Hitsugaya Toshirou One-Shot

*Re-edited in January 2010*

I had never once thought that I could someday consider myself to be a pedophile. No, that was a title I would have laughed hysterically over and not dwelled on for another second. Mortified at that choice of wording, a few other possibilities would have come to mind: a loyal friend, a respected, responsible and hard-working adult, a seated officer - perhaps even a fukutaichou, if I was lucky. Taichou was fantastically ambitious, but maybe in my dreams the confidence would have been enough to boast over. But a pedophile? How disgusting.

Disgusting. I still agreed with that particular feeling. This couldn't have been healthy. How had it happened? I was at a loss. I suppose it must have started as soon as I had advanced into my new life in the Seireitei, placed immediately under the instructions of the Tenth Division.

When I had first met him, my taichou.

I had initially expressed nothing but awe, watching such a little thing prance around at the top of his game. He was adorable, of course; I wouldn't have denied that. Time went by and that awe turned into wonder - wonder of how a young boy could be so cold and menacing at such a tender age. Wonder morphed slowly into envy, bitter over his powerful reign while I still struggled along in the rankings. That envy eventually became something more of admiration, once having witnessed his shikai first hand and the pure intensity of his will. And that was where I lost track of it all, somehow ending up in this rut.

It was truly something of inappropriate brain activity. I still considered him a child, no matter how many years had gone by of unconscious bonding and understanding. I had grown - physically and mentally - while he seemed to simply remain the only constant standing in the shifting world surrounding us. The seasons passed, my abilities developed and altered, and he... was still a four-foot-something menace I was forced under the control of. How the puny runt had managed to hold a tightening grip on me was something I would have paid to find out. I couldn't help but feel as if I should be thrown in a mental facility whenever we were in the same room together and certain thoughts crossed my mind. It was sickening. Disturbing. How many other people had ever had a similarly wrong sensation? Was it common to possibly think you were in love with someone who came up the your elbow?

I knew it might not have been as bad as I made it out to be. After all, it wasn't as if he was significantly younger than me or anything. Age wasn't a vital factor. It really wouldn't have been a big deal at all if some relationship was to form. People probably wouldn't even bat an eye or consider the cougar factor.

...All right, maybe they would. But that was my point! Hitsugaya Toshirou wasn't thought of as a powerful taichou of the Gotei 13 Protection Squads, or a Shinigami captain of great upstanding. No, those were overshadowed by his reputation of the stiff, no-nonsense, dwarfed prodigious child, first and foremost. He was worthy of all of the respect in the world, but it was constantly belittled by his youthful appearance. An honest, knowledgeable, wise man - forever stuck in the body of a innocent boy. It was what was on the outside that people judged.

That was my problem, and part what I was worried about. I couldn't help but feel that this was as bad as it could get.

Falling in love with a ten-year-old look-alike.

"Rangiku...what are you doing?"

The robust woman popped her head up from behind the desk, looking as though she were in the act of covering up some heinous crime while being caught red-handed. She blinked obtusely, eyes drifting over every crevice of the room before finding me seated on the office's infamous couch lazily, sprawled on my back and watching her less-than-stealthy attempt.

"Sayan!" Her face brightened considerably as my name was cheered out, all signs of caution leaving her features as elation replaced it. "How lovely of you to come and visit us! Taichou and I have missed you since you left!"

I grunted, raising a brow at her conspicuous position. "Yeah, I've missed you guys, too. But somehow I doubt that Hitsugaya-Taichou will miss all that sake your trying to stuff into your desk."

She blanched, her grip becoming lax as at least ten bottles of alcohol fell to the floor with noisy clambering. I winced as the sound of clashing glass reverberated in my ears, silently thanking that she had chosen full bottles so that the liquid hollowed the sharpness of the pitch. I rubbed my head, lulling away a headache and watching dully as the woman released an airy laugh.

"Oh, Sayan! You've always been able to catch me in the act, ne? But let's keep this between you and me, alright? What Taichou doesn't know won't hurt him!"

Her hand batted in the air dismissively, soon after joining it's partner in hauling the containers of intoxicating liquid into the bottom drawers of her desk - the space that should have been used for her finished paper work. I had to admit that the hiding place actually made sense; when did the Tenth Division fukutaichou ever have finished paperwork to hand in? Toshirou would never think to look there in a million years.

I paused, thinking that over again. Even if only in my head, calling a captain by their first name just didn't settle well. Or maybe it was only this captain in particular? I bit my lip, my current advising officer's given name flashing across my mind.


...Nope, there was no gut-wrenching feeling with that one. Like many other occurrences and phenomenon, the younger "Shirou" captain was exclusive to those types of happenings. It seemed like the boy was simply some kind of fluorescent light that attracted any of my spare brain waves. All things that connected to him just shot up flags of alert in my mind.

Damn, it was annoying.

A groan wedged its way up my throat, tickling my neck as I threw my head back onto the arm of the couch. Why was it that I had come here again? To drop off paperwork, of course. But why had I chosen to stay? Could someone refresh my memory with that one, please? Just because the delivery was my last task of the day and I had nothing better to do wasn't much of a reason. If it had been any other division, I wouldn't just be lounging around on the furniture making myself at home. Would I be sitting back like this in Zaraki-Taichou's office?

...Maybe that was a bad example. I'd be like easy prey for that guy. Kyouraku-Taichou? No, he'd probably try jumping me or something. Was that what made little Toshirou so attractive to me? That he was one of the only semi-normal captains in this whole damn Seireitei?

If that was my justification, it was about as stupid as a back-up as I could get considering he was the youngest known captain with a notorious temper. That couldn't have been the entire story, there was more to it than that. But what, damn it?! Why did I feel so drawn to him? I had to figure it out!

I scowled, glaring towards the ceiling as if it was the source of my problems. Sure, I could accept that I liked the guy just fine. It was acknowledged in my brain and apparent in my actions. But it was the why that really bugged me. This bond was practically against the laws of nature - grown woman shouldn't like little boys.

Okay, he wasn't a little boy - but he looked like one! No matter the reality of his actual age and attitude, his appearance should have me thinking of him just like the rest did. I should be imagining cuddling him in my arms and giving him gifts of teddy bears and candy like Ukitake-Taichou. There shouldn't be anything like the things I did manage to think up when I let my thoughts drift off the the Hyouinmaru wielder...

I shivered involuntarily, remembering the dreams that had been plaguing me lately. The dreams that had been making this mild infatuation of mine all the worse. The dreams that had me thinking of how childish that boy actually looked without his robes on.

Which lead me to this new revelation that I was, indeed, in need of some professional assistance. I was a filthy maniac - one up from Kyouraku himself. My perversions far out weighed his in comparison. Sure, he was shameless and open in his flirting, but at least the woman he hit on were adults of legal age. He meant it more or less innocently either way (I doubt that he'd seriously put action behind his advances if given the chance).

Most of the time, anyway.

A voluminous blob of orange and blue flashed before my eyes, cutting off my brooding in the blink of an eye.

"Sayan? Are you alright?"

A strangled yelp left my lips, body fumbling. I lost the battle, my balance failing me as I fell to the floor with a muffled thump. Grimacing, I squinted up at Rangiku's wide-eyed expression. She allowed a tensed moment to pass, neither of us moving an inch before her clueless and shocked expression dropped, twisting instead into a care-free laugh. I whined to myself grumpily, rolling over to sit up on my knees and glare toward the woman.

"You can stop giggling anytime now, Rangiku," I remarked, not nearly as angry with her as I sounded. I was pissed, but the ill intent wasn't placed her way. Was it my fault that I couldn't control my emotions?

She pouted, determined to play out the scene even though I knew she was well aware I wasn't really blaming her. "Aw, Sayan, don't be so mean! You sound like Taichou when you talk like that!"

I choked on my own spit, probably looking strangled. Did I, really? Was he rubbing off on me? I though about him so much he was becoming a part of me?

All of this had to stop, now!

"Rangiku," I blurted, barely thinking about my words as I rushed to get them out. If I hesitated for even a moment, I knew common sense would win over my will. "I want to go drinking tonight."

Another look of shock zapped across her features, one that I honestly couldn't blame her for. Me, Katone Sayan, rookie lieutenant of the Thirteenth Division, actually bringing up the idea to get drunk? And so randomly, at that? It was as preposterous as my addiction to Hitsugaya-Taichou! I hadn't agreed to join the others' almost weekly "Night Out" since the first time I had been invited. I, naive and eager to be included back then, accepted the offer and... needless to say it didn't end well.

A gurgled response left Matsumoto gaping lips. I looked up, my head having been formerly facing the floor with features screwed up in horror. Eager to get this over with, I raised a brow at her Neanderthal response. She cleared her throat abruptly, managing to pull herself together after a moment to answer.

"That's... surprising to hear, coming from you. Are you sure?"

I nodded vehemently.

She blinked, letting a short moment pass before her face was obscured with an over-bearing grin. I managed to register her shrill shriek of delight before I was brutally engulfed in the fukutaichou's arms, my nose becoming a wedge between the cleave of her obnoxiously large breasts.

Dragging my feet along the ground, there was only one thought blaring in my mind as I trudged alongside Matsumoto later that evening.

What the hell had I been thinking?!

At the time, I guess it was a "desperate times call for desperate measures" moment; I couldn't think of anything else left for me to do. My brilliant scheme had been to go out with the others, drink myself into oblivion, and hopefully never sober up to the point of being able to think straight (and most importantly about Toshirou) ever again. It was stupid, unhealthy, and destined to fail miserably.

But it was too late to back out now.

Half of me was only still here because I just didn't have the heart to ruin Matsumoto's enthusiasm. Sure, her flamboyancy wasn't exactly rare, but it had never been a direct result of me before. I couldn't grasp how something as simple as my venturing out into the world of adult fun was enough of an ordeal to set her off. She had been rattling on and on all day about how excited and proud she was to "show me off" and "liven me up."

I could only assume that meant she was anxious to see me out of my comfort zone, completely wasted and falling over myself with the idiotic antics she seemed so fond of. I wondered if she was really such a great friend if her hope was to watch me lose my mind in a bar.

"Oh, don't look so glum, Sayan!" the Tenth's second in command preached, nearly skipping as we neared the established destination. I cringed, already hearing the bar's hollering from the streets. "You'll have tons of fun! I was starting to worry that you'd end up like Taichou if you kept to yourself all the time."

I cast her a disbelieving glance. She was comparing me directly to Toshirou again? No way, we weren't that much alike! I mean, he was know for his humorless and workaholic attitude. I wasn't anywhere near as dull as him. I had a life that didn't revolve around work. I enjoyed other people's company. I -

"You really haven't been yourself lately, Sayan. Since you've been promoted, you've become so distant. You barely ever visit your old squad! Remember how much fun we used to have pulling pranks on Taichou together? Now all you think about is being serious and keeping your nose clean. I guess Ukitake-Taichou does need the help, but I'm still glad that you're loosening up a little. Even though it's good to be efficient and reliable, a little slack never hurt anyone!"

My face scrunched up in thought. She actually did have a legitimate point. The past year of my life had been focused solely on gaining my position as a high ranking Death God. NOT, of course, trying to gain any captain's attention in particular. I had only stopped to think of it now how it must have appeared to everyone else: the once casual mischief maker having her personality take a backseat while she trained. Maybe some people might have taken it as my retirement from anything non-work related, or as a sign that I wasn't into playing around anymore. Graduating from a third seat to a lieutenant had thrust me into the real world.

Rangiku cheered. "We're here!"

She slid the doors open and the pair of us were instantly hit by a wave of warm air. Rangiku giggled, feeling in her element as the stench of booze and liquored laughter welcomed us in. I shuddered but followed as she weaved her way through the throngs of bodies without hesitance. Looking around the stuffy space warily, I was careful not to catch anyone's eye until I spotted a man waving a beaconing arm from across the room. Rangiku seemed to recognize him by the way she perked up, gesticulating back and making sure to obtain a firm grip on my wrist before we bounded forward. Again, I offered no resistance.

Now that the fact had been pointed out to me, I decided that I would not allow myself to fall on the same level with Hitsugaya-taichou. I would not be boring and overly-mature. Matsumoto was right about me having been distracted and arid since leaving the Tenth Division - I had to convince her I wasn't about to become as intense as her captain. I would have fun, laugh, and get drunk like young idiots did.

And I would NOT think about Hitsugaya Toshirou while I did it!

"Izuru, Renji, Shuuhei, Ikkaku!" Rangiku greeted, her face all smiles as she plunked down in an empty space before the table. I barely had time to prepare myself before the abrupt jerk on my forearm caused my knees to collapse from under me. I tried to hold back a visual testament of the pain, knowing that all of the men's attentions were now, without a doubt, focused on me as I quailishly curled my body into a more comfortable position. The male directly across from me - Abarai Renji, I recognized him as from the few officer meetings I had attended so far - raised a geometric black brow towards me in question.

"Hey," he muttered back in response to Rangiku's entrance. "This that friend you were talkin' 'bout bringin' along?"

Rangiku chuckled exuberantly, throwing an arm around the back of my neck and bringing me forcefully into her chest. I could only guess that it was her attempt making me feel more included with the group of strangers, but the only thing it accomplished was my face being buried in her protruding feminine features.

"Yup, sure is! Guys, this is my buddy Sayan!"

I nearly growled, face burning with mortification as I brought a hand up to push myself from Rangiku, purposely using enough force to throw her to the side in the process. As she struggled to regain her balance with a series of wails I straightened myself up, ducking my head and combing my fingers rapidly through the nest of what used to be styled hair. When I was sure the embarrassed flush had all but disappeared from my cheeks and my appearance was presentable enough, I lifted my chin, eyes traveling swiftly across the table to take in the four gorgeous men.

"Um, hi," were the elegant words that came out of my mouth. I wished I could be more social, or at least not have met them with Rangiku by my side to make me look like an ass. I felt so lame. Why couldn't Matsumoto have more girl friends? "Nice to meet you all..."

The fellow shinigami merely watched me blankly, probably trying to figure how a dork like me was supposed to fit in with the bunch of them. At least, that's what my head was saying, self-consciously. Who knew what was really going through their minds? Maybe they were acquainted enough with Matsumoto to understand her personality and cut me a little slack. I would take sympathy over revulsion.

One of the other fukutaichou's I remembered, Kira Izuru of Squad Three, was the first to break out into a kind smile, nodding in acknowledgement. "I've seen you at one of the lieutenant's gatherings. You're the new assistant to Ukitake-Taichou, aren't you?"

I bobbed my head up and down, not bringing myself to speak. The only thing I needed to happen now while things were looking up was to try to answer with some kind of nervous gargle of nonsensical words. For the second time in that last two minutes, I found myself wishing I could have met with these people under different circumstances. Not only had my arrival with Matsumoto cause a bit of a road bump in my confidence, but the deafening shouts of drunken men and the occasional smashing glass didn't exactly sing a lullaby in my ears.

The final fukutaichou, Hisagi Shuuhei, placed his chin to a fist and regarded me thoughtfully. "Hm, that's right. I thought I recognized you from somewhere..."

I almost shivered under his gaze, not knowing if it was just a simple once-over of new company of if he was literally checking me out. I knew the chance of the latter was slim when I was seated next to a woman who looked like Rangiku, but I wasn't sure just what ran through an intoxicated man's mind.

"Psh, you guys are a bunch of dicks," the only person I had yet to identify muttered easily, taking a gulp of his beverage. I peered towards him cautiously from the corner of my eyes and saw that he wore a shihakushou, but I was unable to decipher the squad label. The lack of a lieutenant's badge was the only distinguishing feature of his clothing.

"Huh?" Rangiku blinked dumbly from my side, turning her attention away from the fresh bottle of sake she had been opening and giving her attention to the bald man. I had a feeling she was already partly tipsy just from the fumes of booze. "What's the matter with you, Ikkaku?"

'Ikkaku, Ikkaku...' I processed, trying to come up with an answer. If my intuitions were worth anything, I was pretty sure I had heard his name associated with the Eleventh Division. The theory didn't bring me much comfort. The guy nearest to me, seated only a few feet to my right with no blockade between us except for air, was one of Zaraki's men?

The man, Ikkaku, snorted moodily into his cup. "All of this fukutaichou talk is startin' to get on my nerves."

Renji grinned, leaning back and resting his weight on his arms. "Ha, you're feelin' left out, huh? I just realized you're the only non-lieutenant here!"

Ikkaku closed his eyes, teeth gritting and glass shaking. I gulped. If the rumors were true, I seriously wished that Renji would stop provoking the Eleventh Division officer. At least while I was still within a mile from them.

"What exactly are you tryin' to say, Abarai? That I'm jealous or somethin'? You should know better than anyone that I could kick your ass and move up ranks with my arms tied behind my back!"

I didn't want to picture it. I was almost positive that he wasn't bluffing.

Renji's grin didn't slip. He only shrugged, face changing as another topic came to mind. "Speakin' of people getting their asses kicked, how's Yumichika?"

Rangiku and Izuru had broken off into their own separate conversation, with Shuuhei flickering his gaze back and forth between the two and adding in his own two-cents then and again. I became well aware that, despite Renji's accusation towards Ikkaku, I was the one who was really being left out here. I might have been eavesdropping on Renji and Ikkaku, but I had no clue what they were talking about and would never interrupt to ask. I could still remember the glare I had got during the brawl when Rangiku's stash of ditched paperwork had been found by Hitsugaya-Taichou...

NO. No, no, no, no, no!

It hit me like blow to the head. Huffing, I reached out for the small bowl of untouched alcohol and gulped it down in a single mouthful.

Ikakku sighed. "Still has the cut. 'S not comin' out in public 'till it goes away."

Renji snickered. "Yeah, havin' a slice across your cheek ain't very beautiful..."

Even I caught onto the tone of mocking as he said the word. I didn't see what was so bad about getting hurt. All shinigami had at one point. This Yumichika girl had to be extremely vain to hide over a wound. At least, I could only assume that was the reason behind Renji's "beautiful" comment. Still, having another female around might have helped me feel better about being surrounded by testosterone. I wished she would have come and possibly been an ice-breaker.

I took in a deep breath, abandoning the two-sided banter and keeping to myself for the moment. I could still feel my mouth searing, the fire having spread through my esophagus to my stomach as the drink made its way down. I squinted in pain, the perimeter of my eye balls tingling from the poison and producing tears. How could the others stand it? They actually found this fun?! I could see someone like Ikkaku enjoying physical agony, but what about Rangiku?

I turned my head shamelessly, watching as she flirted away and refilled her glass for the fifth time, at least. Figuring it inwardly, it seemed obvious that the more you consumed, the less awful it would be. I quickly followed her example, pouring some more of the drink into my own serving shot and bringing it clumsily to my lips. I almost gagged while swallowing; I wasn't a pro yet. The motion, however, had grabbed Rangiku's attention.

I could see the situation going across her mind sluggishly, her judgment already affected. Soon enough her teeth were sparkling in the dim lighting, a Cheshire expression glued to her face.

"'Atta girl, Sayan!! I knew you'd get into it!!"

Her words were only slightly slurred, giving off the impression that she wasn't as inebriated as an outsider would think by her natural actions. I smirked sheepishly, already feeling myself easing up. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking?

Izuru, apparently just as polite as his reputation had spread, effortlessly included me with their previous discussion. "We were just comparing our workload. Shuuhei and I have been swamped with work lately because of the current situation," he said evasively, not needing to delve into specifics. I hadn't even realized that these two were part of the squads that had lost their captains to treachery. I could only imagine the stress they were going through. "And Rangiku is, as always, managing to escape any serious late-nighters," he teased lightly, shooting a sly stare in her direction as she pretended not to notice. His gaze redirected, catching mine. "What about you, Katone-san? How has Ukitake-Taichou been treating you?"

I had barely opened my mouth to answer before Matsumoto's hand was slapped over it.

"Don't even answer that, Sayan," she scolded, bringing herself up to her full seated height before letting her arm drop. "We came out here tonight to relax and get away from all that Seireitei business, so no more talk about work, got it?"

Her words had never been so right. The four of us exchanged meaningful glances, smiling in agreement before raising our glasses to toast to the occasion. I laughed after drowning my cup, the others joining in for some reason I couldn't comprehend. Nothing was funny, yet we were all giggling like school girls. It didn't seem to matter at all as I accepted another refill from Hisagi. This was what I came her for: to let lose and forget about the world of Soul Reapers. Maybe it wasn't such a stupid idea. Maybe it would work.

Maybe it could be fun!

It had to have been nearly one in the morning - a full six hours since Matsumoto and I had first walked into the bar - when my five new drinking companions and I found ourselves stumbling along the streets outside of the Third Division. It had been agreed that we would all travel together on the way home to minimize the chance of one of us blacking out and being left for dead in the streets. Or course, the plan had been made while we were still relatively sober.

I believe our current state would scientifically be know as "shit-faced."

I barely remembered the time between dropping Izuru off at his barracks and arriving at the Sixth Squad. The entire night was full of a colorful haze and gut-splitting cackles. When I looked back on it in a few days, I would consider it a blessing that I didn't recall many of the idiotic antics I must have gotten myself into in that state of being. Only a few key moments remained in my mind after that fateful morning.

The hearty slap Renji delivered to my shoulder blades had given me a bruise for weeks, but I could only guess his understanding of his own strength had left him as the sake took over his body. He bade farewell to the remaining others in his own individual way before skittering off to his barracks. Ikkaku, Shuuhei, Rangiku and I continued onward home.

The night was silent, only disturbed by the obnoxious shrieks of my company. I could barely manage to grin cheekily, completely at peace with my wondrous high. Being the mess of innocence that I was, a muscular arm slithering itself around my neck was no means to be suspicious at all. I merely smiles towards Ikkaku as he leered down at me, his expression something wolfish. I scrutinized his face dauntlessly in that moment, not caring in the least if he noticed what a fool I was making of myself. Sure, he was a freak - totally obsessed with fighting, too ripped to be entirely healthy, bald, and wearing pink eye make-up of all things - but he was what I would call a real man. The raunchy thrill of his explosive impulses would always have me on edge, not to mention the appeal of his masculine physic. Powerful and tall in stature, he almost reminded me of some kind of God the humans would carve out of stone. He was the kind of man that teen males trained themselves to look like to gain female attention; the kind of man that woman fawned over as a protector and potential lover. H was the kind of man you would want to hold you tight and firm at night to feel at ease and safe.

True, he was the kind of man that I should be attracted to. But he was no Toshirou.

I tweaked my nose, turning my head to snuggle deeper into Ikkaku's side. Sure, he wasn't Toshirou, but I was trying to forget him anyway. Ikkaku was a guy who seemed interested - he would suit me just fine.

"Hm-mm-mh!" Rangiku hummed in a muddled giggle. "Looooooove birds~!"

I yawned, baring my teeth lazily in her direction. I think I was either too tired or too wasted (or both) to care about what she was implying. Ikkaku's reply was a bellowing wheeze and tightening hold on my upper arms. At least, until he fell over, unconscious.

I yelped, not figuring the situation soon enough to rescue myself from being pulled to the ground with him. Luckily for me, I plummeted into Ikkaku's back rather than the dirt. He, however, was now snoring into a face-full of pavement.

My knees dug into the floor, pulling my upper body off of the drooling man and kneeling upright. I clutched my head, the sudden motion of the tumble doing absolutely nothing to help the swiftly approaching migraine. I struggled to regain my footing, only accomplishing the feat and keeping from tripping to the ground a second time with Shuuhei's assistance. The last two aware members of the posse and I gaped down at the slumped form like zombies.

A full two minutes passes in silence before I opened my mouth. "Watsooeedoo?"

The wonders of sloshed speech.

Matsumoto seemed to understand the general idea. "Let's just leav'em," she exhaled, stretching her arms dramatically above her head. I was envious of her vocal control. "I'm beat! Someone'll bump into 'im by mornin' an' bring 'im back to 'a Eleven't."

I nodded absently, the buzz of the night wearing down and being replaced with exhaustion. Rangiku's plan sounded good to me at the time. He was a grown man - he could take care of himself. The Seireitei was full of people that would jump at the chance to aid a seated officer.

It wouldn't hit me until the next day that I should never trust Rangiku - or myself, while I'm at it - to be a good friend while she was drunk.

Shuuhei groaned. "Nah, I'll drag 'im over there," he said, shooting a longing glance towards the Ninth Division only two blocks away. "He'd be pissed if he foun' out we ditched 'im in the streets while he was knocked out."

His voice went through one ear and out the other, but I nodded anyway.

Rangiku shrugged, her eyes closed. "Fine by me. Let's go, Sayan."

My name set off a small spark of recognition and I turned on my heel to follow blindly, having just enough of a conscience left in me to glance back as Shuuhei heaved Ikkaku's mass up over his shoulder.

The walk to the Tenth Division seemed to drag on forever but, soon enough, Rangiku and I found ourselves outside of the main entrance.

Rangiku paused outside of the gate, glancing over her shoulder and catching me from stepping straight into her back. "How 'bout you sleep over 'ere tonigh'? You can stay in my room. I'll send a hell butterfly to Ukitake to tell 'em you're 'ere."

I moaned in glee at the offer. I hadn't been looking forward to the trip to the Thirteenth Squad alone; I honestly would have collapsed into a bush somewhere before I even arrived.

Matsumoto pulled her lips up lopsidedly. "But first 'oo have tah sneak into taichou and mine's office tah get one o' those bottles I stashed earlier," she declared slyly. "Trust me, it'll help in the mornin'."

For the umpteenth time that night I nodded without having the slightest idea what I was agreeing to. I shuffled down the hall without a care, knowing the maze by heart after all of the years living here. If I had been thinking straight (or at all, really) I would have seen the warning signs of strolling around the Tenth barracks so late at night, particularly right into the head office. Hitsugaya-Taichou certainly wasn't known for slacking off on his paperwork just for much-needed sleep. I myself had been an eye witness to more than one of his restless evenings.

I soon found that that night was no different. My noisy and inelegant opening of the door caught the Tenth captain's attention right away.

"Katone!" he gasped, rightfully shocked at my sudden appearance in his quarters. It had been almost four months since I had been transferred out of his division. I could understand his shock. What did surprise me just slightly was how rationally he seemed to be taking it. Normally, I would have expected some sort of hostility towards a person who dared to interrupt his diligent writing.

He gathered himself together, settling the papers before him and standing. "Katone, what is it? Is there something wrong?"

It was typical that he would jump straight to the business conclusion: there had been something going on in the Seireitei that I of all people was here to inform him of. Perhaps another Ryoka attack of something of the likes. The idea of my leisurely visit never even crossed his tiny, Einstein mind.

I grinned goofily, waving a hand in dismissal. "Naw, I gust... gotto geh 'om sahkay..."

Since I stumbled over my own feet while advancing into the room, Toshirou's morphing expression of perplexity took place behind my back. The sole task my limited brain power was going towards was keeping myself standing as Matsumoto's desk got closer. The look of sheer astound sparkling in his eyes was something I missed entirely. It wasn't until he slowly began to piece the situation together that he let his presence be reminded.

"Katone...have you been drinking?" he queried, not sounding as if he believed the very claim he was speaking. I was, after all, Katone Sayan: one of his favored underlings before I had been promoted to fukutaichou of the Thirteenth Squad. I might have had my fun with poking fun at him in the past, but I wasn't nearly as lazy or shirking as Matsumoto when it came to getting work done. I had convinced myself that, no matter how upset he sometimes got when Rangiku and I aggravated him just a bit too much, he found the both of us entertaining and valuable to his squad.

And yet here I was, sniffing around his office and trashed out of my mind.

I guessed that watching me celebrate thunderously over the uncovering of a sake bottle was too much for him to handle.

"Katone!" he snapped, tone taking on the familiar air of authority most associated with his anger. My smile dropped, features falling in distress. Damn, he sounded twice as loud when there was alcohol in my system. "What do you think you're doing?!"

I sniffed, munching on my bottom lip and swaying to the beat of my own deaf tune. "Matsu...Matsu tol' me tah geh 'er... sahkeh... tha' 'ee stashed inna desk," I verbally train crashed. Just the sound of that dilapidated language tasted horrible enough for me to feel queasy.

Toshirou's face seemed to double in disgust. "Matsumoto got you drunk and then sent you in here to get more drinks?"

It sounded close enough to the story to gain my consent. My chin bashed into my chest as I nodded.

Hitsugaya growled. He stalked over without my notice, snatching my elbow up in an uncomfortably firm grip and dragging me across the room to the couch. I clambered along heavily, managing to stay on my feet long enough to fall safely onto the cushions. Toshirou stood stiffly before me, arms folded across his chest. I took the opportunity to ogle at him, finding it amusing that it was the first time I had ever had to look up to see him.

"I can't believe she would pull something like this," he seethed, one of his hands unweaving to dart into the spikes of his pure-white hair. "Convincing you to go out with her, the devil! I thought she was more responsible than to corrupt her friends into acting like such fools -"

"'Matsu did'n do any'in," I grumbled, curling up into a more comfortable position. "'Was mah idea tah go ou' to da bar..."

The male's brow tweaked in confusion. "You're idea? You're the one who wanted to get drunk?"

I gurgled something unintelligible.

"I don't believe it," was his blunt reply. "Why would you want to do something like that?"

I sighed, thinking this was a serious enough topic to be sitting up for. I waited until I had struggled my way into the seat correctly before explaining, knowing I could have never accomplished both at the same time.

"Ter stop think'n 'bout you."

Hitsugaya looked like I had smacked him in the face. "W-what?"

I exhaled heavily. Why was the concept so hard for him to accept? Did he think he was horrible looking or something? No, the kid was almost too cute to be legal, in my opinion. Staring intrepidly as I was now, I was reminded of an angel. A Christmas Angel. I wasn't sure if he would think of it as an insult or a compliment, but either way my mind would never let me voice that theory so I could find out.

"You're lik'a angel..."

Oh, that's right - I didn't have a viable mind at that point.

What's worse was that I didn't stop there.

"I tink 'ur beauti'ul; too pretty fer'a boy. 'S lik'ur not really real. Lik'a angel. Ora seal er som'tin. Yeah, a snow seal..."

And no, even that wasn't the end. But I did have to take a moment to regroup my lungs before finishing off. It was a wonder that I could really top off calling him a seal of all things (I supposed it was a true enough comparison when he looked that wide-eyed and cuddly) but I managed.

"I lov'oo. I think 'bou'cha a'lot, even dough I try notta. I 'ave dreams all 'da time, wit'choo an' me. S'times we're not wearin' cloths..."

Why, why did I convince myself that getting drunk was a good idea? Couldn't I hear what I was saying? What I was admitting straight to Toshirou's face?

Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut?!

Toshirou was, if possible, even more horrified. His lips sputtered like a gaping flounder. Go figure - the genius boy could handle being a captain of the Gotei 13 with no problem, but facing a girl (who, granted, was totally smashed and coming onto him) was more than his brain could bear.

"Sa- ah, Katone..."

Even when I was down to one tenth of my normal intellectual level, I didn't miss that he had almost used my first name. That half-word made my heart leap and another grin to sprout up on my face. Feeling encouraged by his slip up of affection, I decided that throwing myself towards him was a decent course of action.


"Mm, 'Shirou..." I sighed in content, the boy feeling just as wonderful as I had imagined wrapped in my arms. I didn't even care that he had stiffened considerably and choked on his breath. All that mattered at that moment was that he wasn't pushing me off. In a way, it felt like embracing a stubborn child that was afraid to show his vulnerability. The only difference was that I was wishing the child would push my back onto the couch and climb on top of me. The fantasy set a gust of butterflies gushing into my lower stomach.

I giggled at the bizarrely ticklish feeling, closing my arms tighter over my former taichou's shoulders and nuzzling my nose into the iceberg atop of his head. His scent, also, was almost exactly as I had imagined: evergreen trees and the distinct but indescribable smell of winter air and frozen earth. I closed my eyes, envisioning a cool mid-winter scene complete with a chilled river raging through a snow-encrusted field surrounding our embrace. A smile flickered across my lips and I forced my face further into Toshirou's locks.

It was a few moments later when I became aware of Toshirou's deepening pants brushing against my neck. I shivered, both sensing and hearing the air slipping between his teeth in a warm breeze and somehow chilling by the time it brushed my skin. I was hit with the urge to press my lips to the space just behind his ear, if only to see how he'd react than to fulfill my lust.

And I was just about to do it, too, until I found his fingers prying into my collar bone.

"Katone," he gasped, sounding neither blissful or outraged. With no definite emotion to play off of, I made no motion to pull away until I was forced to. "Katone!"

I was thrown backwards by the force of his final heave, tripping onto the couch's seat and sprawling over the length of the cushions. I forced myself upright out of reflex, narrowing clouded eyes towards my assaulter and breathing heavily. What was that about?

Toshirou's gaze was as hard as ice, the greenish-blue hues strangely lit and misted even as his glare bared down on me. I was caught between thinking it was my imagination and hoping the harshness was forced.

We didn't speak, apparently allowing the words to flow through our connected stares. The air was tense and only broken up by the unsteady inhales the two of us gulped in. I didn't think I could figure it out even if I was sober. Was this his rejection? Was this his way of telling me to leave without voicing the blow? Did he think I was crossing the lines of hierarchy and in need of punishment? Or was he merely holding himself back from pulling off my uniform and dragging me to his sleeping chambers? Was I supposed to understand his mental plea and decided for myself whether I wanted to walk away now or allow him to control me?

Was he just as confused as I was?

Slowly, not knowing what else to do and not willing to just sit around and wait for something to happen, I rose to my feet - amazingly steady given the circumstances. With the whirlwind going on internally, I would have expected my brain to collapse under all of the pressure. But it didn't as I inched my way forward at a snails pace, carrying the burden of my body until I trembled to a stop inches away from the Tenth Division's leader.

And then, the only thing we did was breath in each others air in silence. At least until I couldn't take that anymore and lunged for the boy's mouth. If one of us had to be the one to take charge of this relationship, I wouldn't of predicted it to be me.

His lips contrasted with all of the other dream-come-true revealings, proving my previous assumptions about them to be false within the first millisecond that they connected with mine. When I had pictured this moment in my dreams (that I would later label as nightmares when I woke up) his lips had been like silk draped in a thin layer of ice - smooth, comforting and frosty all at once in some amazing, orgasmic blend. This now, the real thing, was every bit as alluring but in a completely opposite way. The glass-like kiss I had invented had turned into mountains, Toshirou's sensitive skin being chapped and dry, perhaps from that very wintry air he smelled of and held within him. The peeling crust brushed harshly against my mouth, sending a tremor down my spine. The rugged masculinity was astonishing. It sounded revoltingly out if place on Toshirou and, had I not experienced it first hand, I would have figured it to be a horrible experience.

But damn, I never wanted to let go. I pressed myself harder against him, fingernails digging into his shoulders as I didn't bother to hold back my selfish desires. My neck and back started cramping with the way I was stooped to create as little distance as possible between us. Being as small as he was, the alignment was all wrong - rather than our pelvises being thrust together under the force, it was my hips to his abdomen. Strangely, I didn't care at all and found it almost pleasurable. The matching of our bodies would be different if we were horizontal...

Suddenly, the fantasy was ripped apart. Toshirou's hand were gripping me beneath my breasts and, mistaking the motion, my heart flew into my throat. The feeling of euphoria didn't wear off until a sharp cry left my tongue and I found myself plummeting to the floor.

I whimpered, using my elbows to gain enough altitude to see over my own form. I knew it before I even looked up, but I still did. I couldn't not. My eyes, fogged over in intoxication and temptation, brimmed with tears as they found Toshirou's. His, the ocean-colored orbs I longed to watch endlessly, were wide with disbelief. A hint of terror, I noticed also. The worst one of all, however, was a sort of regret. Over pushing me away or not doing it sooner, I didn't know.

We were sputtering, the both of us, recovering from my impulsive show of passion in our own ways. My innards felt on fire, beads of sweat staining places I found odd and finger tips still tingling from the residual effect of frost bite. Desperately, I ran my tongue over my lower lip, still tasting the arctic man quivering before me. I watched with some form of satisfaction as his eyes followed the motion.

But no, he hadn't like it. He had pushed me away. There was no joy or delight in his expression.

But no hatred either. No nausea or abhorrence.

But no happiness. Only a dumbstruck, innocent look a little boy wore after his first, unexpected kiss.

A little boy and his first kiss.

I wondered if he fully realized that I had practically just tried to rape him.

His eyes told me he had grasped the situation relatively well.

"K-katone..." he forced out huskily, the tone alone igniting a pulse in the pit of my stomach. "You..."

I couldn't help but wonder what I had tasted like to him. He was delicious, but he hadn't spent the entire night downing sake. Had he ever visualized the way I would react to his advance and convulse under his touch? Did he idealize being the first to make the move and thirst for my kiss? Was I a disappointment? A drunken mistake? Did he feel humiliated to be taken advantage of like this?

I couldn't figure it out, so I couldn't blame him for not even wanting to try. Sometimes some things - some messes that are just too jumbled to ever make right - are just better to walk away from without another word. Whatever was going through his mind was too much to deal with. It shouldn't be held against him. It was perfectly justifiable the way he simply took a single step back, almost hesitant with his actions, as if anticipating I would leap at him again, before rolling on his heal and taking another step forward, towards the door. And then another. And another, until it wasn't just one funeral footfall at a time but a brisk march. Away from me, shaking on the floor. Until he disappeared, making it across the threshold and into the dark of the hallway.

Without a single parting look or word over the shoulder to the maiden crumpled in a broken heap in the wake of his obvious turn down.

"Sayan, wake up! Rise and shine, Sleepy Head!"

I wanted nothing more than to never have to open my eyes again.

It wasn't just the ache biting along ever inch of my muscles or the relentless hammering between my eyes. It also had something to do with the fact that some of my more recent memories were still intact. I had hoped beyond hope, harder than anything I had ever hoped for before, that the night of drowning in sake would take its toll on my cerebellum and just shoot out any recollection at all; I wouldn't have minded amnesia. Maybe then I would have never gotten the chance to bond with the Tenth's captain as I started my new life. I would spend more time with Ikkaku or Shuuhei instead and fall in love with one of them.

But maybe they wouldn't be interested in me on that level either.

I was just doomed to be miserable and in pain.

They - everyone - had talked about how much heart break hurt. They were all liars. This wasn't hurt, this was agony. Torture. It was like my insides were shriveling up all together out of pure un-will to even be alive anymore. I was, quite literally, frozen with denial.

Jeez, even my lame puns and sarcasm somehow related to him.

"C'mon, Sayan! Your hangover can't be that bad. Just have some more sake! It'll fix you right up!"

I never wanted to touch sake again; look where it got me. Physically sick, feeling like my life was worthless, and in the wake of making the biggest mistake of my life. Had I really kissed him like that? I kissed Hitsugaya-Taichou? Seriously? That had to have been the stupidest thing I've ever done! He was a captain! He could report me - get me banished from the Soul Society! I could end up like that Squad Twelve man who had to live in the Human World. That single moment where I had let go of any rationality and just done what I felt would be the end of life as I knew it. Hitsugaya wouldn't just let it pass - it was a blatant show of insubordination. The Soutaichou would be appalled with the news and have no other choice but to throw me out. I would be the outcast of the afterlife. I might as well just take the entire bottle of sake and overdose enough to kill me now.

What was worse than living in exile, however, was the look on Hitsugaya's face last night; the look that told me any possibly reconciliation was nonexistent and I would never be able to speak with him to explain myself again. I had lost everything with him by trying to get him. Typical.

"Sayan, let's go already! Taichou gave me the day off and convinced Ukitake-Taichou to let me take you out again!"

If it were possible for me to feel anything else but seld-deprivation, it was a tiny prick of wonder.


My use of tongue had yet to return after the eventful night.

Against my better judgment I opened my eyes, instantly thankful that Matsumoto had the decency to keep the curtains closed. I rolled over groggily, not really caring that Rangiku was right there grinning in my face. This was her bedroom, after all - she had every right to be overbearing.

"Mm-hm," she nodded, too chipper to be normal under the circumstances. "It was weird. I went to see Taichou this morning in case he figured out how late we came in, and he was just sitting there staring at the wall! Not doing work or anything! I thought it had to be something big on his mind to get him so distracted, so I asked what was wrong..."

Oh, I knew hat was wrong. He was terrified for his virginity. He had been molested by a woman he thought he could trust.

"He wouldn't tell me; he only said that I should take you out more often, freed me from my obligations and said he'd speak to Ukitake-Taichou about letting you off the hook. Can you believe it?!"

I blinked, my eyelids feeling like lead. I didn't believe it, actually. It didn't add up. What was going on?

"Matsumoto," I spoke, my voice haggard and sore even to my own ears. "I don't get it..."

If I had been hoping she'd have an answer or at least care enough to get me one, I should have known better.

"Me either!" she chirped, unperturbed by the surreal-ness of it all. Hitsugaya Toshirou giving his lieutenant the night off and pulling some strings for her filthy sexual abuser of a friend? Unheard of and impossible. "All I know is that we're going to have even more fun tonight out in the town!"

No, I wouldn't settle for that. I needed more.

"But why?"

Rangiku paused, her skipping called to a halt by the unidentifiable plea in my voice. We both knew she didn't have a clue, but she made a point of raking her knowledge for some sort of probability. "I'm not sure. Was he there when you went to get that bottle of sake out of our office last night? Did something happen?"

Why yes, he was there. Did something happen, you ask? Well, if you call me groping your captain something, than that would be an affirmative as well.

Taking my silence and expression as confirmation, Rangiku beamed. "Well, I don't know what went on, but it obviously had some kind of impact on the taichou! If he wants us to go through the same routine at the bar tonight, he must want a repeat of whatever happened between you two, too! It only makes sense!"

No, it makes absolutely no sense. Not a single bit of sense.

"And he didn't even say anything about my stash of sake in the drawer! That means I'll just have to send you over again later so you can grab one and distract him again, ne?"

I didn't dare believe it. I couldn't. It wasn't true. Not possible. But Hitsugaya wasn't that careless; he knew what he was doing. If he gave Rangiku the day off and those specific instructions, he was well aware of the domino affect her mind would put into place. It seemed like a perfectly formulated plan, but I knew better. He couldn't. He wouldn't. He wasn't...

"Now, Sayan, get up! It's past noon already! The sooner we start our day, the sooner night will come and bring a wonderful adventure with it!"

Wonderful adventure was right. Her logic made no sense, but I would go along with it anyway. Maybe I was just too pathetic to think for myself. Maybe I was just a moron. Whatever the cause, I knew that I wouldn't turn down Matsumoto when she came to collect me for our night out. We would go out, make fools of ourselves at the bar, and return to her division where she'd stumble off to bed and I'd go off to meet Histugaya in his office. What happened after that was a mystery. A mystery I would solve when I was faced with it in twelve hours. To crash and burn or become a blessed moment was in fate's hands. I wouldn't even bother trying to think about the outcome anymore. Thinking didn't get me anywhere. We were all just animals of our own sorts standing upright and falling under heaven's spell.

...But maybe it would turn out better if I wasn't quite as drunk. Tonight might be something worth remembering.

(A/N) I'll make this brief - please review if you're feeling up to it; it would mean a lot to me :] I'm somehow unable to get rid of the feeling that I really hate the way that this turned out, or at least the ending...

*Also, as of January '10, a sequel is in production! You guys convinced me ^-^ Only don't hold your breath, as it's more of a side-project behind all my school work and other responsibilities. But more encouragement doesn't exactly make people go any slower, does it~?*