Disclaimer: Bleach ain't mine… neither are Hitsugaya or Hinamori.

AN: Eh, this was a really short one shot that I just felt like doing… I don't think it contains major spoilers or anything, so yeah…

Italics - thoughts

Pairing : Hitsugaya & Hinamori

Mamoritai - I want to protect

Closing his eyes, he leaned back onto the roof's tiles, and breathed out a sigh. His hakama rustled slightly as the wind rustled past. Snow white hair, his icy blue eyes, and his ice element soul cutter were all things that were supposed to match Hitsugaya Toushirou's feelings and demeanor, yet his feelings were in turmoil. One second he felt cold and distant as he should be, in another he felt warm, and comforted. Most of all, there was the pain, and guilt he was swimming through.

'Hinamori… No... Momo...'

He could see her face swimming before him, smiling at him, and her voice echoed through his head. "Shirou chan!" her voice was cheerful. He could see her laughing against the cherry blossoms when they were younger, before the shinigami academy. Then with an abrupt change of scene, he could see her wielding her soul cutter, twirling around to hold it against his neck. "Why...?" she asked in heartbroken voice. He could recall the feeling of the cold metal, and the confusion, pain, betrayal, and sadness in her eyes that matched his own confusion, pain and anger. Opening his eyes halfway, he remembered the day he had failed to protect her. She had almost died, and on top of that, he had not been even able to kill Ichimaru. She had been clutching the hilt of her soul cutter so tightly, that her hands had bled. And Aizen...

He grit his teeth, clenched and unclenched his hands, and just as he was about to get up, he felt the spiritual energy of Momo approaching.

All that was running through Toushirou's mind were the frantic thoughts of, 'I can't face her now… I couldn't protect her then - I was too weak… I even hit her... What would she think of me?' Where had all his calm demeanor gone? Wasn't he a captain of the Gotei 13?

Soon enough, Momo came into view as she jumped up neatly onto the roof. Landing neatly, she smiled at Toushirou and as usual, didn't address him as captain, but just as -


Hearing her voice in person for the first time in a while, Toushirou looked away, fighting the urge to blush. He said roughly, "How many times do I have to tell you… I'm a captain now. Call me Hitsugaya-Taichou."

Sneaking a look at her as she sat down beside him, he felt warm, but soon after, the warmth was overwhelmed by the horrible shame and guiltiness that flooded into him. Looking away again, he asked, "Why are you here?"

Inside, he cringed. His voice had cracked. Momo looked at him worriedly, and asked one of the things that Toushirou had dreaded hearing.

"What's wrong, Hitsugaya-kun? You've been acting strangely for these past weeks…"

In the same rough voice he had spoken in before, Toushirou replied, "H-have I?"

All his resolve to not look at her, to hide his shame from her, and to speak as little as possible to her, was blown away just by her pleading voice.

"Shirou-chan, please look at me."

That was unfair. There was no way he could not look at her when she asked in that voice, using her childhood nickname for him. Of its own will, his head turned to face her. Her warm gray eyes were much closer to him than he thought. Blinking rapidly, he fought the urge to lean away from her. As if the sense of proximity had suddenly occurred to Momo also, she leaned back quickly, and turned away. Toushirou wasn't sure whether he was thankful of disappointed. Turning back forward, Toushirou stared at the sky, which was taking on an orange hue as the sun withdrew back under the horizon. Toushirou wasn't sure whether he should keep quiet or just speak, but a part of himself wanted to just talk to her.
'Okay, so I'm going to talk to her… but what to say? Toushirou, you fool…'

So he honestly said the first words that came into his mind. "Hinamori… I'm sorry."

Before Momo could answer, Toushirou pulled her into a hug. His head over her shoulder, he murmured, "I couldn't protect you… Momo."

That was the first time in years he had called her by her given name. The name 'Momo' always dwelt on the tip of his tongue, but he'd never said it out loud since he'd entered the shinigami academy.

It was when he was about to withdraw his hands, Momo actually hugged back. With a smile in her voice, she said, "I should be the one to apologize, Hitsugaya-kun. I doubted you. Now, I don't think I ever will again."

Feeling infinitely better, Toushirou made no reply but to hold her warm body tighter to his. 'I failed before, but I won't fail again. I'll protect you, Momo.'

Maybe someday, he would know what this warm feeling inside of him was… but for now, this was a pretty good deal.

Hope you liked it! I wasn't very consistent with the spacings and such, but yeah...