Word Count: 996

Dislcaimer: I don't own Bleach.


She looked so much more fragile asleep than she did awake.

Then again, she looked fragile any time of the day. Her soft skin, those bright, brown eyes that sparked when she was filled with excitement or joy. So petite, so delicate, so innocent, and yet she could fire kido at you like it was nobody's business.

Maybe that's why that man had chosen her to be his 'lucky' subordinate; she was loyal and strong, but she was so gullible it was almost sad. And yet, Hitsugaya loved that virtuousness about her. Nothing could corrupt her. Yet, that man had.

Hitsugaya sat next to her sickbed the same way he had for the past two days, simply watching her, hoping for her sweet, brown eyes to open.

"Hitsugaya-taichou." A voice called to him from the doorway.


"She'll be fine. Her wounds were easily healed. She'll just need a few days' rest before being able to fully recover." Unohana was the one telling him this; it must be true. Hitsugaya nodded his response before she left him alone again.

Hinamori had tried to be so strong even though she hated fighting. When the whole ryoka business had started, she was one of the first to be wary of having to carry her zanpakuto.

Hitsugaya shook his head. Sometimes he wondered if Hinamori really knew what she was getting into when she began attending Seireitei Academy to become a shinigami. Fighting was the obvious aspect of the job of the Gotei 13. Did she really think she could avoid it?

Stupid bed-wetter Momo, he thought, brushing a stray hair from Hinamori's still face.

She was always trying to face things she couldn't handle. That's why Hitsugaya had joined the Gotei himself – well, that was the main reason anyways. He was here to protect the one he lov – to protect his best friend from danger. From dangerous people like Ichimaru. Like Tousen. Like Aizen.

He was so angry with himself.

How could he not have seen the danger Aizen truly was? Was he that blind to have thought that man was as genial as he seemed? No, it wasn't just Hitsugaya. No one had imagined Aizen doing anything like this. It just wasn't in his character – or, at least, not in the character he played. It had all been an illusion, and they'd all fallen for it. Hinamori had fallen the hardest, Hitsugaya knew.

Hitsugaya had been the same as everyone else: he thought Aizen was just and kind, and that's why he'd had no problem with Hinamori's desire for the man. Aizen had been the kind of man anyone would look up to. Hitsugaya was sure Hinamori would be safe in Aizen's hands, especially when the captain would rather talk things out than fight to the death.

Aizen had played with the girl's affections and made her undeniably loyal to him. And then, when he needed her adoration no longer, he cast her aside. He had attempted to kill her twice through her comrades before he'd done the deed himself, just barely missing her heart with his zanpakuto. That miss was probably the only reason she could still be alive now.

And that made Hitsugaya wonder: Why had Aizen tried to kill Hinamori so many times? It wasn't like she was 'special' to him or anything. Just another subordinate. Just another tool to use for his conquest. So what was the point of killing her then? To show he was finished with her? Well, he didn't need to kill her for anyone to know that; Aizen had explained the entire plot he had unfolded throughout the past century and what use each 'tool' had for him.

What if – and Hitsugaya shuddered to think this – what if it had been a mercy killing? What if Aizen's only real reason to kill Hinamori was to let her see the good captain he was so she would have never had to see what evils truly laid beyond his amicable face? So she wouldn't have to suffer?

That was preposterous. Aizen had no morals. He had no senses of love and compassion. Hitsugaya assumed the feelings had been torn away many decades ago and had been replaced by a perfect fabrication everyone adored and treasured, even if those repulsive thoughts still nagged at him.

Why did she have to be the one to fall under Aizen's seductive spell? Why did Aizen have to pick her?

The poor girl had just gotten infatuated in something she couldn't cope with. Hitsugaya had been there for her, but it hadn't been good enough. He hadn't been good enough. He hadn't seen through Aizen like he had seen through Ichimaru. Ichimaru played it out all over his face and actions that he was bad news. He had been the distraction.

Aizen was a smart one, a genius. Hitsugaya had to give him that, but he still hated the man with a fiery passion. Just a brief mention of the name 'Aizen Sousuke' set him on edge. He hated that man for what he had done, for everyone he had hurt. For hurting her. Hitsugaya hated him more than he hated Ichimaru, and that was an accomplishment. He had wanted to kill Ichimaru before, but Aizen, oh how he was going to destroy the man.

He was never going to let someone like that be trusted by him again. Never. The next time, he would see through their façade and unmask them, especially now that he'd had the experience.

And he would most definitely never let anyone like Aizen get close to Hinamori ever again. He wasn't going to see her go through an experience like that ever again because that wouldn't happen again. Nothing was going to prey on her heart like that; he would make sure of it. He made a resolve to protect her tenfold what he used to put in. He would be her shield. The aegis of that stupid bed-wetter Momo.

A/N: For those of you who don't know (and I should be put in as one of ya; I certainly didn't know till I found the word) the Aegis is the shield of either Athena or Zeus in Greek mythology, and is used to mean 'protection' or 'shield'. ...I honestly don't know where this came from...I was just feeling drabble-ish the other day, I guess, and I was pondering over why Aizen made a big deal out of killing Momo. I mean, it's not like she can kill him, so what's the point?