Bitter and Sweet

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.

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Behind him, the bells tinkled merrily but he ignored the happy chime, steadfast in his belief that if he stayed silent, she would take the hint and leave.

No such luck. "Neh Captain, what are you doing?"

Hitsugaya stiffened and turned his head to glare at his vice captain for bothering him at a time (and place) like this. "Matsumoto."

The woman smiled broadly, "I can't believe I found you in here of all places."

"You didn't find me. You followed me."

"Details." She peered over his head at the selection of goods offered in this store - this candy store, to be exact.

"Why are you here." The white-haired shinigami crossed his arms and waited impatiently for an answer.

"Well I was curious…"

Hitsugaya snapped at her, "I told you not to follow me."

"Sorry sir." She smiled apologetically. "Honestly, I really wasn't trying to follow you but I just happened to be going the same way as you and when you entered here…" Matsumoto trailed off when her captain abruptly walked away.

"Curiosity killed the cat," murmured the Captain of the Tenth as he strolled down the aisle.

"Captain, don't say that!" She frowned delicately, walking behind him as he browsed through the multitudes of confectionary.

Hitsugaya peered at her, green eyes darkening, "Then stop following me."

"Alright, alright…" Matsumoto conceded and backed away. "But really, with your dislike for sweets, I was concerned when you entered the candy store seemingly on your own free will."

"So I can't just suddenly, on a whim, enter a candy store," questioned the ranked shinigami dryly. "Right. Because that would mean the end of the world."

"Captain, you know what I mean!" Slightly annoyed, Matsumoto crossed her arms across her expansive endowments and stated smoothly, "It's not exactly natural for you to actively look for sweets unless you have a reason to."

Hitsugaya gave her a look. "Matsumoto. Just wait outside if you find this so unnatural."

Leaving her to pout in that aisle, the white-haired captain began, once again, to search for a certain package of candy, the sole reason for his presence in a confectionary store…

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"Hmmm…Apple cough drops. It's one of my most favourite types of candy. Too bad they don't sell them in Soul Society anymore unless you make a special order at the shop." Ukitake sighed wistfully, "I don't want to create a fuss for them so I never bothered."

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"Curse him for telling me." Hitsugaya growled, angry at Ukitake for mentioning the candy in the first place. He was also furious at himself for remembering what the elder captain said with that disappointed tone of voice and how Matsu-

-Wait a second. Matsumoto was also there when Ukitake made that statement.

Well damn.

Thoroughly loathing the tiny rebellious 'people-pleasing' side of his personality, he continued to search for the goods, ignoring the fact that he might suffer mild humiliation at the hands of his adjutant when she figures out why he was in here. But that definitely did not compare to the other ideas he was imagining at the moment - his mind was convincing him of embarrassing scenarios that could occur when he presents this 'gift' to Ukitake Jyuushirou.

"Captain!" called out his vice captain from somewhere within the store. "I'm coming to look for you."

He conveniently did not answer her when he finally spotted the candy and snatched the package off the shelf. Lightly tracing the words on the very green box, Hitsugaya's eyes softened, remembering how Ukitake was one of the first captains to readily accept and view him as a peer with equal power – in serious matters, anyway. Hitsugaya still disapproves of the inane amounts of coddling with candy but at least Ukitake doesn't see him as a 'weak little pipsqueak' or an 'excellent test subject' or a 'captain everyone can walk all over'. The package of apple cough drops could be a thank you gift…

Hitsugaya's left eye twitched as his grip on the 'gift' tightened.

…Or not. The possible reactions Ukitake would have - the ones that his mind was so helpfully imagining - were truly frightening, especially the one where he illogically ends up in a blue, flowery dress because of a strange artefact from one of the noble houses. Who knows what secret weapons they might have!

Green eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "…Maybe I can send this anonymously."

"Hmmm?" The voice up the aisle made him pause; his vice captain finally found him. "What's that Captain?" Matsumoto tilted her head as she walked towards him. "Who are you talking…?" She trailed off when she spotted the box of candy.

"What?" he asked nonchalantly. He was not panicking. Not. Panicking. Damnit.

"Captain…" Her expression warped from curiosity to glee when she realized that the cough drops were for Captain Ukitake; after all, she was there when the elder captain told Hitsugaya about his problem.

Hitsugaya's lips thinned to a line as he glowered at her, as if daring her to comment.

She obviously couldn't resist the opportunity. "How sweet-!"

"Don't start."

"How can I not, sir?"

"Just shut up Matsumoto, that's how." Hitsugaya turned on his heels and left the aisle.

The smile grew wider. "But Captain, this is so uncharacteristic of you." She shadowed him from behind.

"I will do what I want." They headed into the direction of the cashier.

"Of course sir! But this is so…so…"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence."

She couldn't contain herself and squealed, "This is just so cute!"

"Matsumoto." He continued to walk with steady steps towards the purchasing counter without looking back at his subordinate. "One more word and I swear I will cut your pay check in half."

Albeit unwilling, she didn't say another word but she planned to bring this up again later on. For now, she relied on her smile to portray the wicked inner thoughts circling her mind.

He sighed heavily when they arrived at the counter. Embarrassingly enough, his head barely reached past the counter so he had to crane his head upwards to meet the inquisitive stare of the cashier.

"How may I help you, kid?"

Scowling at the ignorant clerk, he placed the candy on top of the table. Hitsugaya deftly ignored the muffled giggle behind him, accepting the fact that Matsumoto was finding the situation exceedingly humorous for reasons he did not need to know.

The clerk smiled at him patiently. He'll probably regret this purchase later, but until then..."I'll take the apple cough drops please."

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End

Spyrit