Disclaimer – I don't own Bleach.

Red and White ~Making Chocolate

The Winter War had pretty much ended the previous fall and yet Rukia and some of the other shinigami were allowed to come to the living world despite the fact there was no real reason to do so any more. One of the reasons was that the forty-six had been completely wiped out which helped to allow a new mindset to set in among the shinigami. The other reason dealt with the fact Karakura Town was a spiritual hotspot that still attracted Hollows.

The month of February came around and things were quite normal, or as normal as they could be. Or perhaps a few changes were in the air and life was simply going to continue changing thanks to the events that had unfolded. At the Kurosaki household the normal tradition that occurred every year since Masaki passed away went on seemingly with not changes. Uncle Atsuo came over and was helping the girls make chocolate in place of their mother. This way Isshin couldn't manage to mess things up to the point of embarrassing either girl.

The actual truth to the tradition was that it was usually just Yuzu who participated in the making of chocolates. Karin would sit at the counter and watch the two others make the chocolate. The tomboy always felt that there was no reason to paricipate in what she considered madness on the parts of girls everywhere. She had always simply bought her giri choco for the boys in her class, plus the boy's she played soccer with if they weren't in her class.

Thus Karin's actions that day surprised both Yuzu and Uncle Atsuo when she stepped up with an unusual question. "So... how exactly do you make the chocolate?"

"Eh?" Yuzu's shock quickly melted away and a smile spread across her face, almost as if she was triumphant about something. "You're actually wanting to make chocolate for our classmates too?"

"No..." Karin shook her head and the next thing she said caused Atsuo to raise an eyebrow. "I was more of thinking of making chocolate for a good friend."

"Oh! I know who!" Yuzu's bouncy spirit remained unstoppable. "The four guys you play soccer with!"

"No! The are... friends I guess, but..." There was a pause in what Karin was saying before she choose to continue. "I really don't feel comfortable bringing them home because of... certain things."

"Let me guess, your Oto-san?" Atsuo let out a deep sigh as he thought of Isshin's many antics over the year and how much he couldn't blame the girls for not wanting to bring friends home. "If Masaki were around she would have figured out ways to keep him occupied."

"No... its a completely different reason. I mean, I am a tad nervous about introducing this friend to dad too, but this is the reason why I don't exactly fit in at school." Karin leaned against the counter using both arms and placed her hands into the palms of her hands.

"Because you act like a boy? If you didn't you could invite friends over. Speaking of which," Yuzu said as she pulled different kinds of chocolates out of the bag that Atsuo had brought over. "I wish you could come over more often Uncle Atsuo."

"Unfortunatly, I am a police officer. I don't get much time off and my shifts are tight." The man reached out to pat the light haired girl on the head which caused Yuzu to smile at him.

"No... it's that reason. It's the same reason Ichigo has problems with too." Karin shook her head at Yuzu due to her twin's off hand comment about acting like a boy.

"Oh! Seeing spirits!" Yuzu piped up only to have her other half lunge at her and cover her mouth with a hand.

"I already know about that, so you don't have to worry about keeping it a secret." Atsuo began to move around the kitchen getting out the other items they would need. "I take it he either knows your secret or you know that he can see spirits and aren't afraid of him finding out."

"Both actually. I also got along really well with him. He's different then the other guys." The corner of Karin's mouth curled up. "He actually knows Ichi-nii better then me though."

"Karin..." Atsuo found himself pausing, then turning to the young female. "How well do you know this boy and exactly how old is he?"

"I'm not sure of his age, but he is around my height. He keeps insisting he isn't an elementary school student and hates being called a kid. However, from what I've seen he's still a little kid," Karin picked up one of the bags of chocolate. "I'm still debating doing this as I'm not sure if I can get the chocolate to him as the last time I saw him was months ago and I don't know if he'll appreciate it."

Karin leaned on her arms again as she thought of the conversation she had with Orihime recently. The older girl had managed to accidently mention that Toshiro and Rangiku had been staying with her for awhile. This led to Karin asking how he was doing. Orihime's response wasn't to just tell the preteen that her friend was doing well, but also told her that his zanpaktuo was an ice dragon. Of course, Karin didn't know what that met. But she also found out he had a sweet tooth he didn't want anyone to know about.

She didn't notice the frown on Atsuo's face as he thought about something. "Well, if you don't try you won't ever know. I do have to ask... is it giri choco or honmei choco?"

"Giri of course! I don't think of him that way." Karin's cheeks turned a little red at the idea that her uncle would mention such a thing. "And Ichi-nii doesn't know that I know him."

"Have I met him?" Yuzu blinked a couple of times in confusion.

"No, you haven't met him." Karin shook her head. "It isn't that big of a deal. I guess I could try and get Rukia-nee to take it to him."

"All right. I'll help you with this," Atsuo smiled. "He must be a rather important friend.


After the chocolates had time to cool Karin took the time to wrapped the soccer ball shaped chocolate in cellophane up in her room where Yuzu could pry into things. She placed the chocolate ino a box with a small, blue dragon plushy she had managed to find after she had spoken with Orihime. She let out a deep sigh, "Why am I going through all this trouble?"

"How should I know?" A soft voice came from the door, causing Karin to suddenly turn to see the person. "Though I also can see you're working on your Valentine's plans."

Rukia-nee!" Karin suddenly smiled at her good luck. "You, you're a shinigami too, right?"

The expression on he older girl's face suddenly faltered. "You know about that? All of that?"

"I know that it wasn't a truck that came flying through our house. I know that a Hollow did the damage. I think you were there too that night, but I'm honestly not sure." Karin frowned as she thought back to the foggy memory.

"I will not lie to you then, yes... I'm a shinigami." Rukia then posed her own question. "Has your brother told you about this? Please tell me you aren't thinking about becoming a substitute like him. It caused a lot of trouble you know."

"Know? I was just wondering why I was going through the trouble of making Valentine's chocolate for a guy I barely know." Karin shook her head as she let out a deep sigh. "That's what I know. That, and I know this isn't something I normally do. I guess it's because he's the closet thing I have to a best friend. He also did save my life that day. It was really big and annoying.

Rukia sighed. "Has your brother talked to you about all of this?"

"No. I wish I got more out of Toshiro when he was here. I only got to spend a brief time with him." Karin leaned on one arm. "He was pretty fun to hang out with."

"To... hold on!" Rukia suddenly turned pale upon recognizing who Karin was refering to. "You mean Hitsugaya Taicho? He didn't correct you for calling him by his first name? I mean, I can understand the rank thing as when we're in the living world it isn't something he can mention to normal people and explain. However, you called him by his first name?"

"Orihime calls him Toshiro-kun." Karin shook her head as she didn't understand why this was a problem."

"That would be because..." Rukia shook her head. "I think it has to do with the fact that she attaches the kun to the end of his name. Her personality is also... she's Orihime so it is kind of expected from her."

"That doesn't explain at all why my calling him by his first name is such a big deal." Karin narrowed her eyes at Rukia.

"Because..." There came a pause. "To Hitsugaya Taicho proper ettiquite is a big deal. He gets onto your brother all the time about not using his proper title. And yet he hasn't corrected you for using his first name?"

"Nope." Karin shook her head letting out a laugh at this. "He did eventually get update because I kept calling him an elementary school student. He flat out told me he wasn't a little kid."

"Karin..." Rukia shook her head in disbelief. "How many times before he went off on you?"

"I think it was three times. It was after I found out that I was a taicho and I said how amazing it was for an elementary school kid to have such a rank in front of his fukutaicho." Karin said. "So... it might have been the fact he was trying to save face in front of Matsumoto."

"But even then he didn't correct you on his name?" Rukia took the box from Karin and opened it to peek in. She took a deep breath upon seeing the stuffed toy in the box. "This is for Hisugaya Taicho, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is supposed to be for him," Karin sighed in frustration. "No, he didn't correct me for using his first name."

"Honmei?" Rukia raised an eyebrow and couldn't help but let a smirk sneak through.

"No, giri!" Karin's voice rose in panic and she grabbed a pen and piece of paper. She scribbled a note and quickly stuck it into the box before closing it.

Rukia gave the small female a skeptical look. "Are you sure you want me to take this to him?"

"Please do before I change my mind about this." Karin let out a deep sigh as she spun around in her computer chair. "And don't tel my brother."

"Because Ichigo may mistakenly think you have a crush on Hitsugaya Taicho?"

"No... because Ichi-nii wants to shield me from the truth. That's why I like Toshiro."

"You do realize the captain is a lot older then you, right?" Rukia gained a concerned look on her face.

"By how much? Toshiro refused to tell me his age. It seemed to be a sore subject." Karin spun back around to face Rukia, her eyes hinting that her curiosity was perked.

"Actually... I am not sure how old he is. I wonder if he actually knows how old he is." Rukia said.

"How can one not know one's age?" Karin's question popped out of her mouth.

"Well... all right." Rukia tried hiding her smirk but noticed that Karin had a frustrated look in her eyes and no blush to be seen. "I guess I should tell you the truth about something. Would you believe that I am a lot older then your brother? I've lived around ten of his life times."

"So? You're still equivalently around his age, right?" The younger female gave her a confused look. "I can assume that Toshiro's age is around mine equivalently?"

"Actually... despite the fact he won't likely admit it, you're probably right." Rukia frowned as if she had something else to say, but Yuzu called for dinner. Karin got up to head down stairs. The small shinigami glanced at the small box. "What am I to do... I can only imagine him going off at this. I mean, this seems more like the other kind..."

Author's note – This idea originally was planned as a one shot, with 'Uncle Atsuo' spending time with the girls. But then, I wondered what Toshiro would do for Karin for white day, as he would obviously, with his personality, feel obligated to do something for her.

Valentines – In Japan, only the girls give chocolates, and it is to the guys. Giri Choco – This is obligatory chocolate, which one gives to coworkers and men that one knows, if one is a woman. Honmei Choco – This is the chocolate given to your special someone, though it is almost always accompanied by a gift. White Day – One month away from February 14th, the men give a slightly more expensive gift back to the women, or they're supposed to. Karin's Chocolate – Karin is meaning for her chocolate to be the first kind, but it more of resembles the second kind.

As for the Winter War, I think people think that it lasts for years, because of how long Bleach has been in publication, but in truth, it isn't going to last that long. From my estimations, it would end mid August, mid September roughly from when the events first start happening.

8-12-2012 – Looking at Red and White I find that what I wrote was dialog heavy and it is hard for me to reread the fanfic so I can continue the story.