Disclaimer – I don't own Bleach. Contains spoilers for chapter 392 of the Manga…
One would hope that things would return to normal, to the way things were before Aizen had betrayed soul society in the way that he had, now that he was defeated. However, truth of the matter, things had happened to cause a good deal of mental and emotional damage, to each person a different level. The truth of the matter was, things weren't going to return to the way that they had been before.
The only survivor on Aizen's side was one Ichimaru Gin. How the man survived, no one really knew. Yamamoto's decision was to seal the man's powers, and give him his freedom. For some, they found this to be quite perturbing, considering that, many felt that the young man had a side darker that neither of the other two defectors.
Physically speaking, everyone had been returned to normal, and they hadn't lost anyone, including Hinamori Momo. None had quite figured out how the small female had been switched to be in basic terms, Aizen's scapegoat for blows. However, even she had been able to be restored by Unohana, Orihime and the really big vizard.
No, it was the mental side of things, where things were problematic. Everyone had something to heal from, and a different amount of healing to do. While no one believed it, this included Ichimaru Gin. In following Aizen, he had thrown away what little he had, and one might have to wonder, for what it was for.
The person he had been closest to, was avoiding him completely, not speaking to him, her anger at his betrayal not fading with the fact that the person behind the whole mess being dead. One might say, to Rangiku, their friendship was in fact dead. One might say, to her, there was no longer anything there. And, Gin choose not to push it, and only said he was sorry a few times, so as to not rile her anger.
Word got around though, that there was someone who had broken even more than anyone else. In some ways, it had surprised him, and others it didn't. However, the idea of that one person, remaining broken, irked him in many ways. He thought of, many times, of that person being what he could have been, had not Aizen stepped in. Or so he would like to believe. Plus… there was another reason.
When he had come to hear, that young, Hitsugaya Toshiro, had come to be holed up in forth division, with no signs of leaving, even though there was no physical ailment affecting his body. Gin, after a few days of not hearing anything good, decided to pay a visit to the small taicho, to see exactly what kind of mental state he was in.
When he entered the forth division, he received a good deal of states from the members, none of which were pleased that he was there, but he really didn't care, as he never really had cared for that many people's opinion about him. Hell, he had gone and gotten anyone he did care to have a positive opinion of him, to throw that out the window.
Quickly, he was confronted by Unohana taicho, whose eyes were dark. At first, he got the idea that she was doing that because she didn't want him there, for the things that he had done wrong to everyone. However, it quickly became apparent why she didn't want him roaming the halls of her division. "Ichimaru Gin. I will not have you coming around here to play pranks on my patients. You can go people watch elsewhere."
"Actually, I came to see how chibi-taicho is doing…" Gin stated, smiling, watching as the woman stared at him for some time. If she refused to let him in, he would just have to find some way to sneak in.
"This is a hospital wing," she stated firmly. "I can't have you playing pranks on my patients, especially on Hitsugaya Taicho."
"His mental state is that bad then…" Gin suddenly frowned. "That's… worse than the rumors say."
"So that was how you came to decide to come visit him," the woman stated.
"Don't worry, I won't try to make his mental state worse," the man sighed. "He's no fun really, unless he is at full mental capacity anyways, ne?"
Unohana glanced at him for a few minutes, then motioned for him to follow behind her, much to the surprise of the other members of her division. "He was able to function for a bit of time, but then the fact of the matter is, everything proved to be too much for him to handle."
"That is because children shouldn't be forced into adult experiences, if at all possible," Gin suddenly stated. There was some cold venom in his voice when he had said that.
"Ne… Unohana Taicho, let's say that Hitsugaya had been born to two soul reaper parents, and he happened to have been raised among soul reapers, do you think his powers would be as high as they are. Do you think if so, he might actually have more control over his abilities? Of course, he wouldn't likely have met Hinamori Momo then… he cares…"
This caused Unohana to pause quickly, and then for Gin to crash into her. "I don't know where that line of thought of yours is coming from. It isn't that I am going to refuse to answer it, however… I simply can't. His powers could be higher, or lower. He might have more or less control over them. However, as for his mental state, Hinamori Momo plays a factor into it."
Gin muttered from behind her. "It always has… so I should think. She rather ignored his existence once they both graduated."
The forth division taicho's rietsu fluctuated. "Ichimaru Gin, I wish that you wouldn't pry into matters that are not of your concern, and not to make them your concern. I could choose at this moment to not let you see him."
However, Gin's voice suddenly turned dark. "I think that in the case of that child, it is fully my concern, what condition he's in."
This caused Unohana Taicho to spin on him. "My office, now." Thus, instead of going and seeing the small taicho right away, Gin was dragged into her office. She glared at him, as they both took a seat. "I am afraid I can't let you see him. You are taking a perverse it seems, interest in him."
"Perverse… by that do you mean stubborn and not letting go, or by that do you mean you are referring to my usual wicked, cruel outlook on people. Fact is, most people in life go on living their lives, not worrying about where the next meal will come from, or how to survive," Gin admonished her.
"After the way that you've treated him, do you really deserve to have a hand in his life?" Unohana stated firmly.
"Beyond keeping him safe and from harm, no… I definitely do not," Gin stated, glaring at her. He watched as she lifted an eyebrow.
"His safety… I find that a tad laughable, considering what he had to go through, during the winter war," the woman snapped. Her eyes were dark.
"None of that… was ever my intension. Especially the state he is in now," the man stated, glancing at the wall instead of her.
"So you're telling me, you've had an eye on Hitsugaya for some time now?" the aura grew darker. "Unless I know the truth, I won't let you see him, and I will be sure to place a guard around his door, and window, to make sure you don't."
"That won't stop me. I'll just sit in a tree and watch, just like I always have," the man stated, suddenly turning to glare at her, his eyes suddenly turned to her, a pale, teal coloring. Unohana narrowed her eyes at this.
"Your behavior, Ichimaru, is disturbing, to say the least, and you know I don't usually come out and say things like that to people," the woman stated. She watched as two teal eyes continued to star at him, that same pale teal coloring. The coloring was nowhere near as vibrant of a color, as the small taicho's, but something about this bothered her, and there was really only one conclusion that she could come to.
Ichimaru suddenly looked away, his two eyes closing. "I know that you don't. Honestly… I have never meant harm to come to the kid, ever."
"I very much recollect the little sparing match you had with Hitsugaya before you left with Aizen. Matsumoto, Hinamori and Hitsugaya have all told me their versions of it… well, two, if you count that Hinamori wasn't completely there," the woman stated.
"Then you don't need to hear my version of the story," the man snapped back.
"Except you said, I have never meant harm to come to the kid, ever. Yet from what I understand, that completely contradicts what you've just told me," Unohana stated. "I am not letting you out of my site, until I get the answers I want."
"I knew that I could manipulate him into a position where he would instinctively dodge the thrust that I made at him," Gin muttered. "In other words, Hitsugaya Toshiro was never my target that day, Hinamori Momo was. Truth of the matter, I wasn't the only one who knows that weakness of his, his temper that he comes by naturally. Look at the fact that Aizen manipulated him that way."
"When are you going to tell the two of them the truth?" Unohana suddenly smirked.
"Excuse me?" the silver haired man flinched at this.
"You just stated, his temper that he comes by naturally. One can only say one comes by something naturally like that, if one knows someone's parentage. If one thinks about it, there are only a few logical explanations as to how one would know this, isn't there? And there is only one person that I can think of that he naturally gets that temper from."
"Rangiku… shit…" Two eyes darted to the ground. "This was so not fair, Unohana Taicho."
"Is it fair to Hitsugaya and Matsumoto that you keep this from them?" the woman stated. "Do you really think that keeping the truth from them is actually protecting them in the long run? I also have to wonder, how Rangiku doesn't know."
"She somewhat knows. How else was she drawn to him, that day in the market. How else has she instinctively taken care of him all these years. She's also asked about his birthday once, a bit after he became taicho. But she didn't push the matter, because Shiro-chan thinks he died and came to soul society, not realizing he was actually born here."
"My question was more along the lines, of how is it that Rangiku didn't realize that she had a child walking around out there?" Unohana stated.
"Because I told her the baby died, before she even got to see him. I also told her that it was a baby girl. She actually believed me. Do you still think, after I did that to her, that keeping the truth from her isn't the best thing?"
"Depends on why you did it, doesn't it? In the long run, even if it goes and makes her more angry then she is, it will allow her to heal. I do wonder why you did something like this…" Unohana had a twinkle in her eyes, which caused the man to glare at her.
"Don't kid me about that… you already have figured out why I did what I did. Are you going to tell me, at the time, my decision was wrong? Because frankly… I would have done the same thing, again and again, for the very reason why I did it." The tone of his voice had venom to it.
"It is a pity though, isn't it… that you were able to see his first steps, and his first word, while Rangiku was not able to. I assume that you've been watching him from the distance his entire life, without Aizen knowing," Unohana stated. "I have a condition, if you want to freely see your son, Ichimaru. However, you'll then fall under the conditions of another person."
"Let me guess, you want me to tell Rangiku the truth? That's a bit hard, as she refuses to let me have a word in, edge wise," the man stated. "I don't want to force her to listen."
"Don't worry… I'll…" Unohana found herself interrupted, as Isane stepped through the doorway a frantic look on her face.
"Hitsugaya Taicho is refusing to eat again," the overly tall female stated, suddenly giving Gin a rather wary look.
This caused Unohana to close her eyes suddenly. "Who is with him right now?"
"Rangiku is actually with him. I don't know how much more of this she is going to be able to take," Isane's voice strained. "I don't know how much more of this, any of us are going to be able to take. I don't like seeing him like that."
"I am not going to give up on that child," Unohana stated, standing up from where she had been sitting, and she quickly hurried off to where the small taicho was. To Isane's dismay, Gin actually got up and followed them to the room. Unohana paused outside the open doorway, causing the two to crash into her backside.
Sitting on the bed, was Hitsugaya Toshiro, dressed in the fourth division patients clothing. His limbs were limp by his side. His wrists were also bandaged, and Hyorinmaru was nowhere in sight. Rangiku sat in front of him, a bowl in one hand, a spoon in another, trying to coax the small boy to eat. There was a great deal of refusing to open of the mouth by said child.
"Come on taicho… please…" Matsumoto had bags under her eyes, as if she had been losing sleep. But then, it should have been no surprise why this was happening, as she likely had been trying to take care of a lot of things, all on her own, or most of it on her own. As she sat there, the small taicho's right wrist suddenly stiffened, and the next thing anyone knew, the bowl that had been in Matsumoto's hand, was smashed against the wall.
"Taicho…" Rangiku suddenly closed her eyes, and let out a sigh. "Now I have to go and get cleaning materials and stuff to clean this up. I wish Isane hadn't left me alone, but she did go and get Unohana."
The bosomed female stood up, and began to head to the door to get the supplies that she needed to clean up the room. Thus, she didn't notice the small boy's hand reaching for a large shard of the bowl that had happened to have landed on the nightstand. However, there was a pair of eyes that had seen the reaction, and had been watching the boy's movements with clear-cut calculation.
To everyone's surprise, that person pushed forward and had the small boy suddenly pinned to the wall, one hand on the throat, the other holding the wrist away from the rest of his body. Toshiro let out a small sound, something like letting out a bunch of air in surprise, however, there were no smart remarks that were usually audible by the small taicho. His eyes seemed void of the usual spark, and had darkness to them.
"Gin!" Rangiku suddenly became livid, her voice filled with protection for the small child, not to mention, lividity that the man had the nerve to even show up.
"Chibi taicho…" Gin stated softly. "Please let go of what you have in your hand. I apologize, but I can't let you have that toy of yours…"
Rangiku's eyes, which had been on the back of the man that had once been her best friend, and who she had felt had betrayed her completely, to the small hand of the white haired youth that she had been caring for, for the last few days, as much to her ability. A hand suddenly clapped over her mouth. "Oh god!"
Ichimaru could hear the female suddenly hurry out of the room, and his body winced a bit, however, he didn't let go, as he refused to do so. "Ne… Shiro-chan. You do realize, I am a lot stronger then you. So, stop being stubborn right now, and just let go?"
Instead of Hitsugaya Toshiro letting go of the piece of shard in his hand, Unohana Taicho stepped forward, and began to pry it out of his small fingers. When she succeeded, the small boy's face suddenly contorted with rage, and his eyes filled with tears, angry that his attempt had been foreseen and stopped.
"Ichimaru Gin. If you may, would you please go and speak with Matsumoto fukutaicho, as to what we said earlier? Isane… while I stay with young Hitsugaya, would you please go and get cleaning supplies, then clean up this mess. Also, bring another bowl of food," the woman stated quite calmly.
The man stepped out of the room, and found Matsumoto leaning up against the wall, and hand clasped to her mouth, and her eyes closed. Her whole body said that she was beyond frustrated. "Ne… Ran-chan… you aren't going to give up on him, are you?"
"That is really none of your business, Ichimaru," the woman stated, her tone dark, opening her eyes, as a tear managed to escape and fall down her cheek.
"You can't give up on him…" the man stated, glancing at the ceiling, while going to lean against the wall next to her.
"I never said I was. I am not going to quit believing that he's going to get better. I can't not believe that. But I can't do anything for him either, and that hurts… it hurts bad. It hurts like when I lost my baby," Matsumoto stated, suddenly going and hugging herself closely.
"About that…" Gin stated.
"Now you want to talk about what happened to our child! Now you want to go beyond just simply taking the body and burring it, and making a nice grave for the baby, but never going with me to the grave? Now, you want to talk about the thing that you cared nothing for?" Matsumoto snapped back.
"I lied…" Gin stated firmly.
"About not caring?" came the laugh, hard and cold. "Don't kid with me… your body language… it has never fit someone who has lost a child."
"That wasn't what I meant…" Gin stated.
"Then what did you mean by that," Matsumoto's jaw twitched.
"First, I lied about a baby being buried in the grave," Gin stated, his normal grin leaving his face, and his eyes opening up.
This caused Matsumoto's eyes to suddenly shoot wide open. "No… no… you didn't! What the hell did you do with my baby Gin! How could you do this to me! I hate you!"
"Second, I lied about the baby being dead," Gin stated firmly, as she began to pound on his chest.
"You mean to tell me, my baby girl's been alive this whole time. You bastard!" Matsumoto was near tears.
"I lied about the fact the baby was a girl. I lied about my name… it wasn't always Ichimaru Gin… Ichimaru was something I picked out after running away from home…" the man stated, suddenly feeling her pound on his chest. "I also lied to my mother about you dying in child birth… as I took the baby to be raised by her."
"I really hate you!" Matsumoto cried out. "Please! Just tell me where my little one is!"
"He's been right under your nose for about the last forty years…" the man's eyes watched as her eyes suddenly grew wide in shock, and she backed away from him.
"Are you seriously trying to play some kind of sick joke on me, Ichimaru? Because if you are, I am never going to speak you again. It is impossible for him to be my child, because taicho told me he died and came to soul society. He remembered dying on a plain of ice," the woman stated.
"Let me think… a plain of ice. Why does that sound so familiar?" Gin snapped, irritated that she wasn't getting it. "Oh… that would be because his inner world is a plain of ice. Something sound a bit off about what he believes to be true, and what might be true?"
"How the hell could you do this to me! How could you make it so that he grew up without either one if his parents… I can't say that growing up without you, is a bad thing though… it was possibly a wonderful thing!"
"Aizen…" came the reply, not to mention the glancing at the ceiling.
"Bull! Everything you have ever done has revolved around him, as if he was some sort of saint to you!" Tears were now running down hard on her cheeks.
"Can I ask you something? No… I am going to ask it. Do you think that our son has surpassed me in everything that I have done that is supposed to be within the possible limitations of people," Gin's smile suddenly returned.
"Hell… don't tell me you are jealous of your… our… my child?" Rangiku stated firmly.
"I didn't mean it as that kind of question. In no way am I jealous of him. I am quite proud of him actually. However, I want to know, if perhaps it was just myself seeing him surpassing me here, and not my imagination." He suddenly found his face slapped.
"How can you say something! You tried killing our son, just to get to Hinamori!"
"I knew he would dodge!"
"What the hell…" two eyes narrowed at him, rather livid that this suddenly came out.
"Look… I know I have no right to even look for you or him to acknowledge me as his father. I asked the question I did for a reason… though. I have a reason for asking if my belief that he's surpassed me is true,"
"Yes… he has…" Matsumoto stated, annoyance evident in her voice.
"I knew before he was born, Rangiku, that he would. I could sense his rietsu, growing in your womb. The reason I said that Aizen was the reason I did what I did. If he was willing to experiment on his subordinates, what do you think he would do to the child of one of them. Especially since Aizen was most definitely interested in me because I was a child prodigy."
"No… no…" The orange female shingami looked like she was going to be very ill, her face becoming pale.
"It was… at the time… the only thing I could figure out what to do. I felt, if I hid him with my mother, with my old last name, with no cogitations' of being related to me, Aizen would never, ever touch him…" the man stated, glancing away.
"Aizen tried to cut him into two, you baka!" Rangiku suddenly shoved him. "You should have stepped in!"
"You saw what Aizen does when he knows that you care about someone. Look at how Shiro-chan reacted when he stabbed Momo? Plus, I knew Unohana Taicho was there. If she couldn't do anything, no one could…" Gin suddenly reached out and touched Rangiku's shoulder. "I don't like taking about Aizen. Unlike Hinamori, I never liked him. I was completely scared of him, if I stepped out of his way. I was also afraid of what he would due to my son."
"And what would you have done, Gin, if he had managed to kill Hitsugaya then and there?" the female stated, still rather upset.
"What do you think I would have done?" came the answer, that really didn't work.
"I don't know, what you would have done, as there is the fact that I don't know you anymore," the female stated.
"If I had found out that Toshiro was dead… I don't know…" the man stated. "I know that my temperament tends to change, much like the wind. I do know, I wouldn't have been able to have handled it well."
"Yet you handled him being cut down, multiple times well," Rangiku snapped back.
"Don't get me wrong, but the kid is good at taking care of himself, so it is best not to portray that one has no trust in him," Ichimaru suddenly opened his eyes.
"I can't begin to tell you how upset and how hurt I am by this," Rangiku stated, glancing away suddenly, not able to look into his teal eyes, that sometimes turned red in color. "I have to say, I don't trust you not to go and run away from us again. You were always running away when I we were younger, and this simply does prove you may do the same now."
"Is that all that you are worried about?" Two arms folded across his chest.
"What is it that you want from us, Gin?"
"Well, first off, I would like to know, why is it that chibi taicho is acting so down," again, there was no smirk on his face.
"Chibi taicho… seriously… do you really think of himself as a miniature you? Sure, he has happened to surpass you. He looks like you, and he happens to be a child prodigy, but the two of you happen to be two different people," the female stated coldly.
"That is because of what you gave him, stubbornness, grace on his feet, a warm heart, and a positive outlook on everything." Then came the unexpected reply. "I always did wonder, what he would have been like though, had he not had the luck of running into you when he did. Many a time, I've told myself, that I really don't want to know. Why's our son out of it Ran-chan? He's missing one of the vital things that you gave him."
"And that would be…" the woman shook her head, not at all happy with the situation.
"His inner spirit and fire, his usually drive and ambition… though you don't exactly look that driven yourself. So… what exactly is going on?"
"Taicho thinks he's killed Hinamori," Matsumoto stated flat out.
"Ehh… even I know that Hinamori Momo is walking around just fine right now…" the man shook his head. "Where is it that this one comes from?"
"He hasn't really seen her, since the battle. She hasn't bothered to come and visit him, and has chosen to stay away," two pale eyes looked at him, drained of energy.
"Seriously… that is so like her. Has anyone asked for her to come, or tried taking Shiro-chan to her?" Gin suddenly stated.
"When taicho is brought up, she becomes furious," Rangiku stated. "And it isn't easy to get taicho to come out of his room. He is right now…"
Gin watched as his old friend, suddenly became more distant. "I can tell that he isn't exactly wanting to live. I didn't want him to end up in a state like this… I wanted him to live a normal life, as much as possible. I also said, I would do that without interfering too much."
"You have no right to step in at this point," Rangiku stated firmly.
"Even if I might be able to convince Hinamori Momo to come here?" Gin stated, beginning to walk off.
Two eyes went wide. "Don't you dare go and do something stupid! Don't make the situation worse than it is!"
However, Ichimaru Gin ignored her, and headed over to the fifth division, acting like he didn't have a care in the world. He nearly flinched, as he stepped through the door of that division, but pushed his discomfort to the side. He received quite a few glares coming from some of the division members, as he walked, uninvited into the office.
Hinamori Momo, was busy filing away papers, and glanced up when she heard his steps in the doorway. Her eyes suddenly turned cold, and she spoke up with irritation. "You are not welcome here. We are trying to forget what Aizen did, and you being here doesn't help."
"Ahh… so you don't want me here at all?" the man asked.
"Of course not!" the female snapped back.
"I'll leave, if you promise to go and talk with Hitsugaya Taicho," the man stated firmly, playing with his choices in order to get her to do what he needed to do.
"Tell Matsumoto and Hitsugaya, that if he wishes to apologize for what he did, then he can come here. I don't need to place my trust in someone again, if they aren't willing to come and talk to me," came the girl's reply.
"He didn't know that he was stabbing you…" the man stated, laughing a bit, finding her slight stupidity to be invigorating.
"If you think I'm being stupid, I am not. I know that he didn't know that I was there. However, if I need to come to him, to get him to talk about this, and resolve it, he's being a coward," the girl muttered.
"He is being a coward right now. However, it isn't the way that you think it is."
"He is upset that he hurt me. He's having problems dealing with that. How can it be any different than that?" Another drawer was opened and then closed, nothing going in or coming out.
"He isn't upset because he hurt you. He's upset because he killed you," Gin stated, watching for her reaction.
Hinamori turned to him, her lip pouted. "I'm not dead."
"If he thinks' he killed you, obviously he doesn't realize that you are alive. And if he doesn't realize that you are alive, then he doesn't think he has someone to come talk to, does he? Please… come see him… everyone else has been trying to get him better," the man stated.
"Everyone's been saying to go visit him. I've been refusing for the reason that I told you," Hinamori stated. "I keep telling them, there is no way that Hitsugaya Taicho would happen to have gone through a mental break down. Plus, I know that you are a liar."
"True, I have been known to lie to people," Gin stated, tilting his head to the side. "Aizen's dead now though, so you could go to forth division, and see with your own eyes, how he is. If he is completely fine, then you can walk away. But if he isn't, instead of peaking through the doorway and leaving, you can step in and do something about it."
"I guess that is fair enough. Though I still don't believe anyone that he's not purposely trying to avoid me," Hinamori stated firmly. "He's always been self centered. Look at the fact that when I went to the academy, he got it through his head, to suddenly go at the same time as me. I wanted him to also go, but not at the same time. He didn't once think about grandma there…"
"So… he never told you the truth about that?" That awkward smile suddenly appeared on the man's face. "If I recall correctly too, you kept egging him on, to go to the academy, and even made him a promise if he did, I wonder what it was? I do know that you kept calling him Shiro-chan, even after that."
"Most of the time it was a slip up," Hinamori stated firmly, glaring at the man. "Do you want me to go or not?"
"I would really like for you to go…" Gin stated. "You don't need to tell me I need to shut up."
" I don't know why you happen to be following me though," the small female stated. "You don't have anything to do with Hitsugaya, except perhaps to possibly get back on Rangiku's good side."
"Sure… it is simply a matter of me wanting to get back on her good side. Why would a person like me want to do that?" Gin laughed.
"Because you use and abuse anything that remotely looks like you care about it," the female snapped.
"Even remotely…" Gin's voice was grating, to say the least. "Don't even begin to try to understand me child."
"Is…" Hinamori paused, shaking her head. Her question, from the look in her eye, said that she had some worry, for one small boy.
They arrived there, causing another scene of shock to happen in the fourth division, though Gin didn't care. Hinamori also possibly though it was all due to him. They approached the door, and found Matsumoto coming out of the doorway. "I couldn't get him to eat… ahh… Hinamori?"
"Why isn't he eating?" the small shingami stated, her eyes suddenly full of concern, trying to peak around Rangiku, but the older female moved in front of her.
"You have to promise to do your best not to make him worse. Otherwise I won't let you in," Matsumoto stated firmly.
"My mind isn't all a jumble anymore, so I don't think I'll have a problem with that," Hinamori gave a weak smile.
"He hasn't just been refusing to eat. He's also been… well, you'll possibly figure out, when you see him," Matsumoto stated, watching the small female glide past her. Gin made the move to go after her. "Are you going in too? You might actually cause a problem."
"I was able to stop him before. I think I might be able to do something. I want to be able to do something," the male half hummed, stepping around her, and into the room. He could see that Hitsugaya was now sitting on the bed, his knees pulled to his chest, and his head buried. His whole body was tense, and not a single sound was coming out of his body.
Hinamori's eyes were narrowed, as she sat down beside the small boy, and reached out to touch his bandaged wrists. She turned towards Gin, tears welling in her eyes. "Has he been trying to kill himself?"
"Yes… that is possibly why his zampaktuo isn't in the room. This evening, he tried it with a piece of shard, that had broken off from a food bowl. Gin watched though, as some of the tension had left the small boy' body, upon hearing the older girl's voice.
"Hitsugaya Taicho?" Hinamori suddenly asked, reaching her hand out to touch his head. This caused the white head of fluff, to suddenly pop up, and look at her, the eyes tired.
"Hina… you're not Hinamori…" the boy stated firmly, staring at her wide eyed.
"Yes, I am silly," the girl stated, puffing out her cheeks and turning to glare at Gin. Frustration was written all over her face.
"Don't look at me."
"I killed her… so… you're just something my mind's cocked up again," the small boy stated, trying to look away, only to have her grab his face harshly and turn it towards her.
"Shiro-chan! Can a delusion touch you!" she stated, her mood dark. Instead of having the desired effect she wanted, his jaw began to tremble. "What is the matter with you?"
"The Momo-nee-san I know is a lot kinder! She went away when she went to the academy!" the boy stated. "You aren't her! Aizen took my nee-san away! Again, and again, and again!"
"Baka! I am her!" the female stated, tears welling in her eyes.
"You don't look like her!" the boy stuttered out, getting close to losing it.
"What do you…" Hinamori turned towards Gin, who had one pale teal eye open. She gulped, at this, completely taken off guard. "Do you have an idea what he is talking about?"
"Well… when you were in the academy, and younger, you always wore your hair different. I think… maybe he's fixated on that, because that was when your fascination with Aizen started," the man commented.
Hinamori let out a sigh, and undid her bun, frustrated that such childish things were going on. "Here… I'll go ahead and do this…"
She pulled one side up, then realized she had nothing to tie it with. However, she suddenly felt Toshiro move, his face coming close to hers, and his hand reach up to the other side, pulling her hair into the other pig tail. His eyes had become suddenly wide, and he softly whispered, much like one would expect of a little kid, "Is Hinamori a ghost?"
"Baka…" Hinamori felt a few trickles run down her cheeks, as Gin watched, that smirk never leaving his face. "I told you before. I'm not a ghost. Ghosts are what people are before they come to soul society…"
"Still… I think ghosts could probably exist…" Toshiro whispered again. "One never knows with twelfth division. Why are you crying?"
"I'm not dead baka…" Hinamori shook her head, and pushed him away. "I'm…"
The next thing she knew, she had the small preteen latched to her , crying into her chest, rather bitterly. She could make out the words, of I am sorry, over and over again, along with the words, I didn't mean too. At first, she could only stare at him in shock, as this was not the Hitsugaya she had of late come to be used to.
However, there was some hint of the old Hitsugaya, that she loved so much in there. It made her wonder, how long had it been, since he had actually come to cling to her, and snuggle in close. It had to have been well before the academy days, and when she had entered in to become a shingami. She had remembered, liking the ability to comfort him, when he became upset.
But… but… the Hitsugaya she knew now, was supposed to be of some sort of stronger stuff then this. He was supposed to be able to bounce back, and never, ever cry in front of anyone. He was able to snap a sharp reply, and get a whole division to come to his beck and command. He had acted like he was so god like, yet in truth…
"Shiro-chan… I don't blame you. It wasn't your fault," the girl stated, not sensing that Gin was watching her carefully. She pushed the small boy away from her, as his sobs grew quieter, and he took the time to calm down. While he still wasn't there, it seemed he was starting to come back to the world of the living, so to speak.
"How can you not…" the boy muttered, not looking into her face, his crying starting. "It was still by my hands Hinamori."
Momo bit her lip at this, watching him carefully, thinking back on things, trying to find a way to shift the blame that the small taicho was trying to place on himself. "I'm not blind to the fact that Aizen uses illusions."
"I said, it was by my hands Hinamori…" the boy muttered, starting to pull away, however Hinamori suddenly pulled the small body close to hers.
"If you wish to place blame on yourself, then let's go ahead and place blame on me too. I placed an over idealistic view on him, and I felt like he could do no wrong. I forgot about you, and you struggled to keep me from disappearing on you, and to protect me from what I refused to see. I think…" Hinamori stated firmly.
"… it is time you took a break from protecting me… and I took over for a bit… like when you were really small. You did a lot, to try to help me heal, yet I ignored you, and pushed you away. It's my turn, to step in, and protect something that I forgot was dear and precious to me."
"Don't worry… I've got Matsumoto and Gin to take care of me too…" came the soft reply, that was still not completely there, nor fully realizing what he was getting at.
"Ehh…" two eyes suddenly went wide, with surprised from the odd statement. "What did you mean by that?"
"Ahh shit…" came the muttered reply from the doorway, where Ichimaru was leaning. "The brat overheard.
"Brat…" Suddenly, Toshiro was pulling away from Hinamori, his mood changing.
"Shiro-chan!" came the admonishment, to which Momo clapped a hand over her mouth.
"It's…" there was a short pause, as Toshiro turned to her, realizing he had been going to admonish her about his name. "Gomenasai…"
"Ehh…" The fifth division fukutaicho became confused.
"Ne… Ichimaru Gin," Toshiro suddenly pointed a finger at the silver haired man. "Sons should not lie to their mothers! You made Matsumoto upset!"
"Why aren't you upset about yourself in this matter…" Gin stated, just as a rather robust fukutaicho came in, carrying a trey of food into the room, in hopes that she might be able to, after Hinamori had a word with Hitsugaya, to actually able to get him to eat something.
"Why should I?!" the boy stated, suddenly stated, suddenly getting up, and positioning Matsumoto between him and the man, peering out from behind her, like he was a snake.
"My goodness… aren't you your mother's child…" Gin muttered.
"Gin…" Rangiku growled.
"I don't know what you're talking about…" Toshiro narrowed his eyes, as Hinamori Momo watched in complete confusion.
"I lied to your grandmother… remember… you said so… shit… ahh…" The former third division taicho watched as Toshiro's two teal eyes suddenly went wide, and he began to choke out air, in frustration, not able to say anything, having put together some things that he had obviously overheard earlier.
"Ichimaru… you didn't…" Matsumoto stated, a rather pissed off look appearing on her face.
"At least he's yelling at me… that means he's nice and normal again, right?" the man stated, only to have a glass of water dumped over his head.
"Umm… am I missing something, but…" Hinamori paused, trying to think of what the three could be possibly talking about. "Did Ichimaru lie to grandmother, to make Toshiro go to the academy?"
Suddenly, three faces suddenly turned to hers, mirroring the shock that she had. Toshiro was pale, Matsumoto had a rather panicked look, and Gin… he was smiling. So… possibly, he wasn't shocked…
Author's note – It took me about two and a half weeks to finish this one. And, it is now officially my longest one-shot ever. I could possibly break it down into chapters, but I also think that would ruin the fluidity of this…