Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Kubo Tite et al.

Her Son

She stood, proud and resolved, facing two of Soul Society's archenemies. One she had never really known, for he had hid behind a mask the entire time he'd been with the Gotei Thirteen; and the other, she had ceased knowing long before she had ever realized it. Behind her one of Kurosaki's classmates shook with the effort to maintain her stance under Aizen's spiritual pressure.

"You have come to kill me?" Aizen asked as though the very possibility were laughable. And it was, her Haineko was no match for him and Matsumoto knew it. There was only one Shinigami who could destroy the ex-captain and he was nowhere in sight at the moment. She prayed his father was teaching him the ultimate technique, for that was their only hope.

"No, I have come to kill Gin." The ferret eyed ex-Shinigami tilted his head, as if asking why she thought that she had the power to do such a thing.

"Now, Ran-chan, why would you want to do something like that? There's still time, you know. You could join us," Gin offered although he was well aware that he too would die once his usefulness to Aizen had ended.

"Time is up, Gin. Did you think that after all you've done, I would join in your treason?" The busty lieutenant drew her sword, knowing there had never been any choice in the matter. "That I would betray my captain or the Gotei Thirteen at all?"

Aizen became bored with the conversation and focused his attention back on the school girl. Amazingly she had managed to fully stand on her feet once more. Had the blonde of Squad Ten put up some kind of barrier around her? There was none that he could detect yet the energy from such an inconsequential thing would have easily been missed when placed in the vicinity of his own power.

"Well, one could hope, Ran-chan," Gin said, giving her one of his wide insincere smiles. There had never been a question who she sided with. Rangiku was loyal to a fault until she was betrayed and he had done that long ago.

"Either I kill you, Gin, or our son does." She saw with no small amount of satisfaction his eyes widen in surprise. He didn't close them again but kept them open, his full attention still on her. Aizen continued to ignore them, studying the girl behind her. Matsumoto hoped Ichigo's friend would take the small opportunity being handed to her and leave.

"Our son, Rangiku?"

"Did you think that I would never find him, Gin? That you could carry him off in a snow storm and I would simply forget about him?" She knew he had been in deep with Aizen long before the tiny white haired child ever came into being. Perhaps some small shred of decency had remained in the former Third Squad captain and he had tried to put their son out of harm's way.

Unfortunately, the child had grown into a young man of incredible spiritual power and had followed his childhood friend into the Academy in hopes of protecting her from the very man who had made him stab her. "The white haired boy…" Gin frowned, not liking the way things were turning out. Nothing had gone the way he'd imagined them since Aizen had revealed his plans.

"Yes, my captain is my son. Our son. The question is do you wish to be killed by me, or by him? I would rather spare him that knowledge. He has a heavy burden to bear as it is because of Aizen's cowardly actions. Have no doubt; he will kill you for the part you played in Hinamori's death."

"Well, I suppose if it comes down to you or him…" Gin drew his sword, knowing the outcome wouldn't be pretty. Rangiku wasn't nearly as powerful as he was.

Matsumoto knew theirs would be an uneven fight. She had one thing going in her favor that he did not, however. Her desire to protect her son would give her the strength to win in the end, even if she died. Gin had betrayed her; there was no time for regrets. The one thing she wouldn't have was the death of his own father on Toushiro's shoulders. Even if he never knew just who Gin had been to him.

"Will you ever tell him, Ran-chan?" Gin asked, seeing the determination in his childhood friend's eyes. She had been so much more than that but he had given up the right to call her anything else. Now, Rangiku was a lioness protecting her cub. There was no stopping her from achieving her goal. Not even a captain class ex-Shinigami.

"Not if I can help it. He's too smart not to figure out who his father was. I will protect him until my dying breath."

"Ah, that is so," Gin murmured. "Let us see if that is now."

"Make it quick, Gin. I have things to do," Aizen interrupted.

It would not be quick, however. The battle would be just long enough for a certain orange haired hero to learn what he needed to learn in order to destroy Aizen. She was a mother; her only duty at the moment was to protect her child. Toushiro would no longer be their son. He had always been and always would be her son. Even if she could never tell him.