Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. I am merely a student trying to pass class and studying for my SATs and trying to figure out what colleges I want to go to. Shit.

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Demons

It was beginning to snow.

The white flakes swirled quietly through the air like miniature weather dancers, carried by the wind and clouds. Sighing, Matsumoto tilted her head back and blew out a long breath, amusing herself by watching the way it clouded and drifted in the air.

She was beginning to shiver a little; when she'd followed Hitsugaya the day had only been relatively cool and cloudy, and she'd only brought her scarf to wrap around her neck. Needless to say, the snow and wind was beginning to cause the temperature to drop, but she made no move to leave, instead opening her mouth to catch a snowflake on her tongue.

Despite her discomfort, she said nothing as Hitsugaya stood before the tombstone that marked the grave, his head bowed. Whenever she stood before the stone, the stone that had the name of Momo Hinamori carved into it, she didn't have much to say.

"You don't have to be here, you know."

She gazed at her Captain's back, rubbing her arms to keep warm. Was that a rhetorical question, or did he expect an answer? She wasn't sure, so she just shrugged.

"I mean… I know you never really liked Momo after what happened with Aizen," he murmured softly, still gazing at the stone and not at the Assistant Captain behind him. "And now that she's dead… I won't hold it against you if you don't want to be here. You come with me all the time, and you've never complained."

He sounded as though he was hoping she'd answer; Matsumoto sighed and closed her eyes, brushing a loose strand of hair out of her eyes.

"I know I don't have to be here," she said, breaking her long silence with the stone as the snow continued falling quietly. "I don't want to be here. But that's never stopped me from coming anyway."

A snowflake landed in her eye, causing it to water slightly; muttering under her breath, Matsumoto wiped at it with the back of her hand. Hitsugaya said nothing, still gazing at the stone.

The snow continued to fall in its silent, wordless dance. Most of it had successfully landed on Hitsugaya's shoulders and in Matsumoto's hair, but neither of them moved to brush it away.

"If you don't want to be here… why do you come with me every time?"

For a long moment she said nothing; finally, Matsumoto exhaled heavily and ran a hand through her hair, causing a dusting of snow to cloud around her head and be blown away by the wind.

Hitsugaya still wouldn't look at her.

"I know what it's like to have personal demons," she murmured at last, giving up her silence. "I know what it's like to have one of those demons be someone you love. I know what it's like to face that demon alone."

Hitsugaya inhaled sharply; he glanced over his shoulder at her, but she couldn't read his eyes. Undaunted, she continued.

"You're young. A lot younger than I am, and you've got your own share of personal demons. I happen to think that sucks, because someone your age shouldn't be haunted like that." She chewed on her bottom lip, trying to word this right. "As much as I'd like to say it's just my loyalty as your Assistant Captain kicking in, I'd be lying through my teeth."

He frowned slightly. "So then… what is it?"

She laughed and twirled a strand of hair around her finger, but the sound seemed horribly forced and she hoped he wouldn't realize it.

"I guess, in my own weird way, I love you. And seeing you face your demons alone makes me sad. And when I come out here with you… it makes me feel like at least one of your demons isn't being faced alone." She blew out a long breath and sighed, tilting her head back to let the snowflakes brush her cheeks and neck.

"And now that I've said more than I probably intended to say, I'm gonna leave," she said. "I figure you want to be alone now. I'll see you back at the office, Captain."

Damn. Another snowflake must have landed in her eye. They were both tearing up now.

Matsumoto decided she hated snow. And hell, while she was at it, she hated cold and wind.

And maybe she still had a few personal demons of her own to deal with.

The snow crunched beneath her feet as she walked quietly away, leaving Hitsugaya with the silence, the snow that fell from the gray clouds above, and the stone that bore Momo Hinamori's name.

He gazed after her for a long, painful moment that seemed to last a lifetime and a second, but she didn't turn around and she didn't look back.

His fingers twitched, he bit his lip. Rubbing the back of his neck, Hitsugaya turned and once more faced the tombstone, and a bitter, tired smirk curved his lips.

"Well, Momo," he murmured, closing his eyes. "What the hell do I do now?"

There was no answer.

There were just the clouds, the wind, the cold, and the snow that fell silently. And a pair of lone footprints in the snow that could possibly be his redemption, and his chance at a new life, free of demons. Or, if not free, at least offering companionship to face those demons.

Now all he had to do was choose.

The End

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I have no clue how this turned out... so angsty. It was originally this idea of Matsumoto comforting Hitsugaya at Hinamori's grave, but somehow after listening to "What I've Done" by Linkin Park it turned into this.

So far, in my plans, this is only a one-shot.

I have gotten inspiration for White Snow recently, so yes, look for updates on that soon. I haven't abandoned it, the plot's still going.

Read and review, please!