Disclaimer—Bleach is not my property, and as such this is not for profit or anything other than the enjoyment of a few fans.

A/N—Part 2 of 2. This was a fun little fic, and I have to admit that although I love all Bleach characters, I'm going to push HitsuIchi only until the fandom picks up.

After Effects

"Good mooooooooooooorning," a strong female voice sang out. Toshiro looked up blearily at the door as his vice-captain practically danced into the house. Behind her stood Ayasegawa, who looked as immaculate and girlish as ever, Kuchiki Rukia and Orihime Inoue.

"Oh, Hitsugaya-taicho, you look awful," his buxom vice-captain said, her voice laced with concern. If just about anyone else talked to him in such a manner they would find themselves on the receiving end of a stare that was known to make strong men lose control of their bowels. With Matsumoto, whom he knew was immune to his glare anyway, it was okay.

"Yes, Matsumoto, I actually have a semblance of empathy for you now."

"My poor little taicho, what have you done to yourself?" Of course there were limits.

"Matsumoto…" Toshiro trailed off dangerously. Orihime moved forward and looked at him with her large soulful eyes. It wasn't hard to see what was special about the girl, despite lacking any sort of true combat potential, kind ness and love radiated from her the way raw power did from Kurosaki.

"Is Kurosaki-kun still asleep?"

"No, he's upstairs, showering," Toshiro said.

"Where are Renji and Madarame-san, Hitsugaya-taicho?" Kuchiki asked.

"They went back to Urahara's last night."

"Well that's good, because we're supposed to head back there now. Yoruichi-san and Soifon-taicho are coming to give us the latest information from Soul Society. Someone should really go tell Kurosaki-kun, too," Matsumoto said.

"I'll do it," Toshiro said. Matsumoto's eyes narrowed, and she watched her captain climb the stairs with a speculative glint in her eyes. She was distracted in short order as Yumichika had found some sort of sweet that he was gushing over and she knew that if she didn't snag some now he'd hog it all.

Toshiro didn't notice, as he was thinking (and without pain, thank god for those pills Kurosaki had given him) quite deeply about Kurosaki, and the—the thing that had happened. He knocked on the bathroom door and shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.

"I'm showering, go use another bathroom," came the muffled reply.

"It's me, Kurosaki," Toshiro replied.

"Oh, come in them." Toshiro raised an eyebrow at the locked door and then glared at it, hard. The door unlocked and the captain smiled. He pushed his way inside and closed the door as the steam washed over him. Water was always welcome on his skin; he could feel Hiyorinmaru stirring as his body eagerly drank in the moisture.

The shower had a flowery curtain on it, which Kurosaki was now peering around the edge of. Toshiro didn't flush as he looked at the other boy, but he did flush at the memories of being in this shower last night. He remembered clawing at the wall there, Ichigo grabbing the curtain and almost falling on him, the spot where Ichigo had pinned him so Toshiro could watch what the other boy did in the mirror, or the counter where Ichigo had been on his back with Toshiro licking—with the practice of long hours spent controlling himself, Toshiro smoothed his thoughts out once more.

"Nah, what is it Toshiro, came back for more?" Smirking like nothing was wrong and how could he just ask that? Toshiro's irritation rose. But he could control it, especially as what he was about to say would determine where things would go from here. He took a deep breath, wondering why this felt so difficult to him.

"No" he said sharply, "and about that Kurosaki. Last night," here it went, "was very, very nice. But it won't happen again because of some whim. I'm not going to share my body at the cost of my heart." There, that was well said. Kurosaki had to understand it. That had been difficult, but Toshiro had succeeded.

Kurosaki looked at him with a carefully blank face.

"So, what are you saying?" Toshiro wanted to punch Kurosaki in the face, hard. The orange-haired shinigami was now standing in full view, and Toshiro saw that if anything the love bite on Kurosaki's neck had gotten a little bigger. He desperately tried to keep his eyes off of Kurosaki's manhood, even as he felt his palms begin to grow warm and a tingling that crept over his whole body.

"I'm saying, moron, that if you want it to happen again, it better mean a little something more than last night. Now finish washing yourself and then come join us. And cover up your neck while you're at it," Toshiro snapped at him. He ignored the vaguely hurt expression on Kurosaki's face as he walked out of the bathroom.

That little prick Ichigo thought to himself, and then smirked as he remembered how that phrase was not exactly appropriate to describe Toshiro. All the same, the captain had no fucking business speaking to him like that. And what was that crap about his heart?

"Che," Ichigo spat, he didn't know why Toshiro had to be so unbelievably aggravating. Saying last night hadn't meant anything, it had god damn meant something to Ichigo. It had meant a fucking ton. Ichigo didn't just give his heart away to people, but what he'd given Toshiro last night was certainly enough to indicate the level of respect he felt for the captain.

It wasn't like he had just fucked Toshiro and then left him. Hell, he'd let Toshiro fuck him, and they'd fucking cuddled (albeit drunkenly, and really, it wasn't cuddling, more falling asleep entangled in each other's arms) and shit. Ichigo refrained from punching the wall by the barest of margins, but he could feel the anger settling in his muscles, knotting with tension. His shoulders in particular felt an almost literal weight on them.

Tying the towel roughly about his waist Ichigo stalked into his room. He threw some clothes on, all the while growling to himself about stupid little shinigami bastards who thought they were the shit. He looked at himself in the mirror and frowned. Toshiro had to have a mouth like a fucking lion (or dragon) because the mark on his neck was huge.

It occurred to Ichigo, that he could just let the mark stay there, in plain sight. He grinned, that would teach the uppity little captain. He'd strut around with the mark in plain view and just not say a word to anyone about it.

"I'm saying, moron, that if you want it to happen again, it better mean a little something more than last night." Did that mean it hadn't meant anything to Toshiro? No, otherwise he wouldn't have gotten upset. But what did he want, declarations of love and shit?

The realization was not comfortable. Ichigo cursed, he'd really enjoyed the previous night with the other boy, it had been hot, and pleasurable, but ultimately it had been comfortable. He'd felt both good physically and mentally at peace, even if only for a scant few hours. But he couldn't—he wasn't ready to just jump into some sort of—whatever it was Toshiro wanted. Love in his life didn't end well. He'd loved his mother, and she'd been hurt because of him. He'd loved Rukia and she'd been taken from him for helping him, and sentenced to death. His love had endangered all his friends and loved ones at one point or another. His very presence was dangerously attractive to the forces of evil, however trite that sounded.

It was the reason he gained power, to defend his loved ones, but the reason they needed defending was because he was dangerous to be around. To be loved by Kurosaki Ichigo was to be put in the line of fire.

That's bullshit logic though, Toshiro is a captain who has mastered his bankai completely and has immense spiritual power. Out of almost anyone he should be perfectly safe to be with because he can keep himself safe. And what was all this talk about love? Maybe Toshiro was right, and last night had been nothing, had meant nothing more than release, a chance to grab pleasure before it was potentially gone forever. No, no, that was wrong. It hadn't been love, not soul shattering affection, but it had been something. It had not been empty, it had meant something. Damned if Ichigo knew what that was, though.

The orange-haired boy who was fast becoming a man sat on the edge of his bed, towel still wrapped around his waist. Love was scary, and hard. There was no defense against the wounds love could create, he knew that intimately. He didn't—he couldn't handle more of that pain in his life. His burdens were already stretching out and smothering him (protect the family, protect the friends, save the city, save the soul society, save the world) and he just could not deal with more pain.

And fucking Toshiro thought it was nothing. Nothing. See, it's already starting to hurt.

Ichigo laughed a little, and it shocked him how pained and self-pitying he sounded to his own ears. Time to reign it in, he didn't need to broadcast to everyone what he was thinking, he'd already done that enough. After he was dressed he stared at his neck. The love-bite. It was a physical manifestation of the—whatever it was that he and Toshiro shared. Respect, admiration, affection? Or none of the above according to Toshiro.

It had meant nothing? If it meant nothing, than it didn't need to be hidden, did it? Toshiro could damn well deal with the nothing that it meant.

Ichigo walked down the stairs and into the kitchen as casually as he could manage. After years and years spent honing his body language to convey a carefully sculpted image of apathy and irritation, it felt comfortable to strut into the kitchen with a careless frown.

"Hey, hey, what's everyone up to?" His eyes flitted around, taking in the sight of Rukia, Inoue, Yumichika, Matsumoto and Toshiro.

"Good morning Kurosaki-kun," Inoue said, smiling brilliantly at him, before re-engaging in a conversation with Yumichika about God only knew what.

"There you are Ichigo, you lazy bum, what took you so long?" Rukia, of course, no other woman really spoke to him as she did. Her face scowled up at him and Ichigo snarled back at her.

"Don't you go calling me a lazy bum, you stupid girl," he said.

"Now listen here you bastard—uh, Ichigo, what's that?" Ichigo blinked, Rukia had gone straight from anger to quiet confusion. Toshiro, who had been talking with Matsumoto, stilled at Rukia's question. The white-haired shinigami turned his head slightly, to look at Ichigo and Rukia.

"What's what?" Ichigo asked, keeping his tone as guileless as possible. The look Toshiro pointedly did not have on his face was satisfying a very vindictive portion of Ichigo's soul.

"That," Rukia said, poking at the mark on his neck. He batted her hand away.

"Oh this? It's nothing. Absolutely nothing," Ichigo said, drawing the word 'absolutely' out, a musical note of petty revenge. Rukia pursed her lips, disapproval scrawled across her face.

"I see. Well let's all get over to Urahara's then," she said.

"Okay, let's go." And the entire group trouped out. Toshiro and Matsumoto were walking together while Inoue and Yumichika were keeping each other entertained. The minute they were outside the house and every pair was walking slightly apart, Rukia turned on Ichigo.

"Ichigo, you aren't fooling me. Is that a love-bite?"

"Only old people call them that. Us young whippersnappers call them a hickey." Rukia stuck her tongue out at him and Ichigo smirked at her. She always could cheer him up, no matter the situation. He really did love her, in his own way. And look where that got her.

"A hickey… Okay, but who gave it to you?" He didn't even have to will the smile to fade from his face; it simply fell off of its own accord, like a ripe piece of fruit dropping from a tree.

"None of your business." Rukia blinked at the coldness in Ichigo's voice. Her dark eyes narrowed and then relaxed.

"That's where you're wrong, Ichigo, because I, as the ultimate female intuition in your life, know that—"

"Rukia, please drop it." Rukia, who had been making grand gestures to accompany her words, dropped her hands to her side. She looked unhappy, but she could tell that Ichigo was being serious.

"Fine. But you will tell me." It wasn't a threat, simply an eventuality that even Ichigo had to privately acknowledge. Whatever his life had been before Rukia, he could barely remember. The petite female shinigami had completely turned his life upside down, moved it sideways and then spun it really, really fast. There was a sort of closeness that can only be gained from fighting for someone's life, of being in danger of death, and that closeness was in some ways far more intimate than just regular love. He and Rukia, all of his friends as well but mostly Rukia, had shared more life and death experiences than he knew what to do with. It had changed him, and her, and at this point there wasn't much that they didn't know about each other, except for certain specifics. He would tell Rukia, because he had to tell Rukia, she was as much a part of him as his family, or his zanpokuto.

But not now.

"Maybe later." And that was that.

Matsumoto Rangiku was used to being underestimated. Men looked at her, and they saw a giant pair of breasts. Women looked at her and dismissed her as a floozy. She was so used to it, she played off of it. What was better than an enemy who thought you were stupid?

Matsumoto was observant, and not just because she'd been a shinigami for a great deal longer than most of the vice-captains. She had empathy and a keen eye for detail, even if she didn't always choose to exercise them. Hitsugaya was extremely lucky to have her as a second seat; for all that she did no paper work and caused him insane amounts of grief. By the same token, she never said anything if he fell asleep at his desk and had a nightmare, she didn't treat him like a child or like he was delicate. Where others would have been forward with their desire to mother Hitsugaya, she gave him space while giving him a pillar to lean on, should he need it.

Not that her captain needed it frequently. Before the Aizen debacle she could count on one hand the number of times her captain had truly needed her there. After everything that had happened, with Hinamori and the promise of war, he'd begun to lean on her a bit more (Matsumoto had broken a sacred oath to never do paperwork for him, he better appreciate it). So it was no coincidence that Matsumoto saw the emotions that flooded Hitsugaya's face when Ichigo had brazenly walked into the kitchen with a furious bruise on his neck.

It made sense. After all, Hitsugaya wasn't so young, physically, that he would be unaffected by her blatant sexuality. Any normal boy his age would begin blushing furiously and possibly bleeding from the nose at the sight of her bending over to pick up a pencil. With Hitsugaya she was lucky if he did anything more than say, "Don't strain anything, Matsumoto." The only way to get a reaction out of him was to literally bury his head in her assets.

It was a bit disappointing that the first time she got the captain to loosen up wasn't really her doing, it was Ichigo's, but that was okay. In all honesty, she had meant for him to spend some time with Ichigo. Ichigo was probably the closest thing that Hitsugaya would ever find as a peer, both in power, and the odd combination of physical and mental age the two represented. She'd hoped that maybe, finally, the captain would find a friend who could push him, at least a little bit.

Pushing him into bed? Not exactly what I had in mind. It also seemed that their budding romance was going to explode rather spectacularly just after what she was sure was a rather eventful birth. Teenage hormones did not for much restraint make, after all. And she was willing to bet money that when her captain cut loose—and god forbid her for thinking about this—he would really cut loose. At least he had good taste; Kurosaki Ichigo was a fine hunk of man. But apparently both of them were equally stupid when it came to relationships, as large a surprise as that wasn't.

Let's see, Kurosaki-kun is wandering around with a giant "I had sex sign" on his neck, and Hitsugaya-taicho wants to murder him. This means: sometime after I left last night, they got together, probably after Ikakku and Renji-kun left. The ancient recipe of boys+alcoholtrouble. Now if Kurosaki-kun is the one trying to punish Hitsugaya-taicho, it must have been something Hitsugaya-taicho said to him. She turned to look at her captain, who was walking alongside her. His normally handsome face was blank, so blank he looked less than alive.

He's upset, quite a bit. Oh Kurosaki-kun, you've dug yourself a rather deep hole. Well, wasn't this how shinigami life went? The captains went in, made a mess, and then the vice-captains came and cleaned it up. Except for Yachiru, she usually just made more of a mess.

"Truthfully, Orihime-chan, you have a beautiful complexion, what do you use to get your skin so soft and smooth?" Trust Yumichika to be pressing Inoue for beauty tips.

"Well it's a secret, actually, something I make on my own from bean curd, and mud with special bathing salts and a bit of—" Matsumoto decided to tune Inoue out before she became concerned over the girl's mental status. Behind her she could feel Rukia and Kurosaki-kun walking together, and talking in hushed tones.

"Ne, taicho, how are you feeling today?"

"Fine, Matsumoto."

"That's good, then. Because, you know, you're first time drinking can be a bit scary, since it's completely new. Things you've never done before can leave you feeling decidedly unbalanced, and maybe even doubting your actions." Oh boy, somebody was not a happy camper, which only supported Matsumoto's intuitive feelings.

"Matsumoto," the boy genius growled. She held up a hand to his face, making him come up short in surprise. It was not often that Matsumoto dealt with her captain in such a disrespectful manner, she was quite sensitive to his sense of pride. Pride could get in the way, however, and she was not going to let her captain screw up something that could potentially be quite good for him.

"Just let me finish, captain. You can change a lot when you let some of your guard down, but if you refuse to let it stay down, then whatever you may have changed can be crippled." Good, he was thinking about it now.

"I see."

"I'm just glad you had a fun time. Now if you'll excuse me."

Before she could drop back to have a chat with the orange-haired source of her captain's problems, her wrist was grabbed and held in a vice like grip. She looked in surprise at Hitsugaya.

"Don't, Matsumoto."

"But, captain," she started only to have Hitsugaya look deeply into her eyes.

"Please, do not. If it is not meant to be, it is not meant to be." His tone was even, and his face didn't look resigned so much as calmly accepting. But understanding Hitsugaya Toshiro was not about the surface, it was about the words not spoken, and the emotions not shown. Still waters run deep, and with the famed boy genius of the Gotei 13, those waters were very deep. That said; the boy genius was a boy, and one with no experience in the decidedly murky area of romance. It was one thing to master a bankai, and another entirely to deal with the ramifications of sexuality.

Her poor captain had no idea what he was getting himself into.

"If you say so, captain. I'm always here though, if you need to talk." Hitsugaya made a small noise that was neither agreement nor dismissal. Matsumoto smiled and began to whistle; all the while promising that the second her captain's attention was diverted she was going to have a very pointed conversation with a certain shinigami representative.

By the time the group had reached Urahara's, the tension was fairly palpable. Inoue was glancing anxiously around at everyone, with Rukia and Matsumoto both giving Ichigo decidedly pointed looks, not quite glares but definitely with negative energy in them. Yumichika looked positively putout by all the silly melodrama that was decidedly not beautiful, Toshiro's face was completely etched with his anger, and Ichigo was decidedly antagonistic.

All in all, there was a great deal of subtext and adverbially backed up emotion. This was in direct opposition to the group that was currently at Urahara's store. Renji and Ikkaku had already worn themselves out sparring in the giant underground room while Jinta shouted abuse at the red-haired shinigami. At the moment, they were lounging around in the front of the store, seeing as how there were rarely any customers. The Bount mod souls were bringing tea in, as Chad and Ishida were already waiting with the two shinigami. No one knew where Urahara and Yoruichi were, although Tessai probably did. The large man wasn't saying anything and had disappeared into the bowels of the store, so the four males were left to their own devices while waiting for the rest of the group to show up.

The first person to step inside the store was Inoue, and the worried expression on her face was enough to tip off each of them that something was bothering her. As the group streamed in it became obvious that something was off, but it wasn't until Ichigo finally entered and closed the door that the reason was revealed. It was at that moment that Ichigo realized that he had potentially done something very, very stupid.

As he entered and the awkward greetings began between the two groups, his hickey was noticed. Now Matsumoto and Yumichika had both seen Ichigo's neck and both of them had kept their mouths shut, in Yumichika's case because he didn't really care. Renji and Ikkaku on the other hand reacted with shock. Because as drunk as they had all been last night, Ikkaku and Renji knew they had left Toshiro and Ichigo alone together. And that they'd taunted Ichigo about being a virgin. And there was a hickey on Ichigo's neck. And they'd left Ichigo and Toshiro alone. Together. Drunk.

As Ichigo watched the train of realization pull into shinigami station, he began to turn a bit red. He couldn't help but glance at Toshiro, and he flinched internally at the face he saw. Toshiro didn't even look angry; his face was completely blank, not even calm or apathetic, blank. The white-haired boy was so emotional that he couldn't even feign his usual attitude of collected tranquility, and had to blank his face.

Ichigo could feel the bottom of his stomach sinking, and a powerful wave of regret swept through him, abolishing the anger he'd been carrying since he'd left his house. He tore his eyes away from Toshiro (he'd only been looking at him for a moment, but it had felt like forever), and came face to face with two very aghast death gods.

For a second there was no action, everyone had their own mental process to evaluate what they were seeing based on what they knew, and then further interpretation of what they could glean from the expressions and reactions of those around them.

"Yo, wassup dudes, Kon-sama is in the house," yelled a small stuffed lion as it slid into the center of the store on its knees, like a tiny plushy rock star. The emotional tension in the room took on an edge of incredulity at the sheer obliviousness of the mod-soul. Rukia casually silenced him with a stomp.

"Hello, hello, everyone, I'm terribly sorry to be so late," Urahara slid in the door, waving a fan at his face that didn't quite cover his enormous shit-eating grin. Yoruichi walked in behind him, rolling her eyes.

"You're never sorry for being late, Kisuke."

"What a harsh thing to say, Yoruichi-san. It's as if you don't respect me." She simply looked at him. "Oh you are so cruel!"

"Good morning Urahara-san," Inoue said cheerfully. There were various other greetings tossed forth from the crowd but for the most part the attention was still on Ichigo and Toshiro, and Ichigo just knew that Toshiro was getting progressively angrier.

"Good morning, Inoue. Now, if everyone is here we can get started. My practice room is only so large, so let's start first with the shinigami practicing bankai, and then we'll do another group after lunch."

Toshiro took that as his cue to leave, with Matsumoto trailing close behind him. Renji and Ikkaku looked at each other, nodded, and grabbed Ichigo by his arms.

"Hey, hey what are you two—" Ichigo started and then yelped as the two dragged him away. Behind him he could hear the discussion start up and he winced, as they would probably all be talking about him and—wait everyone who knew what had happened was going to be downstairs with him…

"Renji, Ikkaku, let go of me," he tried to struggle but the two men simply kept hustling him along, with Yumichika trailing behind them.

"No, Ichigo, we won't." They stopped at the entrance long enough to drag Ichigo's soul form out of his body and then drop their faux bodies. Ichigo finally got free when they pitched him down the hole and he had to flash step to the ground.

"What the hell was that about?" he shouted only to have Renji get right up in his face.

"You are the fucking stupidest person I have ever met," the redhead said vehemently

"Hey, you can't talk to me like that," Ichigo spat back, his voice slightly louder than Renji's.

"Yes, he can, because you are." Ichigo glared at Ikkaku.

"What were you thinking? I thought you were an honorable person, but it appears you're just scum." Ichigo turned back to Renji, and felt his blood run cold. The other man was looking at him with pure disgust etched on his face, and Ichigo's anger ran like ice through his veins.

"You take that back, Renji." Ichigo's voice was low and filled with the threat of violence. Renji was undeterred.

"Or what, you'll taunt me in public like you did Hitsugaya-taicho?" Ichigo's mouth snapped shut and he clammed up.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, Kurosaki-kun, no one likes a liar. It is such ugly behavior," Yumichika said as he landed next to the trio. His hair and clothes were as usually immaculate and his expression was one of vague interest.

"Who the hell do you think you are, screwing with the captain like that?" Ichigo glared at Renji, the air between their eyes was hot with reiatsu and anger. Renji got possessive of people he was around, and apparently Hitsugaya was no exception.

"Renji, get out of my face."

"What's the problem, Ichigo, you upset that your plan to fuck over the captain is—" Ichigo couldn't restrain himself.

"You bastard, I'll kill you—" Reaching for his sword and Renji's hand had already clenched around the hilt of Zabimaru—

"Stop it." Both men froze. Ikkaku and Yumichika (the former was upset at the sudden stopping of the potential brawl, the latter glad that his new haircut wouldn't get ruffled) turned to look at the newest member to join the Shinigami Association for Melodramatics. Matsumoto Rangiku was always a figure to behold, and when she cared to exert it, her spirit power was large enough to cow most anyone.

Needless to say, she was exerting herself quite a bit to make a point on the men in front of her.

"Matsumoto…" Renji said quietly.

"You three go practice. Kurosaki and I are going to have a talk." Renji opened his mouth to disagree but Ikkaku grabbed him by the wrist and silenced him with a look.

"Let's go." Ikkaku and Renji walked off with Yumichika following behind them, barely covering a yawn.

"Rangiku-san…" Ichigo started but Matsumoto just held up her hand, telling him to stop.

"Sit down, Ichigo." Ichigo's legs folded involuntarily at Matsumoto's tone of voice, until he was sitting Indian style with his hands on his knees, Zangetsu still resting on his back. The ground beneath him was rough and somehow the act of sitting made him feel more relaxed than he'd been since the morning. The light-haired woman was looking at him with eyes that were full of steel, but kind all the same. The two looked at each other, their eyes meeting until Ichigo looked away. He didn't want to, but something about the way she looked at him was, in all honesty, reminiscent of his mother. At once she was stern and reminded him of the wrongness of his actions, but there was no denying that she was not here to attack him, she was waiting for him to talk to her. But Ichigo couldn't just reveal his heart like that; it wasn't in his personality, even if he knew that it was best, that talking with Matsumoto of all people was without a doubt the sure way to resolve his trouble with Toshiro.

"You wanted to talk to me?" He couldn't think of another way to start. If anything Matsumoto's eyes softened, and it occurred to him that Toshiro was probably just as difficult to get to open up.

"I don't know; do you have something to say?" He grimaced; she wasn't going to baby him apparently, which was just as well. His resolve had to be strong in all regards, in combat and in his life. If it weakened at any point, he would lose his edge, his power, and then everything he loved and held dear.

"He's really angry, isn't he?" Matsumoto sighed, but Ichigo needed another moment to gather his thoughts and feelings.

"You did do something rather cruel, Ichigo." Now it was Ichigo's turn to sigh. He wished he regretted his actions more, but instead he just felt tired. He simply wished he had never taunted Toshiro in that way, not because he regretted his reaction, but because it was not the action of the sort of person he wanted to be.

"It was just supposed to be… I don't know." It hadn't been to humiliate Toshiro, except it had been. He'd just wanted to show Toshiro that it did mean something, because if it didn't than the diminutive captain shouldn't have cared.

"The kind of person Hitsugaya-taicho is, you knew how he'd react." She looked up. "Renji said some mean things to you, but that's how your behavior looks, cruelty without reason."

"Che. Fuck Renji." The red-haired bastard had no right speaking to him like that; he didn't know anything of what had happened. Matsumoto knelt in front of him and placed a hand on his right-hand, which was balled up in a fist on his knee.

"What happened, Ichigo?"

"He said it didn't mean anything," Ichigo said in a low voice. Matsumoto looked confused.


"He said that it didn't mean anything, that if I 'wanted it to happen again,' it would have to." Pain takes time to fade, and Ichigo could still feel the pain of Toshiro's rejection acutely. Echoes of that pain were in his voice now as he talked to Matsumoto, and the female shinigami's eyes softened as she looked at the boy before her.

"Ichigo." Matsumoto said his name softly, like she was trying to put a balm on his emotional pain.

"Who is he to say something like that? It's not my problem if it meant nothing to him, but it did mean something to me." Ichigo stopped talking, he'd said a great deal more than he'd meant to, even if he had been trying to talk about the entire affair.

"Oh, Kurosaki-kun." she squeezed the hand on his knee. "Can't you see? You're both scared."

"Scared?" He knew that he was scared, but, Toshiro clearly wasn't—Oh God, I really am a fucking idiot, aren't I?

"Don't worry, it's normal. Most powerful men I know come undone at the first feelings of love." There was that damn L-word. It made him want to hit something.

"It's not love according to Toshiro."

"Well it wouldn't be, right off the bat. But it could be."

"I don't even know if I want to anymore." Ichigo almost winced, his voice sounded petulant and childish even to his ears. Thankfully Matsumoto didn't call him on it directly.

"Now you truly are being stupid. The two of you are good for each other, you should give it a try." Now she was smiling at him and he felt his cheeks grow warm.

"I don't think he wants anything to do with me, and I don't—"

"Oh, shut up, Kurosaki-kun. Even if you can't let go of your pride, you owe Hitsugaya-taicho an apology."

"I suppose you're right."

"Now, let me do something about this," she reached for the love-bite that was causing so much controversy and Ichigo slapped a hand over it.

"No. I will go apologize."

"Ichigo," she tried to begin only to be cut off by him.

"I'll apologize, and I'll ask for him to forgive me, but I won't pretend that it never happened." Matsumoto's mouth worked as she struggled for a response.

"You don't have to, Kurosaki." Both shinigami leapt into the air at the sound of Hitsugaya Toshiro's voice.

"Captain!" Matsumoto shrieked. Ichigo's eyes widened as Toshiro stepped out from behind his vice-captain (had he really been so oblivious he'd missed the captain standing behind the vice-captain?).

"Matsumoto, would you give us a moment please?" Toshiro's voice was even, but his brilliant eyes were flaring with emotion.

"Of course, captain." She turned to leave and winked at Ichigo while flashing the thumbs up sign. Ichigo flushed and Toshiro closed his eyes, his brow furrowing in his usual expression of irritation.


"Leaving, captain." The buxom woman practically danced away, confident of what was going to happen behind her. Ichigo wished he shared that confidence.

Toshiro looked at him, and he looked at Toshiro. The young looking shinigami was stunning, when he was in the grip of strong emotion, his eyes were even more brilliant than usual, almost glowing with an internal brilliance. His posture was straight-backed and elegant, and Ichigo could imagine all too well how poised his body looked under those robes, how Toshiro's musculature was developed but not overly so, maintaining a slender grace that would not be out of place on a dancer or acrobat. He had a child's flexibility, despite despising his perceived status as a child. And his hair… His hair was as striking as Ichigo's own, except Toshiro's was the purest white, like snow lit by moonlight.

"You had something you wanted to say, Kurosaki." Ichigo blinked out of his reverie.

"How much did you hear?"

"Enough." So that meant he'd heard all of it. Ichigo opened his mouth, and realized he really didn't have anything else to say. There was no point in explaining himself to the captain, Toshiro had probably already made up his mind, and he knew Ichigo's reason for being angry. There was only one thing he could do, and he could not back away. His resolve was set.

"I'm sorry, Toshiro." He looked directly at the other boy as he said the words; his gaze unwavering even though his stomach felt like it was stuffed with hot rocks that were pushing up into his chest, making his hearth and throat feel tight.

"I'm sorry too, Kurosaki." Ichigo blinked. That was not what he expected. What's more, Toshiro's face showed genuine regret, and those eyes, those brilliant glowing eyes…

Ichigo walked over to Toshiro, standing close enough so that they were practically touching.

"What now?" Ichigo asked. He hadn't expected Toshiro to apologize as well, to have Toshiro regret making him feel this way. It made Ichigo feel better, and it gave him a wild hope that maybe, just maybe… He liked Toshiro, a lot. The other boy could be a jerk, hide bound and anal retentive, but he was a strong person, full of conviction and a sense of right. It also helped that Ichigo knew he was a hot little sexpot when you got a few drinks in him, and that his dry sense of humor was hilariously sarcastic.

"I'm not sure." Once again, the two shared a period of silence, and this time, it was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. There was a tension between them, both because they both had just resolved a potentially epic conflict (and it had been damn quick, not be sexist but Ichigo was very glad they were both guys, although that was kinda why they were in the whole mess in the first place), and were about to decide whether or not they would go forward with whatever it was they shared. And they were standing so close together that Ichigo could almost feel the heat radiating off the other boy, and smell his scent (light and fresh like snow). Then Ichigo smirked.

He always did make shit way too complicated.

"Well… We could make out." Toshiro's reaction was priceless. Shock covered his face with all the speed and subtlety of a dropped bomb.

"What? Kurosaki we just—you didn't—our fight—teaching bankai…" Ichigo didn't give Toshiro a chance to keep spluttering and darted in to press his lips to the other boy's. Toshiro's mouth was as delicious and wonderful as he remembered, and Ichigo poured every bit of himself he could into the kiss. Words didn't always come easily for him, despite his best efforts and his admiration of Shakespeare. So he tried to put all he felt, all his sincerity and emotion, into his kissing.

When his lips broke from Toshiro's he felt empty, even though he was clutching Toshiro to him and he could feel the tight strength of the body against his own.

"Kurosaki, you're incredible," Toshiro breathed.

"I know," Ichigo responded, grinning wildly. Toshiro frowned at him.

"I take it back, you're a moron." Ichigo didn't keep the look of dismay from crossing his face, which was apparently what Toshiro wanted, as the shorter death god smirked at him. And then drew his head down for another really fucking fantastic kiss.

Ichigo decided that he could definitely get used to this.

"My, my, is it me or is it getting hot in here," Urahara enthusiastically fanned himself. He, Yoruichi, Chad, Ishida, Inoue, Tessai, Jinta, Ururu and Soifon, who had come to liaison with them on behalf of Soul Society, were all watching a screen set into a table that displayed a rather enthusiastic pair of smooching shinigami.

"That's Hitsugaya-taicho," Soifon commented, in disbelief. "And that's Kurosaki Ichigo."

"They—they look happy together, don't they," Inoue said softly, with a small smile. Ishida adjusted his glasses and looked away.

"They do, but it's no reason to gape."

"There's plenty reason to stare, my dear Quincy, we must make sure that they are both happy, as Orihime-chan so eloquently put it," Urahara said, fanning his face to hide his lecherous grin, although not very well.

"I think I'd be pretty happy too if someone was kissing me like that," Yoruichi said, as Hitsugaya wrapped his legs around Ichigo's waist, gradually making him sit down as the force of Toshiro's kiss pushed Ichigo backwards until the two of them were necking on the ground. Hitsugaya straddled Ichigo, grinding down with his pelvis and making Ichigo practically writhe on the ground below him. The audio of the scene consisted of pants, gasps, groans, moans and not a few: "God," "Fuck," and "Fuck God." The two of them began writhing on the ground together, not caring about the rocks and dust that they were covering themselves with, blind to the entire world.

Soifon coughed and tried not to look at Yoruichi.

End Note: So please, tell me what you liked, whether the sexy scene was at all hot, whether people were in character, was it funny, or even more, wanna give me some ideas for the next IchiHitsu story? I'll certainly give you credit for any plot-bunnies you may give me. ALSO, I've seen that nearly 300 people have "read" the second chapter. I know that only refers to opening the page, but I have a grand total of 4 reviews so far for that many views. I'll be honest, the reviews really do help me get out more stories. If you want to see more, say so!