Though it was unnecessary and would most likely draw more attention to him than he needed at the moment, Kira Izuru still crept around the hospital like a hunted man.

He didn't feel he had the right to go to her, after all.

But Captain Ichimaru had promised, and promises from your commanding officer should always be believed, right?

He didn't know, and thanks to liberal amounts of sake, he hadn't had the clarity of mind to consider it. The present moment excluded, of course.

No one notices him, or so he hopes, and he opens the door just enough to let himself in and nothing more.

She's sleeping, her breath slow and steady, her face paler than normal. The sheets are neatly tucked, undoubtedly Captain Unohana's personal work. She has a soft spot for Hinamori's gentle, sunny nature, Kira remembers.

"Hinamori," he breathes softly, like a prayer. Even like this, she is beautiful to him. Her hair is loose and long without the cloth that binds it, making her look different. Older.

He doesn't like it. He wants Momo back, he wants the bun haired girl who smiled and made bentos for Renji and himself out of that hospital bed. He wants her walking and talking and, above all else, smiling again.

"Vice-Captain." A voice acknowledges, but it's male, it's flat and irritable, so very different than Momo's. Much like his zanpakuto, the voice is cold as a sudden winter chill, and cuts deeply, with purpose and intent.

"Captain Hitsuguya." Kira says quietly, head low. He hasn't spoken with the Captain of the Tenth Division and has not wanted to, never mind the times he's spent drinking with his vice-captain.

"What are you doing here?" Captain Hitsuguya's voice isn't at all like Captain Gin's, who's voice was amused and sounds almost kind- except when it wasn't and he was aiming to kill- but harsher, with a tone of disgust and annoyance.

Kira flinches because of the heavy weight of fury in that voice. "I-I was just visiting her." His voice is quivering, because Captain Hitsuguya is within rights to kill him, and he wouldn't scream or lift Wabisuke in response.

"Hmph." Hitsuguya shows nothing more than a trace of annoyance, but Kira can't shake the feeling that the Captain would like nothing more than to strike him down where he stood.

"I never wanted her to get hurt." Kira explains, but his voice is babbling and he knows that the Captain despises fools.

"I know that." Hitsuguya's voice remains unchanged despite his words. "But she's still in that bed, isn't she?"

Kira's mouth is dry but he still swallows in reflex. "I... if I hadn't lured you away..." he begins, but he's cut off before he can say any more.

"If I had been a little smarter, a little faster, a little stronger," Hitsuguya says in reply, and he seems to be scorning someone- whether it is Kira or himself, is impossible to tell.

"But she's still in that bed." he repeats, and Kira realizes that the Captain's eyes have never strayed from Hinamori, not once.

She is pale as a goddess of death should be, but it doesn't seem right, doesn't seem fair. Where is the smile, the eager light in her eyes, that warmth that she spread simply with her flittering presence?

Kira knows where it is, in the depths of Hueco Mundo. Where the shattered remnants of his belief dwell, where Matsumoto's memories have abandoned her to go to, where the torn threads of Komamaru's friendship linger.

"I don't blame you... or at least, that's what I think I should be saying." Hitsuguya continues, gazing downward for the first time, "But I also blame myself." There is a subtle tenseness in his fists, a weight on his shoulders that Kira hasn't noticed up until this point.

Kira knows how to measure the weight someone carries. Wabisuke has taught him that very well.

Momo mentioned him often, the frigid captain of the tenth, as a childhood friend, someone dear to her.

Yet she raised a blade against him, accused him of a terrible crime that wasn't even real, as though he were some murderous beast and that those childhood memories were illusions to be forgotten as quickly as they came.

Kira wonders if Captain Hitsuguya is still holding the shreds of those long-gone memories, torn from the very first time she swung her sword at him.

The weight he carries tells all.

He doesn't speak because he's quite certain that the Captain will say more. When the Captain does no such thing, a solemn weight hangs in the air, that makes it hard to breathe, hard to stand.

Hinamori breathes slow and soft, and they watch with still hearts and heavy shoulders.

"Stop drinking with Matsumoto. I can't have my vice-captain hungover every morning." Hitsuguya says humorlessly, and if there is a joke or a threat, it is undoubtedly meant without malice. He turns around and Kira can't see his face.

The Captain turns, just for a moment, to look at him. "I'm leaving for the human world soon. Watch over her."

The weight is still there, but Kira decides that maybe, just maybe, Hitsuguya has let him carry part of it.

Temporarily, of course.