Pairings: Hitsugaya/Ukitake (eventually)
Rating: M (eventually)
Warning: Slash, Slight language, Futurefic, Vague spoilers, Possible smut
Description: Decades in the future, an older Toushirou is tired of being seen as a child by the one he likes. Taking matters into his own hands, he sets out to make Ukitake Jyuushiro see him for the man he has become.
Inspired by the Natasha Bedingfield song of the same name.
This is dedicated to Chaos and Talin, two fans who won the 20K hit on my homesite and requested a Ukitake/Hitsugaya fic. I hope you enjoy!
Hitsugaya Toushirou was annoyed, his patience stretched to a very thin thread. At any moment it would snap, resulting in a very icy, destructive mess. His left eyebrow was even twitching. It was, however, the only clear indication of his growing irritation.
Passing decades and increased maturity had provided a tempering factor to his prior outbursts. Which was a good thing because the captain-commander had warned him that the next time he rendered his office incapable of use due to an impromptu ice storm, he would be paying for repairs out of his own pocket. And then, he would be forced to serve an extended duty, patrolling the far borders.
He really hated the far borders.
Sucking in a deep breath, Toushirou closed his eyes and practiced his calming exercises. Again, a mandatory thing required by the captain-commander after the last time he accidentally iced an entire building. It took them days to completely defrost the twelfth division. Was it his fault that Kurotsuchi didn't know when to let things lie and stop pestering him to "voluntarily" participate in a few studies on prodigies? Hell, Kurosaki had denied him too, and he didn't have to attend anger management classes. Then again, Kurosaki hadn't frozen the whole science building under a six inch layer of ice either.
His eyes were closed, but Toushirou knew that the object of his ire was still there. He could smell the sickly sweet scent even through layers of cellophane. Besides, it was plopped right on top of his paperwork. He couldn't get it done without removing the nuisance. Toushirou was partially loathe to touch it.
Another part of him, the part that he buried quite desperately, didn't even want to open the wrappings for fear of destroying what must have taken time and effort. It was a cherished gift but also a hated one. Cherished because of the giver. Hated because of the contents.
Twisting his jaw, Toushirou peeled open his gaze and forced himself to look at the innocuous basket sitting on his desk. The damn thing wasn't innocent in the slightest. It sat there, filled to the brim with candy, and accused him of all manner of things. It called him a child, though not in so many words. It taunted him with sweet flavors, even a few of his favorites, not that he would admit it under pain of death.
Toushirou wasn't a child dammit. He was well over a century old. He was long past the stage of being anything close to a kid. And it bothered him to hell that others still couldn't see beyond the boy he had been when he had first taken the captaincy.
They didn't see the height he had gained, at least taller than Matsumoto now. Okay, so he wasn't the tallest Shinigami, but he was no longer the shortest either. That had to count for something. He was still growing dammit! Even then, they didn't see the maturing of his reiatsu, a more contained and refined river.
To everyone, Toushirou was still the cute kouhai. The prodigy, the brilliant one. The kid who became a captain of the Gotei 13 at such a young age. Who had trampled over a dear friend – though that was only part of the story – to maintain his zanpakutou. Who endured Hyourinmaru's icy and aged spirit.
The very same child who had fought the war against Aizen and nearly lost his best friend to madness.
Really, Toushirou wondered how any of that made him childlike at all. To make matters worse, Kurosaki really was a kid the whole damn time, and they never treated him like one.
"You know, taichou, ya have to open it if you want to eat it."
Blinking, Toushirou straightened as the voice of his vice-captain poured into the room, startling him out of his annoyed stupor. He narrowed his eyes, glaring as Matsumoto all but flounced into his office, all bright smiles and jiggling chest. As expected, so many decades later, he was now immune to their bounce. He really didn't know if he should be proud of that fact or worried.
Then again, considering the unrequited love he'd been harboring for a good many years now, it was to be expected.
He scowled and snubbed the basket. "Who said I wanted to eat it?" Toushirou returned, growling a little in his throat.
Matsumoto batted her eyelashes at him, playing the perfect part of stupidity even if he knew that she was more than just a heaving chest beneath. Some people never changed, it seemed.
"Well," she chirped and swooped down like some bird of prey, wrapping her fingers around the woven basket. "If taichou doesn't want it, then I'll just take it off your hands."
Before he knew what he was doing entirely, Toushirou's hand smacked down on top of the cellophane, rattling it noisily. "It would be rude to give away a gift," he retorted, very casually pulling it back towards himself. "I'll just have to keep it."
Matsumoto looked at him, eyes sparkling all knowingly. "Aww, taichou. If you wanted to keep it, you should have just said so." She laughed at him, voice echoing across the entire division. She pulled back and wisely removed her hands from his present. "I wouldn't have taken your precious nummies here."
Toushirou felt that twitch developing in his left brow again. "Wasn't there a reason you burst in here?" he demanded, grasping the hated basket in the safety of his arms.
As he did so, an envelope fell free. One that he hadn't noticed before. It fluttered to the floor, stark white against the wood.
His vice-captain clapped her hands together in girlish glee. "Now, I wonder what that could be?" she questioned teasingly, leaning over his desk with a happy little jiggle of her impressive assets.
It was a sad thing that he was so used to it he hardly noticed anymore. Then again, considering his longstanding crush, perhaps breasts just didn't do it for him. Nope, he wanted long, silky white hair and big, dark eyes. A pleasant, open smile and delicate fingers certainly capable of something artistic.
"Didn't you have something you came in here to say?" Toushirou barked in return, planting his waraji over the envelope and hiding it from sight. He didn't want to share, and swore he could feel his cheeks flushing without his consent.
Reaching up, Matsumoto flicked some of her increasingly longer hair over her shoulder and gave him a knowing look. "Not really," she chirped and then reached for some of the paperwork, making his jaw drop in surprise. "Just thought I'd take some of this off your hands."
"Be still my heart," Toushirou returned, studying her with intense caution.
Was she actually going to do it? Some of her required work?
"What apocalypse should I be wary of now?"
She turned away, flouncing towards the door. His eyes tracked her every movement, certain there was some catch to be had.
"None at all, taichou! You just enjoy your candy and letter." Matsumoto turned to grin at him, fingers waving goodbye with a little flirty wave, and then she was gone, closing the door behind her.
That headache threatened once more. And Toushirou felt a stark fear entering his heart. Matsumoto volunteered to do paperwork. She had volunteered. He hadn't had to goad or plead or bribe or demand. She'd walked right in, grabbed a stack of her own volition, and danced right back out.
He honestly didn't know what to do with such an odd occurrence.
Toushirou suddenly remembered the envelope that had come with the package. Leaving his confusion for Matsumoto's odd behavior for another time, he carefully moved the gift to a safer location on the desk. He then slid back and reached for the envelope, pulling it out from under his waraji. It was a bit rumpled now, and there was a definite heel print on it, but it was otherwise undamaged.
Interested, he grabbed his letter opener and sliced it open. As he did, a small piece of folded paper dropped into his lap. Setting aside the sharp piece of metal and the torn envelope, Toushirou picked up the paper and unfolded it, flattening it against his desk.
Ukitake's neat and ordered handwriting greeted his eyes. And though it was only written, each word contained the other captain's usual level of insane optimism. Toushirou could practically see him grinning and humming as he penned the letter.
"Dear Shirou-chan," it began, and there was a smiley face drawn after the introduction, "I hope you like the treats this time! The green ones are my favorite."
Toushirou paused in his reading to glance at the basket. Sure enough, there was something in a green wrapper. He reached forward and plucked one of them from the many others in the basket and unwrapped it. The candy was something sort of squishy and would probably be chewy. He tried it anyway, popping the small circle into his mouth.
He experimentally chewed, and then, his eyebrows lifted in surprise. It wasn't candy. It was ohagi, cleverly disguised to be something else. Ukitake was so strange. He couldn't help but wonder if it was homemade. That seemed like the type of thing for the man to do.
Reaching for another piece – because yes, these actually were pretty tasty – Toushirou continued, a part of him wishing there were more to read between the lines. If he could just get one single clue, something to make him believe that Ukitake saw him as something more than a child prodigy, maybe then he could believe there was a chance.
"Things are too quiet around here, don't you think?" Ukitake's short letter continued. "You should come by the thirteenth occasionally. It's nice to visit, you know. And please tell Rangiku-san that I have a vintage bottle with her name of it. Happily yours, Jyuushiro."
With a low, aggravated cry, Toushirou let his head fall back as he dropped the letter onto the desk. Nothing there. Not a hint. Just more of the same. He felt like banging his head on the wall. Not that it would help. It proved useless when dealing with Matsumoto. No doubt it would prove useless when handling this as well.
Toushirou popped another of the green-wrapped ohagi into his mouth and chewed glumly. It was really damn good and would have been even better if it really meant something.
"You know, taichou..."
To his credit, Toushirou managed not to jump three feet in the air at the sudden introduction of his lieutenant's voice. As it were, he managed to ignore the rapid beat of his startled heart and toss a frosty glare her direction. He hadn't even noticed that she'd slid his door open again, popping her blond head back in.
"What is it?" he asked on the edge of a growl, eyebrow twitching once more. He really did have anger issues, he realized.
Matsumoto, ever immune to his icy glowers, merely grinned back at him. "Nothing ever happens if you sit around and wait for it."
He blinked, a bit confused by the sudden statement. "That's pretty much obvious, isn't it?" Toushirou retorted and resisted the urge to childishly roll his eyes.
His vice-captain chuckled at him. "See? I knew you were smart, taichou. You should take your own advice." And then, she was gone, popping out of his office and sliding the door shut behind her.
Matsumoto was really fucking weird. He just wished he'd known what he was getting into when she had first been introduced to him all those years ago. If he'd realized then what he knew now perhaps he would have reconsidered. Maybe.
Sighing, Toushirou dragged his fingers across his forehead and leaned back in his chair, eyeing both the letter and basket of treats. Each sitting prominently on his desk.
He wondered what it was he was waiting for. Ukitake to see him for the adult he was? Maybe that would never happen. Honestly, he wasn't the only one. The entirety of the Gotei 13 still saw him as a child prodigy, no matter how much he aged. How could he expect Ukitake Jyuushiro to do the same?
Toushirou realized that he could be waiting for the rest of his existence. Always searching for something, some little clue. And he wasn't even sure what exactly it was he was looking for. He should be stronger than this. Just what was he afraid of?
Abruptly, the tenth division captain rose to his feet, nearly pushing his chair out behind him. That was it. He wasn't waiting anymore. He'd show Ukitake just how much of an adult he really was. And he'd finally, finally confess his intentions. Or something like that.
At any rate, he'd at least thank the older captain for the basket. Small steps, after all. Small steps.
Resolved, Toushirou grabbed Hyourinmaru and returned him to his usual position slung across his back. Even an addition to his height hadn't made it possible to carry the lengthy zanpakutou at his side. His other hand snatched a second piece of ohagi, and then, he was out the door, startling Matsumoto who was in the middle of lounging in her chair. The stacks of paperwork she had taken were sitting on her desk, looking for all the world as if they hadn't been touched.
"I'm going out," Toushirou announced firmly, never breaking stride towards the door. "I'll be back later."
Her laughter and wave followed him out of the building. "Bye! Say hello to Ukitake-taichou for me!"
Damn, nosy vice-captain. Thought she knew everything.
Toushirou did his best not to snarl a response over his shoulder as he headed out of his division and turned towards the thirteenth, relatively nearby. It was warm outside, the freshness of spring giving all of Seireitei a sense of rebirth. He passed grinning Shinigami many of whom greeted him, and the wind carried the scent of recently opened flowers. It was a nice day.
Toushirou didn't much like it. He preferred the cold of winter; Hyourinmaru's influence, he supposed. He liked snow and ice and warm, crackling fires with hot drinks while the world was covered with white beyond his window. He enjoyed watching his breath puff out in front of him in grey billows and hearing his feet crunch through newly fallen snow.
"Hey! I saw him first!"
"No, I did!"
The noise of Ukitake's annoying third-seats pierced Toushirou's inner thoughts, and he drew to a halt, finding himself just before the thirteenth division. He'd apparently thought himself here. Strange.
The two – Kotetsu and Kotsubaki – were grappling with each other in the gateway, both trying to get his attention before the other. Why they were trying to do so, Toushirou wasn't sure. But he wasn't really in the mood for their antics.
"Is Ukitake in?" he asked rather loudly, peppering his request with a burst of icy reiatsu in order to break through their scuffling.
Kotetsu's head clamped in his elbow, Kotsubaki nodded fervently. "Yes, sir, Hitsugaya-taichou. He's in his office right now."
"Argh, Sentarou!" Kotetsu snarled and jabbed an elbow into the other's gut, causing him to whoosh out a breath of air and loosen his elbow. "I wanted to tell him!"
Despite heaving for breath, Kotsubaki managed to laugh. "Too late now," he teased and then yelped as Kotetsu swung at him again.
Rolling his eyes, unable to resist the gesture, Toushirou slid past the insane duo and stepped into the courtyard. After all these years, the two till hadn't matured or gotten over their stupid rivalry. When they were going to realize they were madly in love with each other, Toushirou didn't know. He just wished it were sooner rather than later. No doubt Ukitake did as well.
They called after him, but Toushirou ignored the two. He stepped into the division, as always impressed by the orderly and beautiful grounds. The main building was directly in front of him, doors flung open wide to any visitors. Ukitake was like that, he supposed, open and friendly to anyone.
As he walked into the office, no one seemed to mind his presence. There was anybody at the desk for the second seat, and Ukitake's door was pushed wide open. Honestly, there was a limit to friendliness. Though Toushirou shouldn't have been surprised. Passing by the neatly ordered desk and a wildly overgrown indoor plant, he paused in the doorway.
Ukitake hadn't noticed him yet, forehead slightly pinched as he glowered down at the paperwork on his desk. The end of his brush tapped against the polished wood in a distracted rhythm, and he looked years younger with his hair pulled back into a low ponytail, strands of white slipping over one shoulder. It took several seconds for Toushirou to realize that he was staring like some sort of lovesick fool.
Lifting a hand, he rapped his knuckles on the doorframe to announce his presence. He didn't need to get caught standing there and staring at Ukitake's lips, how he occasionally tugged them with his teeth in his distraction. Or watching the elegance of his fingers as they thumbed through documents. Nope, Toushirou didn't need to be noticing any of this.
Ukitake looked up, and his dark eyes immediately sparkled. "Hitsugaya-kun!" he greeted cheerfully with a happy clip to his syllables. "Isn't this a surprise?"
"Err, I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked, taking that as an invitation to come into the office. He knew he was an adult now, but sometimes, he had the feeling of being just a child. Especially in front of this man.
The older captain waved a hand of dismissal, already setting aside his brush. "Of course not! Have a seat."
Toushirou inclined his head, reaching to undo Hyourinmaru's tie so that he could sit. He realized as he settled himself that he was unusually nervous. A strange sweat had attacked his palms, and his heart was suddenly thunderous in his chest.
"May I presume you received the basket?" Ukitake asked, smiling as he sat back in his chair, happily setting aside his paperwork.
He wondered if that were a Gotei-wide thing, hating one's paperwork. Except maybe the captain-commander. He certainly handed out enough. Maybe he had some weird fetish for important documents that none of them knew about. And wow, wasn't that a gross thought.
Toushirou inclined his head, thinking of the final ohagi he'd eaten on his way here. "I did. Thank you for the gift." He reddened slightly, recalling how he had sampled some of the goods. "Your ohagi was cleverly disguised."
Ukitake practically beamed with pride. "I made them myself." One hand raised to tuck a bundle of hair behind his shoulder, and Toushirou found himself watching every small move the older man made.
He really needed to stop doing that before he started acting really strange.
"They were very good," Toushirou assured him, unconsciously licking his lips in remembrance. He hoped there would be some left when he returned to the office, considering Matsumoto might sneak in and eat the rest. Grr.
"Then, I'm glad you liked them." Ukitake grinned again.
Toushirou found himself struggling for something coherent to say. He'd come here determined to do something. He didn't know what. He just knew that it was time he stopped waiting and started acting. If he wanted this man to see him as more than just a kid, he had to show Ukitake that he wasn't the same prodigy everyone had coddled.
Toushirou sat up in his seat, resolve painted into his features. "Are you free tomorrow, Ukitake-taichou?" he asked, the question sudden and out of the blue, but he didn't want to lose his nerve. He'd talked himself into this, and he didn't want to back down.
Ukitake blinked at him and then pursed his lips in thought. "I have a training exercise in the morning and then a performance review for a few of the lower-seats in the afternoon. Why?"
He took a deep breath. "I was hoping you would join me for dinner," Toushirou asked and made it sound as adult as he possibly could. There wasn't even tremor in his voice.
Truth be told though, he'd be damned if he knew where he could go. He would have to ask Matsumoto for good places, horror of horrors. Maybe he should consider it repayment for the food she must have consumed from his gift basket.
There was a moment of breathless anticipation where Toushirou's invitation hung in the air, and he waited for Ukitake's response. His heart was a roaring beat in his chest, and his palms were doing that odd sweating thing again. He surreptitiously rubbed them on his hakama, trying to appear more put-together than the hanging-on-a-precipice feeling his body currently gave him.
Finally, Ukitake smiled brightly and inclined his head. "I would love to," he agreed with an air of his usual enthusiasm. "In fact, that would be a perfect end to the day. Dinner with Shirou-chan."
He winced at the nickname but reminded himself that it wouldn't be for much longer. He was going to change that. Toushirou nearly sighed at the relief that washed through him, but he carefully held it back, not wanting to show how excited he actually felt. Mature was the word here.
"Great," he responded, shoulders relaxing as the tension eased out of him.
Step one was already on. Now, he just needed to manage the rest.
"We can leave from here about eight then?" Toushirou swore that dark eyes were glinting at him.
"Perfect." Ukitake beamed.
And now, he decided, was the perfect time to make a good exit before his cheeks decided to betray him with the effect that Ukitake's smile had on him. They were dangerous, those kind and agreeable grins. Enough to make people's hearts stop.
"Right." And Toushirou resisted the urge to act like a moron and effect a cool swipe of his hand over his head. He settled for rising to his feet with a short bow. "I think I've probably kept you from your work long enough."
Ukitake scoffed with a small laugh that was too charming for his own good. "Busy work more like," he replied dryly, tapping his fingers over the documents. "You would think Genryuusai-sensei was hoping for another war with all the patrols he keeps demanding."
"It does seem like it," Toushirou agreed. Personally though, he'd rather never have anything to do with war again. The mess they faced against Aizen those decades before was something he'd rather not repeat. Some nights, he still remembered, and that was more than enough for him.
Slim, elegant fingers picked up his brush again, though it was with obvious reluctance. "I will see you tomorrow, Hitsugaya-kun." He smiled warmly, making his eyes sparkle, looking so very handsome.
"Right. Good evening." With a tip of his head, Toushirou grabbed Hyourinmaru and was out the door, his heart pounding in his chest.
And tomorrow, Ukitake would be calling him just Toushirou. He would make sure of that. No more of those cutesy nicknames. No more space-separating titles or honorifics on the end. Toushirou had always gotten angry over the loss in his youth but no longer. He was an adult now. And mature. He would allow it from certain people, and Ukitake was definitely one of those.
He could only hope that Ukitake would allow him the same in return. He longed to have the other man's name actually on his tongue. Tomorrow would be his chance. His golden opportunity. His date – of all things – with Ukitake Jyuushiro.
Were he Matsumoto, there would have been an almost fangirly squeal of interest. And since he wasn't – thank the gods – all it elicited was a rather goofy grin that had a few passing Shinigami looking upon him oddly. But he couldn't seem to stop it no matter how hard he tried.
Tomorrow, Toushirou would prove that he was a man and Shirou-chan no longer.
At least, he certainly hoped so.
a/n: The first of four parts. Huzzah! I finally finished this beast. And it was a hard road to get here. It sat on my computer for months because I couldn't reconcile the plot in my head. I have problems writing sexy Hitsugaya as he looks now, so I aged him in my head. And then his personality didn't want to cooperate so the fic languished mid-state for weeks until I was poked/prodded into finishing it. Le sigh.
So hopefully, you'll like this cute, romantic comedy. Comments on characterization are certainly welcome. Thanks for reading!