illusions I recall

You see, Hinamori-san -- may I call you Hinamori-san? Hinamori-kun? Momo-kun . . . yes, I see that Hinamori-san will do. You see, Hinamori-san, I wasn't a bad Captain. At least, I don't think I was. I did a good job. The men didn't complain. The older Captains looked at me sometimes in the way that they do -- you know, the sort of look that says 'he'll grow out of it' -- and I used to shrug and get on with things.

I was going to make a difference, you see.

Some of them were old, and some of them were stupid, and some of them were just plain weird. The ones my age, like Kensei and Love and the other ones you met out there, they didn't have that dreadful inertia, that 'oh we've been doing it for a thousand years now and we're going to keep on doing it and you will just have to get used to it'. And even the kinder older ones, they were just so damn soft. Kyouraku with his bottles and his lazing around and the way he'd know the name of even the youngest person in his Division, Ukitake with his coughing and his being so damn understanding, Unohana with that smile of hers that went right under the skin . . . I used to flatter myself that at least I understood the way things worked.

That you can't always be soft. That you can't always be understanding. That a Captain needs to rule and command. That there's only room for one person giving orders in a Division.

I figured I was the only one who knew what was going on. I saw him -- let's not mention names, shall we? I saw the way your lip was twitching earlier, Hinamori-san -- yes, I saw him and I knew that he was rotten at the core.

Yes, you can say that if you want. You can say whatever you want, Hinamori-san. I don't mind.

I was very careful about keeping an eye on him. I knew nobody else saw anything odd about him. I figured it was up to me to watch him, and when he did something wrong, I'd have him -- and then, well, it'd have been nice to be recognised, you know? To have the old guys admit that I'd been right and they'd been wrong.

That wasn't all of it. But, you know. It was there.

And then he slapped me down. He stood there, calm as glass, all the rest of us on the ground, and he told me that I'd been so busy feeling smug that I knew all about him that I'd never noticed anything important. Like the fact that he'd been fooling me all along. I'd never even tried to know anything about him other than the first thing I saw, and as a result there I was, and there he was, and that was all that anyone had to say.

I'm sure he was a good Captain.

Fact is, looking back, I was a bad one.

So here's something for you, Hinamori-san, for what it's worth -- you want to be a good Captain some day, then you need to see a bit more than either of us did. Maybe it's true like he said, and admiration is the furthest thing from understanding, but distrust isn't much better. You loved him, I thought he was scum, and neither of us looked at him as close as we might have done. And I at least should have done better.

And maybe we did both learn something. That's what Captains do, right? Teach people.

So now we've got to show how well we learned it.

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