Disclaimer – I don't own Bleach. Sequel to Noumen Honshin.

Noumen Honshin II

Truth of the matter, the words escaping from Hinamori's mouth was not something that the young taicho expected. It had been embarrassing enough when Matsumoto had pushed the issue when they were in the living world, but now Momo was uttering something similar to what she was saying. Except, truth of the matter, it was worse.

True, she was actually smiling and full of life, something he hadn't seen in awhile, but this didn't change the fact that she happened to have said something that was completely embarrassing to him to even begin to think about. "Shiro-chan has his first crush on Karin-chan! It is so kawaii!"

He could feel his cheeks flustering up, not to mention heating up. His voice strained as he spoke out, the pitch of his voice going lower then he wanted. "Stupid Bedwetter Momo!"

"Taicho!" Looking over at Rangiku, she was trying to give him a reprimanding look, however, this failed as she burst into laughter. "Just because you're embarrassed about the subject... well, that isn't a reason to lash out at Momo-chan and use that old nickname that embarrasses her."

At that, his eyes fell to the ground, his cheeks flustering even more. "I'm not embarrassed. I am sorry for using that nickname."

"But you didn't deny liking her," Hinamori spoke up, her entire face aglow with excitement.

At that, he felt his cheeks suddenly puffing out in irritation. He then began to stomp out the door in irritation, only to hear Matsumoto's voice pipe up. "Taicho... where are you going?"

"I'm going to bed. I'll finish the paperwork tomorrow," the small boy stated, irritation written all over his face.

"Actually taicho, I already finished the paperwork." This startled him, and he turned to see Matsumoto with a rather serious look on her face.

"Oh," Hitsugaya felt his Adam's apple bob down. "Arigato."

At that, he turned and headed away from the room, his ears picking up the chattering and gossiping of the two fukutaicho. He walked over to his room and changed into his night time clothing. He slipped under the sheets and glanced at his zampaktuo. "Good night, Hyorinmaru.."

"Good-night little one," came the ice dragon's yawning response. However, he found himself tossing and turning, his mind thinking upon the events that had transpired that night. Irritably he tossed a bit, causing the bedsheets to twist up and tangle.

His eyes couldn't remain shut and he suddenly lay down on his back to stare at the ceiling, his limbs spread out. He was thus able to hear Hinamori and Matsumoto suddenly talking from next door in his fukutaicho's room. This caused him to roll over to face the side of the room that had no door. After a few minutes, he heard the door slide open.

His head tilted over, straining to see who it was. "Hinamori?"

The small female didn't answer, but simply walked over and proceeded to untangle him from the bedsheets. "I am sorry for pushing something you are uncomfortable talking about."

"Are you spending the night with Matsumoto-san?" he asked, sitting up suddenly, noting that she had borrowed some clothing from the tenth division fukutaicho.

"No... I'm going to spend the night with you," Momo stated firmly. She quickly climbed under the covers. "It's been awhile, hasn't it."

Toshiro felt his cheeks flush up. "I don't think this is appropriate."

"Because you're a taicho and I'm a fukutaicho? Everyone knows that we've known each other since before our academy days. Plus, if anyone asks, Matsumoto says she'll say that I spent the night there," the girl stated, moving to lie on her stomach.

"That isn't it," Hitsugaya stated, rolling over onto his own stomach. "I'm too old for this."

"About that," Momo's voice took on a sharp tone, almost as if she had some sort of disagreement about what he had said, some sort of concern.

"What about it Hinamori?" came the question.

"Why are you in such a hurry to grow up? Why throw away every bit of your childhood?" the girl stated firmly.

"I don't want to talk about that," the white haired boy stated, his head burring into the pillow.

"I hate the fact that you are in a hurry to grow up." Hinamori's face tilted towards his, her eyes filled with a sadness. He glanced up, only to find himself wincing. "Since your not wanting to talk about why you are in such a hurry to grow up, can I take a gander."

"Why not," Toshiro let out a deep sigh, his arms wrapping around the pillow to make it more comfortable.

"You say that you didn't want to go to the shingami academy. But you heard about all the cool things that I was doing and you wanted to go too, so my final year, you joined the academy." Her words caused his head to turn back towards her again.

"Wrong," came his reply, a bit of irritation in his voice. "You really didn't tell me of any interest."

"All right, prove it. Tell me why you are so fixated on growing up?" Momo asked firmly.

The first thing out of the small taicho's mouth was to say that Aizen was all she ever talked about. However, Toshiro bit his tongue on that, and said something else."Isn't it my job to protect you?"

He could feel Hinamori flinch on the bed mattress. Her hand reached over and rubbed the back of his head. "You don't need to force yourself. You're actually pretty strong as it is. I'm jealous of what you've accomplished. Even the fact that you joined the academy my last year and graduated with us."

"But I'm not growing! I couldn't protect you during the Winter War," came his response.

"Shiro-chan... I know I was miffed at you for stabbing me, particularly soon afterward, but I know... knew it wasn't your fault," Momo let out a soft chuckle. "Plus, you have grown since you entered the academy."

"Don't baby me Hinamori," the boy let out a sigh. "I stopped growing."

"No, you didn't," Momo sighed, her frustration showing through.

Toshiro turned his teal eyes towards the female. "Come on Hinamori, don't tease me about this."

"You mean like how your teased me about needing to grow up like Matsumoto?" the small female let out a growl. Toshiro turned his face towards her, only to let out a yelp at the look she was giving her.

"I'm sorry..."

"Look..." she stated firmly, letting out a sigh. "I haven't grown since I entered the academy. But I do know that you have."

"Come on... this isn't funny," Hitsugaya felt his nose wrinkle up. "I''ll stop with the height issue."

"When I went into the academy, you came to my shoulder. Around the time the substitute shingami came to Soul Society, you were half a head of my height taller. You've grown a little since then... your spikes come above my head about an inch now," Momo reached out and flicked his ear. "You're just so preoccupied with your insecurity you never noticed."

"That hurt!" Toshiro muttered, burying his face into his pillow with irritation.

"So... what is this fixation with the need to protect me?" Hinamori stated.

"You don't know?" his head shot up, his eyes suddenly going wide. "In our family, I'm the eldest male. As I said, it is my job, Hinamori."

"Uhh huh," Momo's eyes flared with anger, causing him to let out a yelp. "If this was true, why did you leave grandma? You could have easily protected her until you were older? Isn't she part of the duty of the eldest male?"

At that, he buried his head and let out a muffled cry of frustration. The next thing he knew, he was sitting up, his face twisted in anger. "Don't give me that Hinamori! You don't even know what was going on! You left us and forgot about us!"

Momo sat up, her face still a bit irritated. "How am I supposed to know what is going on if you don't tell me, Hitsugaya?"

"How am I supposed to tell you when all you ever talked about was Aizen! It was Aizen this, Aizen that! You never, ever asked what was going on back home. Never! You were so focused, you never saw!" Toshiro's voice raised up.

"Saw what? I'm listening now," Hinamori maneuvered herself so she was in a normal sitting position. "Or have you forgotten that I'm supposed to be your nee-chan. You stopped calling me that long before I entered the academy."

"That's mean!" his voice snapped out.

"I am sorry. You're right. I said that I will listen now," Momo closed her eyes. "I am really sorry for my outburst."

"I had to go to the academy because my reiatsu was killing her, Hinamori..." Toshiro's eyes fell to the bedsheets. "I was supposed to protect her, but my own ability was killing her. So, the only way to protect her, was to leave."

"That isn't true!" Momo blurted out, causing his eyes to glance up slightly, to see the look of horror written on her face, and the hand clasped to her mouth.

"I am the monster you are thinking I am... that's the other reason I never told you," Hitsugaya turned himself so he wasn't facing her. "Just ask Matsumoto about this... if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have realized what was going on and grandma would be dead."

"I don't think you're a monster!" Hinamori blurted out. "Why would I? Because you also hurt me with your own powers, when obviously, this isn't your fault?"

"The village would have blamed me, had she died," Toshiro stated firmly.

"I wasn't a very good nee-chan, was I?" Momo stated, her voice quaking a bit.

At that, Hitsugaya found himself spinning around on her, his eyes wide. "No! Your the best that anyone could ask for!"

"Then why don't you call me nee-chan anymore?" came her sudden question, her eyes reflecting an acute sadness to them.

"I don't deserve you as my big sister!" Toshiro blurted out, his honestly shoveling forward. "I can't even protect you when I need to! But I am going to grow and become stronger, so I can protect you!"

To his utter surprise, he found Hinamori pulling him close to her, pulling his head towards her chest. "You do realize, it's my job to protect you too? I don't like the idea of you growing up."

"Hinamori..." Toshiro closed his eyes. "Why can't you see I'm not a little kid anymore?"

"No... you've seen too much," Momo ran a hand through his white hair. "But in some ways, you still are. And... I don't want to rush it. What about my job as your big sister? Your job might be to protect me from the bad stuff that might hurt me physically, but the job of a big sister is to baby you and let you know it is all right to be yourself. I've done a bad job of that, haven't I?"

At that, Hitsugaya found himself pulling away. "That so isn't true! You've done a good job!"

Hinamori placed a hand on his cheek. "No I haven't. Can we talk about Karin-chan?"

He knew she watched him as he turned away, his cheeks puffing out. "Stop it..."

"It's my job as a big sister, to tell you it is all right to start liking girls and that it is part of growing up. Actually, it is how people normally begin to grow up," Momo let out a laugh, causing him to look at her, frustration slightly still on his face.

"What is it..." he stated, only to find himself hugged tightly.

"Whether you like her that way or not, you have called her by her first name. You ever so rarely call people by their first names. I would rather see you grow this way, then to see you lose that innocence about yourself that you have," Hinamori pulled him tight.

"Innocence?" Toshiro couldn't help but let out a chuckle, his hands gripping her arm lightly. "You're saying that the kid who spit watermelon seeds at you is innocent?" Momo though, choose not to respond, simply hugging him close to her, letting him fall asleep in her arms.

Author's note -
Contests – Four... the Halloween one until the seventh.

Dear Hitsuhina Fan Forever

Thank you for reviewing the prequel for this and giving such a good reputation to your fellow Toshiro/Momo shippers. Sarcasm aside, it would not surprise me if you were the person who flamed a friend of mine who writes Toshiro/Momo romantically when she once wrote them as a friendship. Her writing didn't grow until I talked to her about not having to please readers like you.

True fans of a pairing don't care about whether it will be canon or not, they care about the character development and interaction involved. Because of that, they don't feel threatened by other possible pairings and they don't try to juxtapose their opinion as fact, unless it is fact and they can back it up with good solid canon facts that can't be countered.

Sincerely, Yemi Hikari