Written for a challenge. Takes place sometime during the SS arc. Sorry for the shortness.


Wanting attention from Ichimaru Gin was a dangerous thing.

Matsumoto knew that. She didn't need the whispers of schemes, the rumors, everything her captain always worried about. She didn't need to be in a room with him when he was projecting that air he had, that aura that made everyone around him sweat. She knew perfectly well that Ichimaru Gin was dangerous.

She wasn't afraid of him. Never had been. Not because she didn't think he could harm her if he wanted to, but because she thought that if he'd wanted to, he'd have already done it. She didn't know what to think when it concerned him, period. Were those years they spent together as children for nothing? Did he not remember, did he just not care? Couldn't he see it, didn't he realize, that on those nights she woke up hot and feverish and aching, it was from dreams full of cool, slender hands, mysterious smiles?

She wanted a sign. Something. Anything.

And it was only after getting completely, utterly smashed that she finally received it.

It was one of those nights when all the ladies went out—they all said it was just one of those girls' things, a time to relax, get away from the men, yadda yadda and all that crap, but everyone knew it was for one purpose and one purpose only: sake. Lots and lots of sake. Not that Matsumoto was a two-pound lightweight like Hinamori, but she did like her liquor. And after the fourth or fifth bottle, even someone as fortified as her was bound to be a little wasted.

She went walking after their group disbanded, some home to sleep off the buzz, others passed out right there at the table. In Matsumoto's experience, it was never a good idea to go to sleep drunk. It tended to ensure a massive hangover the next day.

The night air was refreshing on her face and throat, and she had just lifted the hair off the back of her neck to cool it when she felt his presence.

That was all the warning she got. In one split second he was behind her, and his hand was resting on the nape of her neck. Goosebumps fizzled over her flesh. Shunpou, she breathed silently. All the captains could do it.

"Rangiku," he whispered teasingly in her ear.

She sucked in a breath. "I-Ichimaru-taichou."

"You smell like sake, Rangiku." His voice had that sing-song lilt to it that drove her crazy. "Are you drunk?"

"I'm sobering," she said a bit defensively, and she knew, as though she could feel it, that he was smiling.

"Ne…" His head lowered, his mouth next to her throat. She could feel his breath on her skin. "You've been watching me, haven't you? I've seen you, Rangiku. What are you looking for?"

She swallowed. "I-I just want to know what you're scheming."

"Do you?"

"I know you're up to something. I know you, Gin." She caught her breath as he nuzzled slightly against the side of her throat. "Tell me what it is."

"You'll tell your captain."

"I won't. I don't need to. He already has his suspicions."

"Of course he does. Clever, clever Hitsugaya-taichou." He laughed softly.

"Tell me, Gin."

For a moment he was silent, and she almost thought he would. Then he straightened decisively and drew away. "No."

She whirled around to face him. "Why not?"

For once he didn't play games, didn't mock her, didn't tease her—just answered. "Because you'd have to make a choice. And you're not ready for that."

She opened her mouth to protest, and he put a finger to her lips.

"Watch very, very closely, Rangiku."

Three weeks later, when he looked at her over his shoulder with an expression that was almost regretful, when he told her that he wished she could have held on just a little bit longer, she finally understood. Only then did she see the choice. Only then did she realize it was too late to make it.

If only she'd paid a little more attention.