"What Best Friends are for."

A Bleach Fan Fiction.

Written by trekkiexb5.

Hitsugaya/K. Kurosaki friendship. Rated T for language.

DISCLAIMER: If Bleach was mine...but it isn't…damnit!

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT YET, this is a good time to review the story as a whole. You don't know how much that means to a writer to get reviews.

For Ryfee.

EPILOGUE:

KARIN'S POV

Yes, this is Karin's POV. Let's get her perceptive on the situation.

I looked at the Head Captain. But I wasn't thinking about what he said, or about what would happen to me during the war. I was thinking like, dear lord, Toushirou is OLD! I wonder how old he is. Regardless, I now regret my line about coming to Earth and being a kid. I feel real stupid about saying it, even though he never mentioned his age.

"Perhaps, have her train with Tessai at Urahara's." I turned from my thoughts to stare at Toushirou. He was so pale earlier. He looks better now but still… "She's good with kido. She could learn the basic healing spells."

"Why healing?" I asked. I didn't feel like healing. I wanted to protect. I wanted to fight.

"Because, young lady, the war will start this December," I took my eyes off Toushirou and looked at the Head Captain again. "We have one Kurosaki running around barely trained, we do not need another. Your brother has to fight, you do not have to." He arched one of those long eyebrows at me. "Trust me, there will be plenty of oppernities to fight in the future, but the best way you can protect your family, rather the non-rierkoyu ones, is not to be near them when the conflict starts."

I still don't like it, but I had to agree that I would like to be trained properly.

"Actually, that is a good idea," The nice lady Doctor Captain Unodana spoke up. "She has some medical training, and that coupled with some kido, would make her a useful first aid healer. We could put her in one of the units that will set up first aid stations. She should be safe and useful at the same time. You would like to be useful, Karin?"

"Yes ma'am, I want to be useful. But why can't I be trained like my brother?"

"No you don't." I turned to see my brother come up and kneel before me. I looked into his chocolate eyes. They were sad, but full of resolve. "You do not want to be trained the way I trained. Look, I know I haven't explained much to you,"

"Like hardly anything!" I was mad. "I have been here a week. A WEEK, Ichigo, and you have explained very little. In fact, you went out of your way to avoid me! I had to ask people I barely know my questions. Then I annoyed Toushirou to death with them when they kept saying 'ask your brother!' I want some answers. Why can't be trained like you, and I why have you been avoiding me?"

I stared back him. Jerk! I watched his expression turned from startled to embarrassed. He'd better be. Still he wouldn't say anything. "How are you such an idiot, Ichigo? Why can't you tell me? It's like not a big secret anymore. You never communicate. And I failed Mind Reading in school. God! Toushirou at his most stubborn isn't this bad."

He didn't like the comparison with Toushirou, He frowned and I felt his reiatsu flare a little as he looked at my friend. Another thing I'll have to beat into Ichigo. He cannot tell me who my friends are. I'll save that lesson for a later date though.

"He doesn't want you do it because he nearly died." That was Toushirou. I looked at my friend, standing with all the other captains, and honestly looking taller than I knew he was, even though he was the shortest one. However, yet another answer from him instead of my brother. It isn't Toushirou's responsibility.

"How do you know, shrimp?" Ichigo retorted, standing up. I felt Toushirou's spiritual pressure fluctuate, and my brother's start to climb.

Toushirou tucked his arms into his sleeves. "Get you reiatsu under control Kurosaki. AND it's Captain Hitsugaya to you. Finally, Urahara told us when we asked. Your mask, that Captain Kuchiki reported during your battle with him, was most curious, so we asked the exiled Urahara. He told us." Toushirou shrugged. "And if you want to fight with me, it will have to be another day. You will be leaving soon. And I will not be there to answer your sister's questions, so I'd suggest you to man up and do your job."

My brother growled, but he calmed down. He sighed as he looked at me. "Look Karin, you don't wanna be trained like me. You don't need to. It is going take awhile to get used to the fact you are like me, a shinigami. I will try to answer as much as I can but even I don't know everything."

I looked at him. "Better. Ok, no training like Ichigo's. I'll do the healing kido thing-ee. For now." I emphasized the last word as I glared at my brother.

"Now that is decided, does that arrangement meet with your approval Ichigo Kurosaki?" The old man said. My brother, standing up next to me with that ridiculous sword on his back, nodded. I glowered, still angry.

"We will make arrangements and make sure she taken care of during the war." He looked at me, his eyes piercing underneath his big droopy eyebrows. "After the war, we will discuss a more, structured, way of training you, Karin Kurosaki."

"Yes, sir." Good. I thought. Maybe I can ask Toushirou to be my teacher. Tessai, whom I've met, is a nice guy, but Urahara creeps me out and then there is Jinta… Wait! With this training, I'll be better than that big mouthed red-head. Maybe it will not be so bad; I can pound Jinta into the ground in my spare time.

"Very well, I think this meeting is adjourned. Ichigo Kurosaki, the gate will be opened on Sokyoku Hill very soon to take you and your sister home. Urahara has taken care of your relatives so there should be no problems when you return. Both of you train hard! War is at our doorstep and it will affect both the humans and the Soul Society!"

"I have a question, before we go, sir. This is for Captain Hitsugaya." It was the man with the pink kimono and hat. I never caught his name, only that Toushirou thought he was a dirty old man. He didn't that old; then again, Toushirou doesn't look…however old he is.

Toushirou look pissed. "Fine." He spat out. Oh, oh. I think Toushirou knows what he is going to ask. And it isn't going to be pleasant.

"Why can she call you Toushirou?" There was some quiet laughter in the room. I was wondering if there was a bomb shelter nearby, because I know Toushirou was about to explode!

Toushirou whirled on the Hat-Captain, grabbed the guy by his haori and pulled him down to his level. "SHE…HAS…EARNED…IT by not being an idiot and being respectful to me." He released the smiling man and murmured something else.

The man grinned. "What was that, again?"

"She's my…" He slapped his hand on his face. I was torn between laughter and concern. I decided just to shut up and watch.

"Girlfriend?"

We both exploded at the same time "NO!"

"Then what?"

"He's my best friend." I spoke up. Toushirou looked up at me, a little surprised.

"Oh, is that what they call it these days in the World of the Living, eh?" The man must be a perv. Laughter broke out and the captains started to leave.

"Let's go before Division One Headquarters is turned into an icebox." Captain Ukitake, the other white haired Captain chuckled as he grabbed Hat-Captain and lead him out. Toushirou just stood there, trembling with anger.

I didn't know how much time I would have before I would have to leave so I ran up to him. "Are you ok?" I asked him, touching his shoulder.

He took a deep breath, then another. "Yeah, just that man pisses me off!"

I laughed. "Yeah, you were right, he is a pervert!"

We stood there in awkward silence for a few moments as the other captains left. My brother was talking to Ukitake, who stopped him just outside the door.

I broke the silence. "Rough day, huh?"

He sighed. He was still trembling. "That's an understatement." He still looked sad.

"Come on; let's go someplace a little less public."

He looked up at me. Slowly he nodded. We walked out of the doors and went to sit at the bench we sat at before the meeting started.

"Ok, spill." I said.

He made a sidelong glance at me, pulling his legs up on the bench and wrapping his arms around his knees. "A lot of stuff happened. I was totally humiliated, which I did deserve I guess. I just worried about the 'self destruction' theory that was brought up." He sighed again, resting his head on his knees. "Am I going to self destruct, Karin?"

"I dunno, but do know you are a workaholic. Man, I bet it is tough being a captain and all, especially with this war thing-ee coming up but, when do get some time off, what do you do?"

"Sleep."

"Sleep?"

"Sleep."

"Okay, why?" Curiosity had hit me hard.

He shrugged. "You will laugh at me."

"So? Probably if it is a silly reason. Who cares, you can laugh at me, old man, when I make silly comments."

He buried his face in his arms. "I do it because I will get taller."

I giggled. "That old wives' tale? It doesn't work you know."

"Yeah, but I am so used to doing that I just don't think about it. I do love my naps though. "He looked at me frowning. "Old man?"

It was my turn to look away. "Well you are like over 45."

He chuckled. "I'm actually 71 years old."

No way. I stared at him; I must have been gaping in shock. "Ok," I finally said. "Then how old is Captain Ukitake?"

"Well over a thousand, maybe two. Never asked. The Head-Captain is older than that, and so is Captain Unodana."

My mind boggled. "Someday, you will have to explain that to me."

He harrumphed and we sat here in silence staring off into the distance. "I'm glad; you said I was your best friend." He finally spoke, quiet. "I wasn't sure if I was still. I mean, I never had a lot of friends, so I'm not sure how to be a best friend. But I am glad you said I was."

"I said that you were and I meant it. I like being with you. I really don't understand why people wouldn't like you. You said you are cold, but you are not. I think gruff would be more accurate. But that's ok. I like you I like your sword Hyorinmaru and I like eating ice cream together. I like watching the sunset together, just sitting quietly. I mean, I dunno who that Himamori girl is but I never saw her at the Division Four headquarters visiting when you were there."

He was still staring at nothing. After a few moments he spoke. "She came, once. She said hi and we talked for a while. She said that she hadn't come by earlier due to division stuff. She said…" He sighed, a mournful sigh. "She said, it was hard to run a division and she could not wait until Captain Aizen came back."

"Isn't he the bad guy?" I was confused.

"Yeah. That's how much she got messed up in the head. I wonder how much was his doing or her own dementia." I could feel this was tearing him apart. Probably sitting in the back of his head until he took care of his own problems. Toushirou telling me was important. He never talked, according to that meeting, to anyone. I decided to be quiet and let him talk.

"She was my first memory here, in the Soul Society." He continued. "She helped me up and took me to now my grandmother's house. She was always kind, and he always teased me. SO bright and happy. We used to watch sunsets eating watermelon on the porch. Even when she was in the academy. She would come home on the days off and eat watermelon and she would tell me about school." Ah, that's why he likes watching the sunset. Mystery solved.

"Then she stopped coming so much. Granny said it was part of growing up, but still… I had no friends, nobody wanted to be mine. When I had to go to the academy, she had just graduated. She told me what to do and where to go, and she promised she'd escort me to the academy tryouts the following year, but she never came.

"She never came to my graduation, either. Granted, I never went to hers. But she was happy when I did see her. She was so, so happy with this 'Captain Aizen.' It was obvious to everyone she had a crush on him. I…"

"Wished it was you?" I said, very quietly. "That if it was, everything would be different? I wished it was me lots of times that died rather than my mom. Would things be different? I wouldn't know, because I would be dead. I honestly think that the pain that my family carries would be any different. My dad said that we have to work with the cards we are dealt with. Rarely do we get a choice to change our hands. I may not know much, but I do know we can't live by 'what if's'"

He chuckled. "Karin, the 11 year old philosophical protégé,"

I punched his shoulder, "Meh, you're just mad about the 11 year old part, old man!"

He slid his legs down to the ground, looking a lot happier. I don't know why, I don't think I answered his questions. Maybe he just needed to say them. Not sure. "So is old man going to replace elementary student?" He asked with a sidelong bemused grin.

I tapped my finger on my cheek. "Hmmm…only if you don't piss me off. If you get me REALLY mad, I'll have to call you Snowy."

He sighed. "You and Yachiru should not have met."

I laughed.

"I guess. Your brother is on a rampage; let's go back before he destroys half the Seireitei, again."

I wanted to ask about that, but I heard my brother calling my name, and saw him, along with Rangiku and Renji looking for me.

"Oh there you are Captain!" Rangiku squealed as she saw us. Then she hugged Toushirou. Either that she was trying to suffocate him. I giggled as I watch him swear and tried to remove himself from her grip. "I got the items you requested!" She said, releasing a gasping Toushirou and holding up bag.

"What items?" I asked as my brother and Renji approached.

He opened the bag and pulled out a handle part of a sword. It looked like his. "Is that Kusaka's?" I asked him.

"Yeah, going to his grave today. I requested this earlier. Despite what I have learned, he was my friend in my heart; I guess I cannot change that." He sighed, putting the handle back in the bag.

"There you are Karin; I was looking all over for you!" Ichigo said, but was giving Toushirou an evil look. I don't know what his problem is, it's not like I haven't had a friend who happened to be a male.

Brothers.

"I was talking to Toushirou, ok? What's up?"

Renji answered me. "Rukia just opened the gate for her and Orihime in the World of the Living, so we need to hurry and get to Sokyoku Hill when they arrive." I liked the red head, even with the excessive tattoos. If he was my age, well closer to my age, we'd be friends.

"Why are Orihime and Rukia Kuchiki coming here?" Toushirou asked. "And where are you going Lieutenant Abarai?" I noticed Renji had a bag over his shoulder.

"Going to be training with Chad, sir. It was requested by Urahara. Since we will be in the basement, Rukia and Orihime are coming here." Renji looked at me, smiling. "I heard you will be training with Tessai, in kido. So we will see each other a lot!"

"You train in the basement of Urahara's shop? That little shop?" I asked, a little surprised. Not a lot of room for swordplay I would have thought but I got a chorus of 'you'll see!' from all the shinigami and my brother.

"I got you bags, Karin. Let's go!" My brother held out my tote and my net of two soccer balls to me. My backpack was on his shoulder. I nodded and took them.

I looked behind me as I walked off, waving at Rangiku and Toushirou. Then I got an idea. "Hold on Ichigo. This will only take a minute!" My brother looked at me, startled as I ran back to Toushirou.

"Here." I handed the net to him.

"Huh?" He stared at me in confusion.

"Your first hobby."

"Nobody plays here, Karin" He answered.

"Then teach them, or kick the wall. Lord knows there are enough walls here. It will be a great stress reliever and will get you some practice when we meet again."

He took the net but he still asked, "Why?"

I turned to walk back to Ichigo, but I looked back at him and said "Because I will kick your ass in a game of one on one, Toushirou! Get practicing if you ever wanna beat me!" He could run circles around me in soccer, but that wasn't the point.

As I ran to catch up with my brother and Renji, I heard Toushiroulaugh and say, "Fat chance Karin!"

I laughed. It would be a great match.

THE END.

XXXxxxXXXxxxXXX

AUTHOR'S RANT

Switching to Karin's POV was the fact it made us see Toushirou, if just for a few moments, in her light. Is there the beginnings of romance here? Yes. Her tomboyish behaviour means she 'borrows' female friends from her sister. No really close friends, cuz boys have cooties in elementary school. And for playing soccer with. Toushirou, with the aura of mystery, slipped by her cootie radar and she was suddenly actually hanging with him!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the story. It was a labor of love and pain. Please review.