Disclaimer – I don't own Bleach.

Clues in the Snow

Matsumoto was someone who was easily cheerful, and preferred to look at the good things in life when she could, due to the fact that way too many bad things had happened to her during her entire life. It was the good times, that had always helped her get through the bad, something that she very well could not deny.

She also had to admit, if Gin hadn't happened along like he had, she would have in fact not minded dying, but after words, when she finally had something good to look back upon, she had found one might say, the will to live. Sure, she could get depressed at times, but not to the point where she didn't care about living anymore.

Of course, there were sometimes that the bad memories tended to come crawling back to her. For some reason unknown to most people around her, she really couldn't get into the Christmas spirit of things, until after a certain day, and until that time, she was gloomy through the whole month of December. Which, had always striked her small taicho as odd, ever since he first came to their division.

Of course, he wasn't one to ask about these kinds of things, but she also noticed that he would silently leave a glass of tea on her desk every day around this time, his own way of trying to cheer her up. She also tended to ignore things around her, and her work effort, if at all possible, suffered. She was in such a gloomy mood, when Hinamori suddenly came into the room.

She had presented that Birthday card, and she had of course proceeded to tease the girl about who it belonged to, as she hadn't a clue whose birthday happened to be around this time of year. If it was anyone, it must have been someone who happened to keep to themselves about things, and she thus shouldn't be worried that it was someone she knew.

Of course, it had turned out to be the little white haired boy's birthday, much to her shock. This made her stop and think about what day it was exactly, and realized that it was the same day as that day, and her mind raced, trying to tell herself, it was all just a coincidence. Telling Toshiro something that she couldn't guarantee was true, even though she wanted to believe it, would only serve to hurt the child.

This would be especially true if it turned out not to be true, as it wouldn't just be her hopes that ended up dashed, but his as well. She held him dearly, and at times thought of him as his own, and the other thing was, she didn't want him to get the impression that she thought of him as a surrogate of some kind, when she never had. It was just coincidence.

However, the way he had acted about his birthday, when they had gone to watch the fireworks that she had connived into getting for him. He had been distant, almost as if he had felt that there was no reason at all to find worth celebrating the day. So thus, she had gone and told him about trusting someone about ones birthday.

And yet… she still felt empty afterwards, almost as if her words didn't feel like they carried enough meaning. The next day, she went out, for a walk, still gloomy as ever, though usually she would pick up on the twenty-first. And of course, this probably caused Gin to find her, either because she stood out, or he felt that she had oddly not cheered up.

"What is the matter, Ran-chan?" he asked, coming up behind her, and stepping aside with her so no one else could hear their conversation. "It is the day after… so why are you so gloomy."

"I found out that Hitsugaya Taicho's birthday was yesterday," Rangiku stated, rather gloomily. "You know… the day that I miscarried the baby?"

"Ahh…" Gin pulled away, and leaned against the wall. "You know I don't like talking about that… but neither do you."

"It wasn't that I was thinking about our baby girl, and what could have happened to her, but…" Rangiku closed her eyes. "It's more of something taicho said yesterday, about … well, remember how you gave me my birthday?"

"Yup!" Gin smirked at her. "I like celebrating Ran's birthday. Hey… is that why they shot off fireworks yesterday?"

"Yes… Hinamori got Aizen Taicho to arrange for it," Matsumoto stated, lying as she did so, feeling a little guilty at something's that she couldn't feel like telling Gin. "It was… sweet of her. But the thing is… Hitsugaya… he was…"

"Was what?" Gin asked, for some reason not looking in his face.

"He sees no reason to celebrate his birthday. I told him… if it is someone you trust…" Rangiku shook her head at Gin. "However, I don't think that was really what he wanted to hear."

"Well, maybe it helped a little!" Gin responded, chuckling about the situation. "I think, telling him to trust his granny, for I am sure that was who told him his birthday, was a wonderful idea! That is what I expect from Ran-chan, when she decides to have a brain!"

Matsumoto smirked at this, then suddenly scooped a ball of snow, from the snow that had fallen the night before, after the fireworks, and threw it at him. Gin made a sour face at her. "Eh… no fare!"

Suddenly, a full on snowball fight erupted between the two, and they tossed them back and forth. Two teal eyes peered at them in confusion, wondering how two adults could be so immature and childish.

Author's note – I have to work most Sunday's, so this might end up being posted the day after Toshiro's birthday, but still… it is also my one-hundred and fiftieth fanfic published on the site. And on a last note, I happened to have started a site forum for fanfic writing challenges, if anyone is interested. Still plowing along with my other work! :)