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gratification

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Falling on the couch of the ninth division’s office, Shuuhei groans. He’s so tired. He can’t even find much strength to lift himself to the desk and start that two-meter high pile of paperwork. Well, there goes his day, spent on the love of his life, who apparently likes taking advantage of people.

The door opens and he muffles a half-hearted, “Leave now.” Whoever it is doesn’t care for his authority and sits down on the couch besides him with a sigh. Shuuhei moans, knowing exactly who has barged in. Turning over and glancing momentarily at his friend, he offers a small glare.

“I warned you,” Izuru points out.

Another glare, but the blonde is lying his head down on the other arm of the couch. Shuuhei releases a tired breath and blinks over to the stack of papers that nearly resembles the Eifel Tower. Ugh. Work. He’s so sick of it. But, if he keeps going on, then people will know him to be resourceful and highly dependable. Though, he’s starting to feel the cons outweigh the pros this time.

He closes his eyes and thinks of Rangiku. After their mission to investigate the disappearances, which led to some embarrassing events, she’s been spreading it around he’ll give a hand to anyone with a problem. It would be fine with Shuuhei, if it weren’t for the never ending requests Rangiku herself makes for him to do. It’s an obligation to help out, Shuuhei thinks, however it would be nice if she would consider the fact he’s human too. A human who is feeling faint at this point.

Dragging himself from the couch, he looks over his shoulder to Izuru. Asleep. Of course he’s asleep—he’s probably got all his paperwork done and there’s no need to worry. Bastard. Does the third division have crossword puzzles for paperwork? Last time Shuuhei checked, Izuru had complained about the mountainous piles in his own office. Sure there was.

Turning to the desk, he plops down on the seat. The pile obscure his view of…well, everything in front of him. Shuuhei nearly whimpers as he discovers his world for the next five hours will consist of white backgrounds and black lettering. He reaches at the top and begins reading over it.

The click of the office door causes him to slightly jump. Peering to his side, Shuuhei nearly chokes as a strawberry blonde waltzes in easily, bouncing over to him enthusiastically. She grins as she leans over the desk swiftly and he has to bend backwards so that their faces don’t touch.

“Ah, Shuuhei,” she sings out, like his name is somehow harmonious. “I need you to—”

Quickly, he brings a finger to his lips, signaling for her to be silent. She frowns, instantly offended. Though the ninth division vice captain gestures to Izuru on the couch nearby and Matsumoto nods in understand. Rounding the desk, she looks over his shoulder in curiosity and Shuuhei can only stare, weary.

She’s here for another job for him, that’s for sure. Lovely. Shuuhei reminds himself of the pros of work again, attempting to raise his spirits (and he prays for strength because he’s minutes away from falling over in tiredness). However, Matsumoto simply stands near him, head titled cutely to the side as she reads over the paper in his hand with interest.

“I didn’t know you had so much paperwork, Shuuhei.”

“It…it comes with the job, I guess.”

Or ‘jobs’, because there’s being lieutenant, chief editor and he’s on his way to becoming Rangiku’s personal slave. Which happens to be just as terrible as Izuru had said.

“Oh,” she murmurs thoughtfully and snatches the paper from his fingers abruptly. “I’ll help.”

“What?” he says rather loudly and she has to shush him, nodding angrily at the sleeping Izuru. Coughing and composing himself, Shuuhei whispers, “This is work, Rangiku-san. A lot of work and you don’t need to be concerned with this.”

She blinks. “So?”

“…Work, Rangiku-san. It’s work,” Shuuhei emphasizes.

“And?”

“Work. Much work.”

“I don’t understand.”

He sighs and resigns himself as she grasps part of the top of the pile, sifting through it. Well, if something goes wrong, at least the higher authorities know he doesn’t usually make mistakes. They’ll know he didn’t mean anything wrong. There is no way he’s admitting to having Matsumoto help with the forms. Everyone will laugh in his face and say he was lying.

They pull out the pens and begin. She takes another chair and closely sits alongside him happily. Shuuhei offers a small smile as she appears determined to assist him. He selects certain forms that will need his attention directly (such as reports of missions and signatures) and Matsumoto chooses the rather easy-to-fill-out papers (notices and stat reports).

Occasionally, Rangiku will lean over to ask his opinion on something in a low tone and he can smell the soft scent of her hair. Shuuhei forces himself to focus, though it’s hard when she’s displaying a different behavior—the kind he remembers his first impression of her was like—and is helping (willingly). It’s different and he decides he likes this kind of different. It feels better. She wears the attitude like a glove, sincerely and kindly.

Part of him feels suspicious of why she would want to be of assistance so quickly. Could it be she’s showing affection? Is she beginning to return his own feelings? Shuuhei’s cheeks brighten with red and he squashes the thoughts immediately. Last time he had those assumptions, he had been completely wrong. He’s just thankful she doesn’t look like she knows what he feels. Glancing at her in the corner of his eye, he silently prays she can’t read him as easily as Izuru.

“Shuuhei?”

Whipping his head to meet her gaze, Hisagi almost yells out in surprise as he realizes their faces are only centimeters apart. She doesn’t seem to take note as she continues.

“Thank you,” Rangiku says quietly and, this time, he has a feeling it’s not just because she’s being considerate of Izuru snoozing on his couch. “I didn’t say it before. So, thank you for your help.”

“With what?” he whispers, confused.

Rangiku frowns and ducks her head. “For everything, silly.”

She’s not meeting his gaze anymore. Shuuhei knows Rangiku never gets embarrassed, so this must be a different issue. Pride? But she’s thankful often. He doesn’t understand why she has to feel uncomfortable now. It baffles him why.

Suddenly, Rangiku meets his gaze with a smile and brings a hand to the top of his head, patting it comically. “You’re always there. You care. And you’re so cute doing all those things too.”

Softly giggling, she turns back to the paperwork. Shuuhei’s brow furrows in thought. He’s always there? He cares? Well, shouldn’t that be a given? He’d always be around for her—in love with her or not, Shuuhei would be there. It’s ridiculous that she would think he wouldn’t be. Anything she needed, he’d try his best to get it for her. Fulfill any need she had. He’d do that for anyone—one of the many things Tousen-taichou taught him (ironic, he knows). Did she really need to question that in the first place?

Then it hits him. From the connection of Tousen-taichou to Ichimaru-taichou, Rangiku. Ichimaru-taichou and she had been friends for such a long time, from his knowledge. Though Shuuhei assumed he had never really been around by the way she spoke of the captain, what Izuru told him and the mere observation Ichimaru hadn’t ever been seen near her in recent times. That’s where she’s coming from.

The sudden conclusion both flatters and worries him. Must she compare Shuuhei to him? He’s not Ichimaru, he doesn’t ignore her. He’ll spend every minute of the day to assure that. Then again, if she’s comparing the two, then Shuuhei must have reached a new level of friendship in her world. He’s on some pedestal that means something to Rangiku.

In the corner of his eye, he spies her mirroring his action. Shuuhei’s face warms at being caught, though he continues staring and offers a sheepish smile, which she returns. They stay in the same position, motionless and relaxed.

Until he breaks the spell, “Rangiku.”

The simple way his says her name seems forbidden in its naked form, no suffixes or politeness. She notices it instantly and stares with uncertainty, titling her head to the side. She stays quiet, waiting for what he has to say. But he’s not sure what to tell her. I’m not Ichimaru. You can always count on me. I won’t leave you. Though nothing sounds right in his head and, before he can stop himself, Shuuhei’s letting the words spill from his mouth in pure authenticity.

“Thank you. For everything.”

Her lips form the most beautiful smile he’s ever seen. Almost playfully, she bumps his shoulder with hers and stares up at him. Their eyes lock and he thinks he may have found some serenity. It’s comfortable here, sitting next to her. There’s paperwork and he needs to run some more errands but it doesn’t really matter anymore. He’s satisfied for the moment and he finally gets to glimpse at the most precious reason on his pros list.

Gradually, she leans forward and he freezes in realization. Shuuhei watches as Rangiku lifts herself slightly from her seat and nears him, closing the distance between them. His heart pounds in anticipation but he’s not moving; he’s afraid that if he does, she may flee. The air is thick between them, heavy with indecision as she nears.

Abruptly, a stir from their right sounds and she withdraws immediately. Shuuhei glances at the blonde, rousing himself from sleep. He wants to curse Izuru for ruining it. But he’s not necessarily angry. Part of him didn’t want it to happen here, especially when someone could see. The embarrassment could ruin their relationship altogether. But…was he dreaming? Was she about to kiss him? Shuuhei doesn’t ponder on it for long as Izuru’s eyes land on them.

“Matsumoto?” he yawns out, “What are you doing here? Hisagi, are you doing another job for her?”

She laughs airily, as if nothing had happened (maybe, he thinks, nothing really did happen) and waves a dismissive hand. “I’m helping him with paperwork!”

Izuru immediately looks doubtful and turns to Shuuhei, who nods an affirmative. “What?” When Shuuhei shrugs, the blonde narrows his eyes at the tenth division’s lieutenant. Getting up from his spot on the couch, he pulls up another chair to sit across from the two, grabbing his share of papers. “Then allow me to help, as well.”

The two friends grin at each other and get to working.

—x—

When they’re done, Izuru begins to leave with a small wave and an excuse. Flashing a warning glance Matsumoto’s way, he says, “You should do the same for your captain.”

With a sigh, she wraps her arms around Shuuhei’s left one, complaining, “I wish Shuuhei was my captain. He’s much nicer.”

Giving up, Izuru is out the door. Matsumoto withdraws herself from the flushing ninth vice captain and flicks a stray hair out of her face. Turning her attention to him, their eyes lock.

“Now that we’re done, we can finally do something else.”

“Eh? What else is there?”

He quickly prays for sleep in vain.

“I need help with shopping! Why else would I help you with that horrific paperwork?”

“So…you helping me was for your advantage and not out of the goodness of your heart?” he deadpans.

Giving him a look like ‘duh’, she says, “Of course.”

Shuuhei laughs and runs a hand through his hair. “All right. Let’s go.”

Linking their arms, Rangiku offers a grateful smile as she leads him through the door and he thinks that’s all he needed from the start.

—x—

Oh, she makes me feel like shit (it’s always something)
But I can’t get over it (she thinks it’s nothing)
’Cause she’s everything I ask for, everything I ask for
And just a little bit more
Everything I ask for, everything I ask for
And so much more

—Everything I Ask For by The Maine

—x—

End.

—x—