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by Taegan/taegan_kel (LJ)

Summary: Total crack. Hitsugaya knows Matsumoto doesn’t need him to protect her…
Rating: PG, for a couple curses and some mild suggestive themes
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite is the creative genius behind these characters.
Author’s Note: I have images that won’t go away. Therefore, I purge them. Unbeta'd and just written. Do tell me if
I missed something in my own quick editing. Oh, and thank britt for this. She encouraged it.

He was following her and if she ever found out about it, she might actually have the courage to berate him for it.
The possibility annoyed him; Matsumoto was his Vice Captain, and not in a position to berate her captain. That
wasn’t how things worked.

She still needed to learn that. They’d come to an understanding, Hitsugaya and Matsumoto, but there was still
the occasional rough spot in their relationship. She still questioned him far to often for his liking, but he was
beginning to understand that, sometimes, her questioning focused his mind and kept him on track.

Most times, though, Hitsugaya was just annoyed by it.

He was sure she still had her issues with him, but told himself that she could just work through it. Of course, he
told himself that every time he ended up catering to her whims.

And he’d never admit that some of those whims were damn smart ideas.

In their time together, though, Hisugaya hadn’t had much of a chance to see how Matsumoto did her job on her
own, and that bothered him. They’d sparred and they’d worked together, so he knew her style, but he also knew
that she was a competent shinigami before he ever came along, and that she had to have been doing something
right. He knew that getting an idea of how she worked on her own would only further their working relationship.

And, so, he was following her discreetly on her mission.

She had been assigned – thanks to him pulling some strings just for this mission to follow her – to arrest a rogue
shinigami in rukongai. This shinigami – once a seventh seat of the tenth division, before either he or Matsumoto
had come to the tenth – had been stirring up trouble and causing problems in several districts outside of
Seireitei. Reports had it that he had used the power he possessed to intimidate, steal, and, if the reports were
reliable, was accused of murdering at least two people. Hitsugaya held no delusions that his Vice Captain was
completely safe on this mission, but he also knew she was up to the task.

He followed her to see how she handled the situation. He’d stay out of it.

It wasn’t like she needed his protection.

Hitsugaya almost revealed himself as she suddenly stopped in the dirt street. He nearly tripped over himself
trying to stop before crossing into her line of vision. He had been following too close again, but the last time he
backed off, she nearly lost him. He knew why he was tamping down on his own reiatsu – it would not be good to
be found by her – but as to the reason she was masking her own, he wasn’t entirely sure. He had ideas, but no
firm evidence as to why.

Matsumoto looked to the left and then right, a slow smile spreading across her face, and it was a smile
Hitsugaya, frankly, never wanted to see pointed in his direction. It was full of mischief and maliciousness.
Matsumoto went right, adjusting her hair and scarf and finally the neckline of her uniform.

Hitsugaya had to blink at her movements; if anything, he’d thought she’d pull it up, not down. He didn’t think that
uniform make it possible to reveal more, but somehow Matsumoto made it work. He shook his head, deciding
not dwell on it; it would only serve to annoy him until the question was answered and that was not a question he
wished to ask of his Vice Captain.

Matsumoto ducked through an open doorway and Hitsugaya sighed as he read the sign there. A bar. Her idea of
working alone was ducking into a bar and drinking sake with her chest hanging out even more than usual? He
pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to come up with a reputable reason for her to hang around in a bar.

Unless, of course, their rogue shinigami was in said bar.

But that would mean giving Matsumoto the benefit of the doubt.

He wasn’t sure if he could actually do that; it went against his grain. He sighed and flitted to the side of the
building, and ducked into the alley next to it where he could peer into the corner of the door. He could barely see
Matsumoto striding toward a table, and he could make out the leers the men in there were giving her.

He wanted to strangle them, and cover her up. He closed his eyes; this was why she was annoying. She made
him actually care about her welfare.

She had to have some magic charm that did that. Some weird kidou he didn’t know about or something.
Probably the same spell that held her breasts in her clothes.

He shifted and slunk around the front of the building, hoping no one was actually watching from the street. He
may have left his captain’s cloak in his quarters – he didn’t like to roam rukongai displaying his status as captain
unless necessary – but he was still pretty conspicuous to anyone not in the bar.

He tried to tell himself that conspicuous did not, in any way, equal stupid looking, and that he did not look like a
child not quite old enough trying to get his first taste of sake.

By the time Hitsugaya peered around the corner, Matsumoto was already seated with a saucer in her hands and
was looking out over the rim to a man standing before her. He said something to her, turning as he laughed and
Hitsugaya caught sight of his face.

Matsumoto really had gone into the bar after the rogue shinigami.

The man was tall, and well-built; the epitome of maleness with well-defined muscles and a handsome face. His
sword hung at his hip, and he stood straight and confident. Hitsugaya shoved a flare of envy away; even if he
grew, he’d never be that tall. So what if he had to carry his sword at his back? He was as confident as they

Matsumoto stood up, her hand trailing tantalizingly on the table and then to rest on the man’s chest.

So that was her game, was it? Hitsugaya wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or embarrassed for her sake.
Even so, if it got the man out of the bar and arrested with little trouble, then all was well.

She said something to him, and tugged on his collar, her head resting briefly on his shoulder. She turned toward
the door, her eyes widening briefly.

He hadn’t had time to duck back before she’d turned.

Matsumoto made a shooing gesture behind the rogue man’s back.

Hitsugaya quirked an eyebrow.

Matsumoto sighed.

Then, something went wrong. Hitsugaya didn’t hear what the man said, but what he did was more than obvious.
Before he’d finished speaking, he grabbed Matsumoto’s wrist and twisted, throwing her back. She fell against the
table and crashed to the floor, unable to regain her footing. The man started to draw his sword as Matsumoto
tried to right herself, reaching for Haineko.

Hitsugaya didn’t think about it. Shunpo was useful in such situations and before Matsumoto had time to recover,
or the man could finish drawing his sword, Hitsugaya had planted himself between the two, glaring at the man
who deigned to abuse his Vice Captain.

The glare was difficult to hold, thanks to the crick quickly developing in his neck from looking so far upward.
Hitsugaya kept it up, though, because a glare in the face was the only way to go; there was something ignoble
about glaring at a man’s obi sash.

Matsumoto pulled herself to her feet in the ensuing silence as the two men stared at each other. She stood
behind a chair, her hands resting lightly on the back of it.

The man starting laughing. “You here to defend her honor, little brother?”

Hitsugaya stayed quiet. The man laughed some more, tears starting to trail down his cheeks. Hitsugaya’s eye
twitched. The rogue pointed at Matsumoto, barely managing to speak between gales of laughter. “There’s none
to defend.”

Matsumoto’s hands tightened around the back of the chair. Hitsugaya crossed his arms. “Say that again?”

The man snorted, still laughing at them. “No honor.”

Hitsugaya suddenly spun and grabbed the chair. Matsumoto stepped back, eyes wide, as he yanked it from her
grip. He spun back around, planting the chair firmly in from of the still-laughing man, and then hopped up on it,
fist already drew back. He let fly, catching the rogue with a vicious punch to the nose, and smirked in grim
satisfaction as the laughter became gurgling cries.

Matsumoto hid her face in her hands.

Still standing on the chair, Hitsugaya crossed his arms and told the man, “you’re under arrest.”

“I didn’t need you to do that, Captain,” Matsumoto said quietly, peering through her fingers.

“Of course not,” he replied, stepping down. She never needed him to protect her. He glanced over his shoulder
at her, blinking. “Fix your uniform.”

He bit his tongue before he could ask her just how she kept from falling out. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know
just what spell kept her clothed.

Or just what spell kept him charmed.