It Takes Time

By: Le tired

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or its characters, blah blah blah, etc.

Rated: M. Although I guess this chapter is probably T.

Author's Notes: Wow I'm a horrible Bleach fan. I only realized like a month ago that the Bleach anime finished :(. Weellll, ok, now my goal is definitely to finish this fic before the manga ends. Ha. Anyway, apologies as always for the slow updates, I moved last month and started my first real job(!) so yeah, writing time is limited. But I won't quit! And actually, we've hit a milestone: this part of the fic is what I originally had in mind when I started writing - that is, when I realized that during all those weeks or months or whatever everyone was preparing for Aizen's invasion, Hitsugaya and Matsumoto were like, living alone together at Orihime's place. Yes, I assume Orihime lived there as well, but still...! So many possibilities! My fangirl mind went wild at the thought of what hijinks those two might have had. Especially after Hitsugaya was all 'no idiot I'm not staying with you' at the beginning. I seriously think there's something up with those two XD. Also, I know nothing about Japanese culture (that I haven't gleaned from anime...so that's probably worse than knowing nothing straight out), but from my own old-fashioned Asian parents, I assumed that living together is kinda a big thing. So yeah, in my mind, this was one of the biggest indications that these two could have something going on between them. Oh and lastly, this is meant to be more of a humorous chapter, because those two can be damn silly!

sagitgirlth: Thanks! Yeah, I updated soon...and then not for months afterwards again .. Comforting would be nice, haha, however, I think a lot of the magic for me with HitsuMatsu is their whole unspoken-ness. It's both awesome...and angst-eriffic when they can't get the words out (I think Diamondust Rebellion was a perfect example of that), so that's how I think I'm going to go for it, although who knows. This fic has really taken on a life of its own! Thanks again, and as always, I hope you continue to enjoy the story!

Prince of Winter Dragons: Thank you again for another glowing review! Haha you're not the first person to ask about a comfort scene. I will try, though in keeping in character and with canon, I believe it would be rather abbreviated, since by the time they fight Aizen, Hitsugaya is clearly still not cool with everything. It's just a huge emotional scar and not something that can be soothed away so easily, so I don't blame Matsumoto. And working through such pain together is what makes a couple truly strong and in love, is my other thought :).

Royal blueKitsune: Haha I couldn't believe it when I saw in my inbox that I had over twenty reviews! Thank you so much, I admit that really got my attention and reminded me that I still had this fic to get back to when I had some downtime from my job! And of course, it's a huge compliment, so I'll say thank you again! And yeah, I'm thinking hard about the Ayon scene too...so many ways to play it out. It's pretty exciting and I hope you'll be there for the ride!

Lascivious Lassitudes: First off, can I say I love your username, so many sibilants and alliteration to boot! :P Thanks for the review (one is perfectly lovely, no need to apologize ^_^)! And I swear I'm trying to update, no need to beg! I'm just...slow... ;_;

ChocolateTruffles: Thank you! Yeah, Matsumoto is the rather rambunctious type that can get on people's nerves (she totally would for mine if she was a real person); on the other hand, I think she's also a good person at heart so it balances out...I hope? As for the growth spurt...I have mixed feelings about that. For now, no, I don't intend to write one in, the main reason being there isn't one in canon (I know, I have a borderline fetish for canon -_-). I feel a lot of people want Hitsugaya to have a growth spurt for largely aesthetic reasons, so he'll be super hot and look "better" with Matsumoto or whoever they want to pair him with. Especially with Matsumoto, 'cuz she's obviously older and taller than him, so when they're like the way they are currently, it's not the conventional romantic couple we like to picture. I think it's also why people like to pair him with Hinamori or Karin, because they look closer to his age...yet ironically, don't strike me as emotionally or intellectually near his level. I may be completely off-base here, but I get the feeling that Kubo Tite wants his characters to be less conventional. And for me, that's a lot more interesting. I like Hitsugaya and Matsumoto both as characters because they're not just one-dimensional. Hitsugaya's cute but honestly acts pretty damn mature in my mind. And Matsumoto looks like a floozy, but she surprised me when she got serious. And they're also not meant to be perfect heroes (hence, Hitsugaya getting beaten up all the time, which I know some people criticize him for-I actually like to see someone fail but get up and try again, that's far braver and compelling to me). Anyway, oh god I need to stop talking, unless Hitsugaya turned fat and ugly with his growth spurt, I'm not sure how it would change or add anything to the story. But growth-spurt Hitsugaya would be hawt as hell lol, so those are my mixed feelings :D.


Chapter 27

"I'm baaaaack~" Matsumoto sang as she threw open the door to the apartment. "Taichou, I've returned from my mission of telling Ikkaku and Yumechika about the Ou-ken and I also took a tiiny detour at the shopping district since some new stores just opened and bought some super cute outfits, so it's been a great day! Now, I'm starving, so let's have dinner already! Orihime, what's for supper-eh?" She'd made her way to the room she shared with Hitsugaya-taichou, where she found her captain laying out their freshly laundered sheets with a concentrated frown on his face. "Hitsugaya-taichou...where's Orihime? I don't sense her reiatsu in the area at all. She's usually home by this hour, isn't she?"

"She's in Soul Society," Hitsugaya answered, smoothing out the wrinkles of one last blanket. His fastidiousness increased whenever he was thinking hard about something, Matsumoto observed.

"Ehhh?"

"I thought it strange as well, but I received word earlier from headquarters that Inoue will be training with Kuchiki Rukia at the Thirteenth Division for much of the next few months." He got to his feet with a grunt. "Well, if it's approved and they're being overseen by Ukitake, I'm sure it's for the best. Inoue's powers have great potential, and it's good if she can learn to grow into them. On the other hand, I suppose this means she'll be absent here for most of the time." Slowly, he surveyed the apartment. Matsumoto followed his gaze about the empty rooms curiously. "She's entrusted her home to us, Matsumoto. Let's be sure to take good care of it while we're here."

"Oh...wow, me and Hitsugaya-taichou, just the two of us living together," Matsumoto mused aloud. "Ah, this will be...fun!"

"What's fun, idiot?" Hitsugaya fumed, "Do you know how much more trouble this could be? This isn't division headquarters where we have people maintain the state of the place for us! Now we'll have to do household chores and make sure everything remains functioning properly!"

"Oh, it can't be that hard, taichou," Matsumoto replied, clapping her hands. "And think! We'll be just like a married couple!"

"...is your brain only filled with useless thoughts?" Hitsugaya sighed and closed his eyes, a sure sign he was regrouping his thoughts (usually when he'd realized Matsumoto had riled him up for no reason). "Anyways, are you hungry, Matsumoto? I suppose we should eat."

"Oh yes, absolutely, taichou, I'm starving!"

"Well..." Hitsugaya looked around some more, casting a doubtful look at the kitchen beyond. "...I don't think we should really touch Inoue's personal food, so let's buy some food from elswhere."

"Ehh? But that's going to take more time," Matsumoto complained. "And I'm hungry now, taichou!"

"Well what do you propose then?"

"Don't get angry, taichou! And I'm sure Orihime won't mind if we use her stuff, she's such a nice girl. And we can always pay her back with your money."

"And why mine?"

"How's this, taichou?" Matsumoto proposed, ignoring the angry question. "I'll make us a delicious meal for dinner, and then we can spend the money you would've spent on dinner on some sake instead as a celebration tonight!"

"A celebration of what?"

"Us living together, of course! That's a huuuge step for couples, you know!"

"We-! We're not really living together…" Hitsugaya muttered, his voice trailing off unconvincingly, and his cheeks flushed hotly for a moment.

Matsumoto grinned victoriously at her chagrined taichou. She didn't really get what the big commotion over an unmarried man and woman living together was all about; she'd lived alone with Gin for some time in Rukongai before they entered the Shinigami Academy and nothing morally corrupt had happened to them. In fact, she'd heard that it was the norm in some Western countries in the modern human world.

It was such a pity Soul Society had fallen behind the times. Everyone was still so stuffy over nothing, really! And of course, her polite little taichou, having been raised as a good boy by his sweet grandmother, also did his best to abide by the rules, no matter how short-sighted they were. It was just too precious.

"Please take care of me, taichou," she continued demurely, hiding her smile behind a dramatic bow.

"That's not funny, Matsumoto!"


Well. Teasing and playing housewife was fun, but when all was said and done…

Matsumoto blinked as she took in the contents of Orihime's refrigerator.

I…have no idea how to start cooking any of this.

What a dilemma. Matsumoto straightened back and scratched at the back of one leg with her other foot. "Taiiichouuu…"

"What now, Matsumoto?" came the irritated reply from the other room, where she knew Hitsugaya was industriously working on more reports on his phone.

"I just remembered something important."

"And what's that?"

"Ah, well it's nothing major, taichou. Only...I don't know how to cook."

"…"

"Taichou?"

"…"

Matsumoto shivered as the room temperature took a noticeable dive. "Ah, taichou, there's no need to be angry!" she called back, "If you just gave me some instructions—"

"This is why I said we should get something to eat from outside," Hitsugaya snarled as he stormed into the kitchen. "Matsumoto, why the hell did you say you were going to cook if you didn't know how?"

"I figured it couldn't be that hard. Shuuhei does it all the time for us," Matsumoto replied with a shrug.

"It's most likely Hisagi works hard to cook for you because he's a poor sap that likes—" Hitsuaya stopped himself and shook his head. "Forget it." He jammed his hands into his pant pockets, looking like an angry delinquent (not that Matsumoto was about to tell him that). "Guess we'll have to go out after all."

"Ehh?" Matsumoto pouted, causing her taichou to look back at her in confusion. "Why can't you cook for us, taichou?"

"…AND WHY IS IT ME COOKING NOW?"

"Can't you, taichou?" Matsumoto peered at her angry white-haired captain. After a moment, the realization sunk in and a goofy smile spread over her face. "Pfft, you can't cook either, can you, taichou?"

"Shut up!" Hitsugaya's expression was quickly turning murderous. "I know how to cook a few basic things like miso, but learning the more complex dishes takes time and is just too troublesome."

"Aww that's too bad. I really wanted a homecooked meal by my taichou."

"Quit acting spoiled!" Hitsugaya's eyes fell on a small rectangular box on one of the cupboard shelves. He reached up and brought it down. Matsumoto read along over his shoulder while he muttered aloud. "Curry mix cubes..." He flipped the box over to read the instructions and small illustrations on the side. "This shouldn't be too hard. All we have to do is cut up some vegetables and meat…" Abruptly, he glared back at Matsumoto. "Oi, Matsumoto, will this do? I suppose we could probably make some curry rice without messing it up."

"Curry rice?" Matsumoto pretended to think a moment longer just to watch Hitsugaya grind his teeth in anger. "Well…it's not Orihime's wonderous cooking, but if it's good enough for taichou, it's good enough for me!"

"Fine! Wash up some of those carrots in the refrigerator, then start cutting them." Hitsugaya glared down at the hapless box in his hands, as if willing it to combust. "I'll start heating the oil in a pan."

"Yessir!"

5 minutes later…

"Owww!" Matsumoto stuck a cut thumb in her mouth and sucked. At the same time, she glowered fiercely at the offending stick of carrot on the cutting board before her, devoid of the slightest of gashes while a bright red line bled out on her wounded digit. "I can't believe it! Taichou, what's wrong with this knife? It…it keeps slipping and cutting me!"

"It's not the knife…it's you, Matsumoto" Hitsugaya snarled, eyes still on the simmering pot before them, fully concentrated as always. While Matsumoto toiled over the vegetables, the short captain had found some chicken to dice up and was carefully stirring them with a large wooden spatula. He'd even donned one of Orihime's aprons in complete seriousness. So cute! Matsumoto's mind squealed happily as she took in her domestic little taichou (she, on the other hand, would never be caught dead cooking in an apron...that was just so old and matronly!).

"It can't be me, taichou! I'm graceful and talented at all times—oww!" Matsumoto gaped in disbelief at her index finger now sporting a matching cut with her thumb. "Taichou, look, it happened again!"

Hitsugaya lifted his eyes with clear reluctance and impatience towards Matsumoto and her supposed plight. "Matsumoto, how is it you're so inept with the most basic of tasks? If you can wield a zanpakuto, surely you can wield a kitchen knife."

"That's oversimplifying things, taichou," Matsumoto spoke pitifully as she now sucked on her newly injured finger, and tried not to smile as Hitsugaya turned towards her. Her taichou was no slouch and in fact tended to tackle the most difficult and distasteful of tasks with even greater diligence and efficiency, but she'd picked up a subtle dragging of his feet at times when he knew he was stuck dealing with her and her antics. Why it tickled Matsumoto to elicit such a reaction from him, she didn't know, but well, it did. Perhaps it stemmed from her centuries-old desire when they first met to get him to relax and have a little fun at times. Or maybe it was a secret pleasure in knowing that she was the only person she knew of that was able to have such an emotional effect on him.

Or maybe she was just a horrible person.

Mentally shrugging, she popped her finger back out of her mouth and held it before her captain's face. "Hey, taichou...kiss it for me?" She batted her eyes for maximum effect.

"I'll kill you."

Matsumoto gave a little laugh and resumed tending her wounded finger. "Chefs train for years in the kitchen, you know, taichou. You shouldn't underestimate them and their skills!"

"Believe me, I'd have to be insane to put you and chefs on the same level," Hitsugyaya growled back. But he stepped in front to take Matsumoto's spot at the cutting board. "You watch the pot then, and make sure it doesn't burn."

"Of course, taichou, you can count on me!" Matsumoto bounced over to the pot, happily relieved of her duty. She could hear Hitsugaya mutter some more as he took up the knife to begin slicing.

"Like hell I can…"

5 minutes later…

"Uwaah, taichou, it's burning!" Matsumoto leapt back, batting ineffectively at the orange-red tongues of flame that licked out at her suddenly.

"Idiot, I told you to watch the pot!" Hitsugaya ran over, eyes wide. He too had to take a quick step back as the fire roared up at the two Shinigami. "How did this happen?"

"It wasn't me, I swear, taichou!" Matsumoto grabbed a nearby dish towel to wave at the inferno. The fire didn't abate in the slightest. "Gaah!"

"Cover the pot, cover the pot!" Hitsugaya shouted. At the same time, he looked at the sink, where an unwashed bowl from earlier sat filled with water. Matsumoto realized what he was going to do.

"Taichou, don't!"

It was too late. Hitsugaya threw the water on the flaming pot. Some of the fire sizzled out, but oil from the pot splashed out, sending bits and pieces of burning debris everywhere.

"Taichou, you can't use water on a grease fire like this!" Matsumoto admonished, all the while trying to reach the pot cover; however flames still stood in her way. "It just repels grease and spreads the fire! Didn't your granny teach you that?"

"You're one to talk!" Hitsugaya retorted, angrily leaping back at the growing fire. "And besides, my grandmother always used a traditional kamado. How would I know how these annoying modern day appliances work!"

"Okay, well just so you know, don't use water on electrical fires, either. You could get shocked—kyaah!" Matsumoto slapped out a singed corner of her skirt. "Mouu, taichou, put out the fire already! Its ruining my clothes!"

"How?"

"How else? Isn't the only use of your feeble zanpakuto to make ice?"

"For the last time, it is NOT feeble! And this is hardly the appropriate situation—" Hitsugaya made a face as he took in the rapidly spreading fire.

"Ugh…Daiguren Hyorinmaru!"

5 more minutes later…

"Itadakimasuuu!" Matsumoto clapped her hands, then picked up her heaping bowl of rice and burnt curry. Sitting cross-legged silently across from her was her captain, shoulders slumped and face dark. Matsumoto leaned over the table to poke at him with her chopsticks. "Taichou, aren't you going to eat?"

"…"

Matsumoto shrugged, then took a bite. "Hey, not bad at all, taichou! It's almost as good as Orihime's, actually! Ah, but you lose points for presentation! Next time, do some decorative garnishing or something, okay? And we need side dishes!"

"…"

Matsumoto sat back and looked sideways at the kitchen, its black and sooty remains encased in sparkling ice. "I don't think Orihime will really notice the difference." She turned back to beam at her taichou. "So let's cook again sometime real soon okay, taichou?" She cocked her head as no response was forthcoming yet still.

"Er…taichou? You're being awfully quiet."

"Just…leave me alone, Matsumoto."

"Haah…?"

Elsewhere in Soul Society…

Captain-commander Yamamoto declared, "Gotei 13 rules of cooking. Rule number one: If trying to put out a fire…NO BANKAI!"