it because it took my mother! I hate it because it made us miserable! I FUCKING hate it because it ruined our lives right from the start!—"
(just let it all out…I'm here, hold on, and I'll do that too)
"—I hate it because that stupid war broke out! and those stupid Shinigami and Espada, too! Screw Soul Society! I hate it because Oyaji didn't tell us he was one!"
Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. It's beginning to leak. It's starting to be free.
Hitsugaya hears her catching her breath and he whispers to her. I know, I know. She grips the back of his shirt and he lets out a sigh, he's silently relieved that maybe she has realized that he's here, or maybe not, she's just using him. Ah Hell, he doesn't care.
"I…" she sniffs, "I—I hate it when he saved Yuzu during the time when those Arrancar attacked…he-they got ki—they left me! I hate it…I hate it…so much…" she takes in a big breath and buries her head deeper in his chest, "I…I hate myself for not being there".
Her eyes flutter open, hands still holding fistfuls of the back of his shirt, and her vision is blurry because of something wet blocking her view. Karin realizes that she's hugging Toshiro back and NO, she doesn't secretly want him to not let go.
"I hate it when Ichi-nii fought the war. I, I hate it that he risked his neck for saving everybody else, when he couldn't even save himself. That idiot! I hate him! I HATE HIM! I…" her voice breaks, and she can feel something inside of her breaking, too.
"I told him that for the last time. I told him I hated him before he left. I hate it…because I lied, because I was worried and angry for leaving but I didn't really mean it…" she swallows then closes her eyes once again, and he finds himself doing the same.
(he takes in every HATE word and swallows it. as if he could feel what she feels, and the pain every word brings. he winces at every HATE, and waits for his name to be said after the word.)
"I actually lied…I didn't…I didn't hate him. Oh god, I didn't. He was my Ichi-nii, I couldn't hate him—they were my family…I couldn't hate them".
(her tears start to flow freely form her reddened cheeks. they fall down form their years of rest. they won't stopstopstop. please don't fight it back, please, just let it all out)
(set yourself free. he's here, he's here, he's here, you know? and you know he won't leave, so hold on)
Then he takes his chance and loosens his hold on her petite body. This was the reason he came almost everyday, it's the only thing keeping him from coming back to the physical world. And if this ends up right, he can finally let go. WAIT. I don't—
"I'm sorry", he finally mutters into her jet black hair; if he could say it a million times over, he actually would. If that would mean then that Karin would regain her life and that her eyes would have the same light in them that he secretly lo-liked.
(the promise, I'm sorry I couldn't keep it. please don't hate me, just…please—don't)
She pushes him away and he doesn't hold her back anymore, he doesn't even know what to do next. "Sorry for what?", she asks, her voice strained and he could see the anger into her eyes boring straight into his eyes again, and this might be because he has stupid timing and bad luck, or maybe because he forgot the fact that Karin hates this topic.
(he just never learns, does he?)
"For…", he trails off and looks away from her narrowed eyes, "…for—"
Karin clenches her fist, "You see? You don't even know what you're sorry for? And you intended to help me?!". She grabs a fistful of his collar, and still, he doesn't look her in the eye. Hitsugaya finds for an answer in his head.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
"Guilt, it's that, isn't it?" she says, her voice a note lower than the last, then Karin laughs again. The same bitter laugh, filled with some sort of madness, only the difference is that this one is brimming with distaste pointed towards him. He knows; he can feel it through her shaking hands.
He silently waits for her violent reaction, wondering if she'll punch him or throw him on the floor. But it never comes, instead, when he glances, her eyes are welling up with tears for the second time. He's surprised seeing her like this, seeing so many emotions from her in one single day. And because, it's partly his fault that she's like this.
"So you think that it's your job to pity me, huh? You think that everything's your fault? You think that it's all because of you? It was never your damn fault!", she lashes out, this time it's him she's angry at, not the world.
"Screw that! It's only guilt…it's just because of guilt that you're here, then fuck you, Toshiro. You're the one who's selfish."
(you're angry at him, right? is it because you expected something else? maybe something like one word—)
He still won't look back, and maybe Aizen is rolling in his grave with laughter, seeing the mighty Hitsugaya Toshiro acting all cowardly. What's even worse is that the tables are turning around and it's now her words that are painfully true.
"No", he mutters at last and she's startled at his response, just as he is to himself. "It's not because of that".
She furrows her eyebrows and puts up the stubborn attitude once more. "Then what is it?" she hisses.
(-starts with the letter L—)
What is it? He has already asked himself that question a thousand times, and sometimes he thinks he might never find the answer but this time, something is beginning to clear up.
(-and ends with you know whatOVE)
So he presses his lips unto hers. And her eyes are wide as giant saucers.
(c'mon now. don't fucking kid with me. this is not Toshiro kissing her)
Karin doesn't melt into the kiss, she fights back into it. Just as hungrily, just as forcefully as he does it. They are acting rash, out of desperation and escape from reality. That with just the presence of each other, the world's going to change and it'll all be okay.
She pulls on his collar and deepens the kiss, and he wraps his arms tightly around her shoulders. And he can feel her hot tears sliding down her cheeks and against his own. It's as if each other's touch sends the hidden pains and bearings out of their respective locked chests, exploding into bits and pieces of forgotten memories.
(just don't let go, hold on. for now, I won't leave. I'll be here)
He mutters a muffled "It'll be alright", in between kisses, and Karin only nods in response. The tears are still falling though, she sees right through the lie and she pretends that his words are the ultimate truth.
Karin wakes up the next morning lying on the couch and expects Toshiro to be out of the house. He must be back in Soul Society, like all those times before, during his failed attempts at making her talk.
She is surprised to feel calloused fingers on her right palm, and she thinks that her thoughts are must be playing with her again. That's when she sees a shock of white hair below, and his beautiful sleeping face lying on the carpeted floor, left arm reaching up the couch and holding her right hand.
Then Karin smiles.
This time, for real.
(I told you I'd be holding on, right?)
OMG, over 5,ooo words! I never intended this to be this long, but, oh well, can't do anything now. And yeah, I killed of Ichigo, Isshin, and Yuzu…sorry to any of their fans! xD.
This turned out a little too angsty, REALLY angsty, but I hope you'll like it still.
Thanks for reading. :D