Hitsugaya absently scribbled his name on yet, another line on yet, another piece of paperwork. He couldn't remember when he started, he couldn't remember when Matsumoto had left and never come back. Where exactly was his lazy lieutenant? She had left saying she was going for tea and would bring some back, he could really go for some tea right now, but knowing her as well as he did, tea meant sake.
If he decided to go look for her, he would probably find her passed out somewhere or close to. Surprisingly enough, it didn't bother him in the slightest, a non-alcoholic Matsumoto just wouldn't be the same.
Another thing he couldn't remember, the last time he slept. Was it two days ago, or maybe three, maybe even more. He envied Matsumoto sometimes, that woman could sleep through Armageddon, if he wasn't there to wake her up, she would have slept through the entire Bount and Arrancar incidents combined. She slept like the dead, it came so easily to her, he would trade his left testicle for maybe 12 hours of straight sleep.
He stared with cold loathing at the piles of papers, that no one would ever actually read, on either sides of his desk. He almost wished Hyourinmaru was a fire element zanpaktou, just so he could incinerate these infernal documents, but alas, such was life.
I am the manifestation of your spiritual power, do not insult me over such insignificant matters!
Hitsugaya cringed as Hyourinmaru's angry voice boomed in the back of his mind.
"I didn't mean it, and I wasn't insulting you. I'm just a little worn out" He said, staring at his sword.
You disgrace me with such petty whining, I never thought my master would be so weak in mind and body, such childishness is unbecoming!
"I'm not whining, and I'm not weak or childish, but I am tired, annoyed and feeling pretty stupid arguing with my zanpaktou" He said as he put his pen down and rubbed his brow.
Watch your mouth, Hitsugaya Toshirou, do not forget that I am you. I have not lived so long to serve such a disrespectful brat!
Hitsugaya groaned as he felt a headache swelling behind his eyes.
"I haven't forgotten, and don't call me a brat, I haven't had a break in I can't remember how many days" He wished Matsumoto was here so she could distract him from this little voice in his head that was currently driving him more insane than the mountains of paperwork he still had to do.
On second thoughts, Hyourinmaru's voice definitely couldn't be described as little.
I don't care for your pathetic excuses, I am ashamed to call you my master!
Hitsugaya abruptly stood, his chair scraped against the floor, although it felt more like it was scraping against his brain.
"That's enough, I'm not in the mood!" He growled as he grabbed his zanpaktou from where it was leaning beside him.
He walked around his desk and dropped the sword onto the couch before moving back to his desk.
"Now, I'm going to get this work done if it kills me, hopefully it will" He added that last part quietly.
Matsumoto walked calmly back to the office, she tried to see where she was going over the massive bulk of the objects she was carrying. She would have to apologise to Captain Hitsugaya for taking so long, but on her way back from getting his tea, she had gotten an idea and decided to make a little detour.
"Poor Toshirou, he's so overworked for such a little guy" She giggled to herself.
Suddenly she was stopped and she fell back on to her backside. She groaned as her cargo went flying and was spread out all around her, she managed to save the tea though.
"Are you alright, Matsumoto-san?" She knew that voice.
"Yes, I'm fine. I'm sorry Captain Ukitake, I couldn't see where I was going" She said as she stood up.
He smiled and helped her gather her things.
"It's quite alright, but why are you carrying all this?" He asked.
"My captain has been working too hard lately, so I got some stuff to give him a break" She summed everything up in one short sentence.
"It has been a while since I've seen Hitsugaya-kun, has he been cooped up in the office this whole time?"
Matsumoto nodded sadly, he could be such a stubborn workaholic sometimes.
"Well, do tell him I said hello and I have many sweets to give him to make up for lost time" Ukitake said as he wished her a good night.
She waved goodbye, Ukitake was a very nice, very funny person. She stopped in front of the office door and juggled the things in her arms to free up a hand to open the door. Suddenly she heard a loud thump and the sound of papers being scattered.
"Captain, are you okay?!" She said as she threw open the door.
What she saw made her smile and shake her head. Hitsugaya had obviously reached his limit of constant work and sleep deprivation, he had fallen asleep head first into his papers and on to his desk, the thump she heard was his head dropping on to the hard wood. Papers covered the floor around the sleeping boy's desk.
"Silly, silly boy" She sighed.
She noticed Hyourinmaru lying on the couch, she wondered why, usually her captain just leaned his sword beside him while he worked. She placed her things down and picked up the zanpaktou, she noticed how cold it was, a chill seemed to emanate from the very core of the sword itself. She walked over to Hitsugaya and smiled fondly as she saw his face, all the tension, the exhaustion, all the everything that seemed to be plaguing her captain over the past week had melted away to reveal the child beneath. His brow, which was almost always furrowed, was smooth and free of the lines that had been there almost since she had first met him. It was a perfect picture of peace. She leaned Hyorinmaru beside him in its usual spot before grabbing the things she had brought. One was a pillow and the other was a blanket.
On the way back from getting some tea for her poor captain, she remembered how awful he looked when she left, he looked about ready to drop. The lines under his eyes were so thick they seemed to weigh him down. She decided she was going to take care of her captain, she would make him take the rest he so desperately needed. Then she had remembered how truly uncomfortable the couch in the office was, whenever she fell asleep on it, she would wake up stiff. She decided to pick up some things from her quarters, to make him more comfortable.
She gently lifted his head and slipped the pillow underneath, she shook her head at the red mark on his forehead where it had hit the desk. Then she rested the blanket on his shoulders and moved his arms so they rested on either side of his head. She removed the papers from his desk and collected the ones on the floor, she dumped them on the coffee table in front of the couch.
"I'll do these for you, I don't mind, you can just rest" She said, she suspected that even in his sleep, he could hear everything.
She suddenly heard the scratching of a pen, she turned and saw he still had a pen in his hand, and he was writing in his sleep, on her pillow. She hadn't noticed he'd been holding his pen the entire time, and now he was signing her pillow. She was annoyed, but at the same time she was amused. She walked over and plucked the pen from his hand, it took a moment or two for his hand to stop moving and relax.
"Workaholic, bordering on obsessive, not a good sign" She giggled.
She covered her mouth when she saw his eyelids flicker, if he woke up now, he would insist on working. She gently brushed his hair back from his face and went to do the rest of his paperwork.
Matsumoto worked late into the night and into the early hours of the morning, every now and then she would turn to make sure that he was still sleeping soundly. Just as she signed off the last paper, she looked out the window and saw the sun was high in the sky. She estimated it was about 11:30, that meant she had worked just about 12 hours straight. That was a new record, her old record being 2 and a half hours, and that had been under the influence of sweet, sweet alcohol. On half of the papers she'd done that day, her signature had been so illegible that they couldn't be accepted and had to be re-copied and re-signed. Her captain had not been happy about that, she'd been thoroughly chewed out and he'd forced, actually forced her to do them all over again. In the end, she bailed the second he left the room. Next time she saw him, he'd looked at her disapprovingly. His punishment had been one most effective, he'd had her reassigned to the 11th squad for a week.
It was what could accurately be called the worst week of her entire life. Zaraki's subordinates were some of the most unruly, unkempt, and just plain unpleasant men she had ever met. They were almost all complete dogs, they weren't discreet either, she walked into a room and all eyes were on her chest. It actually drove her to cover herself up, she hated wearing her robes normally, but she was desperate.
"What are they learning from you?!" She growled to Zaraki as she punched one of his men in the face.
"Short Stuff told me to make your stay with us one to remember, I just passed that little tip on to the men" He said with a giant smirk on his scarred face.
In the end, she had run to her captain and begged to come back, she had promised to do all the paperwork for the next six months. Hitsugaya had just smiled and asked if she had learned her lesson, she said she had and he agreed to allow her back. It didn't stick though, she was back to dodging paperwork in less than two weeks. Hitsugaya never punished her again, even when he was forced to do all of her paperwork.
Hitsugaya would never tell her the real reason he never tried to punish her again, she always assumed it was because he knew she'd never change. The truth was, he had missed her more or less constant company, her drunken snores actually made it easier to concentrate on his work. Her presence comforted him in a way he couldn't explain, it just did.
Suddenly Matsumoto heard him stirring from his slumber. She stood up and walked over to the desk, he groaned a little before opening his eyes and closing them again. Then his eyes snapped open and he shot up in his seat, he looked around for a moment in a frenzy.
"Shit, I fell asleep, It's going to take me forever to finish this paperwork now!" He stopped and a puzzled expression crossed his face when he saw his desk was now clear of the papers that had been tormenting him with their neverendingness, he didn't think that was even a word.
"Calm down Captain, I did the rest" She said as she put her hands on his shoulders.
He blinked twice.
"You? You did paper work? You?" He was in a state of shock and disbelief.
She faked insult.
"Do you really think of me like that?" She batted her eyelids and stuck out her bottom lip.
He didn't speak for a few moments.
"You did all that paperwork?" He said.
She couldn't help but laugh at the absolutely adorable look on his face, sometimes he could be so cute.
"Hang on, what time is it?" He asked.
"It's about 11:30 in the morning" She replied.
He sat back and a brief smile crossed his face. He had gotten a straight 12 hours of sleep AND he still had his left testicle, things were finally going his way.
"What are you smiling about?" She asked him.
"Nothing" He said.
"Whatever you say" She said as she walked away with a spring in her step.
He relaxed and rubbed his eyes, he looked down and saw a large pink pillow on his desk, and a pink blanket hung on his shoulders. He looked over to Matsumoto and saw her drop on to the couch with a contented sigh. He couldn't suppress the smile that tugged at his lips.
"Oh yeah, before I forget, the tea is on the corner of your desk" Matsumoto said.
He looked and saw a small pot and a cup, both were wrapped in an all too familiar pink scarf. He unwound the garment and found the tea was still warm, that's what the scarf was for. He poured the tea into the cup and raised it to his lips, the tea was just right, strong as hell, just how he liked it. He opened the cupboard on the side of his desk and fished out another cup.
"You should drink this too Matsumoto, it's a lot better for you than that swill you constantly drown yourself in" He said as he poured her a cup.
He stood up and walked over to the couch, he stopped and smiled. She had curled up on her side and fallen asleep. He removed the blanket from his shoulders and spread it over his sleeping lieutenant, he did the same thing she had done with the pillow, working around her long unruly hair was a slight difficulty.
He smiled and went back to his desk, picked up his pen and went to grab a paper off the pile on his desk. Then he realized, there were none, all the paperwork was signed, done, finished. He sat for several seconds, the time ticked by slowly, he couldn't think of anything he needed to do. He stood up and pushed the chair in after himself, he would return to his quarters and attempt, unsuccessfully as always, to sleep. He walked past the couch where Matsumoto slept, he turned and watched her breathe, in and out, in an out. He suddenly found that he didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay here with Matsumoto, even though she was sleeping, just being there calmed him.
He walked back to his desk and sat down, he rested his head in his arms and closed his eyes. For the first time in his life, sleep didn't seem so far away. Everything around him just faded away, everything except him and his faithful lieutenant. He just sat and listened to her breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out, in and out.
Matsumoto smiled as she heard his breathing slow and fall into the rhythm of slumber, she closed her eyes to join him in the dream realm. She listened to him breathe. In and out, in and out.
Their breathing entwined, the prodigal captain and his devoted lieutenant descended into sleep, content that when they awoke, they would both be there to start all over again with the other by their side.