A/N: Short and Sad. Hitsuxhina-ish (Longer Author's note at Bottom)


Shinigami gather around the towering flames like moths to fire, and he thinks that this is an apt description if any.

The black-winged shinigami, shinigami she knew, shinigami she talked to, with their gray swords and heavy hearts were drawn to her sunny smile and warm heart as strongly as moths were drawn to the flames.

To the flames that burnt their fragile bodies into formless piles of dust and ash, the flames that stole from them the breath of life as surely and easily as a robber steals food from a vendor.

But she wasn't like that. She wasn't like that at all.

If anything, she was the opposite. She gave out whatever she had, whether it was a kind word or a funny story or a bright smile, she could make people feel good in a way that he could never understand or explain. She just could. And she did.

He liked her eyes the best. They were dark and they were brown, and they sparkled, like little stars, sparkled with so much fire, so much life, and so much of something that was totally and utterly Momo that…that…

He didn't know quite what they were, but they were beautiful. And they haunted him. He would never see those brown eyes again, and he would never be able to tell the owner, just how beautiful they were.

He thinks he was lying when he said she wasn't a thief. She was.

She stole hearts.

He turns his head to the mass of black that surrounds the flames.

It is no surprise to him that so many shinigami, hundreds, thousands are out here today.

They are repaying the debt, attending her funeral, some crying, some steadfastedly holding back tears, all repaying the unknowing debt she placed in their hearts.

The flames flicker and dance above the blackened tomb like waves in an ocean of fire, steadily climbing higher, fiery fingers reaching for the sky. Hot ash and soot swirls around and above him in a dark cloud, burning his throat and stinging his eyes.

The smoke clouds his minds with questions. Could he have saved her? If he had just been a little stronger, a little smarter, a little faster, could he have saved her? If Aizen never existed, if she had never met him, would this have happened? Could he have done more to help her? If everything was different…

Would she still be alive?

They burn him much as they burned, burn her.

He promised her, himself that he wasn't going to cry today. He knows that almost everyone knew about how they were and no one would fault him for crying today, but he can't, won't, shouldn't, can't. Maybe it's because he hasn't cried in decades, taught himself not to cry so many years ago, or maybe it's because he wants to be strong for her, strong for her, one last time but honestly, he doesn't really know.

She wouldn't want him to cry. She was always sad when people cried; even when it was someone she didn't know. He liked her happy. So he promised her he wouldn't cry.

And he didn't.

He watches the flames touch the sky and the smoke carry away a smiling girl who held out her hands and danced in the sun-kissed fields outside a little shack. For one intense, burning moment, he reaches his hands to grab onto the smoke, and pull her back down to the earth, to him, because he knows that she is dead, and knows that nothing, nothing will ever be able to bring her back, but…but…

He can't help but hope.

He opens his fists and finds nothing.

He hopes she is happy now, up in the sky, dancing in the clouds.

He does not cry.

And when the last blacked winged shinigami leaves, and when the fire turns to gray ash, and when the burning cloud of soot and ash dwindles to a thin silver wisp far off in the distant horizon, he stands.

Alone.

Hot, sticky tears roll down from green eyes like rivers of rain.

He blames it on the smoke.

Fin


A/N: Nothing much to say about the drabble. My writing style seems to have changed a bit, ultimately, in my opinion for the better, and I'm thinking about starting a set of hitsuhina drabbles. Reader Opinion: Would you be interested? Should I?