Toushiro tumbled out of the shower, barely having time to run a towel over his hair and chuck on a yukata before legging it to the door. His cheeks twitched with a nervous smile and his stomach fluttered as he opened it. As rushed as this had been, the idea of Karin coming to his house left him buzzing with a scared excitement, a feeling that soon turned to absolute rage when he found Matsumoto on his doorstep instead. He closed his eyes and pinched his nose, taking a deep breath before asking her to state the exact reason for her visit in the most restrained and measured tone he could manage.
"Just thought you could use these," she grinned back, thrusting a bunch of brilliant blue and white lilies in his direction. "Just realised you wouldn't have time to go to the florists in Rukongai and there's nowhere in Sereiti that does flowers as well as they do."
Her voice trailed off as she noticed the stance he was in. "Taicho?" she pressed nervously, thinking it may be a good time to start running. He slowly reached out and took her offering, still silent. That was worse than anything. "Taicho, I swear, it's all for your own goo-"
"Matsumoto?" he breathed, sending a shiver down her spine.
"Leave. Now." Taking his hand away and raising his face, the fukutaicho was met with the full force of his glare. Her fastest shunpo was still too slow. Even once she was safe in her own room, she still checked over her shoulder for an enraged Toushiro. Knowing she was out of harms way she let out a nervous giggle before sighing with a smile, running her hands though her hair and brushing it off her face. He'd thank her for everything in the morning.
Toushiro grunted as he shut the door, before letting his face fall a little looking at the flowers. They really were beautiful, and smelled delicious. He should have been more grateful to Rangiku. She was only acting with his well being in mind, and no doubt she was thrilled at the idea her 'stuffy' taicho might actually be getting out of the office. And off her back. His mind flicked back to earlier that day.
Toushiro glanced over at the clock, noting he was only ten minutes over his leaving time and more shockingly, Matsumoto was still in the office. He hadn't threatened her, and she wasn't there out of guilt but she was watching him like a hawk - he didn't know her concentration span could last that long.
"Yes?" He looked up at her, dubious of her intentions. She only used that voice when she wanted something.
"Shouldn't you have gone home by now?"
"Have I ever gone home by now?"
"Well there was that day you want out with Karin-chan."
His eyes widened and mouth dropped, his fall of expressed matched by the sly grin that developed in hers. "Wha- How-"
She sauntered over to him, ruffling his hair as she passed. He closed his mouth and decided he didn't want to know. With a sigh he accepted it and got back to the work at hand, at least until she called out his name mid-way through the door. "I won't tell anyone taicho."
He allowed himself a soft smile, "Thanks Ran," he murmured. He rarely used her given name, let alone her nickname. Only when he was feeling particularly affectionate.
"What are friends for, eh Toushiro? Oh, and just so you know I left her a letter this morning. Told her to be at your house in about an hour's time and you were going to cook her dinner. Anyway, have a good time and see you tomorrow sir!"
Her last sentence blurred into one word as she pace walked out of the door. Toushiro sat rock still, torn in two over the options presented to him. One: Kill his lieutenant. Two: Tidy his desk, run back to his, get ready and cooking, and pray he wasn't still in the shower by time Karin turned up.
He could vaguely smell the tangerine marinade he'd left the duck soaking in, he remembered her sister cooking it for him in the real world one time and Karin saying she was particularly fond of it. Taking another deep breath, he ran a mental checklist; He was clean, food was started, house was in its usual state of being immaculately clean, he only needed to put on some smarter clothes and dry his goddamned thick hair and then he'd be ready. Checking the time on his soul-phone he saw he had about two minutes until the time Karin had been officially invited to arrive at. He formulated a picture of what he would wear in his head as he marched to his bedroom, opening the wardrobe door and going straight for underwear, followed by a pair of well cut black jeans and a crisp white shirt, hearing the knock at the door before he had time to don the last item. After a moment's hesitation, he threw it on and did it up as he walked then tucking it in with one hand whilst unlocking the door with the other. One last deep breathe. He opened the door and in a second that breath was stolen.
Karin's hair flowed around her face in soft sable waves, a little light make up dusted her face, drawing attention to her grey eyes' elegant almond shape, and the subtle angles of her cheeks and jaw. The slightly gloss on her lips made them look oh so kissable, and they drew into a pout as her eyebrows creased.
Her voice sounded a little unsteady. She'd never really worn makeup aside from that one time and that had left her in a sense fearing it. It was supposed to make you beautiful but that time it made her feel so ugly. Tomoko had done this for her, barely spending any time with the dash of powders she'd used unlike the hours spent pouring over her before. Then it was used to hide all her 'faults' but her new friend had just brushed it on, mumbling about how she'd barely need any just to add a little extra details to her apparently already well shaped face. She'd felt so good on her way here.
Then Toushiro just stared. His mouth was open and his hand clamped down on the door he was holding a little. What the hell was she supposed to make of that?
Swiftly, he grabbed her hand, and she was pulled inside and the door shut behind her before she noticed what had happened. Deliberately, without taking his eyes off of her for a moment, he moved his hands to cup her face, thumbs just lightly brushing over her cheeks. "Karin," he whispered, savouring her name on his tongue. She caught his gaze.
Her heart stopped. Her thoughts stopped. Somehow she registered that he was dropping his lips to hers, just enough to respond to the one, burning kiss he gave her before pulling her into his arms, one arm wrapped tight around her shoulders and the other hand loosely caught in her hair. He buried his face into the crook of her neck as in turn, her arms snaked around his waist and places a soft kiss on his. Drawing apart with reluctance, he looked at her face again, not even trying to stop the smile the spread over his face before infecting hers too. Suddenly from that, the excitement that had been humming through him for the last hour just crashed over him and he laughed, grabbing her by the hand and leading her through the house.
"So yeah, this is where I live," he said with his voice arush. "I mean, it's nothing like the Kuchiki Manor but it's home." He lead her through to the main living area. It had been renovated a lot since the connection with Ichigo and through him Uruhara, with many mod cons such as a television and stereo system making an appearance. Karin let out a light chuckle at it, it reminded her a little of Toushiro. Well, everyone puts their imprint on a house before it's a home but regardless. The walls were a brilliant white, and everything was simply arranged for convenience but then if you looked closer, you could seen little things that undermined the pristine and cold façade from a path worn down on the carpet from him pacing or a photograph of Momo and his granny casually left on a side. The best one was there appeared to be a photo of him, Matsumoto, Ichigo, Rukia and Renji in the real world somehow attached to a wall just below where it joined the ceiling. Toushiro caught her looking.
"You can thank the combined efforts of your brother and Matsumoto for that. Ichigo did it a few weeks after joining Soul Society, when I refused to acknowledge his friendship in public he decided to remind me of it."
"So why's it up there?" Karin asked. It sounded exactly like something her brother would do, only she'd have expected him to do it somewhere more obvious. Like the front door, maybe.
"He knew I wouldn't be able to reach to get it down."
She burst out laughing, before trying to stifle it and failing horrifically, muttering some apologies for good measure, but Toushiro was smiling too. Apparently the growth spurt had cured him of his height complex. Wiping her eyes, she just bout managed to get out, "Couldn't you have found another way to take it down?"
"I had to keep rearranging and climbing on furniture to get to it, when it came back after the first three times I gave up. Anyway," he broke off from the topic, thinking about Ichigo whilst with Karin made him a tad nervous, "You want to follow through to the kitchen? Think dinner should be ready to cook by now. Hoping tangerine duck stir fry okay for you?"
His cocky grin gave away him already knowing the answer and Karin shook her head with a little disbelief. Following him through to the kitchen, she couldn't help but think that what she could smell of it so far was divine. She perched on a stool, ready to keep well out of his way. It wasn't that Karin was terrible at cooking, she'd just never had a need to do it. "You mind if I get on?" Toushiro asked, and she nodded, blushing a little as he came to stand in front of her, slipping to stand between her legs for a moment as he leant forward to kiss her, just lips moving lazily against each other, before he washed his hands and started with the food. There was some light conversation, chatting about the last couple of days, laughing at the various stories the other had to tell. And close as Karin had felt to Toushiro during their talk in the cave, just meaningless chatter was a nice change. It was fun. She listened attentively as he told her about reintroducing his lieutenant to paperwork and the proper procedures surrounding it. "After all," he said, "I might actually want to spend some time out of the office now," causing Karin to blush a little again. As much as he really liked the sarcastic and bold tomboy Karin could be, there was something endearing about that blush. He wondered if he should have told her that, as he plated up the food, then decided against it.
"Here, hope it compares to your sister's," he joked, putting the plate on the counter in front of Karin before taking the stool next to her, saying the proper blessings. "On the subject of Matsumoto," he began, deliberately looking away from Karin, "It was her who had the idea for tonight and invited you, instead of me." He looked down even further if that were possible, "She even got me flowers for you."
He felt bad, he could imagine it being kind of hurtful thinking the person you liked had invited you to the their place when in fact it was someone else doing it for them made it appear like he didn't really care. One of Karin's hands covered the one he had left on the table and on her face was the brash grin he'd hardly seen since she came to the Soul Society.
"I guessed. The letter I got was in terrible handwriting and she left kisses at the end of it. But it's okay, your food's good enough to make up for it," she said, popping another bit of duck into her mouth as she finished to prove her point.
"Can you cook?" he asked her, realising he'd never once seen her do it in the world of the living and it would seem bizarre for her to be the only one not able to. Kami, he'd even seen Ichigo cook, and tried the surprisingly edible proof of it.
She nodded, swallowing her mouthful before she replied. Toushiro appreciated the manners and people talking with their mouths full was one of his numerous pet hates. "I can, and have a couple of times, I'd just rather let Yuzu do it. She enjoys it far more than I do and the outcome's normally a lot tastier."
"Cool, just so you know, you owe me a meal now." He put his chopstick down for the last time with a smirk.
"Yours is too yummy to follow," she laughed, jostling him slightly as she walked past to put her plate in the sink.
"Just you is yummy enough for me."
Heavy, and absolute.
The deep breath before the plunge, it would seem.
Then Karin all but howled with laughter.
Toushiro flushed a most unhealthy shade of red, adding to her mirth, and his slight mumble of, "I didn't realise I said that out loud," and the sudden interest in the kitchen counter didn't help. Even after his forced sigh and getting up to tidy away his own plate, she had barely stopped and was wiping a tear out of her eye with the few remnants of merriment still coming up. "Tosh," she said, her voice still lacking breath, "That must be the single cheesiest thing I have ever heard you say."
"Yeah, I'll remember not to anything like that again."
"Aww, don't be like that," she pouted, walking up behind him and wrapping her arms around his waist. "It was cute."
"And hilarious too apparently," he muttered, linking his fingers through hers to peel back her grip, before turning around and taking her hands again, lightly pressing his lips to one of them.
"True," she said after a moment's thought. "Still cute," and with a grin she quickly pressed her lips to his, before he steered her through into the living room.
"Oh, I brought Ichigo's latptop by the way. I thought maybe watch a film or something."
"No need," he chuckled, "Look in there," he indicated towards a cupboard next to the television. Curious, Karin opened it, letting out a small gasp when she saw it had a combination of DVDs and Blu Rays in there.
"I thought you guys were supposed to live in the dark ages. I mean what happened to Rukia not even understanding the concept of a juice box?"
"I'm not entirely sure, but it happened sometimes since both Ichigo and Uruhara were allowed here. And when Ichigo discovered I had a bigger TV and it would be far more suitable for his film collection."
"He had to have been hiding these while he was at home," she mused. The family film collection was barely half the size of the mass here, and he'd had the cheek to take a couple of those.
With a grin, she waved, something in the air, "Hancock," she said with triumph, as if it were some sort of explanation. Toushiro just smiled and settled into the sofa, letting her put it on then tuck herself up beside him, with his arm instinctively wrapping around her shoulders.
He didn't tell her he'd seen it before, that it was one of her brother's favourites too. Meant he could spend less of his energy focussing on the film and more on he, how despite seeing it so many times already she'd smile at every joke, frown when it tugged at her heart and respond to every moment like she'd never seen it before. Unfortunately for her, he was less entertained by it, getting bored after about the first 45 minutes. First of all he started intermittently pressing kisses to her cheek, then exploring further down to her neck and collar bone, not minding that she wasn't too distracted from the film - he enjoyed kissing her. After he'd covered all available space, he gently eased her onto his lap, just grinning at her quizzical glance, before brushing her hair over her shoulder and starting all over again, his fingers lightly pressing into her stomach. Every now and then he heard a small moan or gasp he know was not related to the film and felt a small thrill at knowing he'd caused them. He moved his hands up to her shoulders then, slowly massaging and letting his fingers feel and work out the many knots they found. Excitement built up in him as he noticed they were on the final sequence and he'd soon have her full attention. The credits hand barely started rolling when she reached for the remote and turned the TV off.
He'd spent the last half hour or so showing his affections and now it was her turn. He couldn't find words to describe the look on her face but it sent a rush of adrenalin through him like no battle ever had. Slowly, deliberately she sat on him again, this time facing forwards and straddling his legs. One hand snaked around the back of his neck and grabbed a fist full of his hair whilst the other rested on his waist. He face hovered just in front of his, daring him to close the gap as he kneaded his fingers into the skin of her hips and tried his best not to stare at her slender legs, her previously knee length skirt now ridden to her upper thigh. Seeing her that close, those lips not touching his and that infuriating smell, he crumpled first and his lips crashed upon her, barely wasting time before his tongue met hers. It wasn't like their first kiss, where each had just been trying to gain control of the others movements, but the same frantic need was still there. He moved his tongue over hers to see how she responded and what it felt like when she did the same in turn, moaning himself when her tongue brushed over the inside of his teeth before he dragged a similar sound out of her, nipping at her lips with enough pain to spark the pleasure without actually hurting.
Her hands were the first to move, and she braced them against his chest fingers curling and feeling the hard muscle beneath them. It wasn't enough. With their mouths still moving feverishly, not caring about the smacking noises and moans they made, her hands raced to undo the buttons of his goddamned shirt, each one too fiddly and taking painfully long to complete. Toushiro felt it happening, felt her need to see and touch him and the restraint he held began to crumble, running his hands over her smooth, toned thighs, skimming up to the edge of her clothing. She pulled away from his mouth and his face fell as he thought he'd made her uncomfortable, only to then slip into a smirk as he noticed how her eyes were instead glued to the toned body she'd finally revealed. "Fucking hell Tosh," she whispered, tracing her touch over the dips and curves of his abs before gripping hard to his hips as her lips descended upon him, working her way down from his mouth and nipping along his jaw and down his neck, stopping to suck at his pulse point. Toushiro let out a hiss of pleasure, digging his hands into her skin before screwing reason and honour and slipping them under her skirt, squeezing her tight ass as she moved over his skin. It felt so fucking good. She moaned out his name and the sound went straight to his dick, before pressing her lips back over his.
By gods, she wanted to do so much to him. His hands were turning her on so much, and she wasn't sure if he even realised they were pushing her against his rock hard cock. In between kisses, she couldn't stop saying his name and a war waged inside of her, the two conflicting needs of wanting to touch and be touched. Thoughts barely comprehensive, she took of his hands in her own and moved it to her breast, his hazy and wondrous expression was a dangerous aphrodisiac. He gave a gentle experimental squeeze, eyes rolling shut and teeth chewing into his lips as he did so, her name tumbling from his lips. She took her hands off him and grabbed the hem of her shirt, she wanted to feel him on her skin.
Only, the next thing she felt, was his hands over hers.
Her voice was pained with need and a hurt that felt like rejection biting at her. His face was equally strained. This. Had. To. Stop. It felt like fucking paradise, but it was wrong. "If I let you do that," he breathed, her expression tempting him to abandon his next sentence, "I don't think I'll be able to stop Karin."
Her eyes challenged him and if he were anyone else, if he hadn't spent his whole life in Soul Society controlling his emotions regardless of what others said and did, he knew he'd have taken here. As it was, the lust haze was beginning to clear and his resolution got stronger. Against her mild resistance he pulled her into a hug, her arms wrapping around him and her burning face buried in his neck as he stroked her hair with one hand and held her close with the other.
"You're still young Karin. We've barely started seeing each other in this context and I want to make sure it's what you really want. Once you've given yourself away for the first time there's no going back." He pressed an apologetic kiss to her cheek.
"What do you mean?" She whispered, starting to calm down as she realised it wasn't her herself making him want to stop. He was doing it because he cared.
"Your first time, you might think it's just sex but it stays with you and I want it to be a good memory for you."
"You mean to say," she pulled away a little to look in his eyes and cup his cheek, "it wasn't for you?"
He nodded. "I didn't think I'd be bothered, I knew I was just another notch on her bedpost but still I did it with her. It was rushed and careless and I remember every fucking moment of it," he linked his fingers through hers on his face, "and along with that I remember the next morning when she'd gone and her smell hadn't and within days I saw her with another man. Not that I had any hold to her, but it really made me realise how little I had mattered. I don't want you to feel like that Karin," he placed a kiss on her forehead, "and that's because you do matter to me. More than you should."
She gave a sigh, "Isn't it normal to fall this fast for someone?" she asked though knowing the answer herself. She didn't really care, that was just how he made her feel.
After another hour or so or soft words and light touches he walked her back to 10th, and to her room upon seeing there were no other shinigami around. With one last kiss he bid her good night and left her with a promise to see her again soon. For a few moments after he left, she stood outside, mulling over the evening and smiling to herself.
She definitely never felt the person behind her approach.