Written By intoxicatedasphyxiation

Original: Bleach by Kubo Tite. Standard disclaimers apply.

Summary: [Post SS Arc] Hitsugaya Toushirou returns to his office to find that the paperwork has been completed by no-one other than his vice captain. On a normal day, he would make a snarky comment, but today is not one of those days.

Notes: Anything I write is based solely on the manga – if there are any abnormalities, feel free to point them out. I'm aiming to be as accurate as possible. I know for a fact that (Kira) Izuru and (Matsumoto) Rangiku had a binge drinking section after (Ichimaru) Gin's defection, one week after the event.

When Hitsugaya Toushirou returns to his office after an hour long meeting with the other division captains, he finds his vice captain sprawled out across the lone couch, one arm draped tiredly across her forehead, the other swinging loose and barely touching the floor. On a normal working day, he would consider this a usual routine – one done out of habit over and over again to annoy him, her epitome expression of procrastination and detest for boring paperwork. Today, however, is not one of those normal days.

It's precisely one week after Aizen's defection, though he knows that to her, it's precisely one week after the defection of someone closer to her than him.

Keeping his lips together, Toushirou chooses not to speak, and keeps his footsteps soft – not silent, but just enough to let her know of his presence, and moves over to his desk, where the paperwork lies in heaps. Habitually, he checks them for dust, because he knows that she never touches them, and leaves them there, alone and waiting for him. He knows that the longest time she's left paperwork for him to complete is five months and six days; her excuse being that she didn't really know where to put them but in the cupboard beside the other cupboard beside his desk.

Today, however, there are no traces of isolation, no specks of dust or anything to indicate that she's been leaving the paperwork to rot, to linger. Instead, upon closer inspection, he finds that they've been marked and stamped and sorted appropriately – with pencil markings in the shapes of X's and asterisks in places meant only to be signed and stamped by him. His initial reaction is to glance over his shoulder and check if the figure draped across his couch is truly her and not some replacement of one of the people closest to him, when he hears her groan, her body shifting as she realigns herself on the leather fabric.

As usual, she does not acknowledge his presence. Though this time, he knows that things are different. He has no reason to yell at a vice captain who has done her share of the paperwork.

A genius of his generation, he does not need to approach her to know that the smell he can vaguely place is one of hard liquor – the sort that can only touch the capacities of dead souls and death gods. He stands before his desk, rather than walking around to his suede office chair to sit down, and shifts through the paperwork, examining her handiwork the way others gaze upon stars. He is marveled by the way her handwriting decorates the margins – methodical and free of expression. He does not know if this is how she normally writes, but he does know for a fact that the cool, stoic demeanor portrayed on the pieces are not like her at all.

On a normal day, perhaps he would let slip a snarky comment about her being abducted and replaced, but today is not one of those days.

Signing and stamping as he goes, it takes little to no effort for him to realize that she's beginning to push herself up from the sofa, her unofficial office bed. He does not need to look to know that she's massaging her head and feeling the aftereffects of a hangover, the groans escaping her lips just as easily as the yawns she lets loose between moments of silence.

He looks anyway, from the corner of his eye, when he senses her looking his way.

"Again?" he asks, and what he implies does not need to be said. You've been drinking.

She doesn't reply, but doesn't deny it either as her gaze moves to the stacks of paperwork on his desk. "You know me," she replies after a long pause, an attempt to tease lingering in her voice, though they both know that she doesn't really mean it this time. I want to put it all behind me, but he's not going away.

"So," he says, after another long pause, the only noise being the sifting of documents through his fingers, "You finally decided to earn your keep." You shouldn't have come in today.

"...There was nothing to do." Rangiku replies, shrugging her shoulders tiredly as she leans up against the couch, her back to him once more. "After all, you're always going away to those captain meetings; it's not fun to annoy someone that isn't here." I needed a distraction, that's all.

His movements halt to a stop as he takes in what she says, and it doesn't go unnoticed. Her groaning has stopped by now and there's nothing in the air but a heavy silence that suffocates with everything unsaid, but he knows that they remain unsaid for a reason – a reason that they trust to speak implicitly for itself.

...That they've been betrayed, though for some of them, it's much closer to the heart than anything else.

"How's... Hinamori?" Rangiku asks, breaking the hanging silence, her hand running through her hair to the back of her head as she continues to face away from him. How are you?

"She'll take a while more to recover. Captain Unohana is taking care of her." He says this quietly, giving nothing away. I don't really want to talk about it. He can feel the throbbing in his skin from where Aizen cut him down, effortlessly, shunning genius to waste – and for a moment, he feels like he shouldn't be a captain, because captains should be protecting their division members, their friends, and he doesn't feel like anything other than a failure.

"And Kira?" he returns the question; for there is no other soul he can think of linking to that man but him. He knows that this is where their mindsets differ, for he does not view the former third division captain with the same inclination as her. He only sees disdain in the vessel in which she places her false hope. How are you taking it?

"I saw his true colours," Rangiku replies, "He can almost hold his liquor as well as me." I... haven't figured that out yet.

"I didn't think anyone could," he remarks, sorting the paperwork into proper stacks as he initials the last lot. He hears a soft exhale of laughter – a chuckle, at most, though it's more solemn than the ones he's used to, and far more resigned.

"Like I said," her head lolling over her shoulder towards him, "almost."

Organizing the last bunch, he steps away from his desk, lingering by her couch for a moment before moving on towards the door. By now, her eyes are downcast, and her hand is resting softly on the nape of her neck.

"Gin, he–" she starts, all at once, stopping too soon but it's already too late – she has his attention. Her lips part and close as she seems to struggle, as though the words are coming but they just won't leave.

"Yes?" he asks patiently, though the sound of that man's name is enough to send a jolt of anger down his nerves. His back is turned towards her, and the silence that's filling the spaces between them is crushing him and he wants to leave. He knows no words to comfort her, and deep down, he doesn't know if he can – not for a man partially responsible for this mess, his scars, and the acts of cruelty rendered on his best friend, now unconscious, dying, and healing far-too-slowly despite the watchful care of the fourth division healers.

"H-he... apologized... to me." It stumbles out with a roll of the tongue, and he doesn't have to look to see her expression creasing into a myriad of emotions, "For a second, he–" She stops herself from saying anymore, and a part of him is thankful when she does.

Reaching for the sliding door, he turns back one last time to see her leaning forward, her forehead buried in the palms of her hands, and his gaze lingers for a moment before he pulls away.

"Close up once you're done," is all he can bring himself to say, his voice betraying nothing, before slipping out, the door pulling to a close behind him.

I'd like to extend a thank you to Kiki for proofreading this piece!

Constructive criticism will be most appreciated, as always.