The first time Kira kissed Momo's hair, they had been unseated members of Aizen-taichou's - no, Aizen's division, before Ichimaru-taichou (breaking that habit was just a tad more difficult for him) had been named leader of the Third.

It had been a routine mission, really. He and Momo, along with two other recent graduates from the Academy named Suzuhara and Megumi, had been under a dispatch by a kind fourth seat officer named Souji, not much of a leader but incredibly loyal to Aizen. They tracked down a particularly strong Hollow that had evaded and slaughtered individual patrols for some time.

They managed to find its lair successfully.

It was to be the only thing their mission accomplished perfectly.

Souji had been the first to die, amidst a blur of claws and teeth and screaming that tore the night apart, blood splattering across Momo's shihakusho. Just like that fateful training mission in the Academy under Hisagi-senpai, the Hollow had the capacity to hide its reiatsu.

Megumi panicked, screaming, and managed to get three steps back before her chest was destroyed by a massive, three pronged bone white claw that replaced her midsection.

"There's two!" he remembers shrieking, swinging Wabisuke from side to side, his only truly rational thought being find Momo.

Suzuhara leapt to avenge Megumi. He had been an excellent swordsman, near the top, with only truly gifted fighters like Renji able to best him. But he only managed to scratch the mask of the Hollow twice before the second one bit off his arm, tearing it off in a macabre spray of crimson. Stripped of his sword arm, Suzuhara was devoured, all the while futilely punching the masks of his murderers.

"Raise your head Wabisuke!" Kira managed, voice at an alto high with panic, grabbing the back of Momo's blood spattered shihakusho, hacking off one of the claws of the second Hollow as he did so. The unholy screech of agony assaulted his ears, and he only just managed to kick off with shunpo to what he prayed was a safe distance.

"Aizen-taichou," he heard, as if the name were a prayer. He looked down at Momo's shaking, trembling form, and was suddenly afraid she was about to break.

And suddenly, without a thought, Kira leaned down and pressed a kiss to her hair (scented like, amusingly enough, peaches), and whispered, "It's going to be okay. Trust me."

In the next moment, Momo had Tobiume out and blazing, pink-crimson blasts surging through the air, giving him the confidence to slash and hack away, the two of them making a stand, however hopeless it seemed.

And it did turn out okay.

--

The second time Kira kissed Momo's hair, they were no longer unseated officers, but they also no longer had Ichimaru-taichou and Aizen-taichou to rely on.

Technically, he isn't supposed to be here. With the loss of three captains, the workload has increased tremendously, especially amongst the Third, Fifth, and Ninth Divisions- but truth be told, Kira doesn't give a Hollow's ass about what he's technically supposed to be doing right now.

Momo shouldn't have been allowed out of the Fourth, no matter what she asked for.

Ukitake-taichou, bless him, gave Kira a conspiratorial wink and a friendly grin, motioning for him to wait outside. If Yamamato-soutaichou has noticed him, it is obvious he has deemed it fit not to mention it and have the Third's vice-captain unceremoniously dragged back to his division.

He waited with bated, anxious breath, much more than a simple meeting should- but damn it, this is Momo. Pure, sweet, delicate Momo, who, along with Renji, were the ones who brought something like happiness back into his life in those lonely years after his parents died.

His fingers twitched once, twice, as if yearning to reach for Wabisuke, to fight some invisible foe who threatens his friends. But there are no Hollows threatening the world right now, and he can't fight memories, or loyalty, or love. Those aren't things a mere zanpakuto can cut.

Suddenly, with a hard thump the door opened, with Chojiro-fukutaichou leading a clearly distraught-

"Momo!" Kira was at her side in an instant, forgetting protocol and formalities in the face of her pain. However, Chojiro-fukutaichou seemed to understand him, and backed away quietly, letting Kira support the emotional vice-captain of the Fifth.

"Kira-kun," she murmured quietly, and he felt a rush of relief that she wasn't so distraught as not to be able to recognize him anymore.

It has happened before.

There is a small, healing scar on his left hand to prove it.

"It's going to be okay," he said softly, gently brushing the nape of her neck in a gesture that might seem reserved for lovers, but the rules honestly don't apply here. Not for Momo.

He brushed his lips over the tips of her hair, and sighed into the dark locks, something he had only ever done once before.

"Trust me."

--

The third and last time Kira kissed Momo's hair, he was dying.

Like the second time, he wasn't supposed to be there, but, as it involved Momo, he didn't really have a choice to not be there.

Letting Momo meet Aizen alone was unthinkable. Someone else probably should have stopped her, but unfortunately all the "someone else's" were currently busy making a stand against the rampaging Arrancar which were ravaging Soul Society.

The chamber of the Central Forty-Six is spinning around him- probably from the blood loss, he thinks idly.

Either that, or the fact that Momo is shaking him.

Aizen removes his zanpakuto from Kira's chest, with a mixture of amusement and contempt swirling in his dark gold eyes. "Such a waste, huh Gin?" he questions, passing a glance with his fellow traitor.

Instead of answering, Gin leans over Momo, face looming into Kira's vision, as though he had become a giant. Giving his former subordinate a friendly smile, he asks, "Why'd ya do that, Kira-kun? We was just tryin' to give Momo a proper send off, and we even did it right where it shoulda happened the first time..."

"Won't," Kira manages, breath coming hard and desperate now. "Won't... let..." the rest of the words can't seem come out, replaced by more blood as he coughed once, twice, spraying the floor with crimson.

Gin leans back, sighing, scratching the back of his head as he looked back over at the Arrancar leader. "Ne, Aizen-taichou... can I put 'im out of his misery? Seems fittin', ya know..." there's maybe a hint of regret in that lilting voice, even as its owner reaches for his zanpakuto.

"No!" Suddenly Momo is in front of him, stepping between Shinso's deathtouch and himself.

She's crying, he thinks, half delirious due to the fact that there was likely more of his blood painting the wood floor of the chamber than in his body.

His next thought, even as Aizen says graciously, "Of course Gin", was That's no good.

Reaching over, Kira took Momo into his shaking arms, drawing her close enough to get the scent of peaches into his nose again, overwhelming the rusty smell of his own blood, and place, reverently, a blood-stained kiss on her hair, renewing his promise.

"It's going to be okay."

She looks up at him, eyes wide with fear and grief and maybe hope, and Kira remembers exactly why he's doing this, why he's in love with her in the first place.

He smiles even with bloodstained lips.

"Trust me."

And suddenly there is a dragon's roar filling the chamber, and the voice of an angry god to match. "HINAMORI!"

Hitsugaya-taichou is a little late this time, he thinks, now completely delirious from the continued blood loss. Despite that thought, he knows that his promise will be kept.

So Kira smiles.

And in the next instant Shinso pierces his skull.