Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach

A True Shinigami

I know that there's a smug expression on my face as I walk across the courtyard toward the spot where Momo's standing. She's no longer dressed in the red and white Academy uniform but instead wears the black shihakusho of a true Shinigami. But of course that's not what make's me have the smug expression on my face. It's the fact that I wear the same uniform.

I did it.

I graduated at the same time that Momo did, completing the course requirements for the Academy in only six months. I've been told that this is an extremely rare occurrence and that I should be proud of my achievement. Hah, the only thing I'm proud of is the fact that I won that stupid bet with Momo.

"You look so grown up Shirou-chan."

"You can't call me that anymore." Hell, I even SOUND smug. "You said that when I graduated the Academy the same time as you that you would call me by my last name."

A thoughtful expression appears in Momo's eyes, as though she's thinking about the words that I had just spoken to her. Then, to my complete and utter surprise, she smiles. "So I did. Alright Hitsugaya-kun, shall we go and find out to which Squads we've been assigned?"

I nod my head, finding it odd to hear my last name coming from her. This was the first time that she had ever used it and it's. . . I can't believe that I actually feel this way but it's weird. I shrug this thought off as she and I make our way to the main hall of the Academy. Our graduation ranks and Squad assignments should be posted by now.

Momo's practically dancing with excitement and I find this display rather childish. She's about to become a member of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads so you'd think that she could act a little more dignified. Having heard her countless rambling sessions on the subject I know to which Squad she wants to be assigned.

Squad Five.

I don't really have a preference although for some reason I don't really want to be placed in Squad Five. I have no solid basis for these feelings however I'll be much happier if I end up somewhere else. Especially if Momo really does make it into that squad.

I can't handle listening to her constantly gushing on about Captain Aizen.

My sanity simply won't allow it.

By this time we've reached the board where the results were posted and together we search the list for our own names. Mere seconds pass before Momo elicits a squeal that effectively serves to break my concentration. "What the hell is your problem? Didn't you get put in Squad Five?"

I gaze up at her, expecting to see a look of disappointment in her chocolate colored eyes, but instead I'm met with pride. This is weird. . . why is she looking at me like that? I get my answer seconds later when she throws her arms around me and nearly strangles me. "You graduated at the top of the class! I'm so proud of you Shirou-chan!"

Glaring up at her I clear my throat.

"Sorry, Hitsugaya-kun."

Ignoring her apology I allow my gaze to shift up to the top of the page and sure enough there was my name at the very top. In retrospect I suppose that I should have known that I'd be first since I was graduating so much earlier than my classmates but honestly the thought hadn't even crossed my mind. Shifting my gaze to the side I see that there is a number thirteen across from my name.

So I've been assigned to Squad Thirteen. I vaguely remember hearing some of Instructors talk about the Captain of Squad Thirteen and I seem to recall that he was in poor health. I shrug. That really shouldn't affect me so it's okay.

Now that I've learned my fate I begin to search for Momo's name and find that she graduated three levels below me and has been assigned to none other than Squad Five. It seems as though we made this discovery at the same time as Momo issues another ear piercing scream before grabbing me and pulling me around in some ridiculous dance.

"Let go!" I demand, pulling away from her and glaring at her in annoyance.

"Sorry Hitsugaya-kun but it's just so wonderful. Now I get to serve with Captain Aizen."

The look in her eyes as she talks about this man annoys me but I have no idea why. I guess it just bothers me that she absolutely worships a man that she's only met one time. Momo really is the weirdest individual that I have ever met in my life.

"Well I guess we should be going now. We're supposed to report to our respective Squad Captains before nightfall and the sooner we get it over with, the better. Good luck Hitsugaya-kun." She gives me a fleeting hug and then disappears.

Resisting the urge to use my flash-step I make my way slowly to the Squad Thirteen barracks. I could get there in mere seconds if I chose to however I need some time to myself to think and the walk to the barracks will provide me with that time. I hate to admit it, and never will out loud, but I'm somewhat concerned about becoming a true Shinigami.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not scared to fight. It's just that I wasn't really accepted at the Academy and I'm fairly certain that things won't be any better for me now. It's hard to be smarter than people who are older than you and I have first hand experience with this fact.

It's in this moment that I make a promise to myself. I will work hard to make my bond with Hyourinmaru even stronger than it is and I will rise to a rank where no one will ever look down on me again. I don't care what it takes, I'm going to become a Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads.

With this goal set firmly in my mind I make my way to the Squad Thirteen barracks and when I arrive I immediately encounter a tall man with unruly black hair and a weird tattoo running the length of his forearm. There's a vice-captain's badge adorning his arm and I bow politely.

"Oi," the man said, gazing down at me. "Are you one of the new recruits from the Academy?"

"Yes sir. My name is Toushirou Hitsugaya."

"Well Toushirou-kun it's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Kaien Shiba and I'm the vice-captain of the best squad in all of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. If you'll just follow me then I'll take you to our captain."

I bow once more and then fall into step behind the man. Vice-captain Shiba leads the way down a series of corridors before finally coming to a stop in front of a closed door at the end of a hallway. Knocking politely he calls out, "Captain Ukitake, you have a visitor."

"Come in," a voice beckons from within.

Seemingly taking this as his cue Vice-captain Shiba slides the door open and then unceremoniously shoves me inside. Barely managing to catch my balance and avoid falling into a heap on the floor I turn around to glare at my superior, who is wearing an almost evil smirk on his face.

"Hello there."

My gaze shifts toward the voice and my eyes fall upon my captain for the first time. His hair is just as white as mine and his eyes look kind as he offers me a welcoming smile. The man does appear somewhat frail but he seems unusually cheerful none the less.

"Welcome to Squad Thirteen," Captain Ukitake said in the same gentle voice. "I've heard a lot about you Shirou-chan."

Oh no, not another one.

I have to fight the urge to snap out that my name is not Shirou-chan however I do manage to hold my tongue. It wouldn't be good if I snapped at my new captain the first time that I met him but I have no idea how long I can maintain my self control.

I really loathe that nickname.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how you progress. Kaien will show you to your quarters and then tomorrow we'll give you the assessment to find out where you rank in this squad. Does that sound alright with you?"

"Yes sir."

I turn to follow Vice-captain Shiba out of the room however I'm brought to a halt when Captain Ukitake once again calls out to me. "Oh, Shirou-chan. . ."

Clenching my hands into fists and hoping that he doesn't notice I turn to face my captain once more. "Yes sir?"

Captain Ukitake slowly gets to his feet and, much to my surprise, begins digging around in the sleeve of his white haori. I know there has to be a questioning look on my face because it looks as though the man has lost his mind. His purpose becomes abundantly clear seconds later as he begins to pull sweets from his sleeve like a magician.

I can feel my eyes widen as he places a pile of assorted candies into my arms.

"Consider this a welcoming gift," he says with a smile.

A/N - and that's it. This series officially ends with this one. Now Hitsugaya's officially a member of the Gotei 13. If enough people want me to then I could make a sequel and write about his rise through the ranks to becoming a captain but if not then I'll leave it where it is. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. Hitsu-taichou