Disclaimer – I don't own Bleach.
A Difference in Ice
Pride was what Kuchiki Rukia felt after defeating the enemy. Upon finishing she followed after her brother with a smile on her face. "Nii-sama praised me. I never thought that he would admit that I had gotten stronger, or that I could take care of myself with minimal help."
"Just be sure not to let this go to your head." Her zampaktuo's words didn't come in a lecturing manner, but was stated as a matter of fact.
"I wonder how my powers now compare to Hitsugaya Taicho's. I mean... we both have ice powers."
There was a few seconds of silence before her zampaktuo spoke up. "I'm going to say that your power is equal to his or greater. However, it must also be remembered that Hitsugaya Taicho is still a child and still growing."
"Isn't it rude to think of Hitsugaya Taicho as a child though? I mean... he is a captain after all and I know for a fact that he takes issue with being called a child."
"I don't think it is insulting at all considering the fact Hyorinmaru still sees his young master as a child. I saw full well how much more power Hyorinmaru has then I when we were released from our masters. The power that Hitsugaya Taicho uses is only a small fraction of what he can do. In truth I think Hyorinmaru holds back because Hitsugaya Taicho's body is still young and if he over taxes his powers it could lead to certain problems with the young taicho."
"How though am I supposed to treat Hitsugaya Taicho? It still doesn't feel right treating him like a child, particularly when he doesn't act like one. It doesn't feel fair in regards to everything that he has done. Plus, he and I graduated near around the same time and he out ranks me. I don't think it is right to treat him like a child at all."
"Well... Kurosaki Ichigo seems to think otherwise."
"Ichigo thinks contrary to the norms though."
"Kurosaki Ichigo treats Hitsugaya Taicho with a great deal of respect but also respects the fact that the child taicho has his limits. Do you understand what I am getting at?"
"I believe your saying that it is all right to look out for Hitsugaya Taicho as he is still a child. It's hard to grasp though as I have never seen him act like a child." Byakuya stopped and Rukia looked around to see where they were. The small female blinked a couple of times. "Ukitake Taicho's home? Why is it still here?"
"It seems that they have chosen to leave some of the noble clans places in tact. That, or there is some reason they choose not to infiltrate that part of soul society." The sixth division captain stepped through the door and Rukia followed. "Since this is the case I figured that we could find some of the other Shinigami here."
Silence followed as this fact sunk in to her mind. The two Kuchiki's had walked quite a bit when they caught sight of a head of white hair coming around the corner, only for the child to which it belonged to stopping short upon seeing the two. For a few minutes Toshiro stared at the two and then a smile appeared on his young face. He then proceeded to hobble towards them, using the wall to support himself.
"Hitsugaya Taicho... you're hurt..." A sick feeling came to Rukia's stomach as she watched the young taicho.
Toshiro instead ignored her comment and continued hobbling along and finally stopping short in front of her and her brother. His head which had been down as he made his steps looked up again, a smile on his face. "Byakuya-nii, Rukia-nee... you're both alive."
The small female Shinigami felt her jaw drop. "Hitsugaya Taicho just referred to both of us in an informal manner. What is going on?"
"I see you're alive as well." This comment from Byakuya caused Rukia to look up at her brother. He kept a straight face and made no move.
"Why doesn't nii-sama react? I mean, this would get a lecture from him, or at least some comment."
Instead her brother reached out a hand and ruffled the small taicho's head of hair. "I have to ask why you aren't resting. It is rather obvious that you need it."
A frown spread across Toshiro's face and the boy looked away, pushing Byakuya's hand away in annoyance. "Don't do that..." The boy took a deep breath. "They won't let me see my fukutaicho. No... it is better to say that Matsumoto has been refusing to see me. So I'm trying to go see her to find out why she is avoiding me."
"Hitsugaya Taicho..." The boy's name and title came out of her mouth without her realizing it.
Toshiro looked up at her with a hurt expression on his face. "I honestly don't know why she is mad at me. She can't possibly have known what went down while she was unconscious. If anyone should be mad it should be myself at her, getting caught and injured like she did."
Rukia blinked a couple of times. "Isn't that a bit cruel. Surely she couldn't help getting caught and injured?"
"I was supposed to protect her. I was supposed to keep the enemy busy so she could get away." The child's small hand that was up against the wall clenched. "Plus... I don't want to lose her. She..." There came another pause, the boy's cheeks flushing up. "The person who stole my Bankai said that taicho and their fukutaicho have a strong bond with each other."
"What..." Byakuya's question was interrupted as the thirteenth division's two third seats came hurtling around the corner.
"Hitsugaya Taicho!" Kiyone yelled with a hand to her mouth, causing the boy to at first flinch and then tense up.
"You're supposed to be resting. Why do you keep trying to sneak off?"
The two then saw that Rukia was there. The other small female Shinigami waved at her. "Rukia! It's good to see you back."
The other glared at the small taicho. "Could you apprehend that delinquent there?"
Rukia tensed up, before her eyes narrowed. "Hold it! You shouldn't speak about a taicho like that!"
The two ignored her much like they would have Kaien and instead hurried forward and grabbed Toshiro's shoulders and tried pulling him back. The boy became irritated with that. "Let go of me!"
"No way! We're under orders to keep you in bed and keep you in bed we shall!"
"You know as well as we do that you're not just recovering from injuries but also over taxing your body during your last fight!"
Toshiro somehow managed to break free of their grip, only to fall forward into a kneeling position on the ground. Rukia moved quickly to check on him, her hand reaching out to touch his shoulder. She stopped short upon seeing the small body suddenly begin to tremble. "Go bother Hinamori and her taicho already!"
Her brother spoke up from beside her. "Why can't he see his fukutaicho?"
The male third seat looked away. "We can't. We have our orders."
Kiyone folded her arms across her chest. "And it isn't just taicho requesting this or Nanao's taicho. Matsumoto herself has said she doesn't want to him."
Rukia noticed a few wet spots appear on the wooden floor they were standing on, causing her to startle. "Hitsugaya Taicho?"
It was then that the tears moved from a few to out right sobbing. "I want to know what I did to offend her, that she refuses to see me. I want to know if she is all right. I want to see for myself. I want to know that ka-chan isn't dead."
It was then that Toshiro placed two hands over his ears, the sobbing getting worse. Rukia's hand that had hovered over his shoulder pulled back suddenly and her zampaktuo spoke up."You said that you have never seen Hitsugaya Taicho act like a child, but now you have seen him act his age. Respecting the fact he is a child is to prevent him from reaching this stage of mental break down."
Rukia let out a sigh and moved into a traditional sitting position. Without realizing what she was doing, she pulled the boy up into her arms, hugging him gently with a hand on his back in a comforting manner. The sobbing stopped short and the boy tensed up and she thought he would pull away. To her surprise the young taicho reached both arms around her back, hugging her tightly and the sobbing started up again. The hand upon his back began to rub in a soothing manner, but it had no effect on calming the child taicho down.
Byakuya looked at the two third seats. "We'll take care of Hitsugaya Taicho."
The two startled but hurried off. After a period of time Toshiro stopped sobbing, one of his hands reaching over to clutch the sleeve of Rukia's uniform. "Please... I want to see Matsumoto. I want to see Ka-chan. So please... don't make me go back to my room."
Rukia's older brother bent down and held out an arm. "Come along."
Rather reluctantly the boy allowed the older taicho to lift him up off the ground and into his arms, something Rukia never had expected. She also heard the child taicho let out a sharp sound indicating that he had suddenly felt a jarring bit of pain. Byakuya stood up and she did as well. Toshiro glanced at the ground, his hand starting up towards the direction he had come from. "My room..."
"It would be considered an accident if I were to happen upon her room before I came to yours."
The boy paused, then one hand clenched tightly onto Byakuya's clothing while the other pointed in the direction he had been heading. Rukia set off with her brother then and the small taicho and they finally came to a room to which the small taicho pointed. Rukia knocked on the door and Rangiku's voice could be heard telling her to come in. When she opened the door the other fukutaicho looked up with a smile, only for her face to falter. "Did taicho convince you to bring him here?"
"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm simply trying to take Hitsugaya Taicho back to his room."
Rangiku narrowed her eyes. "Don't joke around with me Kuhiki Byakuya. I'm not in the mood right now. I know you came up with that idea. So please..." Instead of listening Byakuya moved into the room and helped the small taicho down near Rangiku and her futon. The woman stopped short and looked away. When Toshiro got to the ground he reached out to latch onto the sleeve of her white kimono. "Don't touch me."
A few sobs escaped the child's mouth. Rukia narrowed her eyes, but Toshiro said something before she could. "Ka-chan..."
"Don't call me that."
"Matsumoto-san! How can you be so cruel!"
"Cruel?" Rangiku looked up at Rukia, frowning as she did so. Toshiro's sobs depended and the busty female turned to look at the boy, her frown deepening. "Taicho... please. Don't do this."
"What is wrong with him calling you ka-chan? Do not fukutaicho and taicho have a bond with each other of some kind? If you do not have a mother and son relationship, then what kind of relationship do you have with him."
Rangiku looked away from all three. "And what might your relationship with your fukutaicho be?"
"Our relationship is that where the first sets the bar to reach for the second person and the second person always pushes the first to push the bar higher."
Rangiku looked away. "I can't expect you to even begin to understand."
Rukia tensed up. "Rangiku! Your taicho has been worried sick about you! How can you toss his feelings aside like that."
"I am considering his feelings. That's why I don't want... didn't want him to see me."
"But your telling him not to touch you, or to call you mother. I can't believe I'm saying this, but from what I've seen of the relationship between you two is that of a mother and son."
Rangiku closed her eyes, letting out a sigh as she gently pulled Toshiro. "I was avoiding taicho to spare him from hearing the truth, but since he is here... I'll put it this way. A mother who abandoned their own child deserves not to be touched in an affectionate manner let alone be called mother by said child."
More sobs came from the small taicho and his body shook yet again while Rukia simple stared in horror. Toshiro finally spoke, his voice trembling. "Why? Why would you say that?"
"Why? Taicho... I know you're a very intelligent child, so I know that you understand what I'm saying."
"No... I mean why would you say that you don't deserve..." The sobbing slowed and Toshiro simply stopped speaking. "I really do understand the other part."
Rangiku looked away. Rukia let out a sigh. "I don't though."
"Gin and I had a child. It's as simple as that."
Rukia took a deep breath. "That..." She stopped to let what the older woman had said sink in. She then looked away. "So you're just going to reject him?"
"What? No..." The female taicho suddenly smiled.
Toshiro continued to look at the ground. "It feels like that."
The frown returned to Rangiku's face. "No. It really isn't like that. I expect you to hate me, not want anything to do with me. I deserve it. I honestly don't deserve to receive any kind of affection from you."
"You're being so self-centered, worrying about whether I would reject you or not and I..."
"Taicho... I wasn't worried about being rejected by you. I'm saying I deserve it and I don't deserve to have a child as precious as you."
"Baka!" Toshiro suddenly began to pound on the lap of the female. "Baka! Baka!" A short sob came out of his mouth. "I was so scared you would die Ran-chan. I was worried I would lose my ka-chan."
Rangiku looked away without touching him. When he collapsed into her lap she spoke again. "Taicho... don't you understand that I abandoned you?"
"Baka..." The boy remained collapsed in her lap. "I'm not stupid. You just remembered that I'm your child when you were unconscious. That means us being apart was intentional on your part." The boy's hand gripped the woman's leggings tightly. "Don't forget that you were the one who rescued me way back then and you did that without knowing you were my mother."
Rangiku reached her hand down to ruffle the boy's hair. "If it were me taicho I would be mad at my parents."
"You don't know that."
"I know that." The female looked away. "You know..."
"I was scared you would die."
The female stopped short, a faint smile spreading across her face. Her hand moved to the boy's shoulder. "You know... Ukitake..." The female choked as she said the name. "Ukitake taicho's going to be worried about you, you know. You're supposed to be resting. From what I heard your leg was severely burned."
"I had to see you. He said we could just die with each other."
Rangiku sighed. "Please don't talk about that."
The sound of pounding feet suddenly came as the two third seats came running into the room. Kiyone pointed her finger at Byakuya. "You tricked us."
"We were supposed to be keeping Hitsugaya Taicho safe!"
The busty female closed her eyes and rubbed the boy's hair. "It's all right. If you don't mind I'd like him to stay with me now."
"Rangiku-dono..." The male third seat spoke up, moving from the bowed position. "Does Hitsugaya Taicho know? I mean, does he know everything."
Rangiku frowned. "No... he doesn't."
Rukia felt her throat choke. "What else is there to find out?"
The female brushed a strand of hair away from the boy's face. "Ukitake Taicho actually knew ever since he met taicho that he was mine and Gin's child, yet he said nothing about it."
Rukia felt her stomach flip and bile build in her throat. She swallowed and shook her head. "He wouldn't. Taicho is... taicho is a very caring person."
"Carrying?" The busty female turned her head away and stopped playing with the child's hair. "I honestly have nothing against the Kuchiki or Shiba clans as they didn't know, but I can't forgive Ukitake Taicho for what he did. He had no right to do what he did."
"Not tell you..." Rukia looked away. "That's cruel I know, but surely..."
"Ukitake signed away my rights as a parent to Kaien-dono and Miyako-dono before they died and the Kuchiki clan also signed in agreement."
Toshiro sat up despite the fact his body was shaking. "Ran-chan... or should I call you ka-chan... I honestly don't know anymore. Exactly what do you mean by this?"
Byakuya turned his head away. "Then it was Ichimaru Gin with the Quincy bloodline and not yourself."
"Excuse me?" Rangiku's voice tightened. "What do you mean Quincy bloodline."
Rukia turned her head to see her brother narrow his eyes. "Then Ukitake hasn't told you everything he should have."
The woman looked away. "I'm not sure I want to know what you're talking about."
The small taicho looked around, a confused look on his face. The dark circles under his eyes were darker. "What..." The boy looked at the floor. "I understand quite a bit, but what does she mean about Ukitake Taicho signing away her parental rights. He shouldn't have been able to legally do that and any adoption would have had to include my grandmothers signatures."
The fukutaicho of the thirteenth division looked at her brother. "Hitsugaya Taicho is right. There is no way that Ukitake could legally do it."
"Yes, there is." Byakuya remained composed as he spoke. Rukia felt nervous suddenly before he had remembered what he had said about fear. She looked over at Toshiro to see that he was leaning up against Rangiku now, his strength obviously not there anymore. The busty female pulled him up into
"A long time ago before Ukitake entered the academy he was married and he and his wife had a daughter. That daughter disappeared. That daughter is Matsumoto Rangiku."
There was something strange about what her brother said, but Rukia found herself unable to place her finger on this issue. "Then taicho was able to sign away Matsumoto Fukutaicho's parental rights because he was the head of her family, her father to be exact?"
"That's not possible." Toshiro frowned as he leaned into Rangiku. Silence fell over the room. "Ukitake graduated around a thousand years ago. He's too old to be her father."
"Taicho's right in that regard, but..." Rangiku's hand brushed the boy's hair.
"How much has Ukitake actually told you?" Byakuya frowned.
"There is a likely reason why it is possible?" Rukia looked at her brother while the two third seats bowed their heads to the ground.
Her brother ignored her. "What exactly is it that you hold against Ukitake?"
"He could have come and found me. Simple as that."
"You've seen how the Quincy remained hidden from us. He could not have gone after you. This is particularly true concidering..." Byakuya took a deep breath. "Ukitake ended up with the illness he has because his wife cheated on him because he spent too much time looking for their missing daughter and she became lonely. She died of this same illness and it zaps his strength. Don't act as if he doesn't care."
"Then perhaps it isn't as simple as that. He of all should people should know, and he should't have signed my parental rights away like that."
"I..." Toshiro's words were interupted by the sound of the fifth division fukutaicho yelling out for him.
The small boy took a deep breath, looking away as he did so. "Hinamori..."
"You snuck off again! You made me worried sick."
"Why? Because for once I have worse injuries then you do?" The boy looked away, his personality quickly changing to the one Rukia knew him to usually have."
"This place is so cool." A female walked into the room, her presense causing everyone in the room to stare at her. The female was obviously a Quincy and wore her outfit in a rather revealing manner. "It's much nicer then the modern looking buildings that everyone sees. It's rather nice this didn't get taken over, but then it was part of the nobel clans and his majesty didn't wish to touch it."
Momo's finger pointed at the female. "I thought I told you to stay put! You are a prisoner you know!"
A very short blond stuck her head around the corner. "Why should we listen to you? We surrendered to your captain, not to mention any one of us could wipe the floor with you and your scrawny ass."
Toshiro blinked a couple of times then looked at Rukia with a pleading look. Two more females came in, both bowing and appologizing. Rukia shook her head at the small taicho as she wasn't sure what was going on. Her brother simply raised an eyebrow. "Is he amused or is he miffed?"
A fifth female came in, her arms bandaged up. Her hair and eyes were violet and she looked around in curiosity. "Well... I'm in a very pissed off mood and I don't like you, so I suggest not doing anything to make me angry." The female turned her head to look in the direction of Rangiku and Toshiro and a smile appeared on her face as well as a look of recognition. Her finger pointed at the boy. "Shiro-chan!"
Rukia watched as the small taicho's cheeks reddened. He then scootted off Rangiku's lap and to her side so that he was peeking from behind Rangiku. "I've told you not to call me that Bambi-chan!"
Momo's face paled even more and the busty female frowned. She patted the boy's head and her voice wavered slightly. "Taicho... it's Momo you're always telling not to call you that."
The small fukutaicho of the fifth division pointed her finger at Toshiro. "How... how do you know her name? She's a Quincy. She's..." A rather psychotic look from the girl caused Momo to let out a squeek. "She scares me!"
The female with the skimpy uniform placed her hands on her hips. "Hold on... how did you know her name?"
"You mentioned it..." Toshiro looked away. Rukia's eyes widened upon realizing that he was lying.
The purple haired female continued to fidget, but then turned back to the boy. "Nii-sama!"
Rukia felt herself suddenly flinch as the girl lunged forward to hug the small taicho. He tried to get away, only to fall short due to his injury... though how the purple haired female was moving with her injuries she honestly didn't know. "Get off of me!"
The other light haired female who had come in with the other dark haired Quincy frowned. "Did Bambietta-chan fry her brain with her own attack?"
"I think so." The shorter one stuffed a cookie into her mouth.
"Hey..." Shinji appeared at the door. "I thought I told you girls not to be bothering other people. Sheesh... you're all to young to say that line to. How boring."
"I knew he was here! I could sense him!" Babietta looked up from where she was now sitting on the small taicho.
"Yeah... I figured that you two were related."
"Silence fell over the room."
The corner of Rangiku's mouth twitched. "Kuchiki... you were saying something about being related to Quincy and other things... would you care to explain that to me later?"
Momo's cheeks puffed out. "What do you mean you knew they were related?"
"Because they both had dragon wings, duh." Shinji rolled his eyes at the girl. "Idiot. I'm surprised you hadn't yet figured out where her animosity towards you comes from."
"I..." The fukutaicho of the fifth division suddenly had a confused look on her face.
"Ah... never mind. I child that can freeze things for a thousand years and a child who can blow practically anything they want up... including themselves. Things just get better and better."
"I'm not a child." The two in question spoke up with an indignified sound to their voices.
"See... it just gets better and better. How could you not guess that they're twins."
Note ~ I used the theory that Bambietta and Toshiro are related in this one. I also used the theory that Ukitake and Rangiku are relaated, but whether it be uncle, brother or father... that is still vague. Father fit best for this fic. Also... I used the theory that Toshiro's grandmother on his father's side had a sword like Hyorinmaru and could seal something away for a thosand years. Oh... and the theory that Byakuya may be half-Quincy as well, but that never got mentioned like I originall planned.