The 10th division had put their trust and faith in their Captain Hitsugaya Toushiro for guidance. With the help of his vice-captain, Matsumoto Rangiku, the 10th division was running smoothly. The 10th division was not to be underestimated. After all he was a genius. After five years with Aizen's betrayal, and the all out war with the arrancar; Hitsugaya was taller, almost rivaling Abarai Renji. His hair still short and spiked, but he had buffed up a lot. Matsumoto always teased him that every female; spirit, shinigami, or human (when they're in Karakura City); swooned in his presence. Then she would follow up by saying that no one caught his eye because he had Hinamori Momo. Hitsugaya would of course scream at her to shut up, turning his head to hide his blush. The only time Hitsugaya ever got flustered and immature, was when he was teased about Hinamori. During those times, he sent the teaser to the 4th Division, everyone except Matsumoto.
Hitsugaya briskly walked down the darkened streets to the one place he needed to be. A bouquet of peach blossoms carefully cradled in his arm. He made sure no one spotted him. Otherwise, Hitsugaya would never hear the end of it. Matsumoto was the only one who knew where he went. After all, she was the one who picked up the fresh flowers, every day. He wasn't foolish not to notice her looks of concern. She didn't look after him when everyone else couldn't see, because they worked together. However, it was because, in the time Matsumoto had become Hitsugaya's lieutenant, they became family. She knew everything about him. She also knew what hurt him the most. These daily nightly visits killed him more and more, but she could not stop him because it also gave him hope by just seeing her.
He knocked on the door then hit his forehead. Unohana-Taichou already stopped by for her daily check-in. He got the spare key from his pocket. Hitsugaya slid the door open and made his way to a back room. There she sat in a chair in an empty room. Hinamori sat with her hands folded in her lap. Her eyes void of anything as she blankly stared out the window. Hitsugaya replaced one of the dying bouquets with the new one. Hinamori didn't even register his presence. He brought a stool to her side. Sitting down beside her, Hitsugaya took her pale hand.
He quietly greeted.
"Were you okay today?"
Even though no answer came he continued. He placed a gentle hand on her soft cheek. It shook, afraid touching her would break her further.
"Where are you today?"
Hitsugaya receded his hand as if it was burned. He watched two crystalline tears run down her face. He gripped her hand a little more tightly.
"Can I do nothing to ease your pain?"
Hitsugaya hung his head in defeat.
"Is he the only one in your heart despite everything?"
No answer came, but he was no longer expecting one.
"You were always in mine..."
His voice cracked with so much emotion. Emotions he only let come out here with a shell of a girl. She no longer could hear him.
"Hinamori, every time you say that name, it cuts me deeply. You never did understand did you? You entered my heart, then left me to be a shinigami. You broke so many promises during that time. Yet I waited each time. The time was painful, but I got by with the thought of you thinking of me. However, you weren't and probably never was."
Hitsugaya clutched her hand until his knuckles turned white.
"It's my fault I let you meet him. My fault for not protecting you. But it does hurt me that you could replace me so easily Hinamori. Was I ever even in your heart at all?"
Hitsugaya looked at her pleading, but she still did not look at him. He chuckled to himself. "You never did see me anyways did you? I became a captain and worked hard just for you. To be noticed by you was all I wanted Hinamori. Despite all that I've given to you, despite our 'friendship', you still raised your sword against me. You rather believe your precious 'Aizen-Taichou' then your foolish friend Shiro-chan. Yes, I was foolish, but you made me that way. Why did you invade my heart when you have your precious 'Aizen-Taichou'?"
Hitsugaya felt the anger boiling and tears pricking the back of his eyes. Hinamori still did not register him at all. Hitsugaya stood and placed a hand on top of her head. He did not see her eyes widen because he had leaned in to whisper in her ear.
"I'm not the one that can bring you back, are I? I don't have the ability to unveil your eyes either. Even if I have to give you to someone else as price to get you back, I'll do it no matter what. Just before you run off with him, please, just once, look at me, not through me. See me as a man that loves you Momo, because I feel I can no longer stay here."
Hinamori's eyes began to focus. She saw her house clearly. Hinamori turned her head slightly, thinking she heard something.
But no one was there. A wind blew the curtains, and a cold chill came into the room. She touched the top of her head feeling the warmth.
Her heart breaking thinking about him. She then touched her hand. It was red from it being gripped by another. The warmth still lingered. Then she remembered thinking that she heard Hitsugaya earlier. Realizing he was still alive, she concluded that it was him. Hinamori didn't remember the voice talking to her, pulling her out of the confusing darkness. Just the feeling remained: warm and protective.
Hitsugaya flew his fist into the mirror of his bathroom. Glass embedded itself into his hand. Blood ran out of his cuts on his hand. He walked back pressing his back against the wall. He slid down to the floor. Ignoring the blood and glass, he covered his face and willed away the day she became the lifeless doll.
Unohana walked into Hinamori's house using the hidden spare key. She put it back into it's hidden place, and went to the back room filled with the flowers Hitsugaya brought every night. Matsumoto and herself were probably the only two that knew of his nightly visits. She stopped short upon the sight before her. Hinamori was sprawled on the ground. She was covered in sweat and she continued to shed tears. Her legs were bleeding from her nails biting the flesh. Hinamori noticed Unohana and questioned the woman in her pitiful state.
"Have I become defective?"
The captain rushed to assist Hinamori into the chair. She quickly assessed all the damage. Hinamori wiped the tears off her face. Unohana looked at her seriously.
Hinamori gave her senior her full attention.
"You've been in a catatonic state for five years."
Hinamori's eyes widened at the information. Five years of her life had passed her by. She looked in the mirror across the room. Hinamori could see the difference in appearance.
Hinamori's memories were jumbled. Unohana put a gentle hand on top of her head.
"It will come back in time."
Hinamori nodded her head in understanding. Everything was just lost in a jumble. The confusion made her scared and mad. She wanted it sorted out and she wanted it now. An image of the one person who would be truthful with her came to mind. It was like Unohana was reading her mind with the next question.
"Would you like for me to send word for Hitsugaya Taichou?"
She smiled seeing Hinamori nod her head rapidly. Unohana went to the window to call for a black butterfly.
Hitsugaya and his lieutenant, Matsumoto, were at the gate, ready to leave. They had received word to travel to the real world. Once there, they would join up with Kurosaki Ichigo and the gang. Abarai Renji and Kuchiki Rukia were already there waiting for them. Matsumoto knew why he was hesitating. It was now like tradition for him too.
"You could always decline for once Taichou. I'm more than positive that one of the other Taichous would take your place without a complaint."
Hitsugaya turned away and to Matsumoto. He began walking towards the gate.
"No, if I cannot perform the duties of Taichou, then I cannot be considered such."
Matsumoto looked to the side. She knew that it still hurt him to part from the lifeless Hinamori.
"Plus, I have flakes like you to look after. If I were to leave your side, who knows what trouble you would get into."
Matsumoto smiled and feigned innocence.
"I don't know what you mean Taichou."
"Like hell you don't"
Hitsugaya knew that he wasn't the only one bearing a hardship since that battle. Matsumoto had found Ichimaru Gin, her friend since childhood. She had let him go. It wasn't like she planned it; her body just had refused to move. The Chief Captain hadn't punished her because he knew it had been extremely hard on her. As to how hard, only Hitsugaya knew that. They walked through the gate following their black butterflies when another had just missed them.
Hinamori had been informed just a week ago that they had barely missed them. It wasn't really a problem. She had expected for Hitsugaya to come running in once he found out about her waking up, but he never did. For some odd reason, the whole gang in the human world had vanished. The vanishing had caused an uproar in Soul Society, especially in the Kuchiki household. Byakuya was clearly upset that no one could find his precious wife's keepsake. Many feared the consequences of the possibility of Rukia had fallen in battle. By now, even she was a little worried that the stubborn little boy that she had known had faced defeat.
Hinamori laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling. The wind gently blew through the slightly opened window. Her eyes focused up through the darkness, onto the ceiling. She was once again thinking of Aizen. As her thoughts drifted into sleep, she was again tried to unjumble the mess of her memories. No one had been able to help her sort them out, but Unohana had told her it probably happened on the day of the final fight with Aizen. So she slept.
"Stop it Please, don't hurt Aizen Taichou!"
Hinamori heard herself scream, but it died on deaf ears as Kurosaki Ichigo and Urahara Kisuke fought her once captain. She tried to reach them, but Hitsugaya used shunpo to move in front of her. He had left his battle with Matsumoto and Gin. Matsumoto assured him that she could handle it, but someone needs to stop her. He had still been doubtful, but he left, because he cared deeply for Hinamori.
The tears fell down unchecked and she looked angry at him. She could see his hurt, surprised expression before it became a sad one.
Hinamori drew her zanpakuto.
"I said to move. I need to help Aizen Taichou."
"I won't, and I can't. He's a traitor Hinamori."
"I don't care. I love him!"
It was like watching his heart break right in front of her. At the time, she couldn't help the thought of satisfaction. Now though, it broke her heart too.
Hitsugaya dodged the first blow. He couldn't draw his own zanpakuto against hers again, so he didn't. Soon it became like a game of cat and mouse. Hinamori had attacked him with a killing intent. The very edge of the blade sliced his cheek, it caused him to misstep, and he tumbled to the ground. She had used the opportunity to slam her sword into his chest. At his screaming in pain had caught Matsumoto's attention. Looking at Gin, and back behind her, she had a tough call to make, but knowing the right one, she went with it.
The ashes sent Gin flying back as Matsumoto made it to Hinamori and Hitsugaya. Pulling Hinamori off, she used a binding kido to keep her in place. Slowly, and carefully, she removed Hinamori's zanpakuto as it took back it's normal state. Orihime Inoue was soon over trying to offer her assistance, but Hitsugaya was loosing blood fast. Hinamori had definitely nicked or cut something.
Hinamori turned, hearing steps behind her.
Hearing her scream his name so happily, everyone turned to Aizen. He pulled Hinamori up, and put the sharp edge of his zanpakuto up against her neck. She was shocked.
"It seems you have become useful for me again, Hinamori-kun."
"Why you bastard..."
Ichigo took a step closer in anger.
He halted hearing Hitsugaya's own anger in his name.
"Why Aizen Taichou?"
Aizen looked down at Hinamori with a mocking smile.
"Because you're good for only one purpose, as my puppet."
"No! That's not true! Aizen Taichou, why are you being like this?"
Hitsugaya knew she was loosing it again, just like when she had first woken up after Aizen had stabbed her. Aizen didn't deserve such loyalty.
"Stupid child, you're still disillusioned. It can't be helped though. You were under the spell longer than anyone."
"Poor Hitsugaya-kun. You suffer so much for a girl who doesn't even see you."
Hitsugaya tightened his fist in rage. Aizen turned to Ichigo.
"What's wrong? I thought you were going to kill me? Have you lost already? I expected more from you, Kurosaki Ichigo."
Ichigo ground his teeth.
"Well I expected nothing from you. To use a girl as your hostage, you're scum."
"Sticks and stones boy."
Aizen raised his zanpakuto ready to strike down Hinamori. She screamed in horror.
There was a screaming of pain, and Hinamori felt cold. When she opened her eyes, Aizen laid dead in front of her. His eyes wide in shock, but unseeing. Ice was still on his body where it had penetrated and sliced through his heart. Aizen did not move after that fatal blow. Hinamori clutched her head and screamed in horror. The man she loved and admired, laid dead in front of her by the hands of her best friend. She stopped when his body began to disappear, breaking up into spirit energy. Once he was gone, Hinamori turned around violently and stared at Hitsugaya with so much hatred.
"You... I hate you!"
"It's fine Matsumoto."
"I hate you!"
"Just leave her be."
Hitsugaya coughed up blood. Inoue hadn't finished her healing by the tie Hitsugaya had attacked. Ichigo and Urahara rushed over to catch the falling boy as Inoue quickly started the re-healing. Matsumoto stopped the advancing Hinamori, who struggled against her. She continually screamed her hatred at Hitsugaya. He in turn just shut his eyes tightly, and clenched his fists and mouth.
Ichigo looked up at Urahara, who shook his head. Looking at Hitsugaya, he decided to let Hinamori continue. She soon broke out in sobs, then fell silent. Hinamori had entered her catatonic state.
Hinamori woke up screaming in pain, and her cheeks were soaked with endless tears. She turned over in her bed and clutched her aching head. Her tears continued as did her screaming. Remembering it all now, it broke her heart. It was not clear to her how disillusioned she had been thanks to Aizen. To think she pined away for a man who had tried to kill her, again.
Then her thoughts drifted to Hitsugaya. Shiro-chan, she had once called him. He had indeed grown, but he was still somewhat childish. She faintly wondered what he looked like now. Even after five years, she looked older now too.
However, the problem lied in her actions. She had spoken horrible, heartbreaking things to the one person who cherished her more than anyone, perhaps even loves. His looks that she saw that day were like daggers in her heart. Not only that but she had raised her zanpakuto against him again, only this time, she had hurt him. The thought of she could have killed him made her sick to her stomach.
She turned her scared eyes to Unohana and her vice-captain. Hinamori realized she was still screaming.
"Hinamori Fuku-Taichou, get a hold on yourself!"
Following Unohana's advice, Hinamori slowly stopped crying and screaming. She could tell that she had worn her throat raw.
"Hinamori, I came to get you to see something. Can you promise to breakdown like you almost just did?"
Hinamori thought for second before nodding her head.
"Very good. Well then, Isane would you please help Hinamori Fuku-Taichou."
Kotetsu Isane helped Hinamori into the wheelchair. Hinamori was still trying to get back basic functions back. It was a struggle for her to relearn things that were so simple to her. Her brain knew the process, her body just couldn't cooperate thoroughly anymore.
They left the house and made it to Fourth Divisions' medical ward. Hinamori didn't understand.
"They were ambushed upon arrival. According to the others, they had been taken by rogue arrancars to a protected area. That's why no one could detect them. Anyways, the superior of the group decided to stay behind as a distraction as the others escaped and brought back reinforcements. It went well, except that when the others returned, the one that stayed behind was near death."
"Unohana Taichou, I don't understand."
Just then, Matsumoto came into view.
The blond woman looked up from her thinking to see Hinamori wheeling towards her.
"Hinamori!? So it is true! You did finally wake up. Welcome back."
"Thank you. So if you're fine, then Hitsugaya-kun must be too."
Hinamori sighed in relief.
"So where is he?"
Hinamori turned to Unohana. She slid open the door. Wheeling over, Hinamori looked in and received a horrible shock. Hitsugaya laid on the only bed in the middle of the room. He was helped by a respirator to breathe. Frozen to the spot, she didn't know how to react. Here laid one of the last people so close to her, looking so different. Not only had he grown, but now he looked as lifeless and broken as his body.
"I was actually coming to check up on Taichou. The other Taichous wanted my report so, I had stepped away for a moment. If I had known you were really awake, I would have come for you sooner. We've only just returned less than a day ago."
Hinamori slowly wheeled towards his bedside.
"Hinamori Fuku-Taichou, I'm afraid Hitsugaya Taichou is in a coma."
Hinamori was so alarmed she burst out of her wheelchair. She landed harshly on the ground. The three women rushed to her side, but Hinamori brushed them off. Desperately she pulled herself up against the bed. Shaking Hitsugaya, she tried to wake him, trying also to shake off the reality.
"Wake up! Hitsugaya-kun, wake up!"