Title: Succession
Universe: Bleach
Theme/Topic: N/A
Rating: PG-13
Character/Pairing/s: Hitsugaya, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Renji, Matsumoto
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for the SS arc and the couple of chapters immediately proceeding.
Word Count: 1,488
Summary: Hitsugaya marvels at what Tousen, Aizen, and Gin's defections left them with.
Dedication: for my fic/art exchange with begger4mcgregor- hope you find this satisfactory!
A/N:
LOL To be honest, I don't know where the inspiration for this came from. Maybe it's the fact that I've been in close proximity to my brothers again lately. XD;; LOL Or maybe it's because this is the only way I could properly justify why such a weird group of shinigami were chosen to go to Karakura. XD
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.


Hitsugaya sighed and watched Ikkaku and Renji as the two donned the football helmets they'd found in the PE storage shed.

Yumichika gleefully counted down from three, and the two morons began charging at each other.

Ten yards into their dashes and they were at full speed, and everyone watched with a stupefied kind of horror as they crashed into one another, head on.

The tenth division captain winced at the loud crack that meant the headgear had connected, and watched as Abarai and Madarame both fell backwards onto their asses—dazed.

They whooped and tore off their helmets, dizzy and laughing.

"That," Ikkaku breathed, "is fuckin' amazing."

"Hahahaha you should see the look on your face!" Renji snorted, and pointed at Ikkaku. "Yer eyes're spinnin'!"

"So're yours!" Ikkaku responded, and laughed just as hard as the redhead. He turned to his best friend next. "Oi, Yumi! Who hit harder?"

Yumichika's eyes gleamed, and he didn't hesitate in stating, "Renji."

Ikkaku scowled, and the good humor left him as abruptly as it had come.

The redhead beamed.

Madarame promptly stood before bending down and scooping up his helmet again, shoving it back onto his head. "Rematch," he demanded, and stalked down the field towards his original starting place.

"No way, I won fair and square!" Renji protested.

Ikkaku turned and crossed his arms, giving the other man a hard look through his facemask. "What, you backin' down from a challenge now? Fuckin' sixth division's ruined you, Abarai."

"Like hell I'm backing down!" Renji snarled defensively, and before he could think better of it, stood and picked up his own helmet as well. He squeezed it back onto his head and glared right back at his former division mate. "I'll show you sixth division, asshole."

"Marvelous!" Yumichika twittered, from the sidelines. "Shall I count you two gladiators down again?"

The combatants were clearly too busy eyeing each other down challengingly to realize how absolutely amused—and smug— the fifth seat was.

"Yeah," Ikkaku grunted in easy agreement. "Go ahead'n do that for us, Yumi."

Renji nodded. "Give us a three count."

Hitsugaya in the meantime, couldn't believe they were going again. And even though this was already the sixth or seventh run, the young captain still couldn't find it in him to look away as they geared up for another collision. It was strangely mesmerizing in all its mind-numbing stupidity.

"Three…two…one…GO!"

The two ran at each other without hesitation on Yumichika's cue, and slammed head on one more time. They bounced backwards just like all the other times too, and fell to the floor, momentarily forgetting the competition when they remembered how (apparently) fun it was to charge at high speeds towards one of your friends while wearing protective gear. They whooped and laughed after impact, right up until Yumichika declared Ikkaku the victor this time.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Under any other circumstances Toushirou would have ignored the idiots completely and spent the remainder of his lunch break doing something productive, like beginning the formal composition of the day's report from the notes he'd been taking throughout the morning, but since these were special circumstances (in various senses of the word), he was forced to continue his observation of the three lower-ranking shinigami as per the direct orders of Yamamoto-soutaichou.

Because while they were all here on a mission to scout and defend Karakura town from possible Arrankar attack, Hitsugaya also had a special side task that he alone had been appointed to, as the highest ranking officer currently deployed to the human world.

The betrayal of Aizen, Gin, and Tousen had rocked seireitei to its deepest core, and even now the court remained in the midst of barely-contained chaos after those events. The shinigami were forced to try and reorganize, rebuild and prepare for future attacks all at the same time, all the while having to compensate for the fact that the whole Aizen fiasco had left a quarter of the gotei-13's main forces leaderless and disheartened (or worse, completely incapacitated).

In short, that all meant more work for everyone who wasn't leaderless, disheartened, or incapacitated, and as such, captains like Toushirou were forced to multitask in order to try and adjust for the loss of their former colleagues and get the things that needed to be done faster than even normal functionality would have permitted if the traitors were still here. Sensibly, suitable replacements for the missing trio of former-captains had to be found as quickly as possible.

And so, right now, Hitsugaya Toushirou's additional mission—as given to him by the supreme commander himself—was to observe, evaluate, and assess the current three strongest candidates for promotion to captaincy.

Two of which were currently ramming into each other for the eighth or ninth time in a row, while the third sat neatly by on the sidelines and played puppet-master with no visible signs of remorse for the precious brain cells being lost by his peers every time they clashed.

Hitsugaya hadn't known Tousen or Gin all that well, and apparently what he'd known of Aizen hadn't really existed, but when he thought of captains in the general sense of seireitei captains as a whole, he didn't really think of… football helmets and head-on collisions.

If anything, maybe Yumichika would be a suitable replacement for Ichimaru—given the way he was manipulating the hell out of the poor bastards and getting them to run into each other time and time again— but whether or not that was a good thing remained to be seen.

Though to be fair—and that was one of his orders too— the young captain still hadn't seen any of the three in battle yet, so maybe they redeemed themselves there. After all, Hitsugaya had known shinigami who, when outside of the fight, had personalities that were pleasant and silly and otherwise rather unbefitting of someone of their particular station (cough-Matsumoto-cough), but at the same time, when placed into a battle situation, transformed into efficient and skilled warriors regarding the extermination of Hollows as well as in the general execution of battle tactics and military strategy.

As such, he knew that just because they didn't seem to be showing their working selves right now was no reason to completely write them off. It was entirely possible for the "smarter than you look" paradigm to be in play right under the young captain's very nose, and all he had to do was give them the right opportunity to showcase their true talents.

Yeah.

That was definitely it.

In the meantime, he winced at the sound of another collision.

"Fuck, I lost count," Ikkaku breathed after a minute, sprawled out on the grass and staring at the sky.

"Me too," Renji admitted.

Hitsugaya sighed. Of course he supposed it was entirely possible that they were really that stupid too, as much as he didn't want to believe it—at least for seireitei's sake.

"Oi, Yumi, who's winnin' now?" Madarame demanded.

A beat.

And then, "My, my… I thought you two were keeping track. I hate to admit it, but I've absolutely forgotten."

"Che, useless bastard. Now what?"

"Well, you two could always…start over. I promise to keep better track this time."

Another beat.

"So, clean slate?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Best out of ten?"

"Dumbass, that won't work."

"Oh. Right."

"Best out of fourteen?"

"Sounds good to me."

They jogged back to their starting positions.

Toushirou stared.

Yumichika was all smiles, and when he caught Toushirou watching them from across the distance, raised his can of peach calpico—he'd gotten one of his many admirers from the school to buy it for him earlier— and saluted the white-haired captain like he was drinking the finest chardonnay on earth.

Hitsugaya quickly averted his eyes and turned them back down to his personal observation notebook (something about the fifth seat's smile fazed him), and moved to make a final—and very important— note regarding today's observations for his extra mission. Admittedly, it was one that was more for his own peace of mind than for Yamamoto-soutaichou's actual perusal, but he felt it needed to be said somewhere.

Just for the record.

Seireitei is doomed.

When he finished writing he sat back and regarded his work with a thoughtfully furrowed brow, blowing on the fresh ink to help it dry faster while hoping with all his might that the prediction he'd written down was going to be absolutely wrong.

In the background, the sound of two football helmets finally giving in to the abuse of the last twenty minutes and cracking in half echoed across the abandoned field. It was followed by a chorus of raucous, highly-amused laughter. And the desire to "Dude, let's do that again."

Hitsugaya sighed.

Doomed. They were absolutely doomed.

And Toushirou told himself that even if he was wrong, at the very best, they were all still in some pretty big damn trouble.

END