Christmas Nightmare
~Substitute~

When Gin had been applying the ointment, Hitsugaya could go into his own little world, and ignore the fact that a lot of things that he didn't want to happen, were going. He could ignore what was the possible truth, that broke possible lies that surrounded his life. That was until, he heard the door slide open, and a familiar female voice call through the darkness, and bring him back, whether he wanted to leave the mind numbing experience. "Taicho…"

He knew that he had tensed up, and that his reaction was far from desirable, but one of the things about letting his mind go numb, was the fact that he didn't have to deal with the whole pain that came from a certain train of thought that cropped up, when he thought of Matsumoto. He heard her speak up, her tone negative to the person currently helping him, not that he could blame her, as even he… knowing the possible truth, found it hard to trust the man. "Ichimaru… I can take care of this, would you please leave?"

He didn't know what the two talked about, however, he felt a clenching in his gut, when she stated rather negatively, "I really don't want to talk to you." This caused him to flinch, as he thought of the fact that there was the possibility, she wouldn't let Gin tell her the truth, when he wanted her to know. That train of thought was going through his head. "Hey… taicho, has he been treating you all right?"

Suddenly, he choose to lean back, to look her straight in the face. Toshiro knew he wanted something from her, but he couldn't put his finger on it. He just knew that she was hiding something from him, and there was something that he was trying to grasp, but also… there was the fact that, he also had the feeling, if he discovered what it was, he wouldn't be happy about it. He simply stared, until she spoke again, concern in his voice. "Has he done something to you?"

This rather surprised him, considering the fact that ever since he came to the living world, Gin had only tried to take care of him, to his best ability. Toshiro had to admit, he wasn't very fond of some of the man's tactics, he also knew, if what Ichimaru had told him, was true, that the man wouldn't let any harm come to him. Of course, there was the fact that Matsumoto didn't trust him, and likely wouldn't even if she knew the truth. "Has he said anything, that hurt your feelings, that insulted you?"

This statement was startling, as deep down, what Gin had told him, had hurt his feelings. However, he saw it more as something he needed to know, rather than something that he felt insulted by. However, he knew he couldn't hide the fact that the man had said something to him, that had caused some form of hurt, and thus he refuse to look in her pale blue eyes, lest he betray himself. "Gin… no… it's not really what he said or did that I am upset about."

"I see," He could feel her applying ointment, and while it felt good, something was still bothering him. He had an idea of what it was. He said her name aloud, and waited for her to be listening to him.

"Why do you always forget about my birthday?" His mind was, for some reason, fixated on this one thing. He had always thought that his birthday, was a lie that his Grandmother came up with. Well, if she picked out a birthday for him, it wasn't really a lie. It just wasn't the truth either. "If you knew my birthday matched, why didn't you ever say something to me about it. You knew how I felt about my birthday…"

"Taicho…" the tone wasn't a very happy one.

"Can I have an answer?" His thoughts continued down a path he didn't like. "She keeps avoiding telling me the truth. I thought I could trust her to tell me something as important as this, and not avoid it."

"I told you… I thought that you didn't care for your birthday," came her reply. Yet, for some reason, he knew that was simply an excuse, if what Gin had told him was the truth. Why he was trusting that man, more than Rangiku, he didn't quite understand.

"Are you telling me the truth? I know you're not…"

"Am I telling you the truth," her tone though, was strained. She then said the wrong thing. "Taicho… look, if there is another reason, it isn't really something you need to know about."

"I … don't… need to know, that there is the possibility that I am your child! What am I too you Matsumoto? Am I just a simple substitute for what you lost? Am I… a substitute for my own self? I trusted you… not to do something like this to me!" Toshiro couldn't help, but bury his head in his arms, and the chock out for her to go away.

"Taicho…" Her response was one that he knew hurt her, but he also knew, she had no idea he already knew that she was lying to him. To bring out, that she had broken his trust with him, was not an easy thing to do. Something inside him, wanted Gin to do the telling of the truth, almost as if he thought that things could be fixed somehow.

"I hate you…" He also couldn't help, but be angry with her, for not telling him. "I want… Gin… to help me."

"Taicho… you don't mean… I mean, I understand that you want Gin to help you, I am a female after all. But… that other thing… you didn't mean that, did you?" It surprised him, that she hadn't picked up on what was the problem.

"I… hate… you. Leave… now." Wasn't Rangiku, supposed to be the one person, who could read him, better than anyone else?

"All right…" Instead of responding in the way that he wanted, to tell him the truth, she simply left, hitting deep and hard.

His hand began to dig through his clothing, in search for his Soul Phone. Work, was something he could dig into, to ignore the rest of the world. He snapped it open, and began to look through his message box, only to find that there were a lot of messages that were along the line of simply worrying about him, and not work related, though he had an idea why. He then came to a message from Ukitake Taicho, labeled 'Urgent!!! Call when you get!!!'.

As he began to dial the taicho's number, he heard Gin slide into the room, and sit up against one of the walls, watching him, and letting him do whatever he was doing. He wasn't sure, if it was an attempt to allow him privacy, or it was simply his offhand way, of parenting, letting Toshiro do what he needed to, to work through the hurt was there. "Ukitake Taicho?"

"Ahh! Happy belated birthday, Shiro-chan," the man stated.

"What…" Toshiro felt his two eyes suddenly go wide.

"I didn't get to see you yesterday, so I didn't get to wish you a happy birthday, like I always do," the man sighed. At first, Toshiro felt his jaw tremble a bit, and his chest tighten badly. He found that he couldn't hold it in, and tears were suddenly falling down his cheeks, and he was bawling over the phone, to one of the other taicho. Ukitake's voice suddenly became concerned. "Hitsugaya Taicho, if I said something wrong…"

"No… not that," the small boy sobbed, clutching the phone to his ear.

"Shiro-chan… whatever is the matter then?" the other white haired taicho's voice was calm.

"Only… one other person, wished me…" the words couldn't quite come out.

"Didn't Rangiku and Momo-chan wish you a happy birthday? It surprises me that one of them wouldn't have," the man sighed, frustrated.

"It wasn't either... Momo was excited by… being invited to… by Kira," came Toshiro's choked out response. "Mat… mat…"

"I take it, that what you are really upset about, is the fact Matsumoto forgot? It was just one year, and she's probably simply mad at Gin. That's why she forgot, ne?" Ukitake, was trying to be helpful, however, didn't realize what string of words, his own would cause, now where the conversation would go.

"No… she's done this every… every year," Toshiro hear Ukitake suddenly ask, about how could he be sure. "Because…"

"I am all ears. You know you can trust me. What is the story?" the man was likely all positive smiles on the other side.

"Ichimaru told me, he is my father. Matsumoto is my mother, but she doesn't know, because she thinks I died as a baby, but also that I was a girl. She thus gets depressed this time of the year, up until my birthday's finished. I thought it was just the Christmas season, but it isn't." There was a bit of sobs and deep breaths during the conversation.

"This isn't going to sound rude, but this sounds like some cockamamie prank that Ichimaru would come up with, to play with someone's mind. Are you sure, that this isn't the case? I mean, if this isn't true, I don't want to see you hurt by it," Ukitake's voice was strained, as if what he had just been told, was rather upsetting him.

"Matsumoto… she refused to tell me the truth," the boy stated.

"And what if there is no truth to tell?" the man was carefully covering all grounds, knowing that it was on thin ground, as Toshiro was in one of his mental breakdowns, that he rarely went into.

"She said, 'if there is another reason, it isn't really something you need to know about'. Exactly, word for word," Hitsugaya stated, his body beginning to calm down a little, as he began to reason things through.

"That does sound suspicious. Was there anything else?"

"Yeah… Gin said that I could ask Granny, and that she would tell me that he was telling me the truth." There came a huge breathe.

"Shiro-chan… would you like me to visit your grandmother, and confirm this?" Ukitake's tone suddenly took on a bit of darkness to it.

"You would do that. Why? I don't understand?" Toshiro's hand reached up, to wipe some of the tears away.

"You know I care about you… as do others here in Soul Society. It is as simple as that." The man then brought up something else. "Be careful, bringing up the wrong thing, in front of Rangiku."

"I think I already did something stupid," the small taicho stated.

"I see… well, we'll work to fix it then. It shouldn't be that hard, right?" Smiles emanated across the phone, even though they couldn't be seen. "I'll talk to you later, all right?"

"Ahh… wait," Toshiro suddenly flinched. "Ukitake Taicho, happy birthday yourself. And thank you."

"Ahh… thank you Shiro-chan. You are most welcome." At that, the call ended, and Toshiro could feel Gin approach him.

"You do know, you made Matsumoto cry, right?" Gin stated, which caused the boy to flinch again. He felt the man place a boney hand on his shoulder. "What was it, that made it so that you are mad at her? If it is what I told you, I apologize, to you… and eventually her."

"While it deals with what you told me, it isn't your fault." A small hand reached up to brush away the man's hand. "I tried getting her to tell me, why she avoids my birthday."

"And…"

"I know you overhead what I said to Ukitake Taicho, nearly every single word. You know what she said to me," the boy stated, frustrated with the man, as it seemed that he enjoyed playing games to much.

"I know what she said to you too well. I don't think it is simply about the fact that she refused to tell you the truth. I know you, a lot better than you think I do, believe it or not," Gin stated firmly.

"She just sees me as a substitute for the child she lost. Yet, I am the child she lost. It's confusing, and it hurts. I don't want to be a replacement," Toshiro stated.

"So, that's where you're coming from?" Gin sighed. "Looks like I'll have to figure out a way to tell her. If I had known that this was what the problem was, I would have told her before she left. I can't do anything about it now, though, can I?"

"Hai…" The small boy nearly jumped, as he felt something cold against his back.

"You've still got quite a bit on your back to cover. I'll finish this up, and then you can do the rest," Gin stated. Toshiro however, couldn't help but tense up, and he wasn't quite sure why he did this.