Thanks so much for the reviews! You all must know how awesome it felt reading them all! And you all gave a well rounded response, so I'm going to take 'em into account, kay?

Oh, and huge thanks to Kiba Wolf for all those pointers! You can be my beta or something! So here's the next chappie! (Lol, no, not Chappy the bunny, 'cause then Rukia would take it and destroy me for touching it in the first place... okay, I'm surprised if you're actually reading my nonsense! ^-^)

So on with the reading! Be sure to tell me what you think, 'cause this is where the HitsuHina kicks in!


Interferences


"This is Captain Hitsugaya of Squad 10."

Hinamori exhaled slowly. His voice was exactly as she remembered it, and yet so different. It seemed more powerful, and more commanding, and it only made her wonder what sort of changes he had gone through.

"Yes sir!" The men replied to the captain who was so much younger than they were. It made Hinamori grin to see them obeying him so unquestioningly. "I'll connect you right away!"

And then his image cleared on the previously blurred monitor. All she could do was let her mouth hang open ever so slightly.

Once again, he had changed so much, and yet not changed at all. His hair was the same, maybe a bit more wild. Yes, maybe it was. His eyes held the same intelligence she was so accustomed to seeing; a knowledge so superior she was afraid to talk lest she say something stupid.

Her eyes drifted over his black shirt, taking in the sight but not computing what it was. And then it clicked. He was wearing human clothes. She swallowed. They suited him wonderfully. How did he manage to retain so … perfect? He was absolutely flawless. And once again, she was grateful she wasn't talking first. Heck, she was grateful she wasn't in vision of the screen, like Matsumoto or that ryoka girl were in his background. A wreck like her talking to a person like him? It was laughable. But she would, anyhow.

The entire time Hinamori barely absorbed any of what they were saying. All she could take in was how much he had changed, how much she hadn't noticed before. How much she had missed him. It was then, seeing him talking on that screen with one of the highest ranking officials in the Seretei, that it fully dawned on her how much he meant to her. Her eyes softened as she continued staring at him. She couldn't wait until she got to talk to him.

Finally, after what seemed like eons of waiting to Hinamori, the conversation drew to a close. She wanted to talk to her best friend already!

"Therefore the decisive battle will be in the winter." The commander told the two present shinigami on the screen. "Until then, polish your skills and make ready for war!"

"Yes sir!" the tenth division commanders chorused. Hinamori took a step forward, hardly able to contain herself.

"As for you Inoue Orihime," Hinamori presumed he was addressing the ryoka girl. Enough already! They knew what to do! "Aizen is after your world. It is possible that we cannot deal with this ourselves. We will need support from the human world as well. So will you please inform Kurosaki Ichigo?"

"Yes sir!" The girl nodded, and immediately left to carry out her order. Hinamori frowned. Again, they were thinking of Aizen as a threat. Well, soon she'd talk to Toshiro, and he'll sort this whole thing out, then everyone will be on their knees, begging for her forgiveness. She smirked rather uncharacteristically.

"Well then, I'll go inform Ikkaku and company. Excuse me, sir." Matsumoto said, turning and Hinamori saw the first division captain nodding. Finally, it was just Toshiro left. Her face softened.

"Yeah, I'll go too…" He started saying. Hinamori's eyes widened. No, he couldn't! Not after she'd waited so long.

"No…" she squeaked out, a little more desperately than she'd wanted.

"Oh, could you wait a moment Captain Hitsugaya?" The old man said, leaving Hinamori to wonder whether he'd heard her, and the young captain immediately halted and turned. "There is someone here who has been waiting a long time for our conversation to be over so she could talk to you. So please," Hinamori stepped into view, eyes soft and yearning to hear him talk to her and her alone. She wished the old man would just leave, she still wasn't feeling one hundred percent comfortable with this. And that in itself was strange. She was always comfortable when talking with Toshiro. His eyes widened as the mechanized screen let their gaze meet, and suddenly, she forgot entirely where she was and who was there. It didn't matter now, because he was looking at her.

"Indulge her for a little while."

But it didn't seem as though Toshiro had heard the last line of the commanding captain. He turned around, fully facing the screen once more, his eyes still wide in shock or concern. And something else reflected in those entrancing orbs that she couldn't quite identify.

"Hinamori…" he said softly, and she relished the sound of him saying her name. It had really been too long.

"Toshiro…" she started rather pitifully, echoing him in a way. She was suddenly completely blank as to what to say to him. It had been nearly a month since she'd last seen him. He'd been through who knows what in that time. And he was so different that she felt rather plain in front of him. What was she to say?

"So, you woke up, eh, Hinamori?" he said, still unsmiling, striking conversation first. Could he sense her discomfort? "Is it okay for you to be walking around?"

Hinamori sighed softly, closing her eyes. Again, he was thinking about her. He was a high-classed, selfless idiot! But in truth, even she knew she wasn't okay. People talked behind her back. She was in command of the fifth division for now, and she hadn't once stepped into her barracks since the whole thing started. Because with Aizen gone - she froze at the thought. She was far from okay. She had no one to talk to except Kira, and he wasn't doing so well either. She didn't even have the energy to be nice. But for Toshiro, she supposed she could manage. She forced a smile.

"Yes, I'm all better!"

"…I see…" he said and she knew they were both fully aware of the awkward silence settling between them. She had honestly never felt this way before. It was uncomfortable, and she hated it. He gave her the softest smile she had ever seen, baring his perfect teeth. But it seemed so sad. Like he felt her pain, too. 'He doesn't deserve that.' she thought. 'He deserves no pain.'

"I'm sorry." She said, diverting her eyes from his virtual ones. "I'm so sorry, Toshiro. I doubted you…" she took a deep breath as she felt a lump gather in her throat. "And I even pointed my sword at you…I really went off the deep end…" she clamped her hands together tightly, trying to make her words sound as sincere as she felt. "But I truly am-"

"You moron!" Her eyes opened suddenly at the tone of his voice. She looked up hopefully, and sure enough, one hand was fiddling with the hair behind his right ear, and the other was where his haori belt would have been. It was the sign he gave her that he meant what he was saying, even though he was going out of his way to drop the usual serious demeanor he put up in front of everyone else. She smiled. It showed that he was doing this for her, even though he knew the head captain was still somewhere in the room. And he looked absolutely adorable doing so. Like he was a kid; the kid he was supposed to be.

"I never let any of that bother me." He said, his voice with that careful airiness he implanted whenever he tried to block out his sincere tone. He once told her he thought that tone made him look weak. She couldn't disagree more. "And since it doesn't bother me," he continued, eyes closed and voice lazy. "You shouldn't let it bother you."

At those words, for some unknown reason, she felt her spirit lift considerably. It had only been what, two minutes since they'd started talking? And already she felt better. How had she gone so long without him?

"Now hurry up back to bed and get those bags out from under your eyes." Hinamori stiffened self-consciously. He noticed? She felt tears brim her eyes. She had really, really missed him.

"Okay," she sniffled, reaching up to wipe off the drops. It didn't bother her, for some reason, to tear up in front of him. She was so self-conscious, even in front of someone as close as Kira. But with him… "Thank you, Toshiro-"

"Besides," he continued, the airy voice he was using now completely relaxed. "Even if you're not one, you still look like a kid and if you don't sleep more than other people, you won't grow." Her eyes widened. What the heck?

"Look at Matsumoto," he said, pointing over his shoulder, motioning to where his lieutenant had just left. "You'd have to sleep for ten years straight to catch up to her."

Hinamori blushed. How could he say those things so casually? It was just like him! "Sh-Shut up! Rangiku is special!" she shot back in the only defensive way she could think of. "And I don't wanna hear anything about growing from you, Toshiro, because-"

"Hinamori!" he cut across, and she froze. He had never liked it when people hinted at his height. "How many times have I told you? It's not Toshiro. It's Captain Hitsugaya."

And he shot her the first true smile since they'd been talking, albeit, it was small and more smirk-like than anything else. But still, Hinamori smiled back. This was what she'd missed most; those simple conversations where they just talked about anything. Those were when she forgot everything that had been happening. She even forgot about what ranks they were, who they were taking orders from. She remembered the old days, living with his grandmother. It was those times when she completely forgot about Aizen.

But this very thought triggered her to the whole turmoil she had been feeling. She suddenly remembered her captain. She looked up at the white-haired boy on the screen. He wasn't here in the flesh, she was aware of that, the uncomfortable heat in the room a constant reminder. But she had a theory to tell him. And she needed him to back her up.

"Can I ask you something, Toshiro?" she asked, forgetting where she was and what the rest of the Seretei was going through. Right now it was just him and her.

"What?" he asked, nonplussed. She looked away from him, ashamed to bring their playful bickering to a close. It almost felt wrong, bringing this up. But she had to get this off her chest. She needed to lift her load, which was what she needed to talk to him for. Because he was the only one who could help her.

"Are you…going to fight Captain Aizen?" there was a long silence, and she was aware of the gaze everyone in the room had now fixated on her, but none more so than the pair of orbs that had suddenly gone icy, cold and serious.

"…yeah."

"Are you going to kill him?" she continued, wanting to get the subject off of her chest. He didn't reply, and she almost suspected he knew where this was going. He probably didn't like it. But she knew that he was the only one who could help her. "Please. Please save Captain Aizen!" She cried before he could reply. He looked at her with an unreadable expression. Like he was let-down, disappointed. Jealous. But she was probably imagining it.

"…Momo…"

"I know what he's doing isn't right," she said, turning away, not daring to look back at him lest she see that strange expression she had just glimpsed. "But I bet he has a good reason for it." She looked back up hopefully, though still didn't meet his eyes. Everything would be okay, if he agreed, because someone as strong as him on her side will easily be able to help her. "Because I think Ichimaru or someone is forcing him to do it, so…"

Suddenly a hand shot in her line of vision, and once again, she felt her sight of Toshiro blur and finish as someone knocked her unconscious.


The sky was a dull blue and the clouds were white. But nothing like the hair she loved ruffling oh so much. The buildings were monotonously symmetrical; each no different from the last. Only important buildings were slightly larger, but those resembled each other as well. Her eyes drifted onto a clump of trees. They were green, evergreen, and so always held a rich emerald color that just looked fresh and healthy. But the color paled in comparison to his eyes.

Hinamori sighed, resting her chin on her palm. She was back in the hospital. When she had come to, she had found herself unharmed, but inside a locked room. A room that was white, cold and sterile. A room that had only a bed, table and a cabinet. A room that was so ironically familiar, she had clapped a hand to her face. She was back where she had been two weeks ago.

Unohana had come in again, with that same sympathetic (cunning) smile on her face. Apparently, Captain Yamamoto had knocked Momo out and sent her back here, saying she needed more time to rest, that she was still suffering from delusions. How dare he? He had cut across her precious conversation with Hitsugaya! She didn't even get to say bye to him. Who knows what the Captain had said. Had he told him she was suffering from delusions and hallucinations, like he had everyone else? She didn't doubt it. No one believed her. What would happen now? She couldn't even ask when he'd be coming home. Stupid old man.

She crossed her arms, leaning forward on the window sill and and stared over the expanse of buildings. Lucky for her, the hospital was one of the only buildings that had more than one floor, and she was on the second. She had been placed in this room until the commander thought that she was well enough to be let out. So the door was to be locked at all times. She could make a run for it again, but that would probably make matters worse. She'd be stuck in this room for even longer then.

So to entertain herself, Momo had stared outside the window. But scenery can only entertain you for a few minutes. And it had been three days. Her mind had been flicking all over the place. To the strangest places. First, obviously, it had been all about Aizen. That day of thought had been severely depressing for her. All she could think of was that he would have the done to get her out of this place. He would have come, spoken in that gentle voice, and would somehow have fixed everything. There was no doubt. He would then have opened the door, placed his hand on her head or shoulder, and said 'let's go home, Momo.' And she would have grinned, and they would leave. That was how he was.

Hinamori wanted him back so badly, but obviously non-stop thoughts about anyone were impossible. So she had then lead on to thinking of people she could somehow manage to persuade to understand that Aizen wasn't the bad guy. Kira clearly wasn't an option; any mention of Gin and he'd flip, becoming someone completely different. So that left a precious few people. She was depending on Renji, because he was one of the only few she knew best, along with Kira. Another might be Hisagi, although she doubted it. He'd turned against his own captain, and always said how he'd 'try opening his eyes'. And even a slight hint at the name 'Aizen' would make him go off on how that man had single-handedly destroyed the Soul Society's supreme commanding force. So the only person left was Toshiro. Rangiku would no doubt follow his decision.

She really didn't know how he would react. This fact only reminded her of how well she didn't know him. She hadn't finished their conversation, so she couldn't know what he'd thought about it. But when she'd mentioned fighting Aizen, she remembered the way his virtual eyes had suddenly hardened and narrowed ever so slightly, suggesting he didn't like even the thought of that man. She could only hope that he would take her side, even if it was just for her. Although that did seem like she was taking advantage of him, using his care for her to do something he probably wouldn't like doing.

These thoughts drifted on, one thought led to another, and now, all she could think about was Toshiro. She thought about all the conversations they would have had up until now had he been here, and she wondered if she'd have felt better than she did these days. He had always managed to lift her spirits one way or the other, and she wondered whether he'd be capable of doing that to her again. Hinamori thought of how much she missed him, what he'd do if he were here, whether he'd come and visit her, whether he'd be busy, or whether he'd be angry. Then those speculations got boring so her mind simply froze on a single image of him, and now, all she could do was compare everything to that image. And she only now realized how imperfect everything was.

A sudden breeze flicked through the air, snapping her out of her drowsy daydreams. It was a strange feeling as well. A cool breeze, that somehow seemed dense, and moved of its own accord. It slowly crept into the room and seemed to latch onto all the furniture. Almost as if it were alive. But it didn't seem intimidating. In fact, Hinamori relished in the feeling of it. It was comforting, different, and almost familiar, like she knew what it was in the back of her mind… Her eyes suddenly widened.

Toshiro.

She knew that feeling. He'd always been unable to block this feeling in their school days, having only just been taught basic shinigami principles, and his reiatsu would spread in the wind. He'd learned to search with it that way. He'd be able to locate people, like her. And now he had gotten so good at it that he could find inanimate objects by just concentrating. But she hardly cared about that. This cool reiatsu creeping in the air around her meant only one thing: he was back.

But as soon as she straightened up, ready to find him, the feeling disappeared. She stood there, frozen. What had just happened? Had he maybe been looking for something and had now found it? Had that reiatsu really been there? Yes, it definitely had, she could still feel the tingling sensations on her skin that the sudden cold had given her. So maybe something had happened to him… she shook her head and stalked up to the door. Either way, she'd find out.

"Hello?" She called through it, feeling extremely self-conscious on how small her voice sounded. "Um…can someone let me out?"

There was no reply. She sighed. Just when she wanted someone to be around they all disappeared. "Hello?" She called out again. Again, no response. She sighed. It was rather stupid of her. She could always see him once she got out. It would only make the light shining at the end of the tunnel seem brighter after such a wait.

"Um… were you calling, Lieutenant Hinamori?"

Hinamori whirled around to see herself facing a 4th division member. What was his name again? Hanoitara? Hanamaru? Hinatarou? Yeah, something like that. Hinamori clasped her hands together.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, hoping that she'd be let out. "Do you think I can leave?"

The brunette nervously scratched his head. "A-actually, I have orders that I'm not supposed to do that. I think you've gotto spend a couple more ….days…in…here?" he drifted off as Hinamori suddenly put on a depressed look. "Um…lieutenant?"

"I-I see…" she trailed waveringly.

"You should…maybe you should get more rest, Lieutenant, ma'am?" the boy suggested nervously. "It can only be for the best right?"

"Yes…I suppose…" she forced her head up and put on a smile. "Thank you for trying to help me."

"No problem…" he said and slowly closed the door behind him.

X-X-X-X-X-X

It was actually another three days before Hinamori was let out. She had absolutely lost her mind during that time. She would spend almost every waking minute in the room staring out the window, hoping to catch a drift of cold reiatsu or a flash of white hair. Of course she didn't see him. He was a captain, and he had far too many responsibilities to be idly walking around the streets. He hadn't had time for that even before the whole ryoka invasion thing, so now, with an apparent war starting, he definitely wouldn't be out and about.

But she still hadn't felt that sensation she had of moving cold. He was back, she was certain now, because that same 4th division member, Hanatarou she learned was his name, had told her he'd seen Renji and Rukia running around all over the place. So they were definitely back, and now, the Soul Society had seemed more lively than it ever had been. She heard more voices in the air, more yells and shouts, more clashes of sword on sword. This was probably the doing of Renji. And Rukia. Perhaps a little help of Matsumoto.

"Lieutenant Hinamori?" a voice asked nervously.

Hinamori sighed, turning towards the door, facing the shy boy who had just entered. "I told you, Hinamori's fine."

"I- I know, but still…" Hanatarou drifted off nervously. "Anyway, I was sent here to say that you're free to go." Her eyes widened. Was he serious? She could finally see them? See him?

Without a second hesitation, she took off, running full throttle to the building's exit. "Wait, Lieutenant Hinamori!"

"Sorry Hanatarou!" She yelled over her shoulder. "And thanks for everything!" She saw him raise a hand in a wave and then she turned a corner. She took the path to the tenth division once again, this time with a large grin plastering her face. She absolutely couldn't wait to see him, in the flesh, again. She wanted to feel that solid platform in her life again. Finally, for the first time in a whole month, she was actually looking forward to something. She was motivated to do something, to go somewhere. And it felt great. She'd forgotten what that was like, the feeling of enthusiasm and adrenaline. Suddenly, she felt like nothing could bring her down.

"Hey Hinamori! Think fast!" Hinamori, and all her positive thoughts, was suddenly sent crashing to the ground with a weight on top of her.

"Rukia! Don't drag poor Hinamori into this!" A familiar voice called. "We already called Kira over!"

"Hey, I need to get training in every moment! And the opportunity was staring me in the face."

"But look at what your stupid zanpakuto did to the walls!"

"My zanpakuto is not stupid, you idiot!"

"Whatever. This is Captain Zaraki's area. You mess up his place and he'll be after your blood. I told you, we've got to have proper training grounds before we start."

"Shut up, Renji! Don't act so mature in front of Momo! You said nothing of the sort!"

"What? Yes I did, I said we could head over to Captain Ukitake's grounds or something."

"What makes you think that those are open to people?"

"Well, you're his current favorite, so why not?"

"I ain't a favorite of nobody, ya hear, dip-wad-ish Bozo?"

"…that didn't make sense, Rukia."

"Yes it did! It's not my fault you're so clueless to human dialect."

"Whatever, shrimp. Don't show off about the things you learned from Ichigo that are completely useless in real life."

"Why you-"

"Um, Rukia, could you please get off me?" Hinamori managed, lifting her head off the ground to look up at the girl with midnight black hair.

"Oh right." She said, getting off with that strange neutral expression she usually wore. The other girl got up, wavering slightly, regaining the breath that had been so unceremoniously knocked out of her. Looking over at Rukia, and Renji, Momo suddenly felt shy. Again, it was something she hadn't been for a very long time.

"W-Welcome back, Rukia, Renji." Hinamori said, her voice still wavering from the sudden 'attack'.

"Thanks." Renji said. "How've you been? Life not getting you down is it?"

"No, actually, I'm fine. I'm so happy you guys are back! It was quiet without you, so I was looking forward to when you guys would return."

"I know, right? We so rock the house down!"

"Rukia, I swear, you use another stupid human phrase like that again and I won't help you find Ichigo!"

"So? Who needs your help? I can do just fine on my own!"

"Yeah right! Remember that time you had to go help Yachiru carry stuff around? You were by yourself and insisted you didn't need anyone's help. You were all: 'Oh no! Chappy! He's been squished under the pillow! No, come back to me Chappy! I can't live without – ooof!"

Renji's mock girl voice was cut across as Rukia drove a strong fist into his face, her face heated up. "Shut up you idiot! I told you never to mention that again!"

"Okay guys, it was nice seeing you again, but I've really got to…" Hinamori paused as she eyed the two shinigami in front of her. It didn't look like they even realized she was there. She smiled slightly, then turned around and continued forward. As she moved, the voices of the two old friends grew lower and lower. It was nice seeing them, and that they were well, but she couldn't help the broadening of her smile at that moment. She was almost there; the tenth division was a few turns away.

"Momo, there you are!" she mentally groaned as she turned around to see another old teammate.

"Kira…" she had seriously seen enough of this guy. Honestly, where was he when you needed him? That's right, out getting drunk with Matsumoto and Renji. Oblivious to her annoyed thoughts, he stepped forward, fiddling with the hilt of his sword.

"Hey! I've been waiting for you to be let out! I thought you were off yesterday." He said, stopping in front of her.

"Yeah, apparently they forgot." She said sourly. She was really savoring the experience of stretching her legs properly, since that stupid building had held her cooped up for way too long.

"Harsh." He said. He had no idea. "Well, I was on my way to meet up with Renji. Wanna join us?"

"No thanks," she said quickly, starting to walk again. She wanted to get there ASAP. That's what she was running around for in the first place. "I actually just met Renji, and Rukia, so I've done my part. And I wanted to say 'hi' to Rangiku and Toshiro before they think I've forgotten about them."

"Oh, okay…" he trailed off, since she had started again before he had a chance to fully ending his sentence. She had to get there, before someone else interrupted her. She had to see him! Even just a glimpse before the day was over…

"HINAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Hinamori felt her eye twitch as she turned around to face the happy-go-lucky vice-captain of the 11th division. "Yes, Yachiru, what is it?"

"Well, me and Nemu-nemu and Nano-Nano were thinking that you're the only one who hasn't joined our females' shinigami association!" She replied happily, grinning broadly.

"Yachiru, you chased me all the way down here so you could tell me that?"

"Yes!" She replied, then opened her large eyes. "Why, is there something else you would rather do?"

"Well, I was actually on my way to see Rangiku and Toshiro but-"

"You were going to see Shorty?" She asked, her mouth shrinking to a confused 'o'. "Why?"

Hinamori blinked. What did she mean 'why'? "Well, because he just came back, and I still haven't said hello to him."

Yachiru quirked her head. "But Shorty's in there." She said, pointing at the nearby building.

"I know." Hinamori quipped, not seeing the point of such an obvious statement.

"And he's not going anywhere."

"I know."

"So there should be no rush to go and see him."

"I-" Hinamori paused. This little girl was actually making sense. Why was she in such a rush to go see him? Because he was a good friend? Because she hadn't seen him in so long? Because she had to talk to him? It didn't change the fact that he wasn't going anywhere for a while. He couldn't exactly die, since he already was (sort of), and no one was about to kill him. Even if there was, he could easily protect himself… There really was no valid reason for her to want to see Toshiro so badly. What did that mean?

"Do you like him, Hina?"

Hinamori shot out of her thoughts as the little pinkette shot her the question. "O-of course I like him!" she replied in the only way she knew how to avoid the question. "I mean, I've known him the entire time I've been in Soul Society."

"Uh-uh," the young girl chirped, shaking her head. "I mean do you like like him? Like do you love him?"

Hinamori swallowed. "I- uh…"

"I think that's sweet Hina! You should tell him! I can help you if you want!"

"No, I mean, I don't know the answer to that." She cut in quickly. "I mean…I don't really know for sure myself…"

There was a pause when Momo nervously rubbed her arm. Love was so complicated. She knew she loved him, but in what sense, she really didn't know. All she knew was that this feeling was different than what she'd ever felt for Aizen. And that was yet another reason she had to see him: the problem of Aizen.

"Well then I'll help you find out!" Yachiru suddenly exclaimed, and Hinamori jumped a little at being broken out of her thoughts.

"What?"

"Yeah! I'll carry out experiments with the women society and we'll see what we can do! See you around Hina!" Yachiru said happily, and Hinamori was just about to decline that generous offer when the little girl flash-stepped away.

"That can't be any good…" Hinamori muttered, turning back to her original route. She reached the front gate of the impressive tenth division structure, but stopped. What was she here for? Did this mean she loved Hitsugaya? But at that thought, she stepped into the perimeter of the area. No, forget about formalities and doubts like that. She was going to see her best friend, no matter what the reason.

Momo knocked on the door, almost wishing no one would open it. What would her reaction be to seeing him after so long? She doubted anything would be the same between them. She could sense it, somehow. Something had changed in her mind where Toshiro was concerned, but she couldn't put her finger on it.

"Come in."

That wasn't a male's voice. She pushed open the door and found herself in the room she was so very familiar with. A few days ago, it had been empty, dark and dull, void of life. Now, the curtains were drawn, chairs were pulled out here and there, and a few objects seemed out of place. It was like someone actually lived here now. And on the couch sat Matsumoto, holding her trademark sake bottle, lazing around as usual. She put two fingers to her forehead in a small wave.

Hinamori grinned at her, then shifted her sights onto the captains' desk. Her smile broadened. The ink jars previously line up neatly were now open, with pens surrounding them, each dripping blue-black ink, staining temporary blotches on the smooth tabletop. Papers were strewn across the surface as well, some splayed over one another, and others stacked up in a messy pile in the corner. But there was still no silver-haired captain sitting on the chair.

"Hey Momo!" Rangiku greeted, not seeming the least bit affected by the alcoholic drink in her hand, even though it was half finished. And Hinamori doubted she'd found it like that. "It's been too long! We missed you!"

"I missed you guys a whole lot too." She relied quietly, meaning it from the heart, her eyes softening at the sight of one of her closest friends.

"So, what are you here for?" The blond continued, swirling the liquid contents of the bottle as she talked.

"To say 'hi'," Momo said, which was half the truth. The fact that she wanted to see a solid, breathing, real Toshiro could be left out. "Like you said, it's been so long."

Rangiku shot her a knowing smile. "You're here to see my captain, aren't you?"

Momo blushed. "N-no, not at all, I mean, I wanted to see him too, but he's not only…I mean…I –"

"Well, quit your babbling and think of something to say."

"Huh-?" But before she could get another syllable out, she heard the clearing of a throat behind her, and she turned.


And there was my poor excuse for a cliff-hanger. And my exams are starting next week T_T! So I'm going to be busy. But could you lovely readers give me the same support you did last chapter? I'd be so grateful! Well, I'll see you next time!