I wrote this cuz I'm tired of Hinamori always being seen as weak, whiny, and pathetic. Hitsugaya's always protecting her- why can't it be the other way around? She DID try to kill him, after all- the girl does have some guts.

This is inspired by Tim McGraw's awesome song, "Between the River and Me".

Hitsu and Hina share a very close bond in this- they're siblings. Sorry, HitsuHina fans, no smoochy-woochy here. I don't do HitsuHina romance, but I think the two of them have a very close bond, but it's more of a brother/sister thing. That's the way I like 'em, so that's the way I write 'em.

SUMMARY: Toshiro's being abused, and Momo vows to protect him, even if she must kill.

WARNINGS: drowning (murder), mentions of physical abuse (nothing graphic), some coarse language.

NOTES: This is an AU. Set in a small, rural, ancient Japanese village.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Bleach.

Hopefully, this isn't too OOC, but this is your fair warning.

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BETWEEN THE RIVER AND HINAMORI

By: Neko Oni

Momo sat on the grassy bank of the mighty Hyourinmaru River, plucking stray strands of grass and shredding them between her nimble fingers. She'd already caught enough fish for tonight's supper and was waiting for her brother, Toshiro, to bring in rice from the fields.

She listlessly pulled strands of grass and stared vacantly at the swirling, deep blue waters. She had nothing to occupy her hands and mind with, and the mental walls she erected came crashing down. The thoughts she'd been fighting surged into her brain and heart.

It all started when their beloved mother got sick. The worse she got, the more Father drank, trying to drown his pain. Shiro and Momo were left to care for their dying mother, themselves, and the house. Toshiro did it all- he was the strong one. His spirit stayed strong while all Momo could do was cry and worry. Toshiro acted like the older sibling, taking care of her as well.

When they placed their mother's wasted body in the ground, the cracks in their lives shattered. Father spent the majority of his time drunk, and it didn't take long for his grief and pain to end up on Toshiro's face. Still, Toshiro bore it all and said nothing. As time went on, the bruises and beatings got worse.

Momo was left alone. She looked like Father, but Shiro was the spitting image of their mother. Father couldn't bear to look at Shiro. Through it all, Shiro bit his tongue. He was all Momo had left, and he remained silent to protect her. Better for him to suffer than her.

"Momo!" She shook her head, jerked out of her thoughts, and turned to see her brother coming down the path from the rice paddies. He had a basket on his back filled with the rice he'd gathered. One of his arms was heavily bandaged and in a sling. Half of his pretty face was black and blue, and one teal eye was swollen shut. There were large bruises in the shape of hand prints on his slender limbs.

She stood up, brushed grass and dirt off the thread bare cloth of her worn, old yukata, picked up her basket of fish, and took Toshiro's smaller hand in hers. "Come on, Shiro-chan. I kept a little money from the fish I sold yesterday- lets go buy some watermelon before we go home and make supper."

His one visible, large teal eye lit up in surprised delight. He gave her a small half smile and a little nod. The fourteen year old boy rarely ever spoke or reacted to anything anymore. He was locked inside himself; he took everything in and tried to remain strong for his sister. He feared that if he broke, Father's fist would turn to Momo.

The look on Shiro's pretty face broke Momo's heart. She wasn't sure how much more of this she could take. It was bad enough having to see Shiro constantly covered in new bruises, but to see him bite back joy at the simple pleasure of watermelon was a dagger in her heart. Still, she wouldn't let him see how much it hurt her. She smiled widely and tugged on his good hand. "Lets go so we have time to eat it." And she took off down the path, pulling the slightly shorter boy behind her.

Tbc…

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Hey, I just thought of something. Know how authors are always begging readers to review? Well, to show you guys how much I appreciate a review, in my reply I'll send you a small snippet/ preview of the next chapter. So, if you review, you get a sneak peek. Won't that make you feel special?

And yes, some would call it shameless bribery, but I think of it as a way of showing my thanks for reviewing. It's a little reviewer appreciation. So if you would like a little appreciation (and a sneak peek!), click the pretty purple button.