Author's Notes: This is a one shot story inspired by Chapters 375 and 376 of the Bleach Manga. Before you read I must warn you that this contains spoilers for Chapter 377 if you haven't already read it.
This story also contains some Hitsugaya/Harribel material and some hints of Hitsugaya/Matsumoto, please don't gripe about it just remember that no one is forcing you to read this.
With that in mind please read and review
Betrayal and Sacrifice
"The Captain was enough trouble" Harribel thought as she forced her three attackers away "but these girls are just making everything worse" she focused on the two women who had just joined the fight "those masks…they're just like that boy who fought against Grimmjow."
"Crush Haguro Tonbo" Lisa shouted and her Zanpakutou turned into a large spear with a large orb at the bottom and an odd shaped blade for a head.
"Chop Kubikiri Orochi" the small girl named Hiyori commanded and her sword widened and took on a saw blade like appearance.
"They're weapons are just like a shinigami's but their spiritual pressures are almost identical to ours" Harribel thought "they must be shinigami who somehow crossed over into hollow territory."
"Souten Ni Zase Hyourinmaru!!!" Hitsugaya quickly followed up revealing a familiar dragon of water and Ice.
Harribel put all her effort into throwing her attackers back one last time when she felt a familiar presence disappear "STARRK!!! This is bad first Barragan, now Starrk, and I'm not sure how much longer I can maintain this form…" suddenly she noticed that Aizen had just appeared and out of the corner of her eye she saw the young man she had been fighting one on one early eye her leader with an incredibly intense look of pure hatred she could only softly say "Ai…zen?" without saying a word he instantly slashed her horizontally just below her breasts, his soft smile never left his face for even a moment as stream of blood shot out from her wound "Wha…"
"I'm done with you" Aizen said softly as he sheathed his sword "It appears you're not strong enough to fight for me. Gin, Kaname, let's go."
"Damn you" Harribel swore to herself as she absorbed his words.
"I never thought, that after all the trouble I went through gathering you Espadas, that I alone" Aizen continued "would be more powerful than the lot of you."
Harribel's blood came to a boil as she shouted "AIZEN!!!" and shoved her weapon through his rotten heart, or so she thought.
"What a pain" the supposedly impaled Aizen said as if he felt nothing, Harribel's eyes popped open in shock as the image of Aizen in front of her literally split in half and a blade pierced straight through her just below her left shoulder "I will never let you raise your sword against me again" with that Harribel began to plummet towards the ground below leaving her three former opponents in a state of utter shock and disgust "come on, let's get started, Gotei 13 and you shoddy Arrancar wannabees."
"Aizen, you bastard!!!" Hitsugaya swore in disgust as he watched the female espada fall, he looked at her face to see expression begin to go blank, suddenly memories of seeing a similar expression on the face of his childhood friend Hinamori Momo as she laid in a pool of her own blood after Aizen had stabbed her through the chest flashed through his mind, without even thinking about it the child prodigy disappeared in a shunpo.
"What are you doing you little dumb ass?!" Hiyori shouted.
"Hiyori stay focused" Lisa commanded as she took her stance "it's been nearly a hundred and ten years but it's finally payback time."
"I guess your right" Hiyori said evilly as she felt her hatred boil over and she took her stance as well "you're numbers have been thinned, I'm going to enjoy destroying you."
"You shouldn't say such things, you'll only look weak" Aizen said without even the slightest sign of fear.
"Apache…Sun Sun…Mila Rose…I'm sorry" Harribel thought as she neared the ground and a couple of tears fell from her eyes, her fall finally broke but instead of crashing into the ground she felt a pair of arms catch her roughly, she looked to her side to see a pair of familiar turquoise eyes "The Captain?!"
"I'm sorry" was all Hitsugaya could say as he laid her on the ground "if I had managed to stop him back in the Soul Society this never would have happened."
"Why is he apologizing?" Harribel asked herself as her vision blackened moments later she felt incredibly cold particularly around her wounds "so this is how I die…"
"In the end because I wasn't strong enough you ended up as another one of his pawns in his sick little game" Hitsugaya sighed as he removed his haori and threw it over her.
"I see so this b…man never thought of me as his true enemy" Harribel thought as the white cloth covered her face and a good portion of her torso "this entire time the only one he truly wanted to kill was Aizen Sa…no the traitorous bastard Aizen Sousuke."
"Komamura and Hisagi are in the middle of fighting against Tousen, that strange man with blonde hair has slight wounds from fighting against Ichimaru but appears to be fine otherwise" Hitsugaya thought as he analyized the situation "Soi Fon and that Kidou user with pink hair have both lost an arm and expended almost all of their Reiatsu, and the two men as well as Kyouraku have both been roughed up after fighting that Espada…which just leaves the two girls who were helping me and old man Yamamoto who are still even somewhat fresh"
He saw Hiyori fall to Gin's sword, he gritted his teeth as he released his Bankai and flew off to join the battle.
"Good luck" Harribel thought as she blacked out "such an odd shinigami…"
The fight against the three former Captains had been dragging on for what seemed like an eternity to the remaining members of the Gotei 13 and the Vaizards. Thankfully Kisuke Urahara and his crew showed up, after they had finally managed to bring the Hueco Mundo group back into the fight, regrettably they were all exhausted from their battles against the other Espada; however with the return of Unohana Retsu, Koutestu Isane, and Inoue Orihime their injured comrades finally received some much needed relief. Thanks to Orihime Soi Fon regained her left arm but was still so exhausted from using her Bankai twice in one day that she could hardly move, while Hachi had also regained his missing arm thanks to Orihime's powers he had used so much energy for his kidou he was running on empty.
Worst of all were the casualties; despite their incredible powers neither Unohana nor Orihime was able to save Hiyori from her wounds, to make it worse her death sent Shinji into a state of reckless rage resulting in his death by his former lieutenant. Komamura and Tousen ended up destroying each other in their battle, their bodies crashed into the ground serving as a testament to the true horrors of war.
Ukitake, Kyouraku, Kisuke, and Yoruichi all eventually revealed their Bankais but they proved insufficient against Aizen's Kyouka Suigetsu. Even Unohana and the Head Captain's Bankais which were considered to be the most frightening and the most powerful weapons in the history of the Soul Society proved ineffective since they had no way of knowing where their target was. Too make it worse still Ukitake's illness struck at an inopportune moment resulting in him dying when Gin's sword pierced his heart.
After lying there unconscious for about an hour Harribel began to feel her vision returning to her "what's going on, why am I still alive?" she sat up and looked at her wounds to see solid blood red ice covering both her injuries "he froze my blood to stop the bleeding?!" she tried to stand up but she nearly tripped on herself "damn it, I'm still in no shape to fight."
"So we're finally approaching the end of this little annoyance" Aizen said calmly as he looked at his former colleagues and threw Kurotsuchi Mayuri's corpse to the side sending it towards the ground like the other fallen "I'll admit he was surprisingly tough to kill" his gaze turned towards Hitsugaya "speaking of surprisingly tough to kill" he left an illusion of himself in front of Hitsugaya before using a shunpo to get behind the young Captain and swinging his sword vertically towards the young Captain only for Hitsugaya to block it just in time and lock blades with the traitorous Captain "Pease tell me Hitsugaya-Kun, how is it that you seem able to track me despite your immature powers and the fact that you've been under the influence of my Kyouka Suigetsu for several decades?"
"The last time we met you cut my shoulder with your sword, remember?" Hitsugaya asked as he attempted to force Aizen back who calmly nodded "when you struck me you left an imprint of your Reiatsu, when I woke up there were still traces of it left. Using my powers I froze the traces to my arm in order to preserve them…
"I see so your tracking me by using the traces of Reiatsu I left during our last encounter, very impressive. Though physically inferior to Harribel, I can see why you were able to stand up to her by being crafty and eventually get the upper hand, if I hadn't called in Wonderweiss when I did you would've won" Aizen stated in clear amusement "it would seem you still have potential, why don't you join me Hitsugaya-Kun, I could make great use of you?"
"You mean like you made use of Harribel?" Hitsugaya asked coarsely "forget it Aizen!!!"
"I see what a pity" Aizen said softly before pushing down on Hitsugaya with all his might and sending him crashing into the ground below "Unfortunately for you Hitsugaya-Kun the difference in your strength and mine is so vast that nothing you do could even hope to give you a chance against me as you are now" Unohana and Yamamoto were still in stance "Gin…"
"Yes, Captain Aizen?" Gin asked as he finished off Rose, Love, and Kyouraku before resealing his Bankai.
"Take care of the boy" Aizen commanded.
"Don't you dare" Ichigo threatened as he attempted to slice off Aizen's head only for his blade to be stopped by Aizen's hand "you're too exhausted Kurosaki Ichigo" was all Aizen could say.
"Very well then" Gin replied calmly as he pointed his sword towards the unconscious Captain "shoot to kill Shinsou."
Gin watched as the blade of his Zanpakutou rushed towards its target with his trade-mark grin, but that quickly changed when his sword made contact not with Hitsugaya Toushirou but with Tia Harribel. The blade had pierced her from the front almost directly in the middle of where Aizen's sword had cut her earlier, the ice which had stopped her bleeding had shattered and her wounds were opened again, despite all that she dug her heels into the ground and gripped the Gin's blade with all her might.
"Well now ain't this a surprise" Gin stated in apparent amusement as he landed on the ground, his sword blade shrinking so that Harribel still had to hold on for dear life "why'd ya go and do that bell? I don thin Aizen-Sama ordered you to do that."
"I don't know why I'm doing this" Harribel thought to herself "but…" she looked Gin straight in the eye with her intense green eyes "…I don't care."
"Listen ta me Bell" Gin commanded "ya should scram and take of them wounds, or ya'll die."
"No, you listen to me!!!" Harribel hissed "if I do nothing else I will protect this man…"
"I see" Gin replied as he began to walk towards her, his blade shrinking just fast enough to keep her in the same state "that was always ma problem wit ya, those eyes of ya's are just like his, and you always looked at me with that condescending look…it's a shame, if the two of ya weren't enemies you may have bin able ta get along" he was now standing no more than half a meter away.
"I'm just like him?!" Harribel asked herself as she intensified her grip on Shinsou with her left hand causing more blood to squirt out as she put all her strength into lifting her weapon and shoving it through Gin's chest "Have you forgotten? I am Terecera Espada Tia Harribel…" she coughed up some blood before finishing with "…the Espada of Sacrifice!!!"
For the first and likely the last time in his life Gin found himself speechless due to sheer shock, but his grin returned quickly before saying "I guess ya are…" and falling backward into a pool of his own blood while Shinsou shattered.
Harribel dropped her weapon which had changed back into its normal broad sword with the center of the blade cut out, moments later she turned towards the young shinigami before collapsing on top of him "I guess this is as far as I go" Harribel thought as the portion of her mask that was covering her jaw fell to the ground "take care…" she kissed him on the lips for a moment before she caught a disturbing smell, she looked to her side to notice the corpse of the giant Menos was emitting a strange green smoke "Poison Gas!!!" she panicked as it began to near them "I can't move him, how do I…" her eyes fell on her own broken mask, without even thinking about it she placed it over Hitsugaya's face "…I'm afraid that's all I can do for you...please live…"
A few minutes later the Captain of Squad Ten regained consciousness "where am I?" he asked himself before realizing the air had been thickened with green smoke "poison gas?! How am I still alive?!...can't worry about it now I have to get out of here" he tried to stand up but felt an unfamiliar weight press down on him, he looked towards his chest in shock to see the Espada he had tried to save earlier lying on top of him, he felt on his face to realize he was wearing the portion of her mask which had covered her nose and mouth. He looked at the ground and quickly found Gin's dead body and noted the shards of his Zanpakutou's blade and Harribel's new injury "she saved me?!" was all he could think as he stood up and looked at the dead Espada.
"Thank you" was all he could say as he laid his hand over his right shoulder and turned his focus back to the sky where the last and worst of the three traitors was locked in mortal combat with the Captains of Squads One and Four and the substitute shinigami Kurosaki Ichigo. Unohana and Ichigo were both lying on the ground unconscious from their injuries while old man Yamamoto found himself on one knee, breathing heavily as his Bankai began to die down from his wounds, moments later Aizen appeared in front of him "there's no doubt, that's no illusion."
"This is the end for you" Aizen stated coldly as he raised his sword.
"Now's my chance" Hitsugaya thought quickly as he took his stance "Bankai Daigurren Hyourinmaru!!!" for the second time that day a pair of large dragon wings, talons, and a dragon's head on his right arm made of ice formed behind him floated a single petal made of ice as he sped off towards his target.
"Farewell Head Captain" Aizen said coldly before he suddenly sensed an quickly approaching Reiatsu, he turned his head just in time to see a blade pierce him from behind very near his heart, he looked at the wielder's face to see a familiar mask being worn by an even more familiar shinigami with silver hair and turquoise eyes, Aizen's shocked expression lasted only for a second before he regained his composure "you know what's ironic, Hitsugaya-kun? With that mask and the sheer lack of mercy you just displayed, you looked more like a hollow than a shinigami."
Hitsugaya glared at the man who he had stabbed but all he could say was "Daigurren Hyourinmaru" a huge serpentine dragon made of ice shot out from the blade with Aizen in its mouth as it flew towards the heavens, eventually Aizen's body froze over and shattered with the dragon "good riddance" Hitsugaya barely managed to say before his last petal shattered along with his Bankai and he fell to the ground unconscious for the second time that day.
When Hitsugaya woke up he found himself in a warm bed, he noticed that he had bandages covering most of his body and that there was a familiar woman standing in his doorway.
"How long was I out Captain Unohana?" Hitsugaya asked as he noticed that she had a few bandages of her own.
"About two days" Unohana answered softly.
"And Tia Harribel?" he inquired noticing a confused expression "the female Espada I fought against."
"We investigated the area where you landed after Aizen threw you down; we found Ichimaru's body along with several blade fragments from his Zanpakutou lying on the ground" Unohana began "as for the Espada, judging by the wounds on her torso and her hands and the position of the blade fragments, she shielded you from Ichimaru with her own body. The wound on his chest was consistent with a large weapon like the one she used so we can gather she managed to land a fatal blow. I don't know if you remember this or not, but when you returned to us you were wearing her mask."
Hitsugaya's eyes opened in sudden realization before he asked "what happened to it?"
"Forgive me, I wanted to make sure there weren't any dangers in keeping it around so I took it without asking" Retsu answered calmly as she pulled it out of her cloak "but after thorough examination I concluded it was safe and in fact you would've died without it due to a cloud of toxic gas that formed around you…do you want it back?"
"Please" Hitsugaya replied causing the older Captain to nod as she handed it over.
"By the way" Unohana said softly with a hint of amusement as she reached the doorway "you have a guest Captain Hitsugaya."
"What?" Hitsugaya replied before he suddenly felt a familiar pair of arms pull him into a tight bear hug "damn it Matsumoto let me go!!!"
"Come on now Captain, don't be like that, besides you just woke up" Matsumoto pouted as Unohana left with a clear smirk across her face.
"So the Espada you fought saved your life?" Matsumoto asked.
"So it would seem, but I don't know why" Hitsugaya replied.
"Whatever her reason was I'm grateful, the last thing I wanted was to lose you to" Matsumoto sighed in relief "I guess there are some things that we can never understand."
"I guess your right" Hitsugaya stated calmly.
"But I have my suspicions about the Espada" Matsumoto continued causing her Captain to look at her in surprise "I think in that over the course of your fight she fell in love with you in her own strange little way" Hitsugaya had nothing to say in response "she had good tastes at least."
Hitsugaya was silent for several moments, all he could say was "thank you Matsumoto."
Many years passed and over time the Captain of Squad Ten's powers continued to grow until they finally matured. As a result he grew much stronger and his power quickly surpassed most if not all of his colleagues, even the much feared Captains of Squad Six and Squad Four found themselves outmatched against his new found strength.
Two shinigami were facing one another surrounded by flames which seemed to stretch out into the heavens, the source of these flames was the Head Captain of the Gotei Thirteen and the Captain of Squad One. His opponent was considerably younger with wild silver hair and turquoise eyes; he was now approximately six feet tall. He wore the standard shinigami uniform with the exception of a blue green sash which he used in place of an obi in addition to a sleeveless haori with the kanji for ten on the back, now that he was taller he no longer wore his sword on his back but on his side like most other shinigami, and around his neck he wore the mask he had received upon the winter war's conclusion like a necklace being supported by a silver chain. He was covered in some minor burns but he didn't seemed bothered by them as he took his stance holding his katana which had a chain attached to the bottom with a crescent blade on the other end.
"Let them all go" Yamamoto ordered as the younger Captain locked gazes with him "surely you realize that if I had not been under Aizen Sousuke's illusion he would never had gotten off so easily, so do it now or else my Bankai will render you to ashes!!!"
A few moments passed before Hitsugaya finally replied "shut up old man, I'm not like you!!!" his reiatsu began to raise violently "I won't just throw people away, nor will I ever allow myself to forget their sacrifices…" he closed his eyes in respect "Komamura Sajin, Kyouraku Shunsui, Ukitake Jyuushiro, and the countless others who gave their lives in the battle against Aizen; I cannot and will not forget their sacrifices."
"You're too emotional Hitsugaya Toushirou" Yamamoto stated.
"Maybe so, but it's my way of being different; different from you…" Hitsugaya responded as he opened his eye lids to reveal his glowing turquoise eyes "…and different from Aizen; let's finish this Bankai!!!"
"He's come a long way" Yamamoto thought as he felt a strong blast of cold air shoot out from the boy as his completed Bankai formed, suddenly Yamamoto had an expression of fear draped across his face "impossible" he thought as he saw his flames begin to die down, the sky quickly blackened, and in mere seconds their environment had changed from a sea of flames to a frozen field in the middle of a raging blizzard, the sound of thunder filled the air as the cold winds extinguished all the flames that weren't close to the ancient Captain; but what shocked him the most was when he looked in Hitsugaya's cold, merciless eyes he felt as if he was fighting against both Hitsugaya Toushirou and Tia Harribel at the same time.
"It's over" Hitsugaya declared as he lunged towards Yamamoto with a single flap of his wings. The two forces of nature collided in an explosion of spirit energy; moments later the light cleared revealing both shinigami to be unharmed.
"You think you've beaten me?" Yamamoto asked he turned to the younger Captain.
"I don't 'think' anything" Hitsugaya answered as he turned and pointed to Yamamoto's sword which was covered in ice before it shattered into countless little pieces "I know I've beaten you" he sheathed his sword as his Bankai faded and the weather turned sunny.
"So it would seem, Hitsu…" Yamamoto began but was cut off.
"That's Head Captain Hitsugaya to you" Hitsugaya said coldly "get out of my sight for now Captain Yamamoto" the old man had to fight back his own rage before bowing his head in respect and leaving with a shunpo.
"Thank you again for saving me" Hitsugaya thought solemnly as looked at the mask he wore around his neck "Tia Harribel."
Author's Notes: Well this is my first time doing a one shot story; personally I think it turned out pretty well. Anyway please leave a review to tell me what you think, just so you know I was purposely vague on some parts because I didn't want to risk any spoilers for my other Fanfiction 'Frozen Savior'. And for any kind souls reading this please consider reading my story Frozen Savior and if anyone's looking for a challenge visit my profile and check out my new challenge to anyone who's willing.