Summary: In an attempt to confront Aizen, Hinamori Momo's memory is stolen from her… Except her memories of Hitsugaya Toshiro. It's difficult not knowing who you are. "Shiro-chan, I can't remember… I don't know who I am, but I know that I must have loved you."
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. Tite Kubo does.
Memories of Shiro-chan
Chapter 1: Truth and Regret
"I can't believe you never told me before, Rangiku-san," Momo Hinamori whispered, an anguished gaze fixed on her childhood friend, who lay recovering from his wounds in yet another battle with the arrancar. "Why didn't you… why didn't Hitsugaya-kun tell me?"
Lieutenant Matsumoto sighed. "I can't speak completely for my captain, but I know some of it had to do with how hard you took Aizen's betrayal. You still have difficulty. Why else would you still refer to that traitor as your captain?"
"I-it's not like that!" Momo stammered. "It's habit, I swear! I've been trying to break it. It's been hard, yes, but if I'd known what happened to Hitsugaya-kun, I would have had an easier time realizing just how horrible the things he's been doing are."
"Also, you know Hitsugaya-taicho. He didn't want you to worry about him, especially since you spent all that time practically dead to the world. He wanted you to get well. That's all he's ever wanted for you, is for you to be safe and happy." Rangiku turned away to face the tenth squad captain.
The younger girl followed her gaze and observed that healer girl, Orihime, that was her name, as she'd come over yet again to use her healing arts on her childhood friend. Feeling a stab of guilt, she stood quickly and turned on her heels. "I think… I'm gonna go get some fresh air, if that's all right. Rangiku-san…"
"Sure, Hinamori-chan. We'll just be here waiting, so hurry back, okay? Don't want to worry Taicho when he wakes up, do you?" She smiled knowingly at the girl.
Nodding, but keeping her face turned away from Rangiku, Momo brushed a tear away. "Yeah, I'll be back," she said softly, disappearing into the brush. As she walked, she allowed the tears to fall, and finally, she collapsed to her knees with a sob. "Oh, Shiro-chan… what have I done? You should never have fought Aizen-tai… Aizen… for anything! Least of all me! It was my own fault! And I almost killed you, too, because of it. I even attacked you, my best friend of all people! For him! Why was I so stupid? And why did you forgive me for all of that? Especially when I still can't forgive myself!" She was unable to speak anymore and simply wept under the moonlight. It was all her fault. She shouldn't have believed Aizen. She should have known he was evil. She should never have attacked Toshiro. She should have known… And because of her stupidity, Toshiro had almost died. In fact, he was still suffering because of her. As were countless others. Then, a thought occurred to Hinamori. I can go confront Aizen myself! It started with me, and it should end with me. Even if I die… If I can at least take him with me, that'll be enough. She nodded, making her mind up. Using shunpo, she sped away from the encampment of shinigami stationed outside of Aizen's fortress. I must do this! She clutched Tobiume's hilt tightly in her hand, ready to draw the zanpakuto at any time if needed. Racing away, towards the fortress where she knew she would meet her fate.
However, in her distracted state, she didn't realize that someone had seen her leave. The fellow shinigami chose to report her disappearing rather than try to stop her. After all, he was no match for a vice-captain. He wasn't even a seated officer. Perhaps he could find someone stronger to stop the 5th Squad vice-captain before she made a grave error. Or perhaps he was already too late. He could at least try, so that's what he chose to do.
"Are you sure?" The first thing Toshiro Hitsugaya heard was Matsumoto's alarmed voice, which in turn caused him to become uneasy, rightfully so. She wasn't normally panicky about much. So a cause to concern her was serious indeed. But why was she so upset? He lay there, feeling the affects of Inoue's reiatsu wearing off on him. Thanks to her unique powers, he had made a full recovery in record time.
"Yes, she's gone. And I'm sure that it was the 5th Squad fukutaicho." At this, his aqua eyes shot open and he sat up, ignoring the stiff feeling in his shoulder.
He reached out desperately, searching for Hinamori's unique spiritual energy. He ignored Matsumoto's grunt of surprise at his sudden action and continued his search. Finally, he locked on to her faint signature energy, worry filling him at how weak it was. She was far away. Much too far away for Hitsugaya's comfort. He finally realized that his lieutenant was leaning in and asking about his wellbeing. "I'm fine," he finally answered. "But we need to find her, or she won't be."
"Oy, Toshiro!" Ichigo Kurosaki called. "I heard what's going on. Someone's run off to that bastard's fortress, and we need to get her back, right? Let's get going! I've already got everyone together."
The 10th Squad captain regarded the carrot-top with mild annoyance. "Kurosaki, yes. Let's go. And it's Hitsugaya-taicho to you."
"Whatever," Ichigo shrugged, brushing off the captain's scolding yet again.
"Taicho?" Matsumoto murmured.
"Let's get going," Captain Hitsugaya commanded.
And so, Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji set out, leaving the others to protect the rest of the camp. They made their way quickly through the brush of the forest. The captain raced ahead of the others; he'd always been quicker on his feet. But no one felt the need to save Hinamori more than Hitsugaya himself as well, so he pushed his speed to the limit, praying to whatever deity may be listening that she would be all right until he got there. He released a breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding in when the fortress came into view. Just a little further, Hinamori, he thought. Be safe… His eyes flashed dangerously when he noticed some arrancar approaching. He didn't have the time to waste on those small fry right now! He had to find Hinamori. Whatever poor soul got in his way on this mission would find themselves in a powerful ice prison for eternity. Friend or foe alike. "Reign over the frosted heavens, Hyourinmaru!" He shouted, releasing his zanpakuto and sending a wave of ice down upon his unlucky enemies.
"Hitsugaya-taicho, leave this to Kuchiki-san and I!" His vice-captain called over to him. You, Kurosaki-kun, and Abarai-kun go on ahead!"
Rukia nodded her consent. "Good luck!" She then turned to face them. "Dance, Sode no Shirayuki!" She shouted, readying for battle.
"Growl, Haineko!" Matsumoto called upon her own.
"Yes." Without further hesitation, Toshiro took off once again, Renji and Ichigo not far behind.
Momo figured that she must have lucked out. So far, not one arrancar had attacked her. Her skin crawled once she set foot into the fortress, however. She soon found out why. She jumped, feeling someone breathe over her shoulder. "Y-you…"
Gin Ichimaru grinned his fox-like grin. "Why, hello, my dear 'lil Momo-chan. I guess he was right. You'd come after all 'n we wouldn't hafta look for ya."
She was hit with a sickening sense of dread and déjà vu. "Where is Aizen?"
"Ah, right. This way, 'lil one," he replied, walking down the hallway, expecting her to follow.
Shakily, Momo obeyed. She was afraid. She was terrified, actually. Before, she thought that she had steeled herself to not fear death, but, oh, she was so wrong. Shiro-chan… I'm scared… please. I'm sorry for always being such a burden… But I'm so afraid. Shiro-chan, please… please help me! She cried out desperately in her mind. She knew, however that Toshiro wasn't there. He was still back at camp, recovering from grievous wounds, and wasn't even conscious, much less nearby. Sensing from just Ichimaru's reiatsu, Momo knew she had no chance. She was going to die. She knew it.
"Ah, Momo, my former fukutaicho. I'm very happy to see you survived!" Aizen sat up in his throne chair, a dangerous gleam in his eyes. "Very happy. You see, I need someone to test this out on. There supposedly is a way that I can create something called a Boundary Key to transcend time and space and become powerful enough to crush my enemies and to create the King's Key myself, and all that's needed is for a shinigami to sacrifice themselves." He stood and approached Hinamori, who shrunk away. "Oh, don't worry. I'm not going to kill you. You're going to live, Momo…" Aizen reached out and patted her head, the way he always had done before and he smiled that same fake smile when Momo cringed and pulled away. "What I need is you, Momo. Your very essence. Your soul's memories."
"Memories?" Momo echoed softly.
"Yes, my dear Momo. I want to take all of those memories and use them to create the key. I can't do it to myself, or Ichimaru or Tousen, and the arrancar are unable to provide me with what I need. Therefore, you are the perfect solution. You've been so useful to me in the past."
She pulled away and snarled. "Never! Prepare to die, Aizen! This is for what you did to Hitsugaya-kun!" She pulled her sword on him and immediately released it. "Hajike, Tobiume!" Releasing the pent up anger from her sword, it surrounded Aizen in a powerful blast. She lunged forward, happy to feel her sword connect with something… when she looked up and realized that what her sword had connected with was nothing, but Aizen's hand.
He had only one hand on her sword, blocking it, and frowned at her. "You're making this more difficult than it has to be, Momo, you know that." With a simple move, he knocked Tobiume from Momo's grasp, and used cero to knock her back into the wall. "Now, Momo, give me the power to create the key! Give me your memories!"
"N-no, Shiro-chan… please…" Tears streamed down Momo's face. "Please, forgive me… Shiro-chan!" A light surrounded her, and her vision started to blur, thoughts going hazy. The last thing Hinamori heard before everything faded away was the voice of Toshiro Hitsugaya.
"AIZEN! Let Hinamori go!" Toshiro all but screamed in fury. His reiatsu level sky rocketed and he growled, "Bankai." Icy wings soon spread across his shoulders and he lunged for Aizen.
The traitor sighed. "Haven't we already been through this before, Toshiro-kun? Do you remember last time?"
Hitsugaya passed Aizen, however, his sole objective revealed. He was lunging for his childhood friend. "Hinamori!"
Momentarily distracted by the 10th Squad captain, Aizen was nearly taken by surprise by Ichigo and Renji attacking him at once, both already in their bankai forms. He very easily regained his composure and knocked them both back. "Oh, it's all right. I'll even let you all go," Aizen said. "Take Momo with you, Toshiro-kun. I have no further use for her seeing as I already have what I want."
Toshiro was seeing red. "You damn BASTARD!" He set Momo down and made a move to attack only to be blocked by Renji.
"Come on, Taicho. We got what we came for, right? Hinamori is with us now, so let's leave. We won't be able to take them on as we are, you know that. Hinamori's safety comes first… right?"
Ichigo had already moved to pick up the girl. "Let's go, Toshiro." He disappeared in a flash along with Hinamori.
"This isn't over, Aizen," Hitsugaya snarled. "Not by a long shot. I will kill you, make no mistake." He was barely aware of Renji pulling him away.
When they all had gone, Gin Ichimaru looked to Aizen. "Was it wise to let 'em go?" He asked.
"They can do nothing. I have the Boundary Key now, so struggle as they might, they will fail. Besides, I let them live out of entertainment. They never cease to amuse me, especially watching the way that little boy genius agonizes over that foolish girl. If I hadn't let him live, I would never have seen the look on his face when he realizes that his beloved Momo is nothing more than an empty shell." He gathered the light up of Momo's life energy and sneered. "Here it is, the Boundary Key! Soon enough, I will have the King's Key." His evil smirk faded into a scowl, however when the item stopped its glowing, a piece of the key missing. "What is this? That troublesome girl! It would seem that she still has some of her memories. We will have to find her to complete the Key." His fist smashed into the wall. "So close! Fine… If that's how it is, then we will get Momo back, and force her to finish."
A light… She could feel this feeling, fading… Between truth and regrets. She had found the truth, and regretted it as well… But that feeling was going away with the light, replaced by nothingness and darkness. "What is this? Where am I?" The girl with dark hair looked around her but all she could see was darkness. "Who am I? Why do I exist? Why am I alone?"
She bolted upright with a frightened cry. Holding her hand to her head, rubbing her forehead, trying to rub away any part of the nightmare from her thoughts.
"It's about time you woke up, Bed Wetter," a voice startled her. "If you pull any more stunts like that, I'm going to start chaining you to me."
She stared blankly at him for awhile, causing him to worry until she whispered. "Shiro-chan?"
"Baka! Don't call me that! It's Hitsugaya-taicho!" He argued, secretly relieved that she seemed to be okay.
She stared down at her hands. "Hitsugaya-kun?"
"I don't know how to say this, but… something's wrong, isn't it?" Truth be told, something was wrong. She grasped for her surroundings, for her identity, for anything, but the only familiarity she could find was by looking into her friend's eyes. "Something is wrong…"
His face turned serious. "What is it, Hinamori? What's wrong?" Toshiro asked worriedly.
Blankly, she looked at him as he said the unfamiliar name. "I'm confused, Shiro-chan… Who is Hinamori?"
"It's Hitsugaya-taicho- what?! Don't be stupid, Momo, and quit playing games!" Hitsugaya hissed at her, a scowl on his face.
His friend shrunk back and squeezed her eyes shut, tears falling. "I'm so confused, Hitsugaya-kun! Please help me!" She cried, jumping to her feet in a rush. "Who is Momo?! Who is Hinamori? Why don't I know?! Why can't I understand?" She wailed miserably. "Just who am I?!"
Captain Hitsugaya swallowed hard as he watched the distraught girl in front of him. "Momo," he finally said gently, "calm down. It's okay. You are Hinamori Momo." His gaze softened at her, even if he boiled with anger on the inside. Aizen! You are going to pay for this if it's the last thing I do!
"Shiro-chan! What should I do?! Why can't I…" The poor girl couldn't speak anymore as sobs overtook her. She was so afraid. All of a sudden, she felt someone behind her and a fuzzy feeling danced in her head. She slumped forward, vaguely aware that Toshiro had caught her, before falling unconscious in his arms.
"Please forgive me, Hitsugaya-taicho," Captain Unohana said. "She was becoming far too distressed. Please, bring her this way, and I will take a look at her."
The white-haired captain nodded. "Lead the way, Unohana-taicho." He shifted Hinamori's weight in his arms and followed the 4th Squad captain to her squad's tent, serving as a temporary hospital for the injured during the battle with the arrancar. He set her down on the cot as instructed by Unohana. He waited patiently with arms folded, leaning against the door frame and silently regarding the captain as she checked up on his friend.
She checked the levels of her spirit energy, her reflexes, her vitals; the list went on. Finally when she was done, she looked up at the 10th Squad captain and did her best to smile. "It seems that she is physically unharmed, Hitsugaya-taicho, but there is something strange with her reiatsu level. It's as if a giant void has been left there. The energy is there, but it's different somehow. It's hers, but at the same time, it isn't. I don't know how well I can explain this but I believe that it stems from her memories, and it appears that they have been taken away from her."
"Like a memory wipe?" Hitsugaya frowned.
The woman captain shook her head. "No, I'm afraid it isn't that simple. The memories aren't being suppressed or locked away somewhere. They aren't even there."
His hands dropped to his sides, clenching into fists. "That can't be right. That's impossible!" It seemed as if hundreds of emotions battled inside of him, trying to surface. Anger at Aizen, and himself, for letting it happen. Grief, for knowing that he'd lost who Hinamori had been. Worry, for how was he going to handle Hinamori now as she was? Disbelief, because he half-expected that his friend would wake up at any moment and laugh, telling him that it was nothing more than a joke. He truly wished that it was a joke. But it wasn't. He knew that from looking into Captain Unohana's sympathetic gaze. This was not some silly joke. "What… what can be done?" He finally managed to say, although much quieter than he'd intended.
"She seems to remember you, Hitsugaya-taicho, so that's something to be grateful for. Maybe we can make progress with that. We need to first assess everything that she has lost, and everything that still remains. Then we can start rebuilding." She made a move to stand.
The boy prodigy didn't move from his spot. "Can we even do that, Unohana-taicho? Is it even possible?"
Not wanting to upset the boy further, she kept her answer simple and vague. It seemed much more hopeful that way. "Anything is possible." She smiled gently at him as she passed by him, making her exit. "She should awaken soon, so perhaps you should stay there with her? I'll make sure to alert you if anything comes up."
"Arigato," Toshiro answered her with his gratitude, making his way over to where Momo lay. Once they were alone, he sat down beside her, crossing his legs, his zanpakuto resting up against his shoulder. He gazed down at her now peaceful face. Looking at her this way, it was impossible to tell that anything was wrong with the girl. But he knew otherwise. He had memories of what had just transpired. Memories… His vision was momentarily blurred by tears, but he fought them back. Memories were something that Momo no longer had. His thoughts were interrupted as the girl before him stirred.
"Hmm… Hitsugaya-kun?" She asked groggily, opening her eyes. "How long have I been out? What happened?"
He looked away, suddenly finding the area by the doorway very interesting. "Not long. Half hour at best. You needed it. You were pretty… worked up."
"Gomen nasai," she whispered. "I don't know what came over me. I can't remember anything, and I really am scared, Hitsugaya-kun. I don't understand why I remember you. Since I remember you, does that mean that you can tell me who I am?"
He fixed his gaze back on Hinamori after he was sure that he'd locked all of his emotions away behind his icy mask and leaned in. "I can help you on one condition, Hinamori." He said with a slight smirk.
"What's that?" She asked innocently.
"It's Hitsugaya-taicho, not Hitsugaya-kun," he answered.
Blinking slowly, she sat up. "But, Hitsugaya-kun, I just know I'll forget."
The silver-haired captain sighed. "Well, you forgot yourself, so I should expect that you'll forget how to properly address me as well, right, Bed Wetter?"
"B-bed Wetter?!" Momo shrieked. "That's so mean! Why would you say that?" She blushed a crimson red. "Do I wet the bed?"
It was Hitsugaya's turn to turn pink. "Well, I… Uh… How am I supposed to know that?! It's just a name anyway!" He didn't expect his nickname for her to have such a nasty way of coming back to nail him.
Saved from any more awkward questions, Hitsugaya noticed Inoue and Kurosaki enter the room. "Hello, Toshiro-kun," Orihime greeted with a cheery smile. "I came to see if I could help Hinamori-san at all."
"And I believe this belongs to you as well," Ichigo said, handing over a sword to Momo that she didn't recognize.
"Ah? Arigato?" Momo said, obviously confused, but accepting the sword nonetheless and setting it beside her.
"Ayame," Orihime called, kneeling beside Momo and a light from her spirit energy surrounded the confused girl.
"Any luck, Inoue?" Ichigo asked.
The girl furrowed her brow. "There was a strange reiatsu, and I got rid of it, but there also seems to be a void now, and there's nothing I can do about that. I'm sorry, Toshiro-kun…"
Ignoring the way he was being addressed for once, the captain shook his head. "No, it's okay, Inoue. Don't worry about it. You said you cleared away some ominous reiatsu? I'm certain that it will help, then."
Just as the glowing from Orihime's spiritual powers had dimmed, the sword next to Momo started to shine, and the startled girl cried out. "What's going on?!"
"Maybe it had something to do with what Inoue did?" Ichigo suggested.
Hinamori had become silent, her eyes glazed over, and as if in a trance, she reached out for the zanpakuto that lay next to her. Once she grabbed onto it, the glowing stopped, and once again, Momo fell unconscious.
"You've forgotten everything, haven't you? Everything about yourself, everything about me. It's unfortunate, but I seem to have forgotten as well. Those without memories will slowly die. Which is why together you and I must search for our memories."
The girl could hear the voice, gentle but firm, informing her of what must come to pass. "I don't understand. Who are you?"
"I don't know. I only know that I was by your side once, and we both knew my name. You fought with me, and I protected you. That is all I can tell you."
She was kneeling on the ground now, unable to support her own weight. "How do I find out?"
A sword appeared in her hands. "We must search for the answers, together."
End of chapter 1.
Author's note: Well, this is the start of one of my chapter HitsuHina fan fictions. I have to warn you guys in advance that my updates will be sporadic since I have a crazy life, but I will do my best to update and not to leave people hanging for too long, and dedicate all of my updates to those who read (and especially to those who review) this!
Thank you all guys! Hope you enjoyed and see you soon! --Hallie