Disclaimer: Tite is God. Tite is King. Tite Kubo owns everything.
AN: Below, please find a short bonus chapter, set a day after the end of this story. This was originally going to be an omake, but turned into a cute little stand-alone that I thought you would all appreciate. This was also written to announce my newest fanfics.
The newest story in this series is called "Until the Last Breath," and is currently being posted. It's mostly IchiHime, but will have all the couples from the series, and will have parts that focus only on those other characters. (parts much longer than I originally intended, lol.) The reason this announcement is going up here is that there are some very cute HitsuKarin moments in the new story, and I wanted to make sure everyone who fav'ed this story but not me as an author would know about it. Also, I never put up an announcement for my HitsuKarin one-shot, and also wanted to let all of you know about that. It's a cute little story set during the almost two-year gap in No Warm Memories, and is called "Absence." Please read and review, and enjoy! (And if you're reading NWM for the first time, please tell me what you think of that as well.)
Bonus Chapter: Ashidake
"Rukia-san?" Karin questioned as she looked up from where she knelt on the edge of the Juubantai practice field to find her friend standing over her.
"Just checking up on you. I know Ichigo and Orihime were here yesterday, but this is your first day being really alone up here, since Hitsugaya has paperwork and other things all day." Rukia said as she knelt beside the girl, her arms held oddly behind her back.
"I'm okay." Karin replied with a sigh, although she did glance down at Kyokon wistfully. "But no one will help me train. They know I'm Toshiro's girlfriend, and…"
"And they don't want to hurt you." Rukia concluded the statement with a long-suffering laugh. "I'll talk to a group of women I am part of, we'll all help you. Although, you will be going up against four fukutaicho and an ex-taicho."
"I guess I'll just learn faster then." Karin said with a smirk, trying to shift and see what was behind Rukia's back.
Rukia shifted so Karin could not see, a glint in her eyes showing she had just been waiting for Karin to show interest. "So Rangiku filled me in on how you met Hitsugaya, and I thought this might make you feel a little more at home."
Rukia let the anticipation build for a short moment, than smiled and produced a soccer ball from behind her back. "We call the game Ashidake here. The rules are mostly the same, and vary enough by what area of Rukongai you came from that it can be quite… entertaining."
Karin took the ball with a happy grin which slowly faded as she looked out among the shinigami practicing with their zanpakuto. "They won't even train me in the most basic of sword forms. Why would they play a potentially dangerous game with me?"
Rukia chuckled. "Because, Karin-chan, they won't worry about hurting you in a game they think they can easily out-run and out-maneuver you in. They'll see themselves as being nice to the taicho's girlfriend, humoring her if you will, and they'll respect you a hell of a lot more once you kick their asses in a game they've been playing for longer than you've been alive… or dead."
Karin's laughed darkly along with Rukia as she rose. "Thank you. This could be fun."
"Taicho, do you want to take a break?" Rangiku asked somewhat hopefully as Hitsugaya rose from his desk for the third time in the last five minutes to move towards the window, only to settle back in his desk without looking out it.
He spun around, ready to snap at her, when he saw the compassion and understanding on her face that she hadn't allowed to show in her voice. He took a deep breath. "No, we really need to get this done. I hope to be ahead of schedule by Saturday, because Ichigo and Orihime will return that day, and my presence is required at a picnic."
Rangiku laughed out loud at the put-upon note he tried unsuccessfully to put into his voice.
"I'm just worried about her. She doesn't really understand how her relationship with me will affect how people treat her, even with the full extent of the relationship unknown. The rumors will certainly end up far worse than the truth; yet I prefer that the truth not be known, and Karin agrees." Toshiro said softly as Rangiku crossed the room to sit on the edge of his desk. "I certainly can't keep her at my side all hours of the day; both of us would grow to detest that. At the same time, I hate that she is not at my side at this moment. But going out to check on her all the time won't help at all, it might in fact make it worse."
"It's around lunchtime, let's both of us just take our bento and go down to the sparring field. We do that on a regular basis anyway." Rangiku said with a smile.
Toshiro considered it for only a second before replying. "An excellent idea."
The fact that he could just pull his lunch out of his desk, whereas she had to cross to her desk to get her own, meant that he beat her to the outer office's door.
It also meant she almost ran into him, as he stopped moving the instant his eyes fell on the training field, which for the moment had been turned into an Ashidake field.
The field was surrounded by Shinigami from various divisions, and the two Juubantai leaders watched as money changed hands back and forth and the crowd pushed and screamed.
They were just in time to see Karin, sporting a red headband, rocket the ball up into the air, literally jump over two men wearing blue headbands, and spin-kick the ball into the goal as it fell back to the ground.
The crowd erupted, and money changed hands much more quickly.
"Go enjoy yourself and watch, if you wish." Toshiro said quietly, his smile actually reaching his eyes, one of the only times Rangiku could ever remember it doing so. "You will not disrupt the game, but they… they will not behave like this is my presence… And she is having so much fun…"
Rangiku placed a hand on his shoulder as with her other one she reached past him and closed the door. "Let's eat as we work. Then we'll be sure you'll be free Saturday."
Toshiro nodded, then changed his mind and shook his head as he moved towards the window. "No, let's take a short break and watch her teach them that, in her own way, she is as impressive as her brother."
Rangiku laughed as she moved to the window to stand beside him just as Karin juggled around a man twice her size and height to wing a goal into the top left corner of the makeshift goal, and right through the goalie's hands.
After a glance at her taicho's face, Rangiku couldn't help the teasing comment that came from her lips. "You look like a proud father. Or should I say proud boyfriend?"
Toshiro turned to her with a glint in his eyes she normally only saw while they were in battle. "I am a taicho, and as such believe my men should be prepared for anything. They see a small girl who has been here less than two days, yet already holds a zanpakuto. Many would challenge her, except that they have heard she is my girlfriend. But they are willing to play a game with her, and I expect they will learn something about first-impressions today. It will be entertaining to see how they deal with it."
Rangiku laughed as she saw the corner of her taicho's mouth twitch with a suppressed smile. "You just want to watch her kick their asses."
Toshiro allowed his smile to bloom. "That will be entertaining as well."
Translation note: To my knowledge, the soccer-esq game seen in Rukongai is never named. I have called it "Ashidake," which translates as "foot only." Works very well in my mind for soccer. (yeah, I know in actual soccer you can hit with any point but the hands really, but most work is done with the feet.)
AN: There's not a ton of new HitsuKarin yet, as everything from the first two chapters with HK was just the same story as NWM from different viewpoints. ("Until the Last Breath" starts with Ichigo and his friends running through the gate back to Earth after the announcement at the Remembrance ceremony that Karakura Town is being attacked.) Although I do know there were multiple people who when reading NWM were sad that I left out the scene where they meet with Yamamoto, so I ended up doing it for this new fic. I hadn't planned to do it, but it worked well in this fic and will be in Chapter 3, which should post within two days as long as I can get it finished by then. And there will be more with them in later chapters as well. Please enjoy, and review. And if this is your first reading of NWM, (because I am aware that posting this update shot it to the top of the search list despite the fact that it's the first story I wrote in the series and it has been complete for over a year) I hope you enjoyed it, and please let me know what you think.