"Oi, Tou-" Ichigo blinked, eyes adjusting to the darkened office. 'Huh? The light was on when I was coming here... And I didn't see him on the way up.. Is he still here?'
A quick scan of the area found the white-haired taichou sitting on the floor with his back to the other, across from his sword, which was leaning against the wall. A light-blue, but still shadowy figure was by it. It was too dark to see it clearly, but Ichigo had no doubt it was Hyorinmaru himself.
"Was there... something I could have done differently?"
Ichigo's eyes opened wide at the soft tone. Who would have known Toushiro Hitsugaya, proud 10th Squad taichou, could sound so -dare he say it?- small. And his defenses were so far down he had yet to notice the substitute shinigami's presence. Was he relying completely on Hyorinmaru for the moment? If so, the dragon didn't seem to think he posed a threat.
"You're too hard on yourself, Toushiro," a deep voice said. "You did what you thought was best. That's all anyone can do."
"But now- Hinamori- she..."
Ah, so that was it. When it came to gossip, Ichigo found, shinigami were a lot like cheerleaders. Hinamori. Like a sister to Histugaya, and some said, even more. He'd never met her, but she was clearly very important to the taichou he himself was finding so very interesting. Hence the eavesdropping.
"Beating on yourself will not change anything," that calm, deep voice came again.
"Some heavenly guardian I am."
"Your powers have not fully matured, Toushiro," that voice continued to try and calm him.
"Tch. Just like the rest of me."
Ichigo took a deep breath. His next move would earn him either thanks or death. "I dunno about the rest of you, but I can help with the training," he said.
To his surprise, the taichou did not spin around, or even seem shocked he was there at all. There was no 'What are you doing here?' No 'What do you want?'
The only word the taichou uttered was a plain, simple, "All right."
He probably thought I didn't notice him. How exactly do you miss that reiatsu, even when so far gone in your thoughts you notice little else? I simply could not bring myself to care that he was there. Stupid ryoka, messing things up. But his heart had been in the right place, and that I couldn't hold against him.
Whereas there was plenty I could hold against myself. I normally wouldn't be prone to doing something as cliche as sitting alone in the dark, sans for Hyorinmaru. But then, I don't normally feel as useless as I do now, either.
"Was there... something I could have done differently?" I ask aloud, not really expecting an answer, just wanting to ask it, wanting to hear the words aloud. I've been wanting to hear them, and Kurosaki wasn't stopping me, dammit.
Hyorinmaru does reply as expected, though. "You're too hard on yourself, Toushiro. You did what you thought was best. That's all anyone can do."
"But now- Hinamori- she..." I cannot even bring myself to finish the sentence. Momo, my precious sister...
"Beating on yourself will not change anything."
Maybe not. "Some heavenly guardian I am," I say, before remembering Kurosaki is there too. Oh well. One more thing for him to think about. He doesn't need to know who I allegedly am, what I am supposedly capable of.
"Your powers have not fully matured, Toushiro," the spirit of my zanpakuto continues to try to cheer me up.
I roll my eyes. "Tch. Just like the rest of me." Something else I probably should not have said with Kurosaki there. But I really cannot bring myself to care in the slightest. I just want to know why. When I'm supposed to be capable of all this greatness, why-
"I dunno about the rest of you, but I can help with the training," the intruder says.
I'm not sure what to think of the offer at first. But then... it's a start, I suppose. "All right."