A Bleach Fanfic
Summary: Rangiku Matsumoto returns after ten years to find things have changed.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, but the plot. The song lyrics belong to Sarah McLachlan.
A part of him and hoped he would be late. It hoped Momo would be too vexed to wait and leave him there. The coward wanted her to walk away. Give him an excuse.
But she waited. The praetor was impatient, but Momo had been waiting. Her hair pinned atop her head, the flowers in her hands. She looked beautiful, a tad anxious, but still waiting for him.
Wearing his dusty Captain's garb, unable to explain to the echoes of the murmurs around him, he strode through the guests and came to stand beside her.
Momo Hinamori, lifted concerned brown eyes up to him. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he nodded and turned to the praetor. "Please begin."
The woman beside him opened her mouth speak, but then thought better of it as the ceremony began.
He'd always wanted to grow up faster. He wanted people to take him seriously. He wanted them to look past his age and see the man. Now that he was a man, Toushiro Hitsugaya wanted nothing more than to be a child.
When the praetor began reading his lines, he couldn't shake Rangiku's blue eyes out of his mind. They constantly ate at him. Accused him. Humbled him. Broke him. They tore at him until he had spoken before he could stop himself. "Wait."
The chamber went deathly silent. The woman gaped up at him in shock before she let out sharp breath that echoed across the walls. "Oh thank god!"
Startled, Toushiro's head swung around to stare at the visibly relieved woman. "What?"
The brown eyes were glaring. "I've been waiting all week for you to lose your nerve."
A wave of whispers went around them, but Toushiro turned to the woman who held his world in the palm of her hand. "You've been what?"
With a deep breath the petite woman shook her head. "You think I wanted you to marry me out of pity?"
"But I wasn't_"
"Please," she interrupted with a roll of her eyes. "I know you better than you know yourself but let's face it Shiro Chan you're a bit of an idiot sometimes."
Someone was guffawing like a baboon in the background. Toushiro would have thrown something at Kyouraku, but he was too busy gaping at his best friend.
Taking pity on the poor man, Momo sighed and picked up his hand. "You know I was jealous when she came back. I've had you to myself all these years Shiro. I cling to things I love. It's a fault." She smiled softly. "But I'm a coward. I didn't want to say I didn't want to marry you. You've done so much for me I figured the least I could do was stick to you. Then they removed captain Aizen's name and everything went to hell. I realized you didn't want to marry me either."
"Then why come here with me today?"
"Because this was your decision." She shrugged as a matter-of-factly. "I would have gladly married my best friend. I still will if you want. But you don't."
Mouth tilting up into a tell tale smile, Toushiro squeezed her hand. "Thank you Momo."
"Don't thank me. I was too chicken to tell you I was afraid to lose my only friend."
"If u don't marry me, you won't lose a friend."
Her smiled widened, eyes glittering almost like they did when they were children. "But you would have lost something far worse."
"What, but you said..."
"I'm talking about Ran-Chan you midget!"
"I am NOT..."
With a snort, Momo crossed her arms and wrinkled her nose. "To me you will be. Always."
He sighed heavily, running a hand through his already disheveled hair. "I am an idiot."
"Not really, unless you keep standing there."
Small, soft hands pushed him towards the door as she smiled. "Go before I decide I need you more."
Taking a step back towards her, Captain Hitsugaya kissed her forehead. Then with a wicked grin she'd never seen on the man, he disappeared with a single flash step.
Momo let out a deep breath as she faced her guests. "Show's over folks. Continue on with your lives." As people started to stand and gather their things, Renji came and stood by his friend. "Kinda cutting it close there, aren't ya?"
"I was kinda hoping you had interrupted like I paid you to at 'forever hold your peace'. I would have loved to see him beat you to a bloody pulp."
The redhead snickered. "Ha ha! Too late!"
Turning to him, Momo fixed him with a deliberate glare. "Gimmie my money back."
"Rats." Looking back towards the crowded exit he mumbled, "Maybe he will come back."
"Gimmie my money back you red pineapple head!"
He had half expected to find her snoozing on the couch as always. But Toushiro Hitsugaya was neither that lucky, nor did he deserve the luxury. Wincing he realized there would have to be a lot of groveling. Something he wasn't well-versed in. He didn't know where to begin apologizing to her. He didn't even know where to find her.
Looking over his shoulder, he saw a member of his squad running up to him. The woman looked harried.
"What's wrong Faya?"
"I know you told me to find Lieutenant Matsumoto and I went to do exactly that as soon as you told me. I called out o her again and again and she didn't reply at all," the young shinigami began to rant, her eyes wide, breath short. "I checked the barracks; I checked the mess halls, the training rooms, the infirmary_"
"Then I checked the baths, the_"
The woman blinked at his sharp tone and fell silent, her mouth clamping shut with a snap.
Running a hand through his frayed hair, Toushiro realized that finding Matsumoto would take more than his fastest runner. Taking a deep breath, he made a mental note of all the haunts that his errant Lieutenant frequented. But then it had been a while and she hadn't disappeared as much since her return. It irked him that he might not know her as well as he used to when he didn't was younger. Perhaps growing up wasn't all it was cut out to be.
"Yes Captain!" The woman straightened attentively waiting for her captain's command.
"Send out a butterfly. Find Lieutenant Matsumoto. I don't care if you have to get the entire damned squad out to find her. Contact me immediately if there's any sign of her. Just find her and for hell's sake do not call out to her. You might as well wear a blinking neon sign on your forehead that says 'RUN'!"
"Really? Because I thought…"
"FAYA!" Eyebrow twitching, Toushiro realized if this woman was going to be next in line if Matsumoto left, he had to find her. Now. "Just go!"
Even though the woman had disappeared he couldn't shake the sudden onslaught of nerves. He hoped to hell he found his Lieutenant before his patience ebbed and this time he had no one else to blame but himself. Snapping open his phone he contacted the only person he trusted to help him without an I-told-you-so. Or so he thought. "Joushiro, I need to know where she is."
"I cannot believe that you…"
"Joushiro please!" Gritting his teeth, the youngest captain prayed for patience. "Just help me find her."
There was a resigned sigh on the other end. "Fine, but she will be difficult."
"When is she not? Tell her I want to see her."
"And if she refuses?"
"Tell her I've given all her sake to Momo as a wedding present." Then he hung up before Joushiro could remind him that suicide was forbidden.
If misery had a face, it would have been Rangiku Matsumoto's. The bottle of sake she'd carried up to the roof of her old broken down abode in Rukongai was already gone. Her captain was probably well on his way to his honeymoon. The mere thought of imagining skinny little Momo with her hands all over him made her drink more. She'd even exhausted the secret stash she had hidden away in her old room beneath the rickety floorboards. The two bottles rolled down the edge of the broken roof and smashed into the rubble that had been her home.
She'd thought she'd come to her memories. Perhaps the old pain would chase away the new knife that still twisted in her gut. But no amount of remorse of regret that this old place carried could take her away from the loss of her captain. She had said she was still his Lieutenant. She had said she'd not shirk her duties, but every day for the rest of her life would be like this one. Alone. Hurting and broken.
Laughing crazily she lay back down against the dusty rooftop and stared up at the muddy sky. Sometimes she wished she'd never left these dusty streets when the hardest thing she'd ever had to do was miss a meal. It had been easier.
"Lieutenant, come down from there."
The corner of her mouth tilted up. "Join me Joushiro, I'm celebrating my Captain's nuptials."
The man sighed from below where he was gazing up at her socked feet sticking out from the broken roof. "Please Rangiku, come down."
The feet stirred before a rumpled strawberry blond head appeared over the crack and a pair of liquid blue eyes smiled down at him. "I have sake."
For a moment Joushiro saw it all. The pain. The betrayal. It almost made him want to go back and beat the white haired idiot half to death. It was unfair to put her through this after everything, but a part of him knew the woman as well as he knew Toushiro. Rangiku Matsumoto was a stubborn as her Captain. But for propriety's sake he tried again. "Lieutenant Matsumoto, your Captain is looking for you."
The head disappeared to be replaced by the feet once again. "Fine. I'll celebrate alone."
The silver haired captain took a deep breath and then spoke very clearly and very carefully. "Toushiro's found your stash of sake in his office."
The feet disappeared.
Stepping out of her way, he finished his message. "I believe you should know; he gave it to Hinamori as a wedding present."
There was a breath. Two. Then Joushiro held his robes as the female shinugami streaked past him like a hurricane, her screech lingering in the air. "That son of a…I'll KILL HIM!"
Joushiro almost felt bad for the Squad 10 Captain. Almost.
Toushiro was hearing more bad news. It had been two solid hours and there was no sign of his lieutenant. No one could find her. The woman's spiritual pressure was very carefully concealed. Everyone said, they couldn't sense her. So when he felt the familiar fingers of his Lieutenant's spiritual pressure gathering and strengthening behind him he realized that Joushiro had been successful.
What he didn't expect was turning around to find the point of Haineko at his throat. Icy blue eyes narrowed into venomous slits as the woman faced him with deadly warning. "Draw your sword."
Faya was standing there gaping like a fish. She'd been in the middle of her report when their wayward Lieutenant had marched in. This was the second time she'd seen her Captain challenged by his lieutenant. But to her surprise, this time the young man lifted both his hands rather than look betrayed. In fact, a rather victorious smirk stretched across his handsome face. "Captain."
"Leave us Faya."
She hesitated and Lieutenant Matsumoto snarled, her eyes trained on their captain. "Maybe you should keep her around, you might need help." Faya cast one furtive glance between and stepped out of the Captain's office.
Toushiro lifted an amused eyebrow. "All this for a few cups of sake, Lieutenant Matsumoto?"
"A few cups! I had at least three gallons you stealing, cheating, spineless_"
"Spineless?" Slapping her sword away from his throat he took a step to his right, grinning when she followed him in his neat little circle. "Now that's not very nice."
Haineko was steady and poised for strike. "You can mess with my head! You can break my damned heart, but NO ONE messes with my SAKE!"
Still circling her, he was careful enough to keep safe distance around him as he chuckled. "I'm hurt Matsumoto. You love sake more than me."
"My sake doesn't leave my bed like a thief in the night," she retorted acerbically.
Toushiro Hitsugaya's slow grin it widened, became even more liquid. Almost pleased. "Now that's a low blow. Better be careful, you're implying I'm your underlying problem."
"You're my only problem!" Nearly hissing with mounting fury, Rangiku took a step closer to her unarmed captain. "Draw your sword!"
Teeth glistening in the setting sun, he looked right back into her cat eyes. "You don't really want to fight me."
"I want to take your head off!" This time Toushiro was prepared for her as she pounced on him, all claws and hisses. One careful turn he safely caught the deadly sword flat between his palms before he twisted it out of her reach and sent it spinning away from them.
"Matsumoto, I'm hurt."
The now unarmed woman snorted. "Get used to it." Dropping into quick sweep she kicked his legs out from under him, but she realized her mistake when the clever man pitched forward and fell right on top of her with his full weight.
The air rushed out of her lungs in a whoosh. "OOF!"
His arms were braced on each side of her head and Toushiro allowed her a moment to meet his eyes, her hands pushing insistently on his chest.
"Didn't think so before."
Eyes flickering with the memory Matsumoto twisted hard in his hold and he couldn't help delight in the slight flush on her alabaster skin. "Hmph! I think I liked you better when you were a short little egomaniac. Let go of me!"
But Toushiro had finally caught the women he wasn't in any mood to let her go. "Matsumoto, stop fighting me," he murmured gently, hoping to get through to her.
With an exasperated grunt, he swept her hands away from his chest in a quick swipe and caught her flailing wrists firmly. "Fine."
And Rangiku Matsumoto was finally pinned.
His body stretched out over her, hands holding her wrists above her head, Captain Toushiro Hitsugaya had effectively pinned her. As memories and sensations from the night before assaulted her in full force Rangiku shrieked. "Get off me!" The weight of him was so familiar and her fickle body was melting and molding to his despite her fury. She wanted to be angry at him. She wanted to bruise him like he'd bruised her heart when he left. But he held her immobile.
"You're being obstinate."
"I've been robbed!" She retorted with a glare. "What do you expect? Give me back my sake!"
Brow wrinkling at her one track mind Toushiro sighed. "That's what I'm trying to tell you. I didn't…"
"Don't you dare think you can muscle your way out of this!" She bucked beneath him, trying to dislodge his weight someway so she could find an opening. "How DARE you desecrate my secret stash!"
A snow eyebrow arched, his mouth twisted into a half smile. "Desecrate? Hell woman, you make it sound like a holy temple."
"It was my temple! And you gave it to that doe-eyed floozy!"
Biting down on the insane need to chuckle, Toushiro fixed her with a teasing grin, fingers tightening around the wriggling woman. He would have to tell her later how much he enjoyed it, perhaps at a time when she wasn't prone to do bodily damage to him. "Careful Matsumoto, that floozy could have been my wife."
"I swear Captain, if you don't get my secret stash back, I will_"
The man let out a defeated sigh, switched both her wrists into one hand and clamped the other over her runaway mouth. "Why is that I'm always caught between the decision to either strangle you or eat you?"
The ice blue eyes widened marginally and instantly her wriggling ceased.
His grin nearly had Hyourinmaru's fangs. "Eat you it is."
Rangiku only had enough time to snatch in a lungful of air his mouth came crashing down and was buried against hers unceremoniously. She had a feeling that it was more to shut her up rather than derive any pleasure. What did surprise her was her own reaction to the feel of his soft firm lips against her own.
With his fist still wrapped around two delicate wrists Rangiku was caught in the sheer intensity that sparked where his lips met hers and she was lost.
Eyes falling closed, fury shot to hell and her defenses crumbling into a sickening little wet puddle, Rangiku surrendered. Suddenly she the raging hurricane that had stormed into his office but instead she was all about lips, teeth and tongue and fiery nerve endings that recognized him.
Eventually it was that surrender in the decisive way her lips parted for his questing tongue that prompted the Captain above her to gentle his mouth in an attempt to pull away, but Rangiku turned the tables.
One wrist pulled out of his fist, fingers curled into the snowy hair and her mouth slanted under him.
Toushiro's body rolled with a guttural moan when her mouth opened to taste him deeper, her lips molding to his, teeth scratching lightly over his bottom lip. Snatches of breath did nothing to cool the sudden flare of heat between them, her hips struggling to move under him. To roll up against him. Hand against his nape, refusing to release him. But he wouldn't dare move. Even in the haze of searing desire coursing through his veins, Toushrio knew not to allow any little control, but the woman underneath him had channeled her explosive anger into the seductive heat of her passion and Toushiro was drowning.
Very slowly and painfully.
Eventually it was Rangiku's fingers that gently pulled on his hair, breaking the connection of their mouths, gasping for air; his pupils dilated and his chest heaving. He stared into her hazily then realization dawned on him. The woman underneath him was crying and despite his age and his height he suddenly found himself lost. "Rangiku," he whispered against her trembling lips, over her cheeks, tasting her tears, kissing them away.
"Don't," her whisper was wounded. "You belong to someone else."
Smiling against her brow Toushiro lifted himself away far enough so he could meet her eyes. "Captain Toushiro Hitsugaya, Master of Hyourinmaru belongs to no one." Dropping a kiss to her fluttering eyelids, he sighed. "But I want to belong to you."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I love you. Why else would I torture myself by being around you all the time?" Then he took pity on the woman. "I didn't marry Momo."
Her lips parted in surprise and Toushiro had to bit down the urge to taste her again. "Matsumoto, I loved you when you left me. I loved you when you were away and I find myself in love with you in tormenting different ways still! One lifetime might not be enough to survive you I'm afraid."
She was silent for a few breaths. "Captain?"
The blue flickered with a hint of hope. "Was that a proposal?"
"I…well…I suppose it was."
"My my, Captain." Sniffling, she offered him a watery, but decidedly teasing smile. "What kind of woman do you think I am? Proposing to me like this on the floor. And no ring?"
The man who had been in complete control suddenly floundered, flushing with embarrassment before he rolled off her, fumbling into his pockets as he climbed to his feet. "I swear I have it here somewhere." The sight of the confused, blushing man was so poignantly familiar, Rangiku decided the ring could wait as she swept Haineko off the floor and rose.
Toushiro was fishing into his robes when he heard Rangiku's purr. "Growl, Haineko."
Head jerking up, he watched in horror as her blade disappeared into fine mist and slipped underneath the lawyers of his robes. "What the hell!"
Matsumoto's smirk was wicked. "Let me help you."
It was then that Toushiro realized just how much control his Lieutenant possessed on her Ashcat as every binding that held his robes together snapped. He was barely in time to catch the cascade of clothes around his hips as they fell away. Hands bunched into the black and white remains of his clothes he stared at her in shock. "Rangiku! Are you_"
Her hands smoothed over his chest and his voice died in his throat. Her eyes flickering a shade darker, Rangiku slid her arms around his neck. "You left me there alone; you told me you wouldn't return. You broke my heart, nearly married another woman and you had the audacity to lie about stealing my secret stash of sake. Now shut up and take it like a man."
Caught between hilarity, embarrassment and happiness, Toushiro battled whether he should hold his remaining dignity or the woman wrapped around him; her eyes promising everything he'd ever wanted. His fingers flexed in the folds of his clothes; the proper Captain in him hoping to remind him where they were, but Toushiro didn't care. He was ready to enjoy her punishment.
Although, had one question. He couldn't help himself. "Matsumoto?"
"Yes my Captain?"
The woman's paused in her conquest and offered him a sheepish smile. "Eh heheh. Um…I was bluffing."
Those aqua eyes narrowed on his Lieutenant. "I don't believe you. Where is it?"
"The damned mother lode Rangiku, where is it? You know you're not supposed to_"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." One hand sliding into his downy soft hair, Rangiku nuzzled his ear gently as the other wrapped around the fist holding his robs loosely around his waist. "Honestly Captain, perhaps you're going senile." Then she shook his fist loose and pushed him towards the couch.