Story Title: His
Disclaimer: I do not own bleach! Sadly, because owning Hitsugaya, would be nice...
She was sleeping. Trapped in the world of dreams that he not could rescue her from. Vibrant features were pale and listless. Wild hair was limp and dark against the pillow, a shadow against the moonlight that streamed in from the window. The only thing that was constant with the Hinamori that he knew was that her breathing was even, although shallow.
Aizen had done this to her, her captain, the one person that she had thought to trust above all others… even him. It was still vivid in his mind: she had gone down like a broken doll and a puppet he had found her. Broken, bleeding, her breaths coming in shallow pain filled gaps. She had crumpled to the floor in a heap blood gushing from the wound that Aizen had inflicted into her; the unearthly rage that had consumed him.
His eyes closed in frustration, the ease in which he had been defeated.
It had of course been explained to him, how his Bankai could not reach its full potential when under Aizen's thrall. It had not stopped the anger, however. His cool countenance had been shattered, as much by his inability to protect her as it was at his defeat.
Protecting Hinamori had always been his first priority. She had forgotten. Forgotten his drive to protect her, the need to ensure her safety above all others; the most basic of rules. That he would do nothing to make her cry, and everything to ensure that those who did bring tears to her gaze would soon wish a thousand deaths upon themselves than ever be responsible for such a sin again.
She had forgotten that she was his.
She had always been his. From the very first smile, that she had graced him with, to every teardrop that she had ever shed in his presence. She had never acknowledged it aloud and he had never expected her to. She was sweetness and innocence. Someone who believed that a sword was meant to protect the ones that you loved, not something that was used to kill.
He had never asked anything of her, would never have dreamed of moving past the carefully placed illusions. Illusions that he had eradicated for both of their sakes, he was too young; had always been her shiro-chan. A beloved nickname that was hated all the more as he grew older, and yet, brought a sense of familiarity and peace. It was a connection that to this day she denied even as she was the one was responsible for its survival. He neither blamed her for her lack of acknowledgment nor did he expect her to understand. After all, she had convinced herself that she was in love with someone else, that she belonged with another. That being the vice-captain for Aizen Sousuke, Captain of the Fifth Division, was where she had belonged.
Not that Aizen had ever touched his Hinamori. No matter how patient he tried to be with the girl, no matter the lengths and sacrifices he would go through for her. The patience he would force from himself for her, had Aizen touched her just once he would have pooled every resource he had to kill the man. No Aizen had never been a threat towards his relationship with Hinamori, her love for him was one sided and doomed to fail. Even when they had been blinded to his schemes, he had never once looked at Hinamori as anything more than his vice-captain. He was not sure if he should be thankful to the man for that or not. In the grand scheme of things, he was positive that he would rather kill him than think to deeply upon that subject.
He had never doubted his feelings for Hinamori, once he knew them.
He could still remember the first time she had smiled at him. Not someone else, not her 'today is a good day and I will smile all day' smile, nor was it the 'you are so sweet' smile, neither was it the 'I am happy to just be here smile.' Hinamori had many smiles but there was one that was just for him. And the first time she had graced him with it the side of him that had always been with him since his first breath of air in this land had risen up from the depths of him and claimed Hinamori.
"Bah, what is wrong with you this time?" He had found Hinamori crying beside one of the many trees that surrounded the area that they lived in.
She looked up, startled. "Everything is fine Shiro-chan."
He scowled at her. She was trying to distract him; he would not tolerate that. Not while she was crying, "Fine."
He sat down next to her. At her frustrated look he managed to smirk instead of looking at her in concern. It was not like her to hide her tears. It was something he admired about her. She was never afraid to show who she was. He would not leave until he got some sort of answer from her. She would tell him. All he had to do was wait her out.
So they sat in silence both hiding how they felt behind their carefully constructed masks. She fidgeting and attempting to hold her tears back so he would not have cause to mock her, and he in silent frustration because she was obviously still upset.
"Shiro-chan," she finally whispered, just as his patience was about to crack.
"What?" He said quirking an eyebrow in her general direction.
"Do you think," She paused, and he frowned at her obvious struggle to confide in him.
"Do I think what?" He was getting irritable now.
"Do you think that I will be able to make it rain someday?"
He paused. That was definitely not what he had expected her to ask him. He had been hoping for 'will you go beat so and so up for me', obviously he had been aiming to high. "Why?"
She sighed. "It's silly."
"Never stopped you before."
She turned and looked at him, and then smiled. It was a pitiful attempt but he recognized the gesture behind it. Someone was going to pay. "If it's raining no one can see my tears."
He turned to face her then a scowl sliding across his face at her idiot remarks. All he wanted to know was who he needed to maim for bringing on this fresh bout of tears. Now they were going to pay double for making her question herself. "Stupid Hinamori, if no one can see you cry no one can make you feel better." His tone was overly gruff and he cringed. That would probably send her back into her tears again. He paused, mid mental rant at himself for his stupidity, when she turned to look at him her eyes wider than normal.
And then it happened. She smiled. Not just any smile, a smile that lit up her features and moved beyond the façade that she wore and into her eyes causing them to glow softly in the sunlight. "Thank you."
His heart jumped and he stared at her for several long moments. He knew then that he was lost. There was nothing he would not do to see that smile again.
It had of course taken him a little longer to understand what lengths he would go to protect that smile; that if anyone else had dared to be the recipient of such a look what lengths he would go to ensure that they regretted the action. He had been only a boy at the time, not that he was all that much older now, but he had much more experience in the things of life now and in the ways of Hinamori.
He could not remember how he had died. He had tried, many times, but it was only the vaguest of flashes in a moment in time. What he did remember were the cool hands and a gentle voice singing to him in the night. At first, he had been able to remember the words; now only the sound of whatever it was that she had been singing to him remained. Some distant part of him wondered what he had done in his past life to deserve those gentle hands and voice while another part wondered if he would ever find the person who had loved him so.
He doubted it. Here in soul society it was near impossible to find anyone who you had known from the past. Even if you could remember anyone from your time alive, it was easier to find a needle in a haystack than someone you had loved.
Finding Hinamori had been more than finding a needle in the haystack, he had found his reason for continuing those first few years in Soul Society. He almost smiled at the memory that had been a day of many victories for him.
This was pointless.
If he had knowing dying was going to be this boring he would have worked extra hard to stay as far away from anything that looked semi-dangerous. He flopped backwards on the rooftop with a drawn out sigh.
He hated the pointlessness of this place.
People here were boring. Not only that but they had forgotten what it meant to live. Not that he cared, but at least he could have derived some sort of satisfaction from watching them pretend to exist in this world.
Instead, he was left defending himself from punk kids who thought to torment him because of his hair. He was smarter, and faster, therefore he was not concerned with the average bully. If you could not touch him, you could not injure him.
Today had been different.
He had managed to find something that had resembled food. Stealing it from the shop owner had not been all that difficult. People seemed to lose intelligence when they died. His lips twisted in a humorless grin. He should probably thank every deity known to any kind of people that he seemed to retain all of his brains.
On the way home he had run into the worst kind of trouble. The shopkeeper had done his best to chase him through the streets. He had escaped by ducking into a back alley. What he had found there in the back shadows still caused a dark wave of anger to flash across his countenance.
The nearby town bullies had long ago taken up residence here; mindless idiots who threatened and bullied those who appeared to be weaker than themselves. If one happened to have food, and they discovered this, then it was a simple matter of cornering the person and taking whatever it was that they wished.
This time they had cornered a young girl.
It had not taken him long to access the situation. She was clutching a small bag in her hands, hair that had once obviously been pulled back was now falling around her shoulders in a very messy array of tangles, and there were streaks of dirt on her clothes and face. Obvious tears lay pooling in her eyes and it was the site of those tears that prompted her to lend her a hand.
The sheer genius of it had given him a sense of pride in his ability to take care of himself and amusement at stupidity of the gang. It had been a rather bit to easy. Not that he was going to complain.
Securing his stolen goods in a hole in a wall, he climbed to the top of a nearby roof. It was an ability he had discovered upon arriving at this forsaken place. Something that he enjoyed about his new home; the ability to climb and to not fear the fall, this small pleasure was enough to bring him contentment in his new home.
Upon arriving on the roof, he smirked. The fools had picked the one place in the city that he would be able to help the girl. A stack of empty barrels lay on top of the roof and the idiots had settled themselves below him in a nice convenient manner.
All it took was a quick nudge from his shoulder to send the barrels dropping down from the roof. He didn't give them enough time to register what was going on before he dropped down off the roof. The girl looked up startled and he grabbed her arm before she had time to argue with him. The bullies were starting to recover and he had no desire to get into a fight with them. Kicking a barrel that had rolled away from the group, he set them off balance once more and was pulling the girl around the group and out the entrance to the alley. A quick stop to grab his own stash of food, and they were off.
He only stopped running when he was positive that there was no longer any chance of being found. He stopped to let the girl rest, and found to his internal amusement that she was breathing rather hard. She had managed to hold onto the bag she had been clutching so firmly earlier, however, and in between deep breaths of air, she kept shooting him what he guessed were thankful looks.
She confirmed that with her next words.
"Thank you! I thought for sure they were going take the food" she said, when she was no longer breathing in great gulps of air.
"Bah, stupid girl, you shouldn't let yourself get cornered like that."
She frowned slightly before smiling at him. The smile surprised him; it was not the reaction that he had expected.
"If you would come home with me I owe you some of my share of what I have here." She held up a pathetically small bag of something, though before he had time to inform her that he had his own she was dragging him off this time.
He smiled in fond remembrance of the encounter. She had been so thankful, taking him back to her house where she and an old woman lived. The bright smile of the woman had echoed in the girls as she recounted how he had saved her and their food for the evening, a rare treat for the two of them. The old lady hugged him as tightly as she could before offering him a place to stay as long as he wished. It had not taken him long too decided.
He would of course stay. A girl like that would need constant watching over, and perhaps she would keep him from being so bored. If she kept getting herself in trouble, he would at least be doing something. Keeping her safe would be a challenge but it was not anything he could not handle. And if she kept getting in trouble and he kept getting her out of it maybe she would keep smiling for him. There was something about her smile and shinning eyes that made him almost want to smile back, and he found himself feeling darkly defensive of it.
Stupid girl she must have bewitched him or something.
"Shiro-chan what are you doing up here?"
Every part of him cringed at that name. She had laughed at his full name when he had introduced himself and Hitsugaya Toushiro and promptly shortened his name down. Shiro-chan…couldn't she have found something better? Out of all the things she could have come up with to call him she named him that, "nothing."
She settled beside him, "the stars are beautiful aren't they?"
"If you say so."
She smiled. "Morning will come early and I have so many things to show you now that you are going to be living with us!" Her eyes were shinning in excitement and he felt something in him respond.
He grunted to cover up his moment of silence, it didn't faze her.
"Aren't you excited to be living with us?" She questioned, a soft smile playing at her lips. It drew him in and kept him there for the briefest of moments before he pulled away.
"I was just fine by myself."
She laughed, and he looked up startled and then looked away before she caught him watching. "Oh shiro-chan, you're going to love it here!"
And then she had the audacity to hug him!
He felt his lips turn up slightly at the memory. Even at that age, Hinamori had been loving, kind, and full of laughter. His eyes narrowed in anger, she should not be lying in this bed dreaming of her precious Aizen. He should not be here waiting for the day she would wake and grace him with that smile once again.
But dream of Aizen she did. The only sounds that had come out of her since her lapse into a coma had been to call out his name. He was thankful that no one else had heard her calls, as they came only in the darkest hour of the night, when he was the only one there to stand guard over her dreams.
But it was not Aizen who watched her sleep through the dark nights, nor was it that traitorous captain who held her hand when she tossed her head in those rare moments of sheer terror, sweating and whimpering, trapped in some dream that he could not rescue her from. Nor was he there to speak to her when her breathing slowed further, to whisper softly in her ear, and to plead with her not to leave him.
Even now he wondered what she dreamed, what had her so enthralled that she would not wake, would not come back to him.
He settled back in his chair and crossed his arms, frowning mightily at her. "You can wake up now. You're safe now." He informed her, but she slumbered on, unaware of his words or presence. He sighed and leaned forward, grasping her hand. "Come back to us Hinamori." He whispered, his voice softening, while he tightened his grip on her hands.
If he lost her… he swallowed. He would not comprehend that. She was his, she had no choice but to obey his summons, she would come back. And then this time, he would not fail, he would protect her. This time he would show her, find a way to tell her, how important she was to all of them. It was apparent that she was too blind to deduce it herself.
He had during his time of training to become a Death God wondered more than once if she noticed how carefully and closely he monitored her during their training days. How many nights he had stayed awake wondering if she would make it past her missions and spars with her fellow trainees to come back to him; if the sweet girl he had grown up with had the backbone and steel in her to survive. How many times he had almost challenged someone who had been a little to rough with her
But she had been too caught up in Aizen to notice that her childhood friend watched her like a hawk and protected her even when she herself thought she needed none.
He had never worried about himself. He was smarter and faster than any hollow he had ever encountered. While he was aware that she had a core of steel when something she deemed precious was threatened. That she could and would fight to the death to protect someone. The idea of her going out into battle would have given him grey hair if it had been possible.
Her leaving him back home had been bad enough. He could remember that day vividly to. She had been so happy and cheerful as she patted him on the head and begged him to be good while she was gone and wasn't able to keep him out of trouble; like she had been his protector as a child.
He had scoffed and told her that she was the one who needed to be careful. Inside however he had felt his stomach drop and for the first time he had felt helpless. Even then he had despised that feeling. While he denied ever wishing to enter that stupid school of hers he had been plotting to get in there as possible.
She would get herself into trouble without him!
Her letters had not reassured him either. He looked up from his mental wanderings as she gave a sigh of contentment. It was only then that he realized that the lines on her face had evened out slightly and tiniest of smiles quirked at her lips before dying.
Pleasant dreams for once? He didn't know, but he felt his own lips curve in response, it had been so long since he had seen her happy… he looked down in surprise as her hand twitched only to realize his thumb had been making gentle circles across the pulse point on her wrist. An unconscious gesture that surprised him but he did not stop his gentle movements.
After all, they were alone, and he could relax. She would not wake no matter what type of fit she threw in her sleep. He had restrained her more than once to keep her from re-opening her wounds. He felt himself blush at the memory of having to hold her still. Forced to use his body weight to ensure she did not re-injure herself. The height difference between them seeming to disappear and he held her close. He had been tempted to stay that way but once her fit had passed, he had moved back to his position in the chair next to her bed.
He would hold her when she was awake when she was able to acknowledge that she was resting in his arms and would stay there willingly of her own accord. Because she wanted to be there, to curl into the protection and comfort that he offered her; not because his arms ached to hold her and shield her in her dreams.
No for this, she would come to him. Even if it took him the next millennium to convince her there was no better place for her. He would do so.
But first he had to rid her of Aizen's memory.
He could still remember the first time he had met the captain. Strangely, it had been when he had been made a captain. For all Hinamori spoke of him constantly, he had made it a point to avoid the man. He was everything she dreamed of, and until he could match the man in strength and ability, he could not deal with the man being everything that he himself wished to be. After all, he had Hinamori, which meant he would have to be at his top form before meeting the man who had become his rival for her affection.
He had liked him no more after their meeting, hating him perhaps had come easier.
"Congratulations Hitsugaya Toushiro."
He had paused at the unfamiliar voice and turned to see a captain that he had only ever seen from a distance. It was Hinamori standing behind him that brought swift understanding.
"Aizen," he said. A simple courteous greeting with a nod, it was all he would give the man.
Hinamori had frowned at him as he had walked on, but he had seen more than enough. He already knew everything about the man he would ever need to know and he was certain that he had a long road ahead of him to find a weakness. He was a fellow captain, and as his newly won captain cloak swished around his calves, he realized, someone who he would have to align with.
He sighed. He had more important things to worry about right then, such as finding himself a suitable lieutenant.
Of course, he had been an idiot. Aizen had played him just as thoroughly as he had played Hinamori. He had warned her about the third division, had warned her to watch his nightly walks, and in doing so, he had played right into his hands.
The sight of the absolute anguish on her features, the confusion that had steamed from a letter that he had made sure was given to her. Was something that haunted not only his dreams, but also his waking moments. Matsumoto had seen the signs, had offered suggestions on good sleeping draughts but he would not give up these hours with her. Would not let anyone else guard her nighttime dreams; night was a time of peace and rest, but for him it was a time of reflection.
To go over his every mistake with Aizen, and to replay the fight with him again and again, he had made mistakes, but he was determined to sear them into his brain so that the same ones could not, would not, be made again.
He sighed when his reflections were once again interrupted by the rising of the sun. He forced himself to let go of her hand, tucking her covers carefully around her still form. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. A sigh moved from her lips, and he felt his curl in a move of male satisfaction. It was those small things, the tiny touches to her life, even here, in her dreams where no one could touch her that she reinforced what he had known for so long.
She belonged with him.
He would not let her slip away from him, not this time, not like this. She would wake up, and when she did, no matter how long it took, no matter what sacrifices had to be made, he would show her exactly which Death God captain she had always belonged to.
She was his.