disclaimer I don't own Bleach. Because if I did, Ichigo and Toushirou would never again be allowed to see the light of day.

notes This hit me right in the middle of Block A today. The first sentence and the scene with the rain and snow and, I had kinda sat there shell-shocked. My first block, however, is Textiles (I know, we Grade 9's get a light schedule) and I didn't have any paper, and I was busy in my other classes, and then I rushed home and typed this all out in one sitting. (With a short intermission for dinner.)

But I really must admit how horrible I am with names, especially Japanese ones, (I'm Chinese, but the thing is, I'm worse with Chinese names. Ask me the name of my grandma, and I would have no idea. I know. I'm horrible.) and before I could even start, I had to search my entire Bleach manga collection to find the names. It took forever, and in the end, they're all written down on some tissue. I had to look at them like twenty times. The only ones I could remember (besides, of course, Ichigo and Rukia) were Renji's, Aizen's, and, strangely, Ichimaru's. I know. Not even my main characters.

pairings HitsugayaHinamori. Even though I'm not sure how much you can call it that, since they aren't really that old (older than a human I know, but that doesn't count.) but I love this pairing to death.

spoilers Pretty much for the whole Soul Society arc. So how 'bout those chapters 150-153, (the furthest I can get my hands on) huh? All I can say is "OMG ICHIGO!!"

(You know how it goes.)

Storm Warnings

The first time he met her, it had been cloudy. He had been in a hurry, doing some task that he could now not remember, and he had met them in one of the many twisting pathways of the city. And while it hadn't been cloudy in the ominous way that warned of a storm, there had just been enough of the things in the sky for many of the shinigami to bring umbrellas, just in case. (Not that it would start to rain in the ten or so minutes that you were out, of course. But the clouds had been stifling, and the umbrellas had been brought with the hope that it would soon rain and everyone could finally move on.)

He had already known who she was, of course. He may have only been a vice-captain then, but he made it his business to know everyone who was a seat-ranking officer, and she had held the third seat in her division.

But even without his knowledge on such things he would have remembered, since she was the only one that was anywhere near his age.

She had been with Aizen, and they were taking a stroll, (she was holding their umbrellas) and he had been about to hurry past them with nothing more than a nod and acknowledgement of the man's rank when he was stopped gently.

And when they were formally introduced, he had been polite and distant, while she had blushed, and had been equally distant.

But he had left quickly, that task still needed getting down, and though he was young, he was not called a genius for nothing. Not that it took much brains to read the glint in Aizen's eye. He left before with a polite goodbye before the other man could bring up just how cute Hinamori-kun was.

He may have been just a kid in the eyes of many, but he was not stupid.

The incident quickly left his mind, replaced by the pressure of making a captain's seat (any captain's seat, he was desperate enough to think in those days, even going so far as to think about fourth—even though his healing powers were abysmal.)

When he had met her in the halls, he had only nodded, and she had offered a small smile back.

Ban Kai, though, was surprisingly easy to achieve, and as he had stood in the stadium, with the murmuring shinigamis all around, gawking at him, he couldn't help but think that being a child genius came in handy.

But not for nothing was the child part tacked on, for in the rush and anxiety of the coming day weighing upon him, (even though the worry was unnecessary) he did not have time to notice, or reflect on, the fact that she had been promoted to vice-captain with no more trouble than a sigh. But he had gotten a look at the other guy, and all he could remember doing was wincing. (It wasn't as though he had been slaughtered, but he had been beaten with finesse, and even as a captain, he didn't want to take on the girl who had done it.)

And the time following his promotion had been hectic, as a proper vice-captain had to be found for him, and all the ceremonies and pomp had wound to a close (he found that he had begun to hate pasting on a smile and drinking sake—which, quite frankly, made his head hurt—and delivering speeches by the time that was over.)

But Matsumoto had been procured, and though he was grateful to her, he silently thought that perhaps she would have been better off in the third division. (Not the least of his reasons why being the fact that she was rather hooked on Ichimaru.)

It had been raining a lot in those days, though, and he privately thought that the world was having some kind of outcry at his promotion. (But every time he thought this, he would tell himself harshly and immediately, to stop being such a child.)

That night in particular was bad, and he had been outside partly because he was celebrating the end of all the parties, and partly because he couldn't stand being cooped up inside for one more minute.

He had been prowling around the perimeter of the buildings (careful to stay out of the rain) when he had seen her.

She was standing beside one of the decorative ponds planted by the fourth division. She was standing in the rain, and she was soaked to the bone, and seeing her, he had paused in his striding (working the tired kinks out of his muscles, and if it had not been raining so hard, he might have been outside training already. As it was, he had been able to convince himself to start tomorrow, allowing himself that one weakness.) and watched her for a few moments.

She had merely stood there, and the rain was falling down her face and messing up her hair, and her eyes (from where he was standing) seemed to be nothing more than pits of darkness.

He had called out her name, startled, and taking a step towards her as he had done so, walking into the rain, and it had come to him with no effort. The faces had already begun to blur in his mind (though he remembered her offering congratulations to him softly with a smile that, though it was small, at least was genuine, at one of the ceremonies, and could remember himself finding a real smile—though it had come out rather tired—to offer in return while he ignored the crowds of people whispering that he was only a child, and that he should give the spot to others more capable.) and he had been surprised that hers came so easily, without even thinking about it.

He had called out her name, and she had turned to him, surprised, and had said easily in return, Hitsugaya-kun.

He didn't remind her about his change in rank. He was already sick of people bowing (sarcastically) to him, and the murmurings of captain, and he had a feeling that if Matsumoto had been inclined to do the same, he might have screamed. Not that it helped that she was only one of the few exceptions to the rule. Speaking of Ichimaru.

But she didn't seem particularly distraught, and there was no obvious reason for her to be there, and as she had turned to face him, he realized that her eyes were not pits of black. (A child's ramblings again, he scolded himself)

And realizing this, he had shaken his head abruptly, no longer needing to explain himself to a vice-captain, and had been about to leave her to her strangeness (the rain was starting to get to him) when something had caught his eye.

The rain on her face had been shining strangely, and he had just enough of his childhood left in him to be startled into asking her if everything was all right.

She had shaken her head slightly (letting go of protocol once more, and once more he had said nothing about it. Tomorrow, he had decided, was time enough to get used to the way things were supposed to work now) and smiled at him.

The smile was full of sadness, and it had seemed so appropriate from a girl standing in the rain that he had been taken aback even before she had spoken.

The rain reminds me of the day I died, she had said by way of answer.

He must have let enough of his surprise show on his face, (her words had broken through his already cracked façade) because her smile had deepened, (he still did not know how this could happen) and she had turned her face back to the sky.

It had been raining that day. She had told him softly, (explaining though she really didn't need to, though he had not asked—perhaps his expression had been request enough) and the rain had drummed down to settle on her already wet robes and onto the hilt of her sword. Otousan was driving me and Okaasan and Onii-chan home from the mall when it happened.

He had taken another step towards her, though he was unaware of it.

There was a truck. Here her voice had faltered, and her eyes had flickered over to him. And the road was already muddy, and the driver had lost control.

Her eyes had closed, and he was now almost beside her, and he did not care about the rain anymore, the rain that drummed into his back and rolled down his face, because she was grieving.

It was so long ago, she had continued, trying (and failing) to smile, and now it doesn't really matter, I'm used to rain.

But it's nights like this, her eyes were full of sorrow, so unlike the quiet but joyous girl he was taken to watching (not that he would ever admit this) to watching, that I remember.

And now he could see what had caught his eye. Now he could see why the rain was shining strangely on her face. She was crying. Tears were rolling down her face to mingle with the rain, and he had felt something stirring in him. (Child-like emotions, he had called them)

But she was crying and (his heart) something in him was crying too, and before he had even realized it, his hands were held over her head and he was trying (in vain) to stop the rain from falling on her. He had vowed to himself (a strange vow, since he should have nothing to do with it—her) that he never wanted to make her cry.

She had looked at him, really looked, and through her crying, she had asked him, her voice a whisper, Why does it hurt?

And he had had no answer for her. All he could do was hold his hands over her head. And she had finally given in and sobbed into him. And he had let her.

After that, she started to be more around. Whether she was actually hanging around him more, or he was just looking for her more, he had no idea, (though he had his suspicions that it was a horrible mixture of the two) but for better or for worse, she was there.

She was there whenever his paperwork got too heavy (and he couldn't even ply it onto Matsumoto anymore—he had a strange sense of fairness he knew, but the downside of that, of course, was that she had to do as much as he) and he was ready to rip it into shreds and claim that there was no paperwork, and what are you talking about? What hollow case, and are you calling me, the captain of the tenth division, a liar? (Them's fightin' words, his mind always supplied at this point) or scream and rant. She was there, miraculously, right at the point when he was ready to break down the walls and run laps or something, (he didn't really care at this point, just needing it to be active) and she would smile and ask if he wanted help with that, Hitsugaya-kun?

She was there when he was bleeding and broken out on the training fields with Hyourinmaru, after trying to break his own record, (such was the curse of the child genius, the need to beat himself, since there was no other worthy opponent.) she was there to help him up and to convince him to live and even though the fields he trained in were known widely throughout the surrounding areas as "Captain Hitsugaya's training fields of Death" (and it was accepted—by the spirits that lived there—if the weather was to change suddenly) and he had placed bright warning markers all around, she would always walk right past them, and never once get hurt.

He had been silently grateful as she had supported his bleeding body and had bodily carried him off, his Hyourinmaru hanging limply in one of her hands as if it were nothing more than a training sword. (through the numbness of his pain, and he always viewed these events with a rather detached air. Not that he was any less grateful.)

But she was there, too, whenever he wasn't really busy, just to chat and gossip with, and even though he didn't talk too much in the beginning, he was slowly learning to open up more.

And he was starting to be nicer to Matsumoto and his subordinates, and to everyone in general, and he began to (silently) agree that having him around really was a pain in the ass. He even learned to smile slightly when he heard the whispers, and he began to wonder if she was doing it. If she was making him proud of his skills and talent, instead of ashamed. Either way he was less silent.

She was around more, and in the same ways, so was he.

Whenever it rained (and they were both in) he would find himself at her room, and she would let him in with big eyes, and make tea, and small talk.

They would spend the nights together, and he never asked her about that night, and she never mentioned that she owed him for that one time.

They would talk all night long, (or as long as they could stay awake, since, after all, they were both busy shinigami, and he would slowly get used to drifting off, and waking up to find the sun streaming in through her windows) about anything they liked, and he while he was trying to make her forget, they both knew that she didn't, really.

It was there that she told him that she didn't know where her family was. That they had probably survived the crash (she had been just a child) and that she no longer tried to find them.

She told him about the day she had died, and he had been surprised that she had remembered so much. (He himself barely remembered how old he had been—just a baby, it had been a terrible train accident, but she could recall every detail, down to the day and time.)

She had told him once, that she loved snow. Loved the way that it swirled down and made all that was harsh seem beautiful (he himself remembered snow as something that went down chimneys and made sure someone froze to death) and she had said, smiling that smile that seemed to penetrate deeply within him, I was born when it was snowing.

And he found that, through everything else, he remembered that the most.

On the anniversary of her death, (her Death-Day as the shinigami liked to call it, a horrible parody of Birthday) he had made it snow.

He and Hyourinmaru, of course. (He wasn't that powerful, her demon arts were always better than his, even if he was a genius) He had made enough snow to settle thickly over things and he had stood behind her as she first viewed it, trying to gauge her reaction.

He had watched her through his breath, visible in the chill, and she had been silent and unmoving for so long that he was starting to lose hope.

But then she had turned to him, and though she had been smiling, tears had been falling down her face, and he had felt his heart crack, and all that he was concerned with was that he had vowed himself not to make her cry anymore.

Hinamori, he had said, confused and wondering, and trying to choke out an apology. (But his pride seemed to have frozen in him along with all the ice and snow and he could not seem to get the words out.) You're crying he had managed instead.

And then she was running, and instead of away, as he would have expected, she had run towards him, and before he knew what was happening (he was a captain now, and he should act as such, and should have anticipated it) she was hugging him, and he could feel her warm tears on his chest.

I—he had tried to say, but when she looked up, she had been smiling through her tears, and for the first time, Hitsugaya Toushirou learned that there could be more than one type of tears.

Thank you Siro-chan, she had blushed, (he really couldn't remember when she had started calling him that, thinking that it was probably one night when it was raining and they had both been half-asleep. She was the only one he permitted to address him as such, and he was thankful that she only did so in private.) and he had thought through his pounding heart (his blushing could be attributed to the cold) that he was glad he had done this for her, that this outweighed his own misgivings. (Even though he had obtained permission first, and being a captain, and a strong one at that, had helped, though Ichimaru had been smiling at him the whole time he hemmed and hawed, and it hadn't been a nice smile.)

She knew, too, that he hated using Hyourinmaru for frivolous reasons, but he didn't know that no matter what he did, she would most likely not have gone through the day without crying.

And even though she was strong and more than able to take care of herself (demon arts or no, and when she had shown him, he had been suitably impressed) he still wanted to protect her.

He had hugged her back with one arm (the other was still holding his sword) and let her cry on him for the second time.

He supposed that it was Kira who started it. The truth was, the two were friends, (they had served in the same division before each transferring out, she to the fifth, he to the third) and it was not unusual for friends to speak to each other.

But they seemed to talk often, and he would not believe the reason for this was because he was simply too busy to have time to be there, (what with that case of the missing shinigami and all, and what really irked him was that she was noble, so they looked twice as hard) and every time he saw them together, he would feel something. Unease.

In truth, this had nothing to do with Kira, since he was a good man, and had no ulterior motives, except, perhaps, that he loved Hinamori, but Hitsugaya knew this, and in his eyes, that could not be forgiven.

Hinamori with anyone else could not be forgiven.

So he began to watch Iziru, to watch him from the corners of his eyes.

It wasn't long before he realized that it wasn't really Kira he should have been watching. So he had switched his attention from the vice-captain, and moved it one rank up rather easily.

Even before he had heard Aizen talking, he had been alert, and though he was surprised, in a way, he had already begun to expect it.

His job came foremost, along with maintaining appearances, and he had to be the bigger man and stop her and Kira. He had looked away, though, when she tried to meet his gaze, because he was afraid that he might falter.

But plans set were plans set, and though they didn't involve sending two vice-captains to jail, he couldn't draw attention to himself, and in his heart, he had hoped she might be safer there.

But he had underestimated her, as he tended to do, and as he stood on the roof at night, with Hinamori hurt and lying behind him, and a fellow captain in front of him, he couldn't help but remind himself about that whole proverb thing, the best laid plans…

He called himself a million kinds of fools as he realized his mistake, and it didn't help knowing that Aizen was dead, Abarai was gone, and Kuchiki was scheduled to die.

end

He called himself a million kinds of fools as ice swirled around them (ice, but not snow, and he wonders if she will accept the substitute) because while he was there, he never knew how to make things right for her. In time, though, he will learn, because he really is a genius, that just being there is enough.

end-notes I made up all that stuff about their pasts, and it's probably way off, but I don't care. I like them this way.

Uhm, I know the ending sucks.

And…I think I kind of made Hitsugaya a little American. (hides) Even though I'm not, while I was writing stuff about his past, I kind of pictured him as a cowboy (drools) and that may have leaked over…since I don't know what Japan was like during the cowboy era. Please forgive my artistic license.