Disclaimer: See previous chapters, because I am too lazy to re-type it.

Major spoilers for chapters 232 and onwards!

Darkest Before Dawn

'He's releasing his zanpakuto.' "Don't think I'll let you go that easily! BANKAI! Daiguren Hyourinmaru!"

"Strangle him. Trepa Dora."

'Not good.' Hitsugaya thought to himself, as the smoke started to clear away. Memories of Arrancaru No. 11 flashed through his mind, and Hitsugaya winced unconciously. Then he saw the strange tentacle smash into the side of Hyourinmaru's Bankai, barely giving him enough time to raise his guard. 'Not good at all.'

But he wasn't about to say that aloud.

"Ch. What's wrong? Is that all you've got? I'm talking about your attacks in you 'after releasal' state."

"Haha! You can protect yourself so well!..."

Hitsugaya's eyes narrowed at the taunting reply. He squinted through the smoke, trying to make out the Arrancaru hidden within.

"...but honestly, I didn't expect you to be able to stop it. I'm a bit surprised - you 'captain-levels' can fight, not what I expected. But you know...if my attack now was to...GO UP EIGHT TIMES, COULD YOU DEAL WITH IT?"

Then the smoke cleared away. And then, not one, but EIGHT frickin tentacles came slamming into him, almost too fast for eye to see. Hitsugaya felt Hyourinmaru's ice shatter around him.


Then he began to fall.

"I told you didn't I?" was one of the last things he heard before he fell too far to hear.

They say that it was always darkest before dawn.

Was it really? Hitsugaya was beginning to doubt. Because his world seemed to be getting darker, and there had yet to be a sign of dawn.

"You're Aizen-taichou's...MURDERER!"

That was probably the start of it. When Hitsugaya finally realized that it wasn't day anymore...that the light was starting to fade, that the sun was starting to set, and that the chill of night was starting to swallow up the warmth of day. He should have known. After all, he had been expecting it for a long time, and no one can ever prevent night from falling for long. Yet he had purposely shut his eyes and ignored it, imagining that it would pass the moment everything was straightened out.

But when he saw her limp body lying in her own pool of blood, there was no denying it.

"Aw. You found her. Maybe I should have hacked her body into pieces so that you couldn't."

Night had fallen. And he was lost in the darkness, without a light to guide him.

Hitsugaya knew he was stronger than that, and he could wait it out. Giving up did no good. And only wimps were afraid of the dark. Yet...everytime he had gone to the fourth division to see her, lying stretched on the white, sterilized linens, as pale as death itself, he could feel his heart breaking inside him. And always, he had to catch himself before he stumbled into darkness anymore.

It was darkest before dawn, after all. Wait it out, be patient. Everything will work out.

And the moment he had seen her come up onto the communication video screen, Hitsugaya believed, for a wonderful, brief moment, that dawn was finally breaking after all.

How wrong he was.

"Hitsugaya-kun...from here on out, ...are you going to fight against Aizen-taichou?"

"...I am."

"Will you kill...Aizen-taichou?"

"..." He didn't answer, but his unspoken reply was obvious.

"I beg you...Please save Aizen-taichou!"

It wasn't dawn at all. If anything...It had gotten darker. And he finally realized just how deep the darkness ran.

Aizen-taichou. Hinamori still refered to that man as her captain...which means she was either hoplessly delusioned or rejecting reality. Maybe both. Probably both.

Both were unacceptable.

Dammit, what did he have to do to get his point across? He was tired of this darkness. Hinamori needed to wake up, not just physically. His night wouldn't end as long as hers didn't, and Hinamori was still neck deep in midnight. And the situation didn't help either, with the Arrancaru attacks and the time before the wakening of the Hyou Gyoku growing ever shorter...

They were running out of time. Dawn had better break soon, or this would be on hell of night. One that involved Soul Society, the Human world, and Hueco Mundo, and pretty much everything in between.

One that would definately involve him and Momo.

Hinamori had been his light, and without her, he was lost. And in this darkness he couldn't even tell if he had stumbled or fallen...

Then, suddenly, another thought struck him.

People woke up when the sun rose. Of course.

Hinamori was still trapped in the darkness of her own mind. Aizen had been her sun, the light of her world...and he was gone. So she wouldn't wake up, not until light.

Momo couldn't wake up on her own. So Hitsugaya mustered his own grim resolve.

Maybe he couldn't be the 'light of her world', but he could surely do something. If anything, he could shed a little light for her. He could bring back to her memories of day. While she probably didn't place near as much importance on him as he did on her, he knew that, somewhere in her heart, he still had a place, however small it may be.

It hurt him, sometimes, that she probably would never feel the same way about him as he did about her, but that was fine. He'd bear it. Because, right now, Momo needed his support. Even if he wanted to be so much more...

Friends were there for each other. He would swallow his own emotions for the time being, because Hinamori didn't need any more burdens than she already had.

He could share memories from before night fell. Memories that HE treasured and had preserved in his heart, memories that they had shared. Bring her back to a time when life had been simpler, and none of the darkness that now engulfed them had come into play.

Maybe...though it wasn't much, it would be enough light to wake her up.

He had to keep her alive until dawn. He had stumbled, he had fallen, but he could still get up again. After all, it was darkest before dawn.

But, while no one can stop night from falling, no one can slow or stop dawn from breaking either. Every moment they made it through brought them closer to dawn.

No matter what, dawn would come. He just had to hang on until then.

Hitsugaya fell after Daiguren Hyourinmaru shattered. But the last words still echoed behind him.

"I told you, didn't I?"

Hitsugaya's eyes snapped open, and he tightened his grip on Hyourinmaru. Not this easily. He wouldn't lose this easily.

Summoning his reaitsu again, Hitsugaya concentrated, before releasing his Bankai again. Hyourinmaru could be defeated once, but not once and for all. Blade and wielder shared one point in common: resilience.

And Hitsugaya launched counterattack.

"W-what the hell is this thing!" The Arrancaru stuttered, trapped by his web of ice.

"With regards to after inflicting an attack on your opponent, you are too careless. Don't you know the meaning of following through?" Hitsugaya commented calmly, raising Hyourinmaru once more.

Following through meant alot towards winning a battle.

"You...were still alive..."

Of course he was. He would absolutely NOT die. Hinamori still needed someone to help her walk on her own two feet. He'd drag himself out of hell if he had to.

"Hyourinmaru is the most powerful of all ice snow types. As long as there is water, it can be revived an infinite amount of times."


"Don't bother. It's impossible for you to win." Hitsugaya gathered reiatsu for his next attack.

"I've had too much time to prepare, and it took you too long to realize it. If your weapon is eight arms, then my weapon is...All the water in the atmosphere."



Then it was over.

"Sorry, looks like eight is not enough."

And because, no matter what, he'd have to hang on until dawn.


(1) Thousand Year Ice Prison. For more details, go to www dot bleachexile dot com and download the manga.

hehe, well, newayz, I FINALLY UPDATED! talk about a badly organized chappie...but HEY! I STILL HAVE WRITER'S BLOCK AND THIS CHAPTER WAS FREE WRITING!

and because Hitsugaya was just too cool in the latest chapters and I had to glorify him more XD

newayz, REVIEW! constructive criticism welcome, flames will be used to cook instant ramen.