Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach

A.N. I personally think this is a PG-13, but it does mention sex, although not explicitly enough, imo, to rate an M. But if someone disagrees with my rating, just PM me and I'll consider changing it. Also, this is a change in writing style for me as most of it's not nearly as fluffy as anything I usually write in fanic, so constructive criticism/suggestions for improvement are more than welcome.

Eleven Things Hisagi Shuuhei Never Figured Out

1. The first thing Shuuhei saw upon waking, bleary-eyed, underneath a table with Kira's head pillowed on his stomach, was Matsumoto's hair. It was hanging over the edge of the table like a waterfall, and the first thing he thought, before Kira's groaning jolted him back to the depressing reality, was that he didn't think he'd seen anything so pretty in years. And later, when he was scrambling to catch up on the paperwork and keep his division together, the only thing that could take his mind off things was wondering what it would feel like to wrap his fingers in her hair.

He never figured out why it made him feel so peaceful, but it just did.

2. After the ryoka left and things started getting back to normal, Hisagi took over, in all but name, his division. The other captains were quite busy preparing for the war, and he didn't want his division to add on to their workload. So he started doing most of what had been his captain's paperwork, along with his own, and training. That's all he did: work, work, train, work, work, train, work, work, train, and sometimes he managed to get some sleep in between, and that was nice. It was medicinal, in a way: with all of that, he rarely had a chance to think about his captain, or about just how screwed the shinigami were, or wondering how many were going to die in the coming war. He wondered how the others were doing – Kira and Hinamori and Matsumoto – the ones who'd been left behind, since they didn't have nearly as much to do. Kira and Hinamori he couldn't know about, but Matsumoto looked like hell. Every time she came by to drop off or pick up some paperwork, he saw that, though she looked as bubbly as usual, she had dark circles under her eyes, and her voice was slurred more often than not. Pretty much everyone knew that she and Gin had been together at some point in time, and it wasn't difficult to imagine what his betrayal could have done to her. Every time he saw her he wanted to say something, to ask her how she was doing at the very least, to make her sit down until she understood just what a bastard Ichimaru was and that she was better off without him. Shuuhei never could figure out why, every time he saw her, he couldn't seem to do anything but smile and say hello.

3. The first time they had sex was a complete surprise. She'd come in to give him some paperwork that night, and they were just standing there discussing it. Next thing he knew she was kissing his neck and he was frantically trying to take both their hakamas off, holding her up against the wall as her legs wrapped around his hips and, well, that was that. When it was over and he set her down, both of them trembling, he didn't know exactly what to do, so handed her her clothes and got dressed, then opened the door for her when they walked out. He, paperwork in his hands, started heading to his quarters, and she to hers, but he hadn't gone ten steps before she stopped, turned around, and said "Hisagi?"

There was no paperwork done that night – or the next morning, for that. It was the first time Shuuhei turned in his paperwork late. He never figured out why it was the only time Hitsugaya didn't say a thing about it, but he figured Matsumoto had something to do with that.

4. For a while it was all about the sex. Nothing more; it was easier that way. Just a way to let loose, an escape from practice and paperwork and the madness left behind by the three traitors. Just the sex, and plenty of it. No strings attached, no reservations, just hello, let's get naked, goodbye again and see you tomorrow. And when she was gone he still felt empty and tired and overworked, but he knew there was someone else who did too, and that was comforting. But he couldn't figure out why, now that he had the opportunity, he just couldn't bring himself to wrap his fingers in her hair.

5. Usually they met up in his office or quarters, as it was easier to avoid talk that way, but one time when they ended up in her room he fell asleep, and when he woke up hours later she was sitting there watching him. It was the first time neither of them had left, and he found that he liked it. He smiled at her and she said good morning, and she smiled – a smile that actually reached her eyes – really, for the first time since Gin had gone. Shuuhei left soon afterwards, but before he did he gave her a goodbye kiss. He never figured out why he hadn't woken up and left earlier; he just knew he never would again.

6. Several nights later he was lying on the floor of his office with her, just lying next to each other and enjoying the dark. Matsumoto had her hand on his chest, and he was thinking how strange it was that he had spent so much time with her lately and still knew so little about her. So he asked her what Gin had been like when he was younger, and after a long pause she told him, and then he told her about his life in the alleys of Rukongai, and the next night they talked about her problems reaching bankai, and his tattoos, then about what it was like to work under the boy genius, and how he felt now that Tousen was gone. He never figured out why she answered his first question, but after six weeks of talking he figured it didn't really matter.

7. The night before she left for the real world, Matsumoto went to his quarters, and he made some tea and they sat on the floor in front of his couch for hours and hours and talked, just talked about anything and everything they felt like, and when the sky grew light and Shuuhei's clock said it was time to go to work, Matsumoto put a hand on his arm and thanked him for listening, and he smiled and told her he'd miss her while she was gone, and they kissed lightly, sweetly, and she was gone. Shuuhei couldn't figure out why she felt the need to thank him, but he knew he would have done the same.

8. When he heard that the Arrancar had attacked the Shinigami stationed in the Real World, his stomach gave an uncharacteristic flop, and he hurried to the Vice-Captain's waiting room to wait for the meeting he knew was about to be called. And when he got there he couldn't stop himself from pacing around the room, even after Renji and Kira got there and raised there eyebrows and asked him what was wrong. And when he heard that Matsumoto was all right, he could barely keep from grinning. As soon as he was able he got one of the tech guys to send her a message saying that he was glad that most of them had escaped unscathed, wished Hitsugaya and Ikakuu a speedy recovery, and hoped they all came home safe. An innocuous message that wouldn't invite undue speculation from anyone, but one that he hoped she could read through the lines on. And when she sent one back that said 'Thanks; hope to see you soon,' Shuuhei coulnd't figure out why he couldn't wipe the smile off his face for a week.

9. When Matsumoto finally came back, she was so worried about Inoue that she grabbed all of her backed-up paperwork and sat in his office and did it. And when she finished it she asked to help with his, and when she finished that she paced for half an hour before she started cursing Yamamoto and sat on the couch and sobbed, harshly, and Shuuhei put his arm around her shoulder and said nothing, just sat there, her hand in his. He never figured out why it made her calm down, but it did, and she thanked him for it and he told her she didn't need to.

10. She and Yumichika had been training under Hitsugaya to reach bankai, and after she came back he joined them. And he found himself joining her at lunch, too, and then walking with her to lunch, and the vice-captain's meetings, and the shinigami women's association, and sneaking into her office when Hitsugaya was gone to do paperwork with her. They had decided to keep things quiet for a while, but one night he said she was special and fuck whatever the others thought, because with the war coming they could die any day, and he was going spend as much time as he could living with her before he died. And she told him it sounded like a plan, and the only thing he couldn't figure out was why he'd been too stupid to realize just how amazing she was earlier.

11. When they went to Hueco Mundo they didn't need to say 'I love you' to each other, but they said it anyway, and when he saw Gin the only thing on Shuuhei's mind was murder, right until the moment Gin impaled him and he blacked out. When Shuuhei woke up in the 4th division Matsumoto was sitting on a chair next to him with a pile of paperwork in her lap and dark circles under her eyes, and she told him she had killed Gin after he had passed out and brought him back to Unohana, and he had been in a coma ever since. And then she smiled and smoothed the hair away from his forehead, told him to go to sleep, and said she'd be sitting there when he woke up again. Shuuhei never figured out why she chose him over Gin, and he never will, but not a day goes by that he doesn't thank his lucky stars that she did.

Oh, and her hair? It really is like a waterfall.