Categories > Anime/Manga > Bleach > Conversations With The Night Sky (Ten Things Hitsuguya Has Learnt About Matsumoto)
...having someone to protect you isn't weakness, but a sign of faith. Ten things that Hitsuguya has discovered about his second.
01.. Matsumoto has impossibly small feet.
Well, they're not actually that small, just too small for a woman of her height. In fact, they're the same size as Hinamori's. Hitsuguya knows this because one time Hinamori came over, her sandals got dirty, and Matsumoto lent her a pair. They fit perfectly, and the cheerful tenth division fukutaichou had let her keep them.
This is the first time Hitsuguya realises that Matsumoto had a heart beating beneath those lumps of fat she called her breasts.
02.. Matsumoto isn't always the most graceful of shinigami.
Hitsuguya blamed Matsumoto's occasional bumbliness on her small feet.
Matsumoto isn't always the most coordinated person. Granted, she's well-trained and a shinigami, so she's more skilled than most people, but she still has moments of clumsiness, more-so than Hitsuguya notices in other shinigami.
It isn't until the day they went toe to toe with a particularly vicious nest of Hollows, and he watches Matsumoto leap into the air, twist once just so, and take the largest one down with one slash before landing, ever-so-lightly, on a narrow ledge in the space of one breath.
This is the day that Hitsuguya learnt Matsumoto was more graceful than a butterfly when other people's lives were on the line.
03.. Matsumoto's true feelings can be determined by the way she sleeps.
Hitsuguya should know; he's watched her pass out enough times.
The way she normally sleeps, when she's in a decent mood, is sprawled out, because Matsumoto is the type of person who likes to live large and enjoy things. She's not messily sprawled out, she's just not that tucked in. He'll watch her, sometimes, and wonder at how peaceful she can be.
When Matsumoto's feeling particularly happy, she'll sleep with both arms tucked under her head, a small smile on her face, and her head turned towards the light. She'll murmur slightly sometimes, and it almost sounds like singing.
Hitsuguya does wonder, from time to time, what she's seeing, but doesn't want to intrude. If she's feeling ill or slightly discontent, she tucks her legs up as high as they'll go.
The night that Gin leaves, she sleeps flat on her back, arms over her belly.
Hitsuguya sneaks in, sits down, and watches.
Her face is turned towards the dark.
Hitsuguya waits, and hopes for a song.
She never says a word.
04.. Hitsuguya knows that Matsumoto's reliable when you really need her to be.
Though they have different definitions of need, as he needs her to help him with paperwork, but she doesn't quite see the necessity. But still, she's never been that bad of a second, so he lets her stay around and sleep on the futon, because she understands him enough not to poke fun when matters are really serious.
Of course, they disagree on what really serious means too, but whatever. Hitsuguya can deal. She's good in battle, actually does paperwork when he's not feeling well, and stays late with him when he's trying to catch up. Granted, she might not do anything, but he's glad for the company. He likes having her around. She lightens the mood.
But once again, they're in the realm of the living, and they're fighting. Matsumoto runs, leaps, jumps, stabs, all at the unspoken command of a captain who she knows better than his best friend does. They jump in unison, they slash apart, he unleashes his bankai, and he doesn't realise that there's a Hollow behind him until he hears the faintly musical chime of steel hitting whatever Hollows have that pass for flesh. The Hollow roars, then laughs at her mockingly for missing the killing blow. It asks her if she's strong enough, /you silly little shinigami/, to fight him?
She hisses, then smirks, and plants her feet, one fist on her hip, and the other holding her sword over her shoulders.
'Strong enough to take you on, insect,' she mocks back. 'No-one tries to mess with the taichou and walks away alive.'
And as she had launchs herself and broke the thing's face apart, Hitsuguya realises just how deep Matsumoto's loyalty went.
This is the first time of many where he would realise he didn't just like her, but some part of him needed her.
And that having someone to protect you isn't weakness, but a sign of faith.
05.. Hitsuguya learnt, one fine day, that sometimes it's worth public humiliation to have a little fun.
They'd both been bored, paperwork was non-existent, and they were just lolling around their division. They'd played stupid games which bored them both silly, had tea, contemplated retiring, when Hitsuguya was seized with the idea. And it wouldn't let him go.
So he had leant forward and whispered an idea in her ear, and she had agreed.
Which is how they found themselves strolling around the Seireitei, faces calm and composed, having a normal conversation between Captain and Vice. Work, subordinates, meetings that were planned, and things along those lines.
Except that Hitsuguya was toting Matsumoto around on his shoulders.
She had done him the courtesy of tying her breasts back as far as the beasts would go, and off they went, discussing dinner, the weather, the divisions, and other mundane things as Hitsuguya trotted around the Court. They stopped to buy some snacks, chat with some slack-jawed fellow shinigami, and even had a short conversation with Yamamoto-soutaichou, who seemed vastly amused by the whole situation. Everywhere they went, people stared, pointed, and gossiped.
It was the first time Hitsuguya had heard Matsumoto laugh that loudly without being drunk, and decided it was worth possibly centuries of being the butt of jokes to hear her so happy.
The fact that every male in eye-shot was shooting him looks of complete envy was pretty cool, too.
06.. Matsumoto talks to herself when she's drunk.
It took a while for Hitsuguya to cotton on to this, because she rarely drinks alone, and when she's well and truly pissed, so is everyone else, and she could be talking to pretty much anyone.
The first time he realises that she talks to herself is when she was sitting with Shuuhei Hisagi and said fukutaichou of Ninth Division was completely passed out. And Hitsuguya would still have completely missed it, if he hadn't overheard the following:
'I know I'm really annoying, taichou, but you know I like you, right? In fact, you might be the best taichou ever! At least that I've worked with. You know how many times I got shunted around? One woman would get jealous or I'd say no to someone, and I got shunted around so much! I know that's why they stuck me with you, taichou, because I guess you don't see me as someone with big boobs. And that's okay with me! I think you're great! I'm glad I ended up with you, because you're smart, and I know you're nice, even if sometimes you yell at me. I wouldn't trade you for all the sake in both worlds!'
Hitsuguya knew that she didn't know he was there.
She talks animatedly to walls, mostly, and sometimes, she goes outside and talks to the stars, who twinkle in appreciation for the beautiful woman who whispers beautiful secrets to them. He never means to, but sometimes he runs across her, and he sits in the shadows as she twirls, sings, and tells the moon stories of all the wonderful things she sees in all her days. He doesn't know how she stays so cheerful and so optimistic when she deals with things of pure malice and sadness on a regular basis.
He finds he doesn't care, so long as he can watch.
For these moments, the world stops spinning, and both Matsumoto and Hitsuguya are happy.
07.. Sometimes, Matsumoto talks to people who aren't there anymore when she's drunk, too.
These tend to be more somber moments.
In her house, there is a wall filled with frames. In each frame, there is no picture, but rather a name, someone she has known and lost. The first two say mother and father, and she talks to them the most. She doesn't know who they are or where they are, but sometimes she sits and talks about her day, as if somehow they'll know what their daughter is talking about. There are more names there than Hitsuguya is comfortable with, and he remembers that Matsumoto is from a rougher part of Rukongai, and has been around a lot longer than he has.
One day, he stops by, and there's a new name. Gin Ichimaru. He grimaces, remembers that this wall is a memorial for all those in Matsumoto's life that have fallen by the wayside. He supposes it's only fitting.
Matsumoto is drunk and doesn't realise he's there- as usual- and he hears this:
'Gin, you fucking bastard. Why? Were you scared? Were you lonely? Damn it, Gin, you could have talked to me. I bet you weren't even scared, you /little bitch,/. You always had to get what you wanted. Would you have asked me, Gin? Or did you know? Did you know that I wasn't just your little Rangiku anymore, you fucking idiot? I wish you could hear me right now, because... because I don't hate you, Gin. I despise you. I pity you. You're weak. Not worthy of salvation.'
Hitsuguya starts, because he's never heard Matsumoto use language quite that coarse before. She's no dainty lady, but still. And then:
'I can't forgive you, Gin. If it was just me you hurt... I think I could have forgiven you if you had killed me.' A dry heave. The sounds of joints cracking as hands clenched and extended compulsively. 'But you hurt the person I care about, Gin. Probably the only person who gives a shit about me. You helped hurt taichou. Just not physically, but you hurt Momo, and I know Hitsuguya is bleeding inside for that. You've hurt so many damn people, Gin, and I can't forgive you for that. Never. Ever. The next time I see you, I won't wait. And I won't hold back. For Hitsuguya. For everyone.'
She murmurs the last part as the alcohol takes her hand and gives it to the Sandman, who takes Matsumoto to a safer, quieter place. Hitsuguya stares at her prone form, and wonders when he became something else entirely to her, apart from people.
This is the day when Hitsuguya realises that Matsumoto- in whatever form she knows how- loves him.
This is the hour when he realises that, in the only way he's ever known, he loves her too. How and why and when aren't important, only that he has faith, and so does she.
This is the minute when he falls to his knees and covers up her form.
This is the second when he knows everything will be okay, in the end.
He walks to the frames that say mother and father, and makes a promise to keep their little girl safe.
08.. Matsumoto likes to take impromptu strolls.
Hitsuguya knows that it's best to let her do so.
The first month he was there, he always managed to be surprised when she'd just randomly stand up and leave, not saying anything but a I'll return in a bit, Hitsuguya/, followed with an /IT'S HITSUGUYA-TAICHOU, MATSUMOTO! He'd let her slink off, though, and wait for her to return.
One day, after several hours had passed, she hadn't come back, and Hitsuguya started to worry. Was she off getting drunk again? So he trotted out and called out for her, and spotted her form from afar. He utilised a bit of shunpo, and then caught up with her, just as she was bending down to look down a hillside.
Words had been exchanged, some quiet, a few rude, some snarky, but Matsumoto refused to leave.
'Why?' he had asked. She looks down at him, almost curiously, then merely says Sometimes, I just need to remember why I'm here. She stares over his head, and he'd almost gotten mad, until he looked around and saw what she was looking at; the darker, dirtier part of Rukongai, where she had grown up.
They sat on a rock and exchanged stories, and Hitsuguya had learnt that Matsumoto can only do one thing, these days- look forward to tomorrow, because surely, it will be lovelier than the today. And when she talked about the what-might-be's, Hitsuguya learnt the full appreciation of her beauty, as he watched her speak.
09.. Matsumoto is the worst mother-hen. EVER.
It's just a touch of a cold, maybe the flu, and Matsumoto's running around like Hitsuguya's head has been forcibly removed from his body (because he'd REALLY let that happen). She's knocked down Gin, who had stopped by to see her, as she ran in a panic to Fourth Division, and Hitsuguya groans, because he doesn't even want to contemplate what she's telling them.
Actually, he feels a bit stupid that he, of all people, caught a cold. No need to share that, though.
Matsumoto comes back, robes stuffed to the brim with medicine and pamplets and everything an overbearing Second seat needs to embarrass her captain. She forces him to lie down on the futon, ignoring the pointed query as to where she's going to lie when she decides to slack off. She huffs and fusses, and it's only through sheer force of will that she isn't able to force him into sleeping robes. She lays one slim hand on his forehead, clucks her tongue, and leaves, with an admonishment not to move, and that she'll return shortly.
Which she does. With a bowl of warm soup, a thick blanket, and some books, all of them for Hitsuguya. She drops them with an unceremonious thump on the edge of the futon....
...and watches in horror as it breaks. She knew the thing was old, but not that old, and this may very well be the first time he's ever seen her so mortified. She apologies, but he cuts her off, then rolls off the broken bed, and promptly cracks his head. A sharp white light pierces his eyes, then all gently fades into darkness.
When he wakes up, the first thing he sees is breast. A lot of breast. Bigger than any mortal woman should have. He closes his eyes, and he curses puberty for hitting him so hard this decade.
'Taichou? You feeling okay?'
He opens his eyes and looks over the curves, and straight up into Matsumoto's face. It's then he realises that his head his positioned in her lap. Through the bleariness, he decides that if he lives long enough, this will be one hell of a story to tell the guys at the bar.
'You hit your head pretty hard,' she says. 'Don't move too much, just wait until your head clears.' She smiles at him, then turns slightly. Hitsuguya rolls his eyes up to see that she's actually working. Well, damn- if he has to injure himself or get sick to get her to work, then he'll just play tag, while blindfolded, with Hollows, in the dead of winter.
Naked, if he has to.
He's actually pretty comfortable, and can barely restrain a smirk. They may call him a little kid, but he's still the one who's got his head in Matsumoto's lap, and if he still doesn't entirely understand what that means, he knows that many jaws will drop in disbelief.
He nearly bolts upright when he feels something odd on his head, until he realises that Matsumoto has dipped her hand in lukewarm water and is gently stroking it on his forehead.
'It helps, a little,' she explains. So she writes with one hand and soothes his head with the other.
Sometimes, hyperactive mother-hens aren't all that bad. And they stay this way until it's time to go home, Hitsuguya resting his head and reading, Matsumoto writing. Then they leave together, and she insists he comes over, and she makes him dinner. Nothing fancy, but it's nice.
10.. Matsumoto doesn't appreciate attempts on Hitsuguya's life, and is not adverse to letting that displeasure be known.
They're back to back, dodging Allankar and saving the world, as usual. Same shit, different day. Matsumoto's sweating, and Hitsuguya's breathing hard, and they're grinning, because they both feel so damn alive.
He jumps, she ducks, and the dance begins. There is screaming, and swearing (and my, hasn't he learnt some interesting words from Matsumoto?) but mostly, there's just the seconds between life and death when they're side by side, just like they're meant to be.
She swings. He sprints. Back and forth, forth and back, and on and on they go. The fight, they know, will never truly end; there are only moments of peace between battles of war for shinigami.
They'll take it as it comes.
Hitsuguya swings and plants one foot and sword directly into a lower-ranking Allankar's head, grinning grimly as he removes it and jumps away.
There's a shout. A scream.
Hitsuguya turns around.
Matsumoto is bleeding, barely able to stay on her knees, but has her sword clasped in her hand. Behind her stand the two young Kurosaki girls, one screaming for the other to run away.
The Allankar in front of her- an Espada, Hitsuguya thinks- laughs at her. Matsumoto just curls one lip and tells him, voice firm, to fuck off, and he'd better run away, because it she doesn't kill him, her taichou will.
The Allankar raises his arm to make a fatal blow, and Hitsuguya doesn't bother to stop and think. He runs and blocks.
The Allankar's sword bites all the way through the tip of Hitsuguya's sword, and leaves a gash on Hitsuguya's shoulder. Nothing horrible, he can still fight. Even if he feels woozy for a moment. Matsumoto is knocked to the ground, but not before telling the Kurosaki girls to run and find their brother, and then to hide. She leaks her life in bright red rivers, and Hitsuguya focuses his fury. For Matsumoto.
The Allankar regards him, a smirk on his face. Tells him how he's going to Hitsuguya how painful it's going to be, how long it will take, the things that Hitsuguya will pray for as he begs for death. Hitsuguya grits his teeth; this will be tricky. All he needs is one opening, a distraction that's long enough to take the Allankar's attention off of him.
The Allankar raises his arm and prepares for his final release. Hitsuguya curses and gets ready to take defensive manuevers.
Until the Allankar suddenly screams in pain. Hitsuguya looks up. A sword has pierced his arm, gone through his armpit, and is sticking out of his shoulder.
Matsumoto's sword. She's covered in blood, most of it her own, her hair is matted and sticky, but she's smiling.
'Hey, dumbass,' she says at the Allankar, who bellows in pain and tries to take a swipe at her, 'haven't the Hollows told you?'
She grins widely, the beautiful grin she usually reserves for sunny days and long walks.
'No-one,' she says, 'fucks with my taichou and gets away with it. You hear me? You mess with Hitsuguya, you're fucked.'
It's just the two of them.
He runs and frees both Matsumoto and Haineko from the Allankar's body when he realises it's returning to Hueco Mundo. With an almighty grunt, Hitsuguya runs up and slashes the monster's body a few times before jumping back.
'Send Gin our regards!' Hitsuguya shouts, and Matsumoto chokes back a laugh. The battle is over, the Allankar either dead or retreating. They've won.
Hitsuguya does a quick check. She won't die, but she must be tired. So he shifts and lays her head in his lap, stroking it gently with a chilled hand. And waits. The glow of residual power and the stars lend an ethereal light to the night sky.
He watches as she moves her head to face the sky, and listens as she hums quietly in her fatigue-induced sleep.
And knows that, in the end, everything will be okay.