Author Notes: Hello, everyone! This small one shot came about after my daughter and I got exasperated with Toushiro persistently rebuffing an equally persistent Ichigo in the Diamond Dust Rebellion movie. We know little captain prodigies have a reputation to uphold, but... gah, just let Ichigo lend you a hand already, Toushiro! Ichigo's the MC of the series, he's hardwired to offer help whether you like it or not...!

On another note, I know I should be working on the next chapter of TMS, and I've tried my best, but even after a month, nothing is working. Vine and I had put in so much effort, time, blood, sweat and tears into our latest chapter, and every single little thing we wrote and edited and polished and agonised over is there for a good, solid reason that's been steadily building up over the past few chapters, bit by bit. We were so excited when it was finally ready to share with everyone, that the lukewarm response we got was... well, it was both unexpected and disheartening. I'm sorry for dumping this here, but I just had to get that off my chest.

Anyway, back to this little one shot. Enjoy :)

Warnings: Spoilers for the very end of the Diamond Dust Rebellion movie. Words in italics are taken directly from it.

Rating: 'T'

Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo.

- Story Start -

"Let's go back now, Toushiro."

Ichigo stared when Toushiro turned and frowned at him, those enormous turquoise eyes narrowing slightly.

"Not Toushiro, it's Captain Hitsugaya."

But in the next moment, those eyes closed and their owner pitched forward.

"Toushiro!"

Too late, the little captain had fallen flat on his face.

Great, thought Ichigo, looking down at the mass of silver hair. Huffing, he got down on one knee and lifted one limp arm, slinging Toushiro up and onto his back.

Too bad Toushiro had insisted on running off from his home while weak and injured, insisting on being a one man show. He really could have done with some of Yuzu's home cooking; the little Captain was as light as a feather.

"Well, guess you aren't in a position to complain about people helping you now, huh," Ichigo said softly as he slowly floated down the mountain.

- o -

Toushiro gained consciousness little by little. The first thing he felt was the constant ache in his stomach, but he had more or less gotten used to the two day old injury. Next was a solid wall against his front, a rest under his chin and two firm support for the backs of his thighs.

Toushiro had been carried piggyback style before and this was no different. His eyes flew open and then widened still further. There was no mistaking that mop of bright orange hair on his left, strands of it tickling his cheek. He pressed his lips together, exasperated and puzzled.

What was with Kurosaki, treating him with a concern he didn't need, comforting words he didn't want, and a familiarity he wasn't comfortable with?

Toushiro would have scrambled down from his undignified pose were it not for the knowledge that his legs would support him no longer. Fury and regret had taken him this far, but both had been used up and his body had had enough.

"So you're awake, huh."

Toushiro stiffened. They were only halfway down the mountain, but waiting at the base were almost the entire cast of the Gotei 13.

"I can get down by myself," he stated and almost winced when his words came out sounding petulant rather than authoritative.

"Hn."

"Seriously. I can." There - that sounded better.

"Nope. Not gonna happen. You just close your eyes and enjoy the ride."

Of course that only made Toushiro struggle to get down.

"Let me down, damnit!"

"Hey, stop that! You'll make us both fall!"

Kurosaki turned his head and Toushiro blinked at the glare from one narrowed brown eye.

"You don't always have to be the strong one, you know. You have friends. Let us take turns being strong for you, alright?"

Toushiro blinked in surprise. Then he huffed and looked away.

"It won't make you any less of a captain," Kurosaki added.

Toushiro looked back at that one brown eye and huffed again. Being carried by Kurosaki meant there was even less chance the impudent ryoka would call him by his title in the future.

Not that he ever had.

"It won't make you any less of a friend either, Toushiro," Kurosaki said and smiled, the special lopsided smile he reserved for his friends; so different from the usual cocky grin he gave to the Gotei 13 Captains.

A tiny, unexpected warmth bloomed in Toushiro's chest, but he ignored it and tossed his head instead.

"Whoever said we are friends?" he sniffed and couldn't resisting adding, "And it's Captain Hitsugaya to you."

Kurosaki just chuckled, shifting him a bit higher. Toushiro was sure it was done to remind him of who was carrying who.

"Weren't you listening?" Kurosaki's tone was casual. "We're friends. Friends don't need formal titles between them."

Toushiro opened his mouth to argue, but Kurosaki was still speaking.

"Just close your eyes and rest. I'll get you down safe and sound, don't you worry."

Toushiro wanted to retort that he didn't need rest and the whole point of this... dialog... was that he didn't want to be seen being carried piggyback like this, but Kurosaki's shoulder was surprisingly comfortable under his cheek, his arms strong and secure beneath Toushiro's thighs.

Stifling a yawn, Toushiro decided it wouldn't hurt to be carried for just a few moments more. His eyelids were so heavy and Kurosaki's warm back felt strangely good despite Toushiro's usual aversion to heat.

The next time he opened his eyes, it was to find himself lying on a bed with a bandage over his stomach, and the window beside the bed showing a darkened sky. It could only mean one thing - the entire Gotei 13 had witnessed him being carried piggyback style by Kurosaki after all.

He scowled in mortification... and then he sighed and shrugged, a reluctant smile tugging at his lips. It was just as well he hadn't been awake to suffer the amused looks of the other captains.

Turning onto his side, he decided he was still going to demand that Kurosaki call him by his title the next time they met... even though they were friends.

- Story End -

A/N: Thank you for reading! Please do leave a review if you enjoyed :)