Karin sat on the edge of the roof overlooking the street. The lamps were just starting to flicker to life as the sun set. This was one of the few places she found she could escape to for a moment of peace and quiet. Just her and her thoughts.
Or so she thought.
She glanced over her shoulder as someone landed soundlessly on the roof behind her and she groaned, rolling her eyes. "I knew Urahara's stuff wasn't worth shit," she sighed, looking back down at the street. "Figures that's why it's free, not 'cuz he owes Ichigo…"
"You can't ignore this forever, Karin," he replied, moving to stand beside her at the edge. "You didn't used to seem to mind all of this."
"Yeah, well, once Ichigo lost his powers, my abilities have grown a bit," she explained quietly as he took a seat. "Even without his shinigami powers, he's noticed."
"Do you talk to him about it?" Toshiro asked. "I can't come to the living world too often as a captain. Not unless it's something serious. I'd help you if I could."
"I know," she sighed, laying back against the roof tiles. "I don't want to bring it up to him. He doesn't show it, but losing his powers was devastating to him."
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind helping you regardless," Toshiro countered. "I don't have to tell you the kind of person your brother is."
Karin let out a humorless laugh. "No, you're right. And he has tried, but like I said. It devastated him, and I don't want to make him hurt himself just to help me deal. He'll move on quicker if he has nothing to do with it anymore. A clean cut. Isn't that why Rukia hasn't visited since? We all know she could if she wanted to."
"Rukia is a vice captain now. She doesn't have the time to just visit whenever she wants to."
"And you do?" Karin drawled.
Toshiro's eyes landed on a lone figure walking down the sidewalk towards them, bag slung over his shoulder. He honestly hadn't seen Ichigo since the fight with Aizen. "Ever think your methods aren't working?"
"Why are you even here, Toshiro?" Karin asked flatly. "You said yourself that you don't come to the world of the living unless it's serious."
"I do get time off, you know," he grumbled with a glare. "Excuse me for noticing you moping on the top of a building."
"I'm not moping," she snapped.
Karin sat bolt upright and glanced down over the edge of the roof. "Oh, hey, Ichigo," she managed with a wave.
"What are you doing up there?"
Her eyes flicked over to Toshiro for an instant and she just shrugged. "Nothing."
"How did you get up there, anyways? You better be careful."
"I'm fine," she whined. "Go inside. I'll be down for dinner in a bit." Ichigo shook his head and she waited until she heard the door shut and then sighed loudly. "Everyone babies me. It gets old sometimes."
"He seems fine enough, calmer," Toshiro noted.
Karin shrugged. "He has his days. Days where I can sense a hollow pop up. Those days, he comes home in a mood. He watches Orihime and Uryu go off and fight hollows without him, I think," she explained. "He'll move on eventually, but it's going to take more time."
Toshiro said nothing for a moment, and Karin could tell he was struggling with something in his head, his face serious and thoughtful.
"What is it?" she prompted dryly.
"I probably shouldn't tell you this, and you should not under any circumstances tell Ichigo, but Urahara is working with Soul Society on a way to restore his powers."
Karin blinked, astonished. "Seriously?"
"We aren't sure if it'll work yet, but right now numerous soul reapers are helping provide their own spiritual pressure. We owe it to him to at least try."
"But it might not work," Karin said, deflating a little. "Knowing Urahara…"
"You don't know Urahara like the rest of us do," Toshiro told her softly. "When I suggested you go see him to get help with your problem, I didn't mean his phony repellents. Of course those aren't going to work. But he is a smart man."
"You think it'll work?" Karin asked him quietly after a few seconds of silence.
"Maybe," Toshiro finally replied.
They sat together in silence for a while, just watching the sun set. It wasn't as pretty a view as Toshiro's hill, but it sufficed. The lights from the buildings around them cast long boxy shapes on the ground and across the room. Karin glanced behind her into the house.
"Do you think I'd be a good shinigami?"
Toshiro turned to look at her, eyes wide. "What?"
"Do you think I'd be a good shinigami?" she repeated. "Do you think I'd be strong like Ichigo was?"
Toshiro frowned and looked back out towards the sun, averting his gaze away from her. "It's hard to say. If your power was even half what Ichigo's was…But like I said, it's hard to say. Unless you try it."
Karin rolled her eyes. "You're no help."
"I never said I was here to help," he smirked, watching as she stood and carefully made her way back towards the house. "I've already told you what I thought. And you've been ignoring my suggestion. You're letting your power go to waste."
"You can always get a gigai from Urahara and join us for dinner," Karin offered half-heartedly as she climbed back into her window, ignoring him completely.
"I have plans," he grumbled.
Karin stopped with one foot in the window, a wicked grin on her face. "A girl, huh?"
"I didn't say that," he snapped, crossing his arms defensively.
Karin cocked her head, looking him over. "You've gotten taller, Toshiro," she noted before grinning again. "I guess you're a middle schooler now, huh?"
"I'm leaving." Toshiro turned away angrily, listening as Karin laughed.
"Tell Granny I said hi!" she called out before closing the window behind her.
He was actually relieved to see her smile and laugh. He'd actually been watching her for a little while now, disappointed to see how somber she had become over the last year and a half.
But just seeing one smile was all he ever needed to know she would be okay.