the right direction

An: this takes place immediately after Aizen and co. ascend or whatever to hueco mundo. So Hitsugaya is in a rare mood. I don't own and am therefore subject to error- Yadda yadda yadda

Ps: hope you enjoy my rampant shipping :3

If there was one thing Toshirou knew about Momo, it's that being friends with her was a pain in the ass. Years of being there for her, being called shirou…goddamnit it was bad enough when someone called him Toshirou…Only to have her give all the respect she withheld from him to a traitorous bastard with a skewed sense of the world. That and well…he'd felt more for her lately than friendly feelings. He was short, but he wasn't a child. He was just still growing.

Frankly, it had gotten old, especially since Aizen was outed and she was still waving her torch for him like a freaking baton.

"tch-" The crease from his brows was giving him a headache, and he was buried in paperwork. Where the hell was his lieutenant?

Come to think of it, Matsumoto probably felt much the same way as he did. Gin had gone with Aizen. Actually…that was worse. Much worse.

Momo was just a naïve squirt, and might wise up someday. Gin was making a much worse decision. Even if he did come around, it was unlikely that anyone would trust him ever again. And if he was reading his lieutenant right, she was in love with the idiot.

Alright, he needed to check on her. It had been three days…which, while not unusual for his lush (in more ways than one) vice-captain…was still odd for her. He sighed. It was time to question all the drunks in town.

Bribing his third seat with a lay-off of bitch-work, he prepared to make the rounds, picking up one of Matsumoto's suspiciously dusty bottles of liquor in case he'd need to bribe. He'd try Kyouraku first…fifteen minutes later…

"Why hello, Captain Hitsugaya." Shunsui was looking rather smug…meanwhile his vice-captain was looking uncharacteristically mussed. He sighed.

"Have you seen vice-captain Matsumoto, captain?"

"Well…actually no. Hmm." Sighing again, he thanked him and turned down the street. He had to force himself not to laugh when her heard Ise-san yell and the very characteristic thud as she defended herself with her book.

Now he had to find her usual group, which sent mood decreasing by the minute. He was bad at their names- he just knew them by face, and that one had a serious crush on Matsumoto. She was like…like…their queen. It was disturbing.

"Oi, Hitsugaya!"

"It's Captain to you." He twitched. Twits.

"Right, Right."

"Whatever. Have any of you three seen Matsumoto?" The one with the crush…Shuuhei, that was it… looked morose. Actually, they all did. Understandable, considering recent events.

"No, sir, actually. If you do, let us know, ne? I'm worried." He nodded. So maybe they weren't twits. But now he had to go to her house.

One would think this would be an easy process, but the fact was that Matsumoto went home so seldom that when she did…well, people usually assumed she was either in a funk or otherwise occupied, and therefore just let her be.

He wished that was the case for him too, as he hated asking everyone for directions. Matsumoto would've huffed something about men. He stopped to ask a thoughtful Renji and an anxious Rukia, but they had no clue, and were also about ready to depart. So, they couldn't help. He thought better of asking Zaraki-he always had a vague anxiety the huge man might think eating him to gain his power would be a great idea. Byakuya wouldn't care enough to know, so he passed him…

Ah, Ukitake. Perfect…the man was sitting under a sakura tree, drinking tea while his subordinates fought over the honor of bringing him the next. He looked a little harried.

"Captain Ukitake, sir. Might I have a word?"

"Of course Captain, you needn't be so formal-" He smiled genially, waving the two twits back. "Please sit. Tea?"

"No thank you sir, and I can't stay. I was just wondering if you'd seen my lieutenant. Usually I wouldn't worry, but it's been several days. I didn't want to bother Captain Unohana-" Ukitake had the grace to look slightly abashed at that allusion, not that it warranted it. Of course they'd be close, given his illness, but Hitsugaya was no fool.

"No, I've not seen her. She's most likely home-" He waved west to where a clump of homes was. A-ha. "I'll keep you informed, captain."

"Thank you anyway." He bowed, then sped toward the clump of houses. There were only about six, so he wasn't dealing with anything too hard, but still, he had to look for clues.

Treading slowly, he finally stopped in front of one of them, staring at the sliding door. One end of a pink silk scarf was stuck there, in the track. He pushed it open, extracting the scarf with only slight damage. He laid it aside. The further he went in, the more clothing he discovered. Her little tabi and sandals, her haori-He felt his face start to flush a bit, knowing for a fact that she never bound her breasts. Who could blame her? She'd suffocate. Her hakama were next, in a heap. He poked them with his toe, blinking to see the white underlayer and a length of binding.

Kami, was she naked? He didn't hear the shower, or much of anything. Oh geez.

Not that she'd never been inappropriate…shoving his face into her boobs (which was not kind to his hormones-), making offers to teach him naughty things, or just making passes at him to see his face redden, which she found sooo funny……

But this was virgin territory. He pushed open her bedroom door, still flushed, trying not to let his stupid male hormones make him stop seeing her as his lieutenant. But there she was, pushing all work-related thoughts out.

Yes, she was naked, but her face concerned him more. She was looking at him, smiling faintly, but her lips were pale and her eyes were like bruises.

"Captain…come to yell at me for leaving you with all that paperwork? I…don't think I could have done it just now…" He shook he head, crossing to her side, covering her with his captain's coat. She clutched it.

"No, Rangiku, I'm not here to yell." His voice has lowered to a low rumble. "I was just worried, what with Aizen and Gin-" She stared.

"You knew about that?" He nodded, wondering why she was surprised. She closed her eyes, squeezed them until her lashes receded into the squint. "I'm such an idiot." He shook his head, sweeping some of her strawberry blond hair out of her face. She opened her eyes, and he stared at his hand as if it had betrayed him.

"You're not an idiot."

"Am so-" He voice was pitched at low whine, and he growled softly.

"Stop it!" She jolted, surprised at his outburst, but he forged ahead. "I know a lot of idiots around here, not least of all Hinamori or the idiots you drink with-" He paused at her amused look "But you are not one of them. Gin was…a lapse in judgment."

"And Momo?"

"The same, really." He was irritated that he felt his face heat up, but she was smiling now, so at least there was progress. But he wasn't prepared when she shoved his head into her cleavage…again. He struggle out, looking away as she righted the coat. She laughed.

"You're such a gentlemen, Captain. I'd bet Momo never even knew."

"Proba—wait what?" he gawked at her, sitting up now, and grinning like a fool.

"Well did you ever even kiss her?"

He looked away; not wanting to admit he'd never kissed anyone, much less his childhood friend. Unfortunately, His lieutenant knew him well enough to know from the reaction.

"You've never kissed anyone!"

"Matsumoto, now-" But she had pounced, grabbing his face with her long fingered hands calloused from being more of a threat than anyone knew. He stared at her, noting that she'd put the captain's coat on backwards. Her eyes were alight, and her mouth was stretched into a positively feline smile.

"I'm stealing your first kiss then."

"Rangiku, you know that wouldn't be appropriate-"

"Come on, Captain! It'll cheer me up, and you might learn something!" He hesitated, and then nodded, swallowing. She grinned, moving to straddle him. He opened his mouth to tell her she was out of line, but she descended and silenced him.

No one could have effectively prepared him for this. Her mouth was so much hotter than he expected, especially against his usually frosty breath. Not only was it hot, her mouth was impossibly soft, and moving insistently against his own. He tried to keep up, but he wasn't sure he could.

She was pleased he was trying, from her soft rumble in her throat. Her tongue slid along his suddenly, and he came undone. He had to pull back, his flush only increasing when he heard his heavy breathing. She was only slightly out of breath, but her eyes were bright.

"Maybe we've been looking the wrong direction, Captain." He didn't nod, only slid a hand into her hair.

"Call me Toshirou." And kissed her again.

No one would guess their involvement all through the war. Rangiku teased him ceaselessly still, and he pretended he hated it. Orihime only caught them once, up on her roof, and they'd only been kissing. She'd laughed it off and said she'd seen nothing at all. He'd spent weeks worrying about it-Rangiku had not been at all, even kissing him once in hearing range of Ikkaku and Yumichika, and they'd walked by when they'd just broken apart, breathing heavily and flushed. Luckily a hollow had explained away their appearance, but he could have sworn Yumichika had stared a little longer, considering. But, Orihime had said absolutely nothing, and Yumichika had too many shadows of his own to even raise a question.

It was a long time before they told anyone, let alone their comrades. Incidentally, it was Shuheii who learned first. It was after Orihime had been recovered from hueco mundo, and she'd turned slightly away from Ichigo. Shuheii apparently saw this as a hint to make a move. So he'd tried for Rangiku.

When she'd turned him down, he'd been respectably stubborn, following her about the sereitei. She'd been getting very irritated, dropping hints at him to put a stop to it, until finally she declared:

"Oh fine! Then I'm taking drastic measures!"

Well shit.

Apparently, she had drug him back to the office to "talk"…but what she had really done was walk in and flop in his lap. Shuheii had goggled at this, and she had merely shrugged.

"Tell him." He had sighed, not wanting tell the poor guy anything of the sort, but she'd never let him hear the end of it.

"The lieutenant and I…she's…unavailable."

"You and..she? I find that hard to believe, Captain." And then he started to laugh.

Now, he'd hit a growth spurt, and while he still wasn't average height, the sudden chill of the room made up for it when he set Rangiku aside and stood.

"Believe it."

And just like that, the sereitei knew, though nobody said a thing. They became another Shunsui and Nanao, or even the long gone Kisuke and Yoruichi. It was just accepted that there was something more. But for them, it was enough that they didn't have to worry about it. They were heading the right direction.