Better Than Heaven

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo.

Warnings: Speculation, Language

AN: For the Bleach contest on LJ. The prompt was "Dream." I don't actually ship this pairing, but I can see the potential for it.

It's all there. All in his head. A wish in his heart that he begs to become reality.

She'll get better; he knows she will. Her wounds will heal, and they'll move on with their lives. They'll go back to their respective divisions. Put this all behind them. They'll live. She'll laugh and smile, and he'll frown and cross his arms over his chest but be secretly pleased.

He'll get fucking taller at long last. She'll stop calling him that damn nickname; Shirou-chan, honestly? And she'll finally see him as more than the little boy who used to pull her hair and throw mud at her. She'll realize that he's a captain and is worthy of respect. That he's an equal. That he's not just a friend. That he's been waiting for her.

And… And…

Her skin is smooth and soft beneath his fingertips. Warm and pleasant just like her. Her hospital robe is stark white and so very plain, but she makes it look lovely. Her brown hair is loose as she sleeps but silky in his grasp as he slides it from her twitching nose.

"Aizen-taichou…" she murmurs and leans into his hand.

He stiffens; how can he not? He forces himself to relax, however, and very gently brushes her hair back from her face. Feels her sigh into his touch and breathe easier. Settle deeper into an untroubled sleep. Undoubtedly filled with images of someone other than him. Of someone he will never be. Of a man who never truly existed anywhere but their own minds.

And even though he knows it's futile, he can't help hoping otherwise. Can't help hoping that it's him she sees.

'Dreams,' he supposes then, 'are thoughts, wishes that will never come true.'

But that doesn't mean he'll stop pretending.

Ever Hopeful,