Bleach isn't mine, I make no profit.
"It's beautiful Rukia," Ukitake said as he turned the white sword over in his hands. "The most beautiful I have ever seen. You should be very proud."
Rukia smiled shyly. She did feel proud. Reaching shikai was a great achievement. Her captain passed her back Shode no Shikaru. Rukia sealed it away.
"It is one of the ice and snow family, is it not?" asked Ukitake.
"Yes, but I have yet to…" she paused searching for an appropriate word, "Understand her. I don't have any attacks yet."
Her captain hummed and turned to sit at his desk. "I think Unohana's fukutachio has a ice zanpakuto. Perhaps I can arrange for her to give you some advice. Very informal of course."
"Thank you Taicho."
Rukia's fingers wound themselves around the hilt of her zanpakuto as she walked towards the fourth division compound. It was a clear day. The cool of spring was just starting to give way to the heat of summer.
Rukia had seen Isane quite often. She was the sister of her own division's third seat and could often be found wandering the 13th division grounds either with her sister or her captain. The tall quiet woman had not left much of an impression on Rukia though, beyond the facts that she was tall and quiet.
An unseated Shinigami led Rukia to Isane's office. The vice captain was just finishing some paperwork.
She looked up, "Are you Rukia?"
"I'm pleased to meet you properly. I don't think we have ever been properly introduced."
Rukia bowed slightly. "Thank you for instructing me sempai."
"Don't worry about it." She shuffled her last paper and stood up. As she was taking her Zanpakuto off its stand Isane said, "I hope you don't mind, but someone has asked me to allow another a person to join our little study group. He is going to meet us at the fourth division training grounds."
Rukia nodded again and followed the other woman out.
The fourth division training grounds were a good distance from the compound. The logic had been that the division who had the least use for training grounds should get the worst ones. They were empty, except for a couple of shinigami with brooms who, having greeted Isane, left hurriedly.
Rukia stood feeling slightly silly waiting for some sort of instruction. Isane smiled at her, but didn't say anything.
"Hey!" a voice called across the grounds. Before Rukia could turn to see who called, he was jogging near them. "Are you Isane fukutaicho?"
"Yes. Are you Toshiro-kun?"
He wore the blue uniform of the academy, which looked about three sizes too big on this kid.
"This is Rukia of the 13th division, she has an ice Zanpakuto too."
"Oh right," Toshiro nodded to her, "Hello."
Rukia stared. This kid didn't look old enough to be in the academy. What was he doing here?
"Then we might as well get started. First we'll talk about zanpakutos and in particular ones in the ice family. How much do you know?" Isane led the other two over to some seats by the edge of the main areana.
Rukia said, "I'm afraid I don't know much. Except for what Sode no Shikaru has taught me." She pulled her zanpakuto, still sheathed out of her obi and laid it on her knee.
"That's fine, the most important things you can only learn from your sword, but there are some very interesting theories that might help you to develop your relationship by helping you to understand your zanpakuto. What about you Toshiro-kun?"
Toshiro was still struggling with to position his sword comfortably at his side. It was almost taller than he was, Rukia noticed with a hidden smile. Finally he untangled himself from his sword and placed it between his knees.
"I've read Otoke's treatise on elemental zanpakuto and Dinaki's 'Zapactos and their wielders'. I agreed with Rai's theory that ice zanpakutos were neither of the kidou type nor the reinforcement type, but I found his conclusion boring. They were all boring really. Houinmaru thought so too. Stuffy old men with stuffy old theories." He traced the star shaped guard on his sword with his thumb.
"Right…" Isane seemed slightly taken aback. "Well you've got a good grounding. I'd also suggest Hikari's 'Zanpakuto types'. Rukia that one would be good for you too."
"Nah, that one's too rigid. She didn't leave any room for Zanpakutos which blur the boundaries. Like a little bit kidou, but mostly reinforcement, or an elemental zanpakuto that works like a kidou one.
Isane stood up and unsheathed her own zanpakuto. "Enough theory," she said.
She strode to the centre of the training grounds With a command it transformed. It had a snowflake guard. She swung it through a few loose strokes. A trail of snowflakes followed it.
"I'm not the most effective in battle. I can put people to sleep, but only if they are already weakened. It is very useful for healing people, but no good against someone who is geared up for battle."
She swung it through a couple more loops then sealed it. "May I see your two zanpakuto?"
Rukia stepped forward.
"Dance Sode no Shirayuki!" Her sword became white as fresh snow. A long ribbon trailed in a wide circle from the hilt.
"Oh how beautiful," Isane said
"Very pretty," Toshiro said. He started walking away from the other two.
"Where are you going Toshiro-kun?"
"Just up the other end of the field. I don't want to hurt anybody."
Isane walked over to Rukia as they watched the little figure get even smaller as he got further away. "He's just cocky because he's young. Too smart for his own good," she whispered to Rukia. Then she shouted out to Toshiro, "Are you ready?"
"Yes!" he shouted back.
Rukia shivered. It had grown suddenly cold. Toshiro shouted his zanpakuto's name. His sword transformed. A long chain whipped round as he spun through a complex kata.
High above dark clouds gathered and covered the whole sky. Rukia felt gentle snow on her face, followed by the harsh bite of icy wind.
Even as far away as she was Rukia stepped back. Isane stood her ground, but did bring her sword up into a guard position.
Something else seemed to happening to Toshiro's sword. A plume of ice began to form, then melted away, then formed again. Rukia thought she saw a churning dragon, writhing and trying to escape in the ice plume. But it was just the snow in her eyes she reasoned.
Then the biting cold abaited, just as suddenly as it had begun. Soft snow still fell. Toshiro was running towards them. He had sheathed his zanpakuto, but ran with a war cry and a snowball. Rukia was so stunned that she was hit twice, once by Toshiro and once by Isane, who had scooped to gather up the fresh fallen snow.
Rukia vowed revenge and ran after Toshiro who was laughing madly. Isane used shunpo to corner him. Together they stuffed snow down the back of his yukata.
Any thought of studying was lost in a flurry of snow.
At last they trooped back to the fourth division where Rukia and Toshiro were lent a change of clothes.
Toshiro looked even stranger in shinigami robes, than he had in his academy uniform. He received more than a few stares and mutters as he walked through the compound. His face which had so recently been happy and childish, was now frowning. He looked colder now than when he had wielded Hyorinmaru.
Isane had been called to Unahana's office. Toshrio and Rukia sat sipping warming tea.
"That was very impressive Toshiro-kun," said Rukia.
"Nah, it's no big deal."
"But you are so young." That was clearly the wrong thing to say. Toshiro scowled.
"I said it was no big deal."
"I though for a moment I saw a dragon, I guess you'll think I being silly."
Toshiro perked up, "You saw him too? I can't quite get it right. He's still trapped. I'm not good enough yet. But I'm glad you could see him too. It's all very well being able to rain on people, but that's not an attack." He lay back and rested his tea on his stomach.
Rukia smiled into her tea. He'd said it was no big deal because, to him it wasn't. He was nowhere near his limit.
"I'd like to see what you come up with," said Toshiro, not sitting up. "I get the feeling you'll be less like Isane and more like me. Ice not snow."
"It's just a feeling." He sat up. "I'd better go, I'm already missing classes to come here. And I have to explain my missing uniform. I don't want any more fuss." He sighed and slid back the screen door.Rukia watched him walk back across the snowy compound. Occasionally he kicked up a flurry or jumped in a drift. He really was still a kid.
Isane walked back in with more tea. "So what do you think about Toshiro?"
"Do all ice wielding shinigami become cold?" asked Rukia.
"What do you think?" Isane smiled warmly.
"No, I guess not. But I think he's going to be very cold anyway," Rukia replied.
"He'll have to be to cope."
"You were right he's too smart for his own good.
"Smart enough to understand the comments made at his expense," Isane said sadly.
"I was jealous of him. I still am… sort of. But I wouldn't want to be him." Rukia hugged her sword close.
"Very wise. Don't worry about him. He's still got a few years in the academy and you still have your shikai to train."
Rukia nodded and looked out at the snow. It was beginning to melt.
And that's it. This is a self contained part of a wider fic which I'm writing at the moment. It strings together lots of moments in Hitsugaya's life from different times. I thought this one stood on its own quite well, so I'm putting it out there to gauge reaction. Like it, love it, hate it, indifferent? Please drop me a review.