Story: The Wooing of Hinamori Momo
Disclaimer: There are MANY things that I would do to Hitsugaya Toushiro if I owned him… writing about him just isn't one of those things. The characters do not belong to me, please don't sue. You won't get anything but the 35 cents in my wallet.
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It's a very long epilogue, as my Beta pointed out, but it is a very opened ended epilogue. Open ended for any short stories I come up with for this story.
I hope you all enjoy.
Big thanks to Vicki for doing such an awesome job editing this chapter and getting it back to me so quickly!
Pure fluff alert!
Hinamori swatted at the fingers that were skimming across her cheek. The touch was gentle, but enough to wake her from her nap. Her eyes creaked open in protest as the light hit her in the face. She groaned before rolling over and hiding her head under her arms. There was an amused chuckle from above her and she peeked out to glare at the person laughing at her before ducking her head to hide from the light once more.
"You're going to miss dinner if you do not get up soon."
"Not… hungry." She grumbled burying further into the couch.
"You barely ate any lunch, sleepy head. Wake up." She stifled a shriek when fingers started poking her in her side.
"I was sleeping!" she wailed glaring up at him.
"Yes, and Matsumoto wanted me to remind you that tomorrow is her day for a nap," his lips quirked upwards at the edges belaying his amusement with her and his vice-captain. "She also said you had so much paperwork today she should make it two days instead. I refuse to get involved; you women gang up on me enough as it is."
Her scowl became a smile before she caught sight of her hair. One brow rose upwards in surprise at how much hair had managed to escape from the ribbon she used to hold her hair out of her face. She began quick repairs while doing her best to replace her hair in her ribbon without removing it.
She had discovered during the course of their relationship that Hitsugaya liked her hair down, a lot. He had taken to pulling the ribbon out, a lot. There were some days that he would hide her ribbon from her and she was forced to go the whole day with her hair down. She had an extra one on hand for emergencies but as soon as she had it in her hair, he was snatching it right back out the next time they ran into each other. Once he had stolen a dozen or so she had hidden in her office desk, much to her chagrin.
She had countered this by placing pins in her hair once she had had enough. The whole day had been a rather interesting cat and mouse game, him plucking the pins and any additional ribbons that she placed in her hair. He had over the course of the day, won the unintentional challenge. He was a Captain, which gave him a definite speed advantage. She had escaped the episode unscathed being able to dodge him for the majority of the day though he had gotten his revenge at the end of the day.
They had solved the small argument by agreeing that she would wear her hair down if it was only going to be the two of them and he would stop pulling her ribbon out if she was at work.
After hours was fair game however.
She blinked in surprise when her nose was tapped. "Dinner Hinamori," he said, before giving her a hand up.
Hinamori smiled up at him before letting him lead her out the door. It had been almost a year since he had cornered her in his office. It was both the most blessed and challenging year of her life as a Death God. Hitsugaya had changed. She had taken great delight in discovering all the quirks to his personality that had developed when she wasn't looking. Such as his fetish for hair, the way his eyes would soften for her when she was being particularly animated and the look in his eyes when she was about to be kissed. She had also learned how much it took to test his patience, the wisdom he had gained as a captain and the gentle nature that he only showed her.
She had changed as well. Though it was normally Hitsugaya who brought these changes to the surface; it had been a year of relearning herself. She had focused on recovering from Aizen for so long that she had not paid attention to any other part of herself until Hitsugaya had re-entered her life.
She had learned how shy she was. She had thought that she had over come most of her natural shyness when she had become a vice-captain but she had pushed so much of herself deep behind walls that once Hitsugaya had started to unravel them she had discovered how much of the hesitant recruit remained. This was more obvious when Hitsugaya was around. It was a wonder that they had ever discussed anything of importance in the first few months of their new relationship. Where he was willing to take the plunge and discuss things she had found herself stuttering, turning red, and too embarrassed to talk.
He seemed to be infinitely patient, sitting with her and holding her hand or resting his chin on her head while she fought past her embarrassment and walls to tell him he wanted to know. Occasionally, she would have to work up her nerve over the course of several days to talk to him about one thing or another. Yet the shyness was fading and while she would blush on the rare occasion it now took more than a mere glance or question to send color to her cheeks.
She still found it odd how reversed they were from the 'normal' couples that she observed in her everyday world. Rukia and Ichigo were a perfect example. Rukia was always trying to figure things out and had absolutely no problem demanding answers from Ichigo.
It was a trait that she admired.
She could not imagine herself demanding anything from Hitsugaya. Shy questions or requests were about as far as she went. She knew that she thought about things far too much. Matsumoto told her this on every occasion that was available. She didn't know whether to be thankful or worried that things didn't just fall into place with Hitsugaya. He always seemed to know what he was doing and would have the answers long before she did. It made her wonder who was older on some days.
She peeked a glance up at him as they walked and hid her amused smile as recruits scrambled out the way. Although he was with her, he was still a Captain, a prodigy who had grown into his power. He had gained a reputation in the wars. All the captains had, but she knew better than most how the recruits whispered about the prodigal captain.
'Cold,' some said, while others spoke of his ability to fight with a single-minded determination that was uncanny. He was feared as much as he was admired. Moreover, that seemed to have rubbed off on her due to her close association with him. People moved out of her way now. Crowds of new recruits parted for her, some gave her envious glances and some of fear. She found it all to be incredible silly. Hitsugaya would not step in on her behalf just because someone didn't move out of her way and on top of that she was a vice-captain. She was more than able to take care of herself.
It was still a double whammy of a blow to the recruits she guessed, a vice-captain being courted by a captain. She chose to ignore it as much as possible, although she did find it amusing.
He deserved the all the respect he commanded now. He had become the enigma he had always promised he would become. She knew that in the final battle with Aizen he had been one of the three to bring his defeat. Both Ichigo and Captain Ukitate had been there as well. He was a captain; dangerous, calm, and wise. No more was he the child prodigy, but a boy who had turned into a man.
He was also hers. That made the world of a difference. Unless they were having a disagreement about something or she had riled up his temper she never saw the Captain they spoke of in whispers. She saw only the man he had become. That didn't mean she didn't see what they spoke of peeking out from behind his eyes on occasion.
They still fought. She was incredible stubborn but so was he. There were some things he refused to bend on and much to her frustration those things tended to be what she hated to discuss. Such as the times she put herself in danger in what he called a reckless manner, to keep one of her division members out of danger. Those arguments tended to end with her reminding him that he would have done the same or him coming back to apologize. That had been the largest problem. They had both had to relearn to trust each other on the battle field. He had grown into his abilities while she had been in her coma and he had to learn to that she had long ago learned her strength and weakness in battle.
They had reached an understanding though it had had more than its fair share of hardships. Matsumoto's demanding to know if he needed to fight her himself to see if she could in fact hold Tobiume to feel better had been the final straw. He had not brought it up since that day.
There were other things, however, that still caused ripples in their world, such as her fear of him leaving her. No matter how many times he reassured her all it took was a single nightmare where Aizen returned to laugh at her stupidity as the image of Hitsugaya's back faded into the shadows, his way of telling her that he had enough, to have her in hysterics.
Those were the dreams that she woke up screaming from. Those were also the days he would demand answers, she would be cranky enough to fight him. Those battles tended to end up with Matsumoto outside the office, on one errand or another, and him holding her furious body still on the couch forcing her to calm down. When she would give into her fury and cry, he would rock her back and forth while crooning in her ear. Those were the days she was angry with herself for giving into the weakness of her mind again and at him for forcing her to face that fear and then let go of it.
When the storm would pass he would ask what happened and she would tell him. Which would end in one of two ways, he reminding her with lips instead of words why he had no intention of walking out the door. Or, it ended with him scolding her for being silly and fighting him because he was not going to leave her to any form of Aizen. Sometimes it was both methods.
Her cheeks tinged the palest shade of pink at the memory.
Then there were the times he was forced to hunt her down outside when she was feeling melancholy and needed time for herself. He would not scold her then. He would just join her. Sometimes he would only sit next to her offering her the comfort of his presence while leaving her to her own thoughts; other times he would curl her hand into his larger one and start talking.
Those were the days she learned the most about the man he had become. He would tell her silly stories about his regiment that would have her in stitches or solemn stories about the days when he was confined to the shadows of her life.
Where he got the patience to deal with her she didn't know but she was thankful. Her captain having gotten the story some time ago from someone, she personally thought it was Matsumoto, had given her permission to do her paperwork in his office with Matsumoto if Captain Hitsugaya did not mind, or she did not have any special duties that week.
So three out of the five days of the week she could be found in the 10th division office and the rest of the time with her captain. That was how she had Matsumoto had come to the terms of napping arrangements. One would do the paperwork for the day and the other would get much needed sleep. This had the hidden clause that if one of them was bogged down with paperwork the other one would lend a hand, taking the less important things that didn't require the divisions Vice-Captain's attention.
Hitsugaya had rolled his eyes at the both of them but had conceded his points against the idea when the two of them had ganged up on him. Hinamori with pleading eyes and Matsumoto with an evil grin that promised blackmail would be brought into the argument. Both women had been close before and even through her worst days, she had remained on good terms with her. Now they were fast forming a friendship that Hinamori had only viewed enviously from a distance.
She had always had the guys in her group as she had gone through the academy with them but she had never had the type of close relationship that so many of the other recruits seemed to develop with each other. She had always had Hitsugaya but there had never really been any strong female companionship in her world. She and Rukia were friends, but she had never been this close to anyone. Matsumoto was a Vice-Captain; she was also the only other female who understood Hitsugaya to any degree.
That had been one of the major factors in her healing. Finding her friends again, even Renji, who was a captain now, had started dropping by and saying hello to her. Kira was nowhere near as obvious about it, but she knew he was there to lean on, as she was there for him. A strange bond had formed once the by anger and the betrayal that had been overcome. Both had been betrayed by their respective captains, and both knew the pain and anger that brought; how long it took to overcome.
And just like that, the world was a whole lot brighter.
She was learning what confidence was again. She had thought she had gained it once, but knowing she had friends to lean on and Hitsugaya with her even in her darkest moments brought a sparkle back to her eyes that had not been there. It even added a bounce to her step that she hadn't noticed missing. She was healing.
Hitsugaya had spoken truthfully that day in his office. She had healed herself but not grown. Now she that she was growing she was finding the wounds that she had hidden from herself. It would be a long journey but the first steps had already been taken. She wished she could say that she was the one ferreting them out to fix them but she wasn't. It was Hitsugaya. He was not letting her hide from herself or fight him. He was giving her someone to lean on. Someone with unrelenting attention to detail and knowledge of her darkest moments and it was working.
She was no longer afraid of letting herself watch Hitsugaya in public and could smile and laugh without holding back. She walked with her head held high and no longer ducked away from crowds or hid in the shadows. She was becoming the Hinamori of old who had adored her captain and had her best friend with her every step of the way. Only now, that best friend was more.
Now he was Toushiro. No longer her Shiro-chan. He had become a man. He was her captain, her best friend, but most of all he was the man that she had given her heart to and she no longer feared that.
Her world was changing.
"Penny for your thoughts?" His voice broke her out of her ponderings and she smiled up at him.
"They're not worth that much," she said.
His eyes softened briefly at her smile and her grin widened. She loved that look. It was better than any real smile a thousand recruits could flash in her direction. Not that when he truly smiled, her knees didn't go weak leaving her with the desire to melt into the ground. But this look was all for her and sent her heart into overtime and good bumps down her back.
"What are you doing tonight?"
She turned her head upwards to meet his gaze. He had bent his down so that his voice didn't carry across the courtyard.
"Don't make any plans."
"You will see."
She quirked a brow up at him and his lips curled up in response. She sighed.
"Hey you to stop flirting and get over here!" Matsumoto interrupted. "Yachiru wants a story and I don't have any good ones!"
Yachiru looked over at them both expectantly an apple in one hand and an innocent expression on her face. "STORY!"
"You're not out of trouble," Hinamori muttered up at him before hightailing it towards the girls before he could reply though the quick glance she shot him before plopping down next to the girls had a slight brush sliding across her cheeks. She wasn't sure whether to glower or ignore him. She chose the latter.
"Do you have a story Hinamori?" Yachiru questioned, while propping her head up on one hand and staring at them. "Ken-chan is gone again."
Matsumoto patted her hand. "Remember Yachiru, we explained to you why he needs to go see Captain Unohana."
"Are you sure I can't go find out what is wrong with him Matsumoto?" she looked up at her beseechingly. "It can't be that bad!"
Matsumoto continued to pat her hand. "No Yachiru, she will take care of him."
Hinamori smiled before digging into the plate of food that Hitsugaya brought her, "how about the Princess and the Pea Yachiru?"
Her face lit up. "Yes! I love that story! Especially when the princess smashes the evil pea into the queen's face!"
"Matsumoto knows that story," Hitsugaya said.
She looked up startled, "I do?"
He smirked. "You do."
Yachiru turned to her excitedly, "Will you tell me the story Matsumoto?"
"But Hinamori knows the story about the Princess who faces down the beast to rescue her magic tea cup."
Yachiru looked at her doubtfully. "How come I haven't ever heard about that one before?"
"Because it's a special surprise story…"
Yachiru shook her head, "No tea cup! PEA smashing princess!"
"Matsumoto!" Her eyes narrowed, "Pea Smashing princess!"
"I think you should tell the story, Matsumoto." Hitsugaya said.
She glared. "Captain!" She turned towards Hinamori. "Hinamori!"
She smiled apologetically, "I am sorry Matsumoto, but I can't tonight."
She sighed. "Fine. I. Will. Tell. The. Story." Her expression promised retribution and Hinamori ducked her head and tucked into her meal to escape the glower.
Yachiru beamed up at her and bit into her apple. "Thank you!"
"Okay then what do you call that one?" Hinamori said pointing towards a small batch of stars in the sky.
"That is mensa."
"That one?" her fingers slid across the sky towards another shape.
He shot her an amused look. "Scorpius."
She sighed in annoyance. "Did you memorize every constellation in the sky?"
"Most of them." he agreed.
This time her look was vexed. "Okay then what is that one?"
She frowned at the sky intently. Hitsugaya sat back and watched her with clear amusement. She ignored him chewing on her bottom lip intently staring at the night sky trying to find something that he would not know the name to. Her eyes lit up a few minutes later. "What is that?" her fingers traced along the path of the stars and he shook his head.
"That's not a constellation Hinamori."
She gave him a triumphant look. "It could be!"
"How do you know?" She demanded.
"I just do."
"Then let's name it!" her eyes brightened at the idea.
"Well, it obviously makes a shape! It should have a name!" her tone was matter of fact.
He laughed then, and she smiled. He rarely laughed, even now. She considered it an accomplishment when she could coax it from him, even if he was laughing at her when she was being serious.
She snuggled backwards against his chest again and looked back up at the stars. "The stars always remind me of when we were little." He stilled, "Those were good days uh?"
"Yes," he agreed.
She smiled and closed her eyes. "Thank you for bringing me out here." She said before yawning.
She had been rather surprised when he had sought her out earlier that evening. She had not expected him to go through with his idea for this evening. He had been called out to his division to settle some rather heated arguments. She had gone back to the office to finish working on the paperwork that Matsumoto had left her. She had just been concluding the last bit of what she needed to send out first thing in the morning when he had shown up with a blanket.
"What are you doing?" she questioned.
He leaned up against the door jam and quirked a brow at her, "Didn't I tell you to not plan anything this evening? Maybe I should have added a clause about paperwork."
She blinked again. "I had things I needed to finish for tomorrow," she looked down at the small pile left on her desk, "In fact I still have things that I need to finish."
He moved away from the door jam. He offered her a hand and she looked at it bemused for a moment before sighing. "Work to do, Hitsugaya."
"It can wait till morning." His voice was firm.
"Do I have a choice?" she muttered.
"No, so we can do this the easy way or the hard way."
"The easy way?"
"You can take my hand so I can help you up and we can go out to the field I picked out for our date this evening," he smirked, "or I can throw you over my shoulder and carry you out there." Her mouth dropped open at his words.
She groaned. The last time he said that she had been literally carried around like a sack of potatoes for a good ten minutes. He had only let her down because she felt like throwing up, and they had arrived at this chosen destination. Of course they had gone past half of soul society by then and she had been teased about it for weeks.
She groaned before putting her hand in his. The paperwork, it seemed, would have to wait until tomorrow.
"You're welcome," He settled a kiss on her cheek and tucked her closer. She punched him lightly in the stomach when she heard the distinct rumble of amusement in his chest at her yawn.
"Go to sleep, Hinamori."
"Can't," she mumbled, snuggling closer, "Got to get back to my… room."
"Go to sleep," he said again, kissing the top of her head.
"Bah," she retorted. She grunted in protest when he pulled the ribbon out of her hair before running his fingers through the soft strands.
"It's okay, Hinamori, I will make sure you get back to your room." He was crooning in her ear now and she relaxed.
She didn't remember falling asleep.
She woke to the vague feeling of being settled into cool sheets. She grumbled at the loss of warmth and rolled over in protest swatting at whatever was trying to get her under the covers. She gave in to the persistent hands as covers were tucked around her and a warm kiss was placed on her forehead.
"Good night, Momo." The strange voice was gentle and she was tempted to just obey the soft words and slink back into sleep. She managed to force her eyes open, instead.
"Wha?" she muttered.
"Go to sleep," now the voice was amused but she was loosing the battle to sleep and could only grumble in the back of her throat at whoever it was who had interrupted her dream. She had been curled up outside watching the stars with Hitsugaya and she would have rather not been woken up from that dream. He had just about kissed her!
She relaxed when there were no more motions or movements that threatened to bring her back to reality. She buried her nose in her pillow and drifted back off to sleep to the feel of someone brushing their hand gentle down her cheek.