Title: Time for Celebrations

Author: Zalia Chimera

Rating: G

Pairings: None (mention of Gin/Matsumoto and Renji/Rukia... anything else is in your own imagination)

Disclaimer: Bleach and the characters are owned by Tite Kubo, no me.

Summary: Another New Year after the end of the war, but this time Matsumoto is determined to make everyone enjoy it (whether they want to or not!)

There hadn't been time for celebrations in months. Even after they'd won, there had been rebuilding to do and funerals to organise and losses to count. Too much sadness and utter bone-deep weariness to even think of celebrating until they'd begun to heal. The New Year celebrations that year had been a sombre affair, more a festival of remembrance than a celebration. Too many people had been lost for it to be anything more flamboyant.

The next year had looked as though it would be much the same, and the official observance had been, those in charge deciding that it was still too soon to suggest that people could be enjoying themselves.

Well, that just wouldn't do!

Kyouraku-taicho had kindly offered the use of the 8th Division grounds for the party, much to Nanao's irritation, and everyone who came had contributed something; food or entertainment or fireworks or, most important in Rangiku's mind, alcohol!

Even she had been surprised by the number of people who had decided to turn up. The Thirteenth was there of course, Ukitake and Kyouraku engaged in a deep looking coversation off in the shadows near the pond, and her own captain she'd left being goaded into joining members of the Eleventh in a jug of sake or five. He really had the most adorable flush when he was embarrassed! Soi Fong had come slinking in part way through, no-one even noticing her arrival until she'd insinuated herself into a game of Mahjong and proceeded to win the paychecks of half of the players there, the alcohol only making her more fiendish and more determined to win.

It had taken a bit of organising, but even the ryoka had come. Ichigo and his friends had helped so much that they deserved to be here as much as anyone, probably more, and besides, it was always nice to see them again! And Orihime-chan had helped her with some of the cooking too! She really had the most marvellous ideas.

Rangiku waved to a few people as she passed. Renji had practically curled himself around Rukia, the two of them sitting with Ichigo and the others talking animatedly about how things were going in the human world. It was good to see them happy and they'd hardly been out of each other's sight since the end of the war. It was sweet and Rukia had him totally whipped, Rangiku thought with a grin as she continued towards the main building.

Getting up to the roof of the Eighth Division Headquarters was hardly an issue for the shinigami and she quickly found herself a perch, bagging the best spot to watch the fireworks from. She thought that she deserved it, the effort she'd put into finding the best ones. She smoothed out her kimono when she sat, waiting for them to begin. They were well worth it. Beautiful bursts of gold and silver, blue and red and purple. Every colour that she could find.

She didn't even turn around when she heard soft footsteps approaching, recognising them without looking. A smile touched her lips as her captain sat down next to her, dangling his legs over the edge of the roof as he watched the fireworks with a solemnity that made her giggle.

"There's a lot of people down there who'd just love your company, Matsumoto," he said finally and she knew what he was asking even when he didn't say it.

She shrugged, fluttering her fan in front of her lips teasingly. "Now, why would they have an interest in little old me," she said, leaning forward just enough that Hitsugaya got a very good look down the front of her kimono which had been left loose enough for just such an occurance.

He yelped and covered his eyes with his hand, although she could see the way he kept his fingers split apart so that he could look and pretend otherwise. "You know what I mean!" he grumbled when she leaned back. "Why are you up here and not down there with the people that you wanted to have the party for?"

She smiled wistfully, snapping the fan closed and tucking it into her obi so she wouldn't lose it. "I haven't watched fireworks in a few years," she began to explain. "The last time was... with someone else."

He must have been planning things even then, along with Aizen. But he'd been so kind to her that night, as though he knew it wouldn't happen again.

Hitsugaya scowled darkly, crossing his arms over his chest. "You're too good for him," he muttered, turning his head away so he didn't have to meet her eyes.

She chckled quietly and reached out to ruffle his hair affectionately. Her eyes widened when he caught her wrist and leaned in to kiss her cheek; an affectionate, clumsy gesture, brotherly, but it still made him flush brightly.

"Happy New Year," he said and then stood up, stretching and offering her a hand. "It's your party. You have to be there. And I think a couple of the men are pining for you," he said with a derisive snort.

With a smile, Rangiku took his hand and let him help her up. "Happy New Year taicho!"