Disclaimer- I do not own Bleach, never have and never will

A/N- short little one-shot told from the POV of Matsumoto. Her thoughts about her captain after he disappears in DiamondDust Rebellion

Loyalty

No one in the Tenth Division can understand why we're all being locked up in our barracks, not to mention forced to hand over our zanpaktou, and as one might expect my subordinates are all very reluctant to give up their swords to the group of Squad One members who are assembled in our courtyard. For a few minutes it looks as though a fight may break out. Many of the Tenth Division members have mutinous expressions on their faces however I know what will make my subordinates cooperate and, pulling my sheathed zanpaktou from my sash, I step forward and hold it out to the Squad One officer.

As I relinquish my zanpaktou Haineko to the Squad One officer I reflect on how we came to be in this situation. The Tenth Division had been charged with an important task, guarding an artifact known as the King's Seal, and as with everything that we do the members of the Tenth, myself included, put everything that we had into the mission. Things were going smoothly until we were ambushed by these two strange girls, Arrancar I think. Our division suffered many casualties during the fight and then in the ensuing chaos my gaze fell upon my captain. He gazed down at me with an apologetic look in his teal eyes for a few moments and then he vanished.

Captain Hitsugaya hasn't been seen since and I know the things they're saying about him, the things they've been saying ever since the procession was ambushed and the King's Seal stolen. The higher ups of Soul Society think that because he vanished during the attack and has been hiding his reiatsu that Captain Hitsugaya was in league with the strangers who attacked us however I know that what they're saying isn't true. There is no possible way that my captain is a traitor. His loyalty to Soul Society has never before been in question. The simple truth of this is obvious to me and if those other people would just stop and think about it for a minute then I'm sure that it would be obvious to them as well. If my captain was going to betray Soul Society then why would he have fought against Aizen? Duh, he wouldn't have.

I try to keep my anger over the stupidity of this under control as I step back and lean up against the wall. I knew that something was seriously wrong the moment he turned that apologetic gaze in my direction. I have never, in the entire time that I've known him, seen my captain with such an expression on his face and I find myself worrying about him. I know that he's a captain and can take care of himself however there's something strange going on and he's out there all alone, trying to deal with it.

After Captain Hitsugaya disappeared and it became clear that he was concealing his reiatsu from detection I found myself at Squad One, in front of Head Captain Yamamoto and the other captains, defending my own captain against accusations of treason. As if such a thing were even possible.

And as though that weren't bad enough Head Captain Yamamoto cast blame for the theft of the King's Seal upon the entire Tenth Division, placing us all under house arrest and taking away our zanpaktou. Now personally I could deal with this injustice if it were only me. I wouldn't be happy about it of course but I could cope however I feel really bad for the other soldiers of the Tenth, whose only crime was that they were there.

Lost in thought I'm slightly startled when I lift my gaze and see the Sixth Division vice-captain, Renji Abarai, walking across the courtyard toward me, accompanied by Rukia Kuchiki from the Thirteenth Division. Not exactly sure why they're here at the Tenth Division I'm grateful when they offer comfort and show their support for my captain. Perhaps these two can be of some use since they aren't under house arrest and still have access to the world of the living. Deciding that I can trust these two frequent rule breakers I confide in them everything that I know and everything that I suspect and then I ask them for their help.


The next time I see Renji he shows up at the Tenth Division accompanied by Captain Kyouraku of the Eighth Division and his vice-captain Nanao Ise. Apparently there had been some trouble with the guard at the front gate and Captain Kyouraku had helped out. Together we sit on the small porch that overlooks my small garden and for the first time since my captain disappeared I find that I'm actually able to laugh. True I'm still worried about him and the laughter is only half-hearted but it's still an improvement.

During our visit Renji tells us that the Substitute Shinigami Ichigo Kuroaki had a run in with Captain Hitsugaya and that my captain was apparently injured during the fight over the King's Seal. I'm relieved to know that someone has seen him and that although injured he is alive however my worry increases when Renji tells me that Captain Hitsugaya left Ichigo's house and that when Ichigo attempted to stop him my captain actually attacked him. Then Renji mentions a name that Ichigo heard from Captain Hitsugaya before my captain ran off, Sojirou Kusaka, and he asks me if I know who this person is or was. I shake my head, wishing that the name was familiar to me but it simply isn't. For the first time I realize just how little I actually know about my captain. Even though I'm his vice-captain and have been for quite some time now I know virtually nothing about him. It's true that we spend most of our time either together in the office or out on the battlefield however whenever we talk it always revolves around work. No matter how hard I try, and I try hard and often, I can never get him to loosen up and talk about himself or, heaven forbid, act his age for once. His serious nature simply won't allow it, much to my dismay. What little I do know about him from the time before he became my superior is information that I was able to weasel out of Momo and I know he'd be upset if he knew about it. He likes to keep such things to himself.

I realize that others view my captain as cold and aloof, almost to the point of being unfeeling, however I know that it's just a front that he's put up in order to keep people from seeing the true him, the warrior that's trapped in a child's body. I realize that this is somewhat necessary, he does it so that people will respect him for the captain that he is and not judge him based on his appearance however I think he takes it too far. He has hopes and fears just like the rest of us, I know he does, but he's afraid to let the world see that side of him. Afraid that they'll think less of him if they do.

Nanao suggests that this Kusaka guy can't be impossible to find and as I listen to the others asking her for her help in tracking him down and her in turn telling Captain Kyouraku that he'll have to help with the research I find myself feeling grateful to my friends. It's obvious from their words that I'm not the only one who thinks that there's more going on here than the higher ups realize or are willing to admit. They realize that something isn't right with the situation and they're going to make an attempt to get to the bottom of it. Since I can't leave the barracks I know that I'm going to have to leave this in their hands, as much as I don't want to. I know they're capable, or at the very least Nanao is capable, however it's almost more than I can stand to just sit here and do nothing while I know that my captain is in trouble not to mention the fact that he's currently at the top of the Seireitei's most wanted list. Where are you my captain and what are you trying to do?

This thought has plagued me ever since he disappeared on that fateful day and I can't get rid of it, try as I might. It's not like I think he did anything wrong, I know for a fact that he didn't, I know that there's no way he would have, but he must have some reason for disappearing the way that he did and for concealing his reiatsu. There's something that he feels he has to do alone and not for the first time I find myself wishing that my captain was able to trust people with his thoughts. I know that there are many of us, myself not least among the group, that would stand at his back regardless of the risk or the consequences if only he would trust us with what is going on.

Captain Hitsugaya has always been emotionally detached, from the very first time I met him, however things got decidedly worse after Momo's betrayal and subsequent injury at the hands of Aizen. He would never in a million years admit it but I think the fact that his best friend chose Aizen over him hurt him deeply and damaged whatever trust he may have once held for people.

Jarred from my thoughts by Renji's voice I look up and receive the worst blow that I have yet received, worse even than having to hand over my zanpaktou. None of this has been particularly easy however this is by far the worst thing that I have experienced since we returned to the Seireitei. With a look on his face that plainly said that he wished he hadn't been given this job Renji offers me a small bundle of cloth that he'd managed to smuggle into the Tenth Division. My breath catches in my throat and I feel the tears stinging my eyes as I unfold the white haori with the number ten emblazoned on the back. I immediately notice the bloodstain on the green lining of the garment and I feel my earlier relief slipping away. Yes my captain is alive but judging by the size of the bloodstain on his haori, he's sustained a fairly serious injury.

What is it you hope to accomplish captain? I think this to myself as I hold his haori in my lap, fighting the tears that are threatening to fall, and I find myself torn as to how I should feel about the situation. On the one hand I'm happy with the knowledge that Captain Hitsugaya is alive but on the other hand I'm slightly angry that he left his haori behind. Whatever he's doing, he's decided that it's worth giving up his rank for, but if I have anything to say about it that will NOT happen. I know you're innocent captain and I'll be waiting here when you return. My loyalty to you shall never falter, no matter what anyone else has to say.

A/N- Hope you enjoyed this little one-shot. Feel free to review and let me know what you thought. Til next time this is Hitsu-taichou signing out.