Free Talk and Thanks are at the end…

Sympathy For the Devil
By Miss Angel Maxwell


From the official record book of 10th Division:

If anyone actually reads these logs (and I have strong doubts that anyone does), they might be wondering why this entry is the only one actually written by myself when all previous entries (and hopefully all entries henceforth) have been written by Vice Captain Matsumoto. The truth of the matter is that I hate these kinds of bookkeeping tasks. But today, my vice captain is out enjoying the festivities and has asked me to fill in for her. She said it was because I was 'the only one not out having fun,' but I suspect she had ulterior motives.

Today is indeed a day of celebration, particularly here in Soul Society, as it marks the five-year anniversary of Aizen's demise. Although it might make sense for me to write about that victory in itself, I feel more inclined now to discuss how it has affected so many of us, especially a shinigami named Hinamori Momo. Although I take my duties as a captain very seriously, I have to confess that I am quite biased towards this young woman. So anyone looking for a summary of facts and data for this day would be wise to look elsewhere.

Each year, on this date, I am always amazed by how positive Momo is. After all, this is a holiday to celebrate the death of a man she loved with all of her heart. Ever the optimist, she prefers to call it 'The Day Captain Saved My Life,' and she enjoys the festivities as much as everyone else, perhaps more. For certain reasons, however, she wasn't able to participate last year, so she has been looking forward to this year's commemoration even more. Our human allies from the Living World have all come to join us in celebrating, and Momo is very eager to introduce them to Umeko.

I suppose I forgot to mention that Momo has a baby daughter now. Named to honor her first zanpakutou, Umeko is almost one year old now and about the most good-natured child you could ever meet. Every day she looks more and more like Kira, though. I think she'd be even cuter if she looked more like Momo, but as I've mentioned, I am quite biased. Actually, it was being on bed rest during her last month of pregnancy that kept Momo at home on this date last year.

I will state now for the record that I am not bitter about how things have turned out. I am very happy for Momo, getting her life back on track. And of all the shinigami that she could have ended up with and had a child with, Kira Izuru pisses me off the least. Neurotic as he may be, he is a good man and he cares very much about Momo. Having transferred three years ago, he is now a ranked officer in Captain Unohana's 4th Division (though that didn't prevent him from fainting during Umeko's birth).

Momo herself is Captain of 9th Division now, which is a source of great pride for everyone who knows her. She declined leadership of the 5th, attributing her decision to having too many emotional memories of that division. So Hisagi Shuuhei was offered the position instead and she was given the 9th. Although she still has not achieved bankai with her current zanpakutou, the fact that she did so with Tobiume was enough to earn her the promotion.

Now I suppose there can be no avoiding discussion of Momo's remarkable new zanpakutou (and I am not one to use the term 'remarkable' so loosely). About two weeks after miscarrying her twins by Aizen Sousuke, Momo had a dream where the two souls came to her and declared themselves to be her new zanpakutou. Some individuals (myself not included) probably would have doubted her if she didn't have two gorgeous twin blades to prove her story. Their names are Taka and Suzume and, interestingly, the blades themselves were originally gifts from Kira and myself. This is the first time in the history of Soul Society that souls who were thought lost forever have come back as zanpakutou. The situation has triggered a new wave of research from the brightest minds in Soul Society, though there have been no major breakthroughs so far.

Meanwhile, Momo carries around her beloved new zanpakutou wherever she goes, unwilling to be separate from her children. Ordinarily this would not be allowed, but the powers that be have made a special exception. None of the other division officers feel jealous, though. In fact, according to Momo, Captains Ukitake and Kyouraku have officially welcomed her into their 'twin-blade' club. For Kira's sake, though, I hope that she does not sleep with her weapons next to her in bed.

Even though Momo is, for the most part, very happy with her life right now, I can't help but acknowledge a sadness that still lingers inside her. Her underlings in the 9th Division may not notice it, but I do. Five years ago that young woman had so much torn from her life, her partner, her lover, and her children. Just like my right arm, which has been slightly shorter than the left ever since Aizen broke it, Momo's wounds have changed her life in ways that can never be reversed. When I watch her holding Umeko, I sometimes catch a glimpse of mourning in the back of her eyes and I can tell that she is thinking about how she will only ever hold her other children in a dream, or in the form of cold hard steel.

Kira, of course, knows that Momo has never thought of their daughter as her first born. He also knows that she will always have a deep longing for Aizen Sousuke, with whom she made her previous children. Except for last year, Momo always takes it upon herself to visit his final resting place on this day. She goes all alone, bringing along only her two zanpakutou, and Kira and I can only wait for her to return. I am sure this year will be no different. Of course, I have no way of knowing what she does when she is there, if she talks to him or just quietly reflects. I still don't think she's come up with a satisfying explanation of why he used his death to save her life, or why he had on him a picture of the unborn children he supposedly felt nothing for.

Sometimes I wonder if she's come to terms with the fact that she couldn't 'save' him. Other times I think it might be possible that she succeeded after all.

Aizen Sousuke's body, along with those of Ichimaru Gin and Tousen Kaname (which was recovered during the scouring of Hueco Mundo), were all buried in a secluded field in Rukongai. There was no ceremony and the location was disclosed only to a handful of people. I think Momo and my own vice captain may be the only two souls who ever visit the site.

Now, as much as I would like to sit here and continue to write about Hinamori Momo (whom I've already admitted I am biased towards), I think I will bring this entry to a close. I can hear someone knocking at my office door, and beside that, my wrist is getting tired. I think it is time for me to go out and prove Matsumoto wrong by having some fun.

Hitsugaya Toushirou, Captain of 10th Division in Soul Society

With a small sigh, Toushirou set down his brush and used his hand to gently fan what he had just written, hoping it would dry quicker. Then he closed the record book and got up to answer the door. Waiting outside with a big smile on her face was Hinamori Momo, looking exceptionally pretty in her white captain's jacket, her two zanpakutou tucked into her sash. Standing next to her was Izuru, thin and nervous-looking as ever, and in her arms was the most hopelessly blonde baby imaginable.

"Hi Shiro!" Momo greeted, her big brown eyes shining with eagerness. Then she cooed into her daughter's ear, holding her little wrist and making her wave her pudgy white hand at Hitsugaya. "Say hi to Unkie Shiro!"

"Shi! Shi!" Umeko gurgled exuberantly.

Hitsugaya frowned, though it was very difficult to do so in the face of this double dose of mother-daughter cuteness. "You know you really shouldn't call me Shiro anymore," he said in his most serious tone. "After all, I am quite a bit taller than you now." Then he leaned in a bit lower so he was on the same eye level as the tiny girl and pointed a stern finger at her. "And you, little peanut, may call me Uncle Hitsugaya… Captain Uncle Hitsugaya…"

The tot reached up and grabbed the young captain's finger and he smiled, incapable of repressing it any longer.

"So will you be coming with us to enjoy the festivities?" Izuru asked. "Momo has been looking forward to the four of us spending time together for so long."

The white haired boy was silent for a moment, trying to look as indecisive as possible. Once Momo's face reached peak anxiousness, he finally answered. "Of course I'm going with you. I could never let you down."

"Great," Momo chirped, handing Umeko over to her father so she could go give Toushirou a big hug. "This is going to be the best day."

"Um…" Hitsugaya said awkwardly as she squeezed him tightly. "Do you really think it's appropriate for you to hug me like that?" His eyes darted quickly over to Izuru and then back again.

Momo pulled out of the hug and tilted her head. "Why wouldn't it be appropriate, Shiro?" she asked. "You're my best friend."

Izuru smiled at Toushirou the way he always did, never cocky but more of an apologetic, 'sorry she chose me' sort of smile. "You can't argue with that," he said. "Now come on, let's go."

The little group walked through the streets of Rukongai, taking in the sights and sounds of everyone's happiness. After a while when they came to an empty bench, Toushirou and Izuru sat down gratefully.

"I'm just going to get some ice cream!" Momo hollered over the roar of merriment all around. "Do either of you want any? No? Okay, but it's your loss!"

After turning down the offer for a treat, the two young men sat quietly, and rather awkwardly on their bench, waiting for the young woman to return.

"It's nice to sit down," Izuru said, gesturing to the infant now fast asleep and drooling against his chest.

Toushirou snorted softly. "Don't tell me that carrying around that little peanut is actually making your arms hurt?" The blonde shrank in embarrassment from the comment and the younger boy smiled to soften the effect. "You know I'm just kidding, right?"

"Oh… uh… yeah…" Izuru replied unconvincingly.

"It's just my way of handling the situation," Hitsugaya gruffly admitted. "So don't take my jokes too seriously. Hmm… So I guess Momo will be going out to see him later tonight… Does that bother you at all?"

"It doesn't bother me," Izuru answered. His hand was resting on Umeko's downy head, twirling her pale yellow fluff around his finger. "Actually, the fact that she was able to find something worth loving in that man… I think it makes me adore her even more. I don't mind that part of her will always love him. Just like I don't mind that a part of her will always love you, Captain Hitsugaya."

Toushirou's face went unusually scarlet and he wriggled uncomfortably in his spot on the bench. "Yeah, well I'm just glad I'm not the guy whose performance in bed she subconsciously compares to Captain Aizen."

"What?" the blonde boy stammered, completely losing his composure. "You really think she's…?"

"Kidding again," Hitsugaya said with a smirk, immediately calming down his companion.

Momo reappeared with not one, but three ice cream cones in her hands and a big smile on her face. "I know you guys shook your heads, but I got you some anyways. I got strawberry and chocolate and vanilla. I like all three so you two can pick whichever flavor you want."

"I'll take chocolate," Toushirou muttered, embarrassed to admit that he had a weakness for ice cream. Momo handed him the cone cheerfully.

"I'll take vanilla then," Said Izuru. "It's my favorite. You didn't pick these flavors by accident, did you?"

Momo gave him a playful wink. "Do you want me to take the baby so you can eat yours, Izzy?" she asked sweetly. "Or I could hold your ice cream for you…"

"I'm fine," he replied, turning vaguely pink. "Sit down and join us."

Momo sat down and took a few licks of her strawberry treat before speaking again, this time in a more subdued tone. "There's somewhere I want to go on my own later today… You can handle Umeko without me for a few hours, right?"

"I think I can manage," Izuru said, looking down with a smile at his sleeping daughter.

"Yeah, and I'll stick around to help him out," Toushirou added. "Just in case he screws up."

Momo's face immediately lit up once again. "Thanks you guys!" Then she hopped up off the bench and giggled playfully. "Come on! I want to track down Renji and congratulate him on being made Captain of 3rd Division! Let's go!"

The two young men who loved Momo the most watched as she dashed ahead of them. By now they had both come to accept that once a year, for a few hours, she still belonged to Aizen Sousuke.

Final Free Talk- To those of you who wanted to see Momo end up with Toushirou (and that might very well be all of you), please do not hate this story, or worse, hate me, because of how the epilogue ended things. I originally set out to write a story, not a pairing. And this is how I always planned for this particular story to end. I chose for Momo to wind up with Izuru because it's less conventional. How often do guys like him ever get the girl? I also wrote the ending like this because it demonstrates how much Shiro has grown throughout the story. By the end he is able to trust Izuru enough to accept him being with Momo, and he is able to respect the decisions Momo makes for her own life. If you really hate the ending, though, you can always pretend it never happened. It is only fanfiction after all… I'd rather you did that than choose to hate the entire story.

We really have reached the end now. Please do not misconstrue this as begging, but I would really like to hear what people thought of the story. If you have the time (and it doesn't take much), please comment and tell me what you thought of the end or of the story overall. Also, if you know somebody that you think might enjoy this story, please tell him or her to read it (and to skip the epilogue if it's a hardcore HitsuHina fan hee hee). I will probably take a break for a while, because I need a rest and because I don't have any ideas for my next story. Unfortunately I am really bad at coming up with new ideas. That is why I have written so few stories. I think I would like to write something starring Ichigo and Rukia and the gang… but nothing is certain.

Thanks & Acknowledgements- The characters and the universe were created by the brilliant Kubo Tite. I just made up this story about them.

The headings at the beginning of each chapter are from the survival series by one of my favorite artists, Jenny Holzer.

I have to thank my friend Al, once again, for letting me share my ideas with her… and for having to look at my disturbing drawings of Sousuke as a kitty cat… My biggest thanks, though, go to everyone who read this story. Thank you so much to everyone who read it and liked it and left comments of praise, encouragement, and constructive criticism. I also have to thank those unsung heroes of fanficiton, the people who might have read this story and not liked it, but kept their nasty comments and mean spirited insults to themselves. Take care everyone! It was so much fun writing this story and everyone who read it made it an even more enjoyable experience! Until the next one…

-All of my love, Miss A.M. (makes me sound like a morning person, doesn't it?)