Title: Break-Ups and Bumbling Boyfriends

Summary: "Taichou, don't you know what giving a diamond ring to a woman means?" In which Karin attempts to give love advice, and Kenpachi is desperate enough to follow it.

Main Characters: Karin, Kenpachi, Unohana, brief appearances by Ikkaku, Yumichika, Toushiro, and Isane; mentions of Yachiru

Pairings: Kenpachi x Unohana, brief HitsuKarin

Note: This chapter is dedicated to Evil-Chibi-Tiffy, who requested this a long time ago. I checked with her first to make sure the Kenpachi x Unohana pairing was okay, and I already knew she was a fan of HitsuKarin, so this was written mostly for her as a thank you for requesting a fic/character ^^ If anyone else has a character or plot they want to read, just let me know and I'll try my best!

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any of its characters.


Zaraki Kenpachi had gotten himself into quite a pickle.

And really, just the idea of him using the word 'pickle' to describe his dilemma was an indicator of how serious the situation was. The tough and brutish captain of the bloodthirsty eleventh squad had...well, pissed off his girlfriend.

Now, many might not think this would be a big deal. Surely the Zaraki Kenpachi was capable of handling such a situation without making such a big deal about it? Just a slap here or there, and maybe a bit of deranged furniture smashing to show off his power and scare the woman back into her place, and everything would be solved, right?

Wrong. Because, despite his thirst for blood, gore, and battle, the overbearing man knew how to treat women. He might have no problem with knocking his men around during a few bouts of friendly sparring (though their broken extremities suggested they thought otherwise), but he would never, ever even think of laying a hand on his woman. Well, not in that way, at least.

So this was what presented the aforementioned 'pickle.' How did he go about getting back into her good graces?

The truth was (and he would never admit this to anyone)...she kind of set him on edge. That perfectly fixed smile and poise always had him wondering what she was really thinking behind the mask. Of course, when she was angry – and boy, had she been angry it wasn't very hard to figure out what was running through her mind. And the way that creepy smile had widened ever so slightly and her reiatsu had sparked around her menacingly told him he was in deep, deep shit.

And yet he couldn't fathom why. They'd been having such a lovely conversation in her barracks, her setting the tea as he relaxed from a hard day's training schedule. She had been concerned for his health, and so she had insisted he kick off his sandals and lay back with ease.

And then, as abruptly as a bullet train, he had found himself on the other side of her front door, face-to-face with her fixed yet furious smile and being handed his sandals and zanpakutou in a not-so-gentle manner. She had told him to go on home, because surely his squad was worried about where he was. And when he had bent down for a kiss – he didn't show affection very often, but at the time, not realizing she was angry, he had thought she looked so sexy with fire blazing in her eyes – she had pushed him away, claiming she didn't feel well.

And now, whenever he tried sending a Hell Butterfly to her division to inquire about her health, he only got messages from her fukutaichou claiming that her taichou couldn't spare time right now to talk. He just didn't get it. And he knew better than to ask her because, though she didn't complain much, he knew his insensitivity was a touchy issue for her.

What he needed was some sort of interpreter or something. Someone who could tell him just what the hell was going on inside his woman's head. But who? There weren't many people he could trust to give him advice on women, or people he knew would keep the situation under wraps. Soul Society had lots of gossip whores, after all.

And God forbid he turned to Yachiru.

.. ღ ..

"Kami, taichou, what's gotten into you recently?"

Kenpachi looked up from his bowl of rice to see Karin and Ikkaku both watching him carefully and Yumichika listening in as he picked at his fish. They were all seated cross-legged at the eleventh division dining hall, having themselves a large dinner after all the sparring they had done today. All the other members were too busy with their own meals and chatter to pay attention to them. Yachiru, after yawning widely and nearly dozing off in the middle of the grounds, had already been put to bed. Kenpachi, having been so keyed up about the issue with his girlfriend, hadn't been able to lie down for his afternoon nap and, therefore, had forgotten to put her down for hers.

"You've been acting really weird," Karin continued, returning to her own bowl.

"Yeah," Ikkaku chimed in. "Ya never forget to put the little bugger down for her nap. Ya know how she gets."

Kenpachi only grunted, returning to his meal and not bothering to offer any explanation. It was none of their goddamn business.

"Something up with you?" Karin asked, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously. Their taichou never bothered keeping secrets from them before – he never really had any, being such a straightforward man.

"We can help, ya know," Ikkaku offered, rubbing the back of his neck as he did so, unused to showing concern, no matter how subtle. But this was his beloved taichou!

"I'm afraid your help is most likely to make the situation worse, if anything," Yumichika drawled. The third seat glared heatedly at him.

"You tryin' to start somethin'?" he demanded menacingly. Karin rolled her eyes at his quick temper, but Yumichika remained unaffected.

"No, I'm trying to fix something," he remarked, a superior grin on his face indicating he knew something they didn't. When Ikkaku only looked at him in confusion, he smirked. "Taichou needs the help of someone who can give him good advice on his private matters...unless you've got some sort of experience in love I don't know about."

Kenpachi froze mid bite, and all three subordinates swerved to look at him.

"This has something to do with Unohana-taichou?" Karin speculated.

"Rumor has it that taichou's in a bit of hot water with his girlfriend," Yumichika supplied, flicking his hair coolly as he did so.

"What rumors?" Kenpachi demanded. "Who's spreadin' these rumors!"

"What did you do, taichou?" Ikkaku immediately asked.

Kenpachi glared at him for the assumption.

"Nothin'," he grunted. "She went off on me for no damn reason."

Karin rolled her eyes.

"Right, because Unohana-taichou's totally the type to do that," she remarked sarcastically, waving her chopsticks at him. "Come on, taichou. We're all eleventh squad members here; you can be honest with us. So tell us, what did you do?"

She looked completely unaffected by the evil eye the much larger man was giving her, so he sighed roughly.

"Look, I have no fuckin' idea what happened. One minute, she's askin' me my division plans for the month, and the next, she's givin' me that creepy smile of hers that always means she's mad and basically kickin' me out."

"Ah-ha!" Yumichika said, snapping his fingers and looking like he had just discovered the meaning of life. "So it's not what you did but what you said."

"Right," Karin chimed in. "What did you say when she asked you your plans for this month?"

Kenpachi gazed at them all blankly for a second before shrugging.

"I told her we hadta cancel our annual battle royal," he recalled, "on accounta Yachiru wantin' to celebrate Easter after Karin told her 'bout all the chocolate she could get...an' then I told her she should be happy 'cause it meant a break for her division..."

The rest of the group – even Ikkaku – groaned collectively. Karin even slapped her forehead with her palm in exasperation.

"What?"

"Don't you see, taichou?" she reprimanded. "You basically just told her that her division doesn't do anything...besides clean up after yours."

"Ya know how pissy – I-I mean, defensive," Ikkaku corrected himself when catching sight of Kenpachi's glower, "she gets when someone makes fun of her squad."

"And if even Ikkaku understands that," Karin continued, "then you know you're in the wrong."

"Hey, what's that supposed ta mean?!"

The two argued, but Kenpachi wasn't listening anymore. Was that true? Was she really just angry because she'd misunderstood his words? Couldn't she just have told him that and saved him all this worry and trouble?

'Women,' he thought irritably, digging into his plate once again and planning a visit to the fourth in the morning. 'Always so emotional.'

.. ღ ..

Knock! Knock!

Karin yawned widely as she headed for the door to her quarters, running a hand sloppily through her unruly bed head.

"Who the hell is knocking so freaking ear – taichou?" Her grumbles changed to a tone of surprise when she came face-to-face with her superior. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Unohana," was his only gruff reply.

He was covered head-to-toe in water, his clothes sopping wet and hanging heavily off his body, his spiky hair drooping slightly at the ends as the rigid texture softened. He trudged inside when she stepped aside to allow him entry and waited by the door as she ran off to her bathroom to get a towel. Upon her return, she threw the drying cloth at him – he caught it with ease.

"Now, you wanna tell me what happened exactly?" she suggested, folding her arms across her chest as she watched him dry his face.

"I went ta talk ta her; she was waterin' her gardens."

He paused here, as if expecting her to get it by just that, but she simply stared at him blankly.

"'Fore I even said anythin', she sprayed me with that damn thing from the human world – a hose? Claimed she hadn't known I was there – liar; she can sense reiatsu a helluva lot better than me – and when I tried talkin' to her anyway, she all but kicked me out 'gain, sayin' I would catch a cold if I didn't dry off. She was real cheeky 'bout it, too," he grunted, glaring at the towel in his hand as if it had caused the problems. And then, he continued on to quote her, though he didn't bother to imitate her voice, "'I just got a break from work, what with your members not gettin' hurt this month. I'd like ta enjoy my time off, dear.' And ta think I was gonna 'pologize! I bet she didn't even mean it when she called me dear!"

Karin patted his bulky arm sympathetically, pursing her lips to keep from laughing.

"Well, taichou," she said, "you did hurt her feelings. You can't expect her to forgive you so easily."

"Then what do I do?" he questioned.

She was slightly taken aback at the question, her mouth slackening in surprise before she cleared her throat awkwardly.

"I don't know if I'm the best person to ask for help with this -" she began.

"What?" he demanded, glaring down at her. "You tellin' me you an' that ice midget you screw 'round with don't get inta fights?"

"We're not -" But she cut herself off, knowing how ridiculous that sounded, especially when Kenpachi had raised an eyebrow at her sleep wear, which consisted of only a small shirt with the tenth division emblem printed right above her left breast.

"Fine," she grumbled, flushing. "But, no, we don't get into fights. He doesn't talk enough for us to get into arguments, and I like that he's a quiet guy, so it's not like I'll pick a fight about no communication or some shit like that."

"Ya sayin' ya don't fight at all?" he grunted with incredulity.

"Hmm, there was one," she remembered. "He missed one of my soccer games after he promised to be there, and I got really pissed."

"So how'd ya solve it?" he wanted to know.

She smirked. "We pretty much just sparred until I got all my anger out. But Unohana-taichou's never been one for fighting, so that's not gonna solve your problem."

He groaned, rubbing the towel against his hair as he thought.

"So, then, what will solve my problem?" he asked, sounding slightly pained. Her mouth pursed in a soft 'o' before she grimaced.

"Did you actually come to me for love advice?" When he nodded, looking down at her seriously, she sighed. "Look, taichou, I'm flattered and all that you want my advice, but I'm not your gal. Maybe Yumichika – wait, that came out wrong."

"You're the only woman on the squad," he grunted, his eyes glinting as he looked down at her. Yachiru was still considered only a 'girl.'

"But I'm not exactly the womanly type," she pointed out. "Me and Unohana-taichou are completely different, so the things I like might not apply to her."

"Worth a shot."

Karin sighed, running her hand through the tangled mess that was her hair, stuck in a dilemma. She wanted to help her taichou, but she was afraid that her advice would only lose him his girlfriend forever. And she really didn't want to be on his hit list for the next century. Then again, refusing might do the same, so what did she have to waste in this lose-lose situation?

"Fine, taichou," she agreed with a heavy sigh. "I guess I could try to help, though don't blame me if anything goes wrong."

"We'll see 'bout that when somethin' goes wrong," he said with a dark chuckle. She tried to look unaffected as he tossed her towel back. "I should get goin' 'fore Yachiru wakes up. We'll figure this out later."

"Sure, sure," she agreed absentmindedly, practically shoving him out her door in her hurry to get rid of him. When he was finally gone, she leaned against the door, sighing very deeply. Oh, great – what had she gotten herself into? How the hell was she supposed to go about saving Kenpachi's relationship, which had been completely implausible to begin with?

This was not her forte. Really, maybe she should talk to Yuzu, or Matsumoto, or Yumichika. They would surely have some good advice since they lived for this kind of gossip and drama. Yeah, that could work. She smiled as she reassured herself.

"Is he gone?" an icy voice asked from the hallway, pulling her out of her thoughts. She smirked as she looked over to see the face of her scowling boyfriend and nodded.

"Che, good," he muttered. "Where does he get off calling me an 'ice midget?'"

She laughed, not caring that the wet towel in her hand fell to the floor as she sauntered over to him, knowing what would make him feel better. And indeed, his scowl instantly dropped when she placed her hands on his shoulders and looked down at him slyly.

"Come on," she whispered. "There's no way I can go back to sleep now, and there's still an hour left before work."

He nodded and took one of her hands in his own, cradling it gently as he led her to the bedroom.

Kenpachi grimaced as he ran off to his own quarters. Though inept at sensing reiatsu, as close as he was to Karin's quarters, even he couldn't miss the intertwining of two very familiar spiritual pressures into one.

.. ღ ..

"Don't tell anyone else," was the first thing Kenpachi said to her when they met again in his office.

She froze in shock and then groaned. There went her security blanket.

"I don't need all of Soul Society knowin' 'bout my problems," he grunted, narrowing his one visible eye at her. "Got it?"

"Yes," she deadpanned.

"Good. Now, tell me what ta do," he ordered. She froze.

"Uh...poetry?"

"No," was the immediate reply.

"Uh..." Putting her hand to her chin, she tilted her head back, thinking. "Have you tried...giving her something to show her you're sorry? Girls like romantic gifts, I think." It was something she'd seen happen in one of the dramas Yumichika watched so much, in which the main character had cheesily presented his girlfriend with expensive yet useless gifts in an attempt to please her. It had seemed to work for him, and the two characters had shared a deep kiss moments later – she could never understand how actors could perform such sexual acts on national television for the world to see.

"What do ya have in mind?" her taichou asked, thinking over the plan and looking a little uncomfortable at the idea of romance. She rolled her eyes.

"She's your girlfriend," she said. When he looked a little lost, she sighed. He was hopeless. "How about flowers?" she suggested. "I think roses are customary –"

"Allergic," he grunted, shaking his head.

"Mmm...how about chocolates?"

"Hates sweets," he denied. "Somethin' 'bout keepin' healthy." Karin nodded – that definitely sounded like the committed leader of a medical group.

"Some tea?" she offered desperately. Unohana-taichou did love tea.

"She's already got herself a closet full," he said. "What would me givin' 'er more do?"

Karin groaned. Why was this so hard? You'd think a soft, gentle woman like Unohana-taichou would be easy to shop for. They'd already gone through practically every romantic thing she could think of.

"Oh, wait!" she remembered. "What about jewelry? Girls like that crap, right?"

"Could work," he grumbled. "What kind?"

"Really, taichou?" she asked in frustration. "You're asking me when she's your girlfriend. Don't you think you should at least try to put some thought into this?"

He glared down at her menacingly but still nodded. "Fine."

With a furious glower shrouding his face, Zaraki Kenpachi set out to find himself a jewelry store for the first time.

.. ღ ..

"What the hell is that?"

Those were the first words out of Karin's mouth as she gaped at the square, black case in her taichou's hand.

"It's what ya told me ta get," he grunted, opening his palm to hold it out to her. She wouldn't take it.

"I told you to get a small trinket to show Unohana-taichou that you're sorry – not that," she said, looking down at the box in shock.

"What's the big deal? The guy at the shop said all women love this," Kenpachi argued, and then grumbled in a lower voice, "An' they better, for the arm an' leg it cost me."

Karin groaned. "And there's a reason for that," she said with a sigh. "Taichou, don't you know what giving a diamond ring to a woman means?"

He shrugged. She slapped the heel of her palm against her forehead.

"It means marriage," she explained pointedly.

A beat of silence passed between them. Kenpachi looked down at the case in his hand with a blank gaze. And then he sighed gruffly and stalked over to the door.

"I'll go return this, then."

.. ღ ..

Since the jewelry was a failure – well, it wouldn't have been if Kenpachi had just gotten something else for his girlfriend, but he had absolutely refused after the ring fiasco, for which the shop owner paid for dearly in the form of multiple bruises – Karin had to come up with another plan for her sulking taichou.

"Let's see," she mumbled from her place by the dojo's doors, tapping her chin in thought as she watched her taichou pumble several members in his growing anger with his problem. "What would Unohana-taichou like? What does any girl like?"

"Perfume?" a voice offered from behind her.

She jumped and swerved to find Yumichika behind her shoulder, gazing down at her meaningfully. She let out a breath of relief before waving a hand at him.

"Nah," Karin dismissed. "Unohana-taichou doesn't like perfume, especially since it can irritate a lot of her patients, like Ukitake-taichou with his respiratory problems. Besides, she always smells good anyway, like her lilac soaps."

"An' what are you suddenly givin' Unohana-taichou gifts for?" Ikkaku questioned, popping up behind her other shoulder.

"Can't say," she replied, turning away.

"She's obviously helping taichou," Yumichika observed in a bored voice. "And by his maniacal tirades on all the newbies during practice today, I'm guessing it's not going well." He flipped his hair. "Taichou should have come to meI'm obviously the more beautiful one."

Karin ignored him.

"I can't believe she's so hard to give gifts to," she complained. "You'd think someone as womanly as her would be easy."

"How about clothes?" the fifth seat offered, sniffing as if he was giving the advice against his better judgment – he probably wanted to get the credit for helping Kenpachi. "Women love new clothes."

"Like what?" Karin asked. "She's always in her shinigami uniform when I see her, and we hardly have any reason to dress up around here. And if we were to get her anything, she would probably only want practical clothes, but she has a closet full of those. Besides, can you even imagine taichou trying to pick out a cute dress?"

Ikkaku and Yumichika grumbled in agreement.

"Aren't ya goin' about this the wrong way?" Ikkaku spoke up, scrubbing his head. "If she's mad, what're gifts gonna do? Love can't be bought."

The other two gaped at him, and he looked away in embarrassment.

"That was...unexpected of you, Ikkaku," Yumichika offered.

"Oh, shut up!" Ikaku growled.

"No, no, you're right," Karin cut in. "We're completely going at this the wrong way. Unohana-taichou's not even the type to like expensive gifts. We need some way to show he means it."

"And what would that be?" the two asked in unison.

She blushed. "I'm working on it!" she cried, and stomped away.

.. ღ ..

She had it.

She finally had The Perfect Way for her taichou to for sure win back his girlfriend. Kenpachi, however, wasn't too excited to go along with it and had almost refused point blank until she reminded him that this was Unohana-taichou they were talking about, and that if he actually succeeded, they would probably never, ever break up again ever. Ever.

"Now, you get the plan?" she asked him one last time. The two were on the Tenth Squad training ground, which was luckily empty as it was evening and everyone was heading back to their quarters to end the day.

"Yeah, yeah," he growled, looking dangerous. He might have finally agreed to do this, but that didn't mean he was any happier about it.

"Good. You're a strong guy – you can handle it. Now, Toushiro's agreed to help us with this, so he's gonna come at you, and you can't hit back. Understand?" She glared at him firmly, comepletely serious.

"I got it already," her taichou snapped.

She ran across the grounds to her awaiting boyfriend, who was eyeing Kenpachi with distaste and fingering the hilt of his zanpakutou.

"Go easy on him, would you?" she murmured in his ear once she reached him. She knew exactly why he had agreed to help with this. "I know the guy called you an 'ice midget,' but he's just going through a hard time."

"...All right," Toushiro finally agreed, though his expression soured as if he was disappointed. Karin rolled her eyes.

"Okay!" she called across the field. "Ready, taichou!" Kenpachi stood up straighter, gritting his teeth. "Get set." Toushiro pulled out his zanpakutou, bending his knees and preparing for an attack. "Go!"

On her command, Toushiro leaped forward gracefully, jumping through the air and whipping back Hyourinmaru. Kenpachi's eyes were crazed as he awaited the strike, and his knuckles turned into white fists as he restrained himself. There was a flash of silver, and Toushiro's blade collided with Kenpachi's shoulder, cutting through it easily and creating a sizable gash.

The eleventh squad taichou roared out in response, not from the pain, but from his rapidly forming blood lust, which was demanding that he pumble the ice midget to the ground immediately and win.

Toushiro stepped back, admiring his handy-work with a self-satisfied smirk.

Karin jogged over to them. "Great!" she called out enthusiastically. "Now, there's only one thing to do!"

.. ღ ..

Unohana-taichou was delicately sipping tea in her office when Isane-fukutaichou came stumbling in.

"Taichou," she said breathlessly. "Zaraki-taichou is here to see you."

"I thought we established that I'm busy," the gently healer reminded her softly, still preoccupied with her cup. She blew on some steam.

"Yes, but he's here as a patient," Isane explained.

Something flashed through Unohana's eyes, and she paused to look up at her sharply. "He's...hurt?" she asked in a small, concerned voice.

Isane nodded. "And it's a rule that only you attend to his injuries, so none of the other officers will see to him. Plus, most of them are too scared." She suddenly looked apologetic. "I'm sorry, taichou. I would go, but I was just about to go visit Ukitake-taichou for his monthly check-up. But if you would like to switch -"

"No, Isane-san," Unohana cut her off, finally getting up and setting her steaming cup down. "You have your own duties, and I have mine. We must be professional about this."

And so she marched down to the patients' rooms, passing harried-looking officers and sickly-looking visitors, in too much of a haste to pause for a greeting. When she reached her desired room, she slid open the door to find Kenpachi seated on one of the tiny beds, looking monstrous in size in comparison to it. Karin stood to his side, looking bored. They both looked up when she entered.

"Unohana-taichou," Karin said hurriedly, bowing low in respect.

"Unohana," Kenpachi grunted.

She acknowledged the girl with a nod before setting her sights on her boyfriend. He had a scowl on his irritated face, looking a little impatient for her diagnosis. So, she looked closely and found that there was a deep gash on his right shoulder, dripping blood that mixed in with the dark color of his uniform.

"How did this happen?" she asked quietly, professionally. She kept her eyes on the wound, refusing to meet his gaze.

"He was sparring with Toush – I mean, Hitsugaya-taichou," Karin quickly answered for him. "He didn't see the attack and got hit."

Kenpachi snorted, though he didn't say anything to deny that statement. Unohana nodded primly.

"I would have thought someone with nurse training such as yourself could have healed him immediately, Kurosaki-san," she said to her, watching in amusement as she chuckled awkwardly.

"Yeah, well, I didn't wanna screw up taichou's fighting arm, so I thought it would be best to leave it to you." And then she nudged her captain forcefully.

"Right..." he grunted. "'Sides, no one's as good as healin' as you...Retsu." He practically choked out her first name, as if it physically pained him; even though they had begun dating, he still referred to her as 'Unohana,' never having been one for endearments. Karin, at least, was pleased with him for managing it.

"Yes, well, it's rather difficult not to excel at the one thing you do," she replied cheekily.

Kenpachi glared at the ground, and Karin could only look back and forth between them awkwardly. Unohana pretended not to notice and instead began to inspect Kenpachi's shoulder. It was a deep wound but, otherwise, not too bad. It wouldn't take much to fix it. Even Kenpachi hardly seemed to notice it was there, which was why it was curious that he had even bothered to come at all – he was usually bloodied up a lot more.

"This is a fairly minor wound," she reported to them. And as she said this, she easily hovered her hands over it, letting her hands glow green. They were all showered with the glow of her kidou, and soon the blood seeping from the injury trickled to a stop as it healed. "That should do it," she said in satisfaction. "Let me just clean that for you and you may head back."

As she wandered over to the room's basin in search of a wet rag, Karin nudged Kenpachi impatiently.

"Taichou," she hissed in warning out of the corner of her mouth. "Your line."

"Uh...right," he said. Looking over to his girlfriend's back, he cleared his throat. "Retsu, you, uh...healed me?"

He scratched his head in thought as both women stared at him incredulously.

"Yes, I suppose I did," Unohana-taichou agreed, looking extremely confused. However, her eyes hardened once again as she turned back to her search. Karin took the opportunity to smack his arm.

"That was completely wrong," she whispered. "You made a total idiot of yourself, taichou! We went over this."

He looked pained. "I forgot it, all right?" he growled under his breath.

"Then, use your cheat sheet," she ordered, suddenly irritated. "That's what it's for."

With a lot of irritated shuffling, he pulled out a small piece of notebook paper from inside his sleeve.

"Y-ya did a wonder...good job, Retsu," he complimented her. It came out in a deadpanned tone as he just read off his little piece of paper Karin had written for him, though he improvised the words he thought just looked plain ridiculous. "Your division's so...handy."

"Is that right?" she asked with raised eyebrows. There was a calm smile on her face as she soaked a small rag under the sink, and then she scrubbed at his bloodied arm.

"Yeah," he grunted, trying his best to remember his lines without using them for help. "We, uh..." He looked up helplessly at Karin, who had been trying to blend in with the wall behind her. She rolled her eyes and starting mouthing words to him. "We wouldn't be...nowhere...without ya...around," Kenpachi stated, still gazing fixedly at her lips.

Karin made swinging motions with her hand, gesturing to him with the other. 'Cup her cheek!' He, however, completely misunderstood, and instead started petting the woman's head like he did with Yachiru – more like thumping it heavily with his huge, clumsy hands.

"Zaraki-tiachou, what are you doing?" Unohana questioned, looking flustered. When he pulled his hand away, her hair was severely disheveled.

'Oh, shit. I'm gonna die,' Karin thought fearfully, trying to avoid the deadly glare Kenpachi was directing at her. It wasn't her fault! She was only trying to remember what Toushiro liked to do when he wanted to placate her – he used his actions more than his words, and she was sure he had cupped her cheek onceat least.

'Sorry,' she mouthed, hoping to save herself. Apparently, her taichou was still miffed, so she made a rolling motion with her hand. 'Keep going!'

"Retsu, thanks fer the great job ya did," he continued on her command. "No one can keep me in fightin' condition like you can."

"If you stayed out of fights for longer than an hour, then I would be grateful for a chance to relax every day," she shot back, her smile turning brittle at the ends.

Kenpachi felt his face twitch. "Well," he went on, sounding like he was trying to keep calm, "I appreciate ya all the same, Retsu. It's good ta know I have ya on my side."

Karin beamed brightly at him. He was keeping his cool and seemed to be getting the knack of complimenting her civilly; they were the entire basis of the plan, after all. And it was going so well! At this rate, the two might just get back together by sunset.

But then Unohana dealt the final blow.

"Well, it's also good to know you consider me on your side," she quipped back. "After all, my division is not one for fighting, and I know some people might consider that useless in Soul Society." She met his eyes dead on, glaring at him. "I detest people like that the most."

There was silence in the room after her declaration. Both women kept wary eyes on the eleventh squad taichou, who took a moment to process those words that were obviously directed at him. Finally, a deep rumbling started in his chest as he gritted his teeth. His spiritual pressure spiked dangerously, and they both gaped at him, startled.

"Ah, that's it!" he finally let loose, turning red in the face. With an irritated growl, he grabbed Unohana's hand, pulling it away from his own. She looked up at him calmly, not at all bothered by his tight grip. "Look here, Unohana," he said gruffly, "'nough is 'nough. You're outta line now."

Her eyes flashed, and that deadly smile creeped, ever so slowly, across her lips. "Zaraki-taichou," she said with a lethal calm, "please let go of my hand. How else can I do my job properly? I wouldn't want to become useless now."

"That!" he snarled, his own eyes sparking. "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Now you listen, woman," he said menacingly. "Your fits ain't doin' no one no good."

Karin, standing off in the corner, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand in complete horror as she witnessed her taichou finally lose it. There went her plan...

Unohana's eyes flashed dangerously once again. "Zaraki-taichou," she said, still refusing to wipe that smile off her face. "Please refrain from raising your voice. You'll upset my patients. Whatever is happening between you and me does not need to be broadcasted across Soul Society."

"There shouldn't be anythin' like this happenin' between us!" Kenpachi yelled, completely disregarding her request. "I don' know what your problem is, but ya don't need ta take it this far."

"Z-Zaraki-taichou," Unohana stuttered as his grip tightened and his eyes narrowed. She tried to push away, but he held on. "I assure you, I have no idea what you're talking abou -"

"Oh, really?" he huffed. "Sprayin' me with water, kickin' me out, avoidin' me – that ring any bells?"

The healer blushed furiously at his list. "You're simply blowing things out of proportion," she tried to excuse herself, leaning back and looking away from his intense gaze.

"Am I?" he said, and he roughly grabbed her chin to make her look him in the eye.

"Z-Zaraki -"

"It was a mistake, 'kay?" he growled, glaring down at his stubborn girlfriend. "I don't know what ya heard when I said your division's gettin' a break, but whatever it was, you were wrong." Still keeping her hand in his grip, he whipped off the table and stepped closer to her until there was no more space between them, looking more intimidating when she had to look up at him. "I only meant that ya work too damn hard, and I want ya to relax. Nothin' else. Got it?"

A beat of silence passed between them, and when Unohana didn't reply – now looking at the floor rather than at him – his patience snapped. "Now you listen!" he bellowed, wrapping an arm around her waist and yanking her flush against his chest. "You're my woman, woman, but I don't need ya blowin' a fuse every time I open my stupid mouth! I don't know what women want ta hear, so I'll be sayin' whatever thought that pops up in my head, and don't ya take it to heart!"

Karin was rhythmically banging her head against the wall, trying to drown out the sound of her taichou's love life going up in flames – and also trying to maybe kill herself with a head injury before her taichou pointed his zanpakutou at her after all this.

But, rather than spit venom at him, Unohana just slowly lifted her head. The smile was – thankfullyno longer on her face. Instead, she looked up at him curiously. "It was...really a mistake?" she asked quietly, her eyes saddening.

He clenched his teeth and nodded. "A misunderstandin'," he added. "Ya didn't give me a chance ta explain."

She looked thoughtful. "...You're right," she finally admitted, looking slightly ashamed. "I-I just assumed that..."

"That I thought yer division's full o' pansies?" he suggested. She nodded, and he snorted. "Well, they are. But yer not."

She frowned slightly, apparently trying to decide whether she was angry that he had insulted her subordinates or happy that he thought so highly of her. Finally, she settled for happiness – why make the situation worse?

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I-I don't know what came over me." Nervously, she fidgeted with her hair, trying to smooth it out after he had ruffled it up.

"There's something to be admired 'bout a woman who'll stick up fer her division like that," he tried to reassure her, looking a little awkward about giving the compliment. "And ya can stop that. Ya look...pretty already."

She blushed furiously as she looked up at him.

"Yer special ta me!" he finally spat out, almost looking...shy, "and I don't like it when ya don't talk ta me. I didn't mean ta hurt ya."

"Oh, Zaraki-taichou," she crooned, biting her lip and looking up him with red still sprinkled across her cheeks. Her eyes were a little wet. "You're special to me too."

With a determined gleam in his eyes, he swooped down, picked her off the ground, and kissed her hotly while swinging her around. She closed her eyes and happily returned it.

And all was right with the world.

...

Except that Karin still stood in the corner, watching with her eyes popped out in complete terror as Kenpachi and Unohana-taichou attacked each other's lips furiously. Oh, Kami! She didn't want to see this! She clapped a hand over her eyes and bolted from the room, completely traumatized.

At least her taichou was happy again.

After all, it had been a plan meant to get them back together. And they did. It had been a plan to ensure that they never break up again ever. And they didn't. They stayed together throughout years after that, much to Karin's relief and sanity. Of course, they fought, but neither wanted to go through such trouble again, so they always forgave each other before the day was over. And they never, ever broke up again ever. Ever.

Turns out, Kenpachi kept that ring. Just in case he needed a back-up plan.


I've been working on this since the last update, if you can believe that. These one-shots keep getting progressively longer. At least I'm finally done. The hardest part to write was the scene when Kenpachi was getting patched up in Fourth Division. I still think it's horrible, but I figured I owed you guys an update.