Hey there, I know I haven't written anything in a while- I've had too many ideas, started them and got nowhere... don't ask
Anyway, I started reading some fics and there's quite a few which explore how Momo recovered from the betrayal, and I found my own idea for a story.
Thanks to all my reviewers for previous stories, I hope you like this one.
Part One: Shocked to a Halt
Part One: Shocked to a Halt
She followed Unohana-taicho around like those blanks had followed Shinenju Senna. He hated seeing her like this; she was so empty, lifeless. At times like this, sometimes he thought they'd made a mistake saving her.
He adored the girl who'd been his childhood friend. But this sad eyed creature who didn't speak or show any sign of the bright personality that he knew was beneath her surface… this wasn't Hinamori. He didn't know her; and nothing and no one could reach her.
Aizen's death hadn't helped Hinamori- some part of her still desperately clung to the belief of his innocence. She couldn't move on, and every day, Toshiro felt his hopes for her return die a little more. It had been over a year, and she hadn't healed at all.
She didn't care about anyone- not Kira or Hisagi, who'd also been betrayed by their taicho, or Matsumoto, who'd also been betrayed by someone she'd trusted. She didn't even call him Shiro-chan or Hitsugaya-kun anymore, it was always Hitsugaya-taicho now… but it didn't sound right coming from her. It didn't sound as good as he'd thought it would.
She smiled with the others at a joke Kyoraku made, but… it wasn't real, it was a pathetic attempt. All of her smiles had become plastic, poor substitutes for the brilliant smiles he remembered.
Toshiro frowned- he couldn't stand watching her like this. He turned on heel and walked out. Avoiding her was not the most mature thing, but… if he didn't avoid her, he'd start yelling at her, and that wouldn't help- he'd already tried everything else he could think of. He was so ashamed.
Unohana and Matsumoto had already scolded him for his behaviour, so had some of the others, but it had been the words of those two women which had hurt most. He wished ba-san was still here, she had always known what to say, not just to Hinamori, but to him. This wouldn't have happened if he was an adult.
He felt so lost.
As a taicho, everyone expected him to have the answers, and sometimes he didn't know what to do. It was only his confidence which carried them through one disaster into the next, and his instincts.
He didn't know what to do this time though, and he knew that if it had been Kyoraku or Ukitate, even Kurotsuchei or Zaraki, in his place, that they would have saved her. Toshiro couldn't do it though; because he was a child, and nothing he said or did could ever be good enough. It didn't matter how much he wanted to help her.
He found himself sitting on the roof, looking up into the night sky, hoping that it had the answers he couldn't find. The night breeze was cool, and the still and silent sky calmed him in a way that nothing else could.
He closed his eyes, leaning back against the rooftop; he felt the tension slowly drain from his muscles as the ice from the roof encompassed him.
His consciousness descended into an icy plain, and the dragon within confronted him.
'Toshiro- why have you come?' Hyorinmaru sounded surprised, an uncommon occurrence.
'It wasn't intentional,' Toshiro, was confused by these events. Normally for him to reach Hyorinmaru, one of them had to be actively seeking the other's presence.
'There is a reason for everything, whether we know it or not,' the dragon said cryptically.
Toshiro thought that Hyorinmaru had a warped sense of humour.
'Perhaps,' he said, just as cryptically.
Not that he and Hyorinmaru truly needed words to understand each other, they were connected in a way far beyond that.
'Why are you here?'
Hadn't he already explained that he didn't know why he was here?
'We have not talked like this for a long time,' he found himself saying.
'Did you miss me?'the dragon sounded both surprised and confused now.
'I supp- Hai, I did,' he admitted, only just realising as he spoke, that it was true.
'What troubles you- your inner mind darkens with clouds and sometimes a rain of blood emerges,' Hyorinmaru asked, his voice comforting Toshiro in a way that only three other people could- Hinamori, Matsumoto and Ba-san.
'Hinamori- she has retreated inside herself, and she does not move on,' Toshiro said.
'Time heals all wounds,' the dragon quoted.
'It's been a year, and I feel her slipping further away, not recovering,' he realised that this too was true, and that he was terrified of losing her.
'Perhaps it is not I who should be advising you,' Hyorinmaru said, with something in his voice that Toshiro didn't recognise.
Hyorinmaru had always been able to advise him, and had never said such a thing before. Toshiro had always felt that his Zunpukto knew everything; it was almost terrifying to hear such a thing.
'I would say that you should not ignore your instincts- I would follow them, since nothing else has worked- what have you left to lose?' the dragon said calmly.
Toshiro had never considered it that way before. He knew he was losing Hinamori, it became more obvious to him every passing day- what did he have left to lose?
'I think you told me, exactly what I needed to hear. Arigato,' Toshiro said, feeling confident in himself for the first time in what felt like months.
Toshiro ascended from the icy plain.
'Please stop that bloody rain from appearing again,' the dragon's whispered words did not reach Toshiro's ears, but somehow he understood. He also knew what that extra husky tone in the depths of Hyorinmaru's voice meant…
His zunpukto was just as unhappy as he was.
Hinamori Momo was not surprised when Hitsugaya-taicho left, he couldn't stand to be around her lately. It didn't disappoint her when he left. She didn't feel anything anymore, she'd trained herself well.
She saw the disapproval in Unohana-taicho's face and in the faces of many of the other taicho and fukutaicho around them. But she still felt nothing. He meant nothing to her, no one did anymore; she'd made sure of it.
"Nei Momo-chan," Matsumoto-fukutaicho babbled excitedly about something, concerning clothes and nothing that Momo cared about anymore.
Momo didn't reply- what was the point? Nothing mattered.
Matsumoto-fukutaicho's smile grew fixed and more false by the minute. She glanced at Unohana-taicho in mute appeal.
Unohana-taicho's voice softly murmured something, but Momo didn't listen to her.
Kira-fukutaicho and Abarai-fukutaicho both began talking to her, but their words held no meaning and none of her attention.
She absently noticed Hitsugaya-taicho enter the room; he walked over to Yamamoto-Soutaicho. They began talking, and the Soutaicho gestured for Unohana-taicho to join them, the discussion seemed quite animated, but in the end, Hitsugaya-taicho seemed satisfied about something.
Momo still felt divorced from everything, she wasn't really there, but… there was something present she hadn't felt for… many months.
She ruthlessly smothered it; she didn't want to feel anything.
Unohana-taicho walked over to them, she didn't look very happy, "Hinamori-san," she began, and then stopped, apparently unable to go on.
Hitsugaya-taicho walked over, "Hinamori, let's go," he grabbed her wrist, deliberately invading her space.
She would have pulled her hand back, and remained motionless, but his grip was too tight. She found herself walking at a very fast pace, almost running past the other fukutaicho and taicho, most of whom looked very surprised.
Momo followed him through Seireitei until they reached the fourth division. She didn't pay any attention to what he said to the Shinigami there. But the Shinigami left, at a run, and they were completely alone, for the first time in months.
He continued to hold onto her wrist, the warmth of his hand was pleasant against her skin. She didn't care though, even when his thumb moved in a slow circle over her pulse, which quickened for a reason she couldn't understand. He looked back at her and she couldn't understand the emotion in his eyes, and she wasn't sure she wanted to.
She looked down at the ground, breaking that tentative contact between them. His thumb stopped moving, and she almost felt disappointed, but crushed that.
Momo didn't feel anything; she didn't want to feel anything. She was empty, blank and emotionless; it was the only way to live.
She was surprised when something else zapped through her senses suddenly;
She hadn't been allowed to hold her Zunpukto since she'd first raised it against Hitsugaya-taicho almost two years ago now. They'd deemed it safer to keep it away from her, until she 'came back to normal', but this was as normal as she was going to become. She couldn't deny Aizen's death, but she could deny everything else, even life.
Hitsugaya-taicho tied Tobiume onto his back, beside Hyorinmaru, and ignored the Shinigami who'd brought it to him. Probably protesting about the 'easy access' which placing the zunpukto there afforded Momo. It wasn't necessary, she wouldn't touch this reminder of her previous life as the fukutaicho of the fifth division.
Hitsugaya-taicho bolted, running and shunpoing, pulling her after him, and suddenly they were through the gates and running through Rukongai, into the wilderness that surrounded it.
Momo was surprised to discover that she was breathing hard when they finally reached the outermost edges of Rukongai, and that her legs were shaking. She had not seriously exercised ever since Aizen's… 'betrayal', and it seemed that she was seriously out of shape. That produced a faint twinge of resentment, but she pushed that away as well.
He finally released her arm, and she refused to rub her sore wrist, he walked away from her, and she remained where she was, refusing to move. He couldn't manipulate or control her so easily, and she wouldn't let him do it at all.
He untied Tobiume and suddenly flung it at her. She was surprised when her hands came up to catch it just before it hit her face. The force of it stung her hands.
She was surprised when her hands ran repeatedly over the hilt; she'd missed the feel of the sword in her hands. It was something she allowed herself to feel, because she couldn't hide or stop feeling that way.
"Draw your Zunpukto Hinamori-fukutaicho," Hitsugaya-taicho's voice broke into her thoughts.
Momo blinked, completely shocked, "wha-"
He cast a kido spell she recognised vaguely- bakudo, high level. It was a barrier to prevent anyone outside the area from entering. The wall that began to surround Hitsugaya-taicho, extended, to surround her as well, before going on to encompass a large part of the empty countryside around them. He spoke the final words to set and release the spell and it settled permanently- until he released it or died.
"Draw Tobiume," he said, drawing Hyorinmaru and turning to face her, his body automatically flowing into battle stance.
Momo blinked, "Hitsugaya-taicho," she whispered.
"That was an order!" he snapped, eyes hard and icy.
She flinched, and even though her fingers tightened on the hilt, she did not draw her Zunpukto. She refused to.
"Hinamori-fukutaicho, didn't you hear me?" his voice was louder.
She ignored him, looking at her feet; she heard the crunching of his footsteps on the icy ground. His reiatsu naturally made the already frosty evening, descend to freezing. She shivered as the cold grew, and she wished she had a shawl, but pushed that away and resolved to ignore the cold.
Momo had forgotten about the crunching footsteps, until a set of legs in black Shinigami robes came into her vision. He paused, close enough for her to feel the brushing of his robes against hers. She heard the faint sighs of his breathing, in and out. He waited five breaths for her to raise her head or speak to him.
She didn't do anything, and she had no warning before her ears rang, and her head was snapped to the side with a severely aching cheek.
"I SAID- DRAW YOUR ZUNPUKTO!" he yelled.
"No," she whispered, still surprised by force of his slap.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" he shouted.
"No," she said looking up at him.
"DRAW TOBIUME, FIGHT ME!" he said, grabbing one of her shoulders, shaking her.
"NO!" she screamed back.
"I SAID –" he began.
"NO- NO- NOOO!" she screeched.
His tone changed abruptly, "I won't hold back Hinamori, if you don't draw your sword, you'll die," he let her go, and shifted back lifting his sword.
"I won't draw it," Momo said, her fingers opening, and she dropped Tobiume.
"Pick up the Zunpukto Hinamori," he said in a low, dangerous voice.
"No," she refused.
He disappeared, and something smacked against her shoulder, the raw pressure flinging her through the air. She landed several meters away, hitting the ground shoulder first. It took her mind several minutes to piece together the obvious.
He'd shunpoed and hit her with the flat of his blade.
He was watching her, he paused for a few minutes and then he held up one hand, "Hakudo four, Byakurai!" he yelled.
White lightning raced towards her, and she used shunpo to dodge, saved by less than a second, and reflexes she barely remembered. She was extremely rusty, but not completely incompetent.
She used another shunpo to buy herself a little time, or distance. He might have used the flat of the blade initially, but it wouldn't last. His hakudo could have killed her if she had stayed. It had shown her that he was treating her like a deadly serious threat.
The faint change in the air around her was the only warning- she shunpoed to the side, and felt a warm trickle run down her arm. He'd cut her, and if she'd stayed there, it wouldn't just be a deep cut on her left arm; her torso would have been separated from her legs.
"Hitsugaya-taicho," she breathed, the icy air hurting her lungs as she panted, "what are you-?"
"Hakudo thirty one, Soukatsui!" he cut her off.
Momo shunpoed again, barely avoiding his kido, and tripped over something on the icy ground. She felt something warm run down the side of her face, and she couldn't stop her hand reaching up, fingers tentatively touching it. She brought her stained fingers down to establish what she'd already knew. There was more blood.
She ached; bruised from both falls, bloody from two cuts, and she slowly brought herself to her feet, wincing. What was he trying to do? What was the point?
She looked to the ground, and her mind stumbled over the fact that her faithful Zunpukto had been what tripped her.
"Pick her up," Hitsugaya-taicho's voice softly echoed what her instincts were screaming.
Momo slowly bent over, her hand less than a millimetre above the handle, and she wanted to close her fingers over the hilt. Her hand was shaking, and it would be so easy, but…
"NO!" she screamed, kicking her zunpukto away from her, eyes flying up to meet his.
She was surprised when he lowered his eyes, "very well then," he said softly. He dropped Hyorinmaru to the ground, and disappeared with a shunpo.
She half turned, but it was too late, he'd already tackled her from behind. He landed on top and she squirmed and wriggled, trying to break his hold. She realised that she'd miscalculated when her eyes met deep green eyes, and he was uncomfortably close.
He had her pinned; her legs trapped beneath his knees and shins, her shoulders were beneath his hands. She froze, held still by those eyes, so beautiful, so sad. They called to her in what seemed to be a language that she'd forgotten, and she felt like crying.
He blinked and the spell was broken.
"Let me go!" she yelled, trying to push him off- but he had planned this well, that and he seemed heavier than she remembered. It wasn't working- no matter how she much twisted or heaved.
"No," his breath was warm on her cheek.
She kept struggling, but still had no success, and she huffed, before sinking down, forcing her body as far away from his as possible. She turned her hair to the side, looking away from him. He would not tame or enchant her so easily.
"When are you going to accept it?" he asked, with something close to agony in his voice.
"What?" she asked.
"Aizen never cared about you. He abandoned you, and betrayed you," that was said coolly and flatly.
She shrieked, "how dare you!" and began struggling again.
"He's dead Hinamori. He can't hurt you anymore!"
"No, he isn't dead, he's not gone! He's NOT LEFT ME!" her left arm won free and she elbowed him in the head
"We both know that's why you cut yourself of from everyone," Hitsugaya-taicho's hand slipped, "you didn't want to get hurt," his weight fell slightly to the right.
Momo slipped out of his hold and threw him off, then she pinned him, "He did not leave, he couldn't have" the intensity of her voice made her shake.
"Hinamori, please, try to understand," he was almost begging her.
"NO," she shrieked and leapt away from him, running towards the barrier. She hit it and got repelled instantly, flying backwards several feet before she hit the ground.
"Hinamori- damn it, I don't want to hurt you," his voice cracked.
"Then let me out!" she yelled in response.
"No," the word was in a firm voice he'd never used with her before, and it completely silenced and stilled her.
"Hinamori, we grew up together, you're the best friend I've got- I'm not going to let Aizen win! He's not going to drag you into the grave after him!" the intensity of his voice, the pain, made her wince. "Besides, being a friend is about doing things you don't want to do. I'm doing this because it seems to be the only way I can help you now," his voice trailed off, tainted with uncertainty.
Momo didn't know what to say. Her Shiro-chan had always been confident and bossy. He'd never been uncertain with her; he'd never been like this with her at all.
But he was wrong, he had to be wrong, "let me out now," she said, sulking like a child.
A warm body was suddenly right beside her, "if you want to escape, then you're going to have to beat me first," he whispered.
She found Tobiume in her hand, and this time, she didn't drop the Zunpukto. She drew it from the scabbard and swung them both around in one quick movement, aiming at his chest.
He wasn't there; he'd already shunpoed out of her range. He stood, several meters away, waiting for her, eyes patient.
"Are you really full of so much pride Hinamori?" he asked, eyes becoming sadder.
"No," she answered, stung by his comment- there was a difference between pride and loyalty.
"Why couldn't Aizen be a traitor?" he asked her.
She refused to answer that and attacked instead, holding up a hand, "Hakudo thirty three Soukatsui!"
She knew he'd move to the back and the left to avoid her attack, so she used shunpo to place herself in optimum attacking position. She drew her Zunpukto and slashed down, hard and fast.
She was too slow; he dodged both attacks with little apparent effort.
"Hajike Tobiume!" she called upon her shikai to balance the power difference between them. Several balls of pink flame flew straight for Hitusgaya-taicho, curving to hit him all at once.
He used his own blade to slap the rosy flames away from his body. They exploded into the ground making creators and lots of thick white smoke which smelled like plum blossoms.
Momo was already onto her next attack, "Hakudo thirty one Shakaho!"
He was off balance from flinging her fire balls away, but he was still able to dodge the kido attack. She angrily stepped up the variety and frequency of her attacks, determined to win at any cost. Any concern over hurting him was forgotten in the absolute rage which had waited months to be unleashed. Now she was so far gone in anger that every attack took her further into it, and at this point she didn't even care.
"You didn't answer my question- why can't Aizen have been a traitor?" he yelled at her in between one volley of flame and another of lightning.
She was tired, angry and every attack drained her further. She felt surprisingly weak when she thought about it, and that just made her temper worse.
"Are you still on that?" she mocked.
"Are you still trying not to think about it?" he shot back.
Now that really did make her angry.
She focused all of her energy on her Zunpukto, and in response they both glowed a bright pink. She focused on the heat that was swelling in the blade, calling it to be red-hot. Her hair ribbon and cloth already loose from the fight, flew out of her hair and gusted away in the reiatsu generated winds. Her loose hair streamed straight behind her, glowing with her gathering reiatsu.
"Hinamori-" Hitsugaya-taicho began to say.
Momo ignored him; she never wanted to hear that- those words again. She had to shut him up, the power swelled, and she felt comfortable for the first time in months, there was something so satisfying about calling power and then releasing it in one large blast.
She called everything she had, but when she opened her eyes she realised something was wrong- there was still ice everywhere. The dragon of ice water which circled the tenth division's taicho gave her a hint, he'd released Hyorinmaru. The power levels on the field were suddenly unbalanced again, but she'd still go all out, maybe if she did, he'd be merciful and kill her.
Momo blinked, surprised by her own thoughts, and the self-pitying tone of them.
She forced herself to focus; she swung her blade and let loose the biggest ball of fire she'd ever summoned. She sent two more behind it, aimed straight at Hitsugaya-taicho and his guardian dragon.
Thank you for reading, and what do you think?
-No seriously, even if you hate it, I want to know!! I can't get any better without constructive critism.
Please R & R- there's little point in posting Part 2 unless people are interested in reading it, I promise there'll be a little fluff!!
Translation of Japanese Words:
Arigato- Thank you
Ba- Grandma/Old woman
Chan- a suffix indicating a close relationship, often used by girls and when addressing someone younger.
Fukutaicho- Vice-Captain/Vice Unit Commander
Haori- Hip/thigh-length kimono coat which Kyoraku Shunsui wears over the Shinigami uniform.
Kido- Ghost Magic
Kun- a suffix considered quite familiar, often used for addressing classmates and friends.
Mou Hidoi- That's mean/rude
Reiatsu- Soul Power
Rukongai- This is part of Soul Society outside of Seireitei, anyone not in Seireitei dwells here.
Sama- honorific- generally means master/lord, used only in cases of high respect.
San- a suffix considered polite, often used for addressing people who you don't know well.
Seireitei- The city in Soul Society where the Shinigami and nobility dwell.
Shinenju- "Memory Rosary"
Shinigami- Death God
Shunpo- Flash Steps
Soutaicho- Head Captain/Commander General
Taicho- Captain/Unit Commander
Zunpukto- Soul Slayer