I have been wondering all the time how exactly it has been when Hitsu was appointed captain. I ponder over what Kusaka has said, and while I did plan to post this, I was a bit caught up by something else. If Kubo-sensei ever reveals what exactly happened (if it just had to be that coincidental that he would), I'll still keep this oneshot untouched. Oh yes, one part of this, about Matsumoto, was inspired by my short chat with hyourin.tenshi-san over at lj. We were wondering how Matsumoto came to be his fukutaichou in the first place, so I came up with something. Thank you, hyourin.tenshi!
No, I do not own Bleach. I merely own the idea of this oneshot and some OCs - their names were completely random, and the meanings, ridiculous. Some parts, like how a division works for example the canteen, are made up by me. Beware a -slight- oocness. Hitsu's personality changed quite a bit since young till now so I'm not exactly sure how to interpret him in between.
Koori no Kokoro
If I had been more careful
Perhaps I would've had noticed
That there was someone right next beside me
With a heart of ice.
The early morning sun's rays beamed into his room, dawning upon the lithe figure sleeping ever so soundly in his futon. The rays intensified; his brows struggled to meet, while his lips, once in a fine line, curved downwards. A heavy eyelid fluttered open at the invasion of the light, an emerald glistening in the presence of it. Another jewel revealed itself from its chest soon after, a soft mumble escaping his lips as he sat up from the ground, rubbing the back of his neck where it had hurt the most. Stretching some of his muscles for a bit, the young shinigami rose to his feet and gave an exasperated sigh; it seemed just like any other day where the damned sun wasn't willing to back down just for one morning, didn't it.
Shrugging it off, the white-haired boy stood in front of his room's mirror, taking one mere glance before reaching out to straighten his hair for a bit; it sort of bugged him how strands of his...unique hair seemed to like sticking themselves to his face so stubbornly. He didn't exactly like the nature of his hair, but it couldn't be helped that he was born this way. Just as he remembered his grandmother would lovingly say every morning when she would help brush those white strands, he took after his mother more in terms of looks. Sometimes he wondered aloud if she had similar disdain to having hair clouding her vision all the time, but obaa-san would keep quiet and try to change the subject.
...Well, just like any other ordinary morning, his hair couldn't be fixed. It was stuck the way it was like it always does. Typical. He stepped over to the small, but handy closet, opening it up to simply don himself with the black kimono to complete the shihakushou set before kicking it close, straightening it as quickly as he could. Wearing this sort of thing always made him feel uncomfortable - no, it wasn't because of his physical stature - and he would, like any other normal person with a sense of uneasiness, try to avoid feeling that way. It wasn't like he could explain it anyway.
The last thing on his list, something he would hit himself for should he ever forget about it, was the silent sheathed blade attached to a light, forest green sash lying right beside his futon, not more than a few centimetres away from his head when he slept. The hilt of sky blue hue, and the guard of a four-pointed star, settled there so nicely it seemed like a sin to just grab it and wear it by his back by slinging the sash over his shoulder. He glanced up at the ceiling for a bit, eyelids falling to a half-close as a vein popped by his features. Yep, still sleeping, alright. All the more he should disturb that beauty sleep by committing this sinful act yet again.
Hitsugaya remained as stoic as ever, inching towards his zanpakutou while reaching out to hold onto the sash. He gripped onto it, stayed there for a few moments, and stood up while swinging the attached sword sloppily. The dragon did not seem to budge. Smirking inwardly, he thrust the sash over his shoulder comfortably, a metallic clanging following it soon after. From above, a claw of ice scratched the snout before the dragon rolled over to its left resuming its slumber.
Normally, this method of awakening it would stir it well enough for it to stop hovering above the young white-haired shinigami and keeping the room so chilled that he could see his own breath as well as the dragon's. Not that he disliked the cold, nothing of the sort. But it would be very gracious of Hyourinmaru if it could just stop lazing around and get back in his head; he'd really much rather have a mental chat than have a physical one. With the exception of sunlight, the dropping temperature in the room was something else which was enough to stun him awake.
He had long gained control over his power, but he couldn't help it when his zanpakutou was just so in love with materialising every single night of the week. He hadn't a clue when or how it had started, either. It just happened. But the fact still remained true; Hyourinmaru had materialised. That was all there was to it. Nothing more, nothing less...or so he had initially thought. It wasn't until his captain constant reminder of the possibility of a soul bearing the capability to have his zanpakutou spirit materialise surfaced in his mind did he realise the consequence of this phenomenon occurring every late evening. He kept the materialisation a secret.
Though Hitsugaya didn't know how long he could keep it, nor did he want to know how long it would be, he accepted it with his whole soul that the chances of him advancing into the next stage were higher than the rest of the seated officers in this division. His captain seemed to have had noticed, but said nothing about it. He just had this odd feeling in the gut that the usual stare his cold superior normally gave to anyone else only hardened when it landed on him, but it was perhaps just a mere figment of his imagination. Either that, or he was getting paranoid about the whole matter. While it wasn't strange for a seated officer to be able to maintain that certain power, it was rare in Soul Society's books since everyone, especially the captains, expected the lieutenants to have the capability. Even seated officers wouldn't dare think about training for bankai.
The white-haired shinigami suppressed a groan; it wasn't his fault this started anyway! ...Was it?
"Oi, Hyourinmaru, there's something I need to ask you," Hitsugaya nudged as quietly as he could; the other seated officers had this unusual habit of loitering around the corridor, right outside his room, and if they could hear him, he'd be in boiling soup. He shifted the zanpakutou's physical form around, the steel giving a smooth ring as it shook about in the sheath. "If you don't wake up now, I'm just going to leave you behind here."
That seemed to have done the trick; the dragon's spiritual form instantly dissipated into icy mist acting as a natural air-conditioner, surrounding the petite figure before entering the blade attached to his back, giving off a silent, pale blue hue. Hitsugaya gave a relieved sigh before heading out to where the seated officers usually met up for breakfast. It was partially his other self's fault for whipping up such a big appetite, after all. Throughout his years - actually, it was just one year - at the Shin'ou Reijutsu In, his zanjutsu shihan would occasionally remind the class that those with exceptionally high spiritual energy normally had a huge appetite since young, and that if anyone of them experienced this, he/she shouldn't be too shocked at the amount he/she could possibly consume in just a single meal. Hitsugaya grumpily folded his arms, mentally blaming the dragon for no other reason in particular.
I don't suppose you have anything nice to say to me this morning, do you, kozou? Hyourinmaru chuckled, soaring about in the frosted heavens before landing on the plain of ice gracefully. Nevertheless, the ice cracked beneath its weight, while pillars of ice appeared out of nowhere surrounding it. If it's about my 'bad habit' every night, you should figure it out on your own. After all, a dragon's wisdom is unparalleled, and I am willing to be held by you. I know my foresight can't do me any wrong; you have the knowledge at your disposal, just use it.
If it was anything he hated about having a dragon as his extension, other than its uncanny habit of appearing every now and then, it would be the way it liked beating about the bush. "Ohayou gozaimasu, Hitsugaya-goseki," the lower ranked officers bowed, Hitsugaya nodding at them albeit a bit uneasily; he was mentally telling Hyourinmaru to stop using the same old excuse every time this topic was brought up, and wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings. He hadn't even realised he already reached the division canteen until the fresh scent of soba came into his nose's way. He hadn't even realised how hungry he was until his stomach gave a low growl, while Hyourinmaru's rumbled fiercely; unfortunately, no one told him that zanpakutous and their wielders shared their hunger when he suddenly felt like chomping down on watermelons like he did before, except...he felt like having more than just that.
Judging by the queue, it really was soba and udon day. What day was it again...Thursday, Friday? He went to take a closer look; his nose didn't fail him, it was soba. Though it was a simple meal of plain soba, the chef would always add a few spices or some other delicacies as side dishes so that everyone could have their fill. After all, unranked officers had the standard human three meals a day, while seated officers had two. It was rumoured that captains and lieutenants could survive on one meal, sometimes not even a bite of food for an entire week. Of course Hitsugaya didn't believe that rumour; taichous and fukutaichous weren't an exception to the reiryoku-appetite condition, and with them having their daily training they were bound to feel hungry, even if it was just a little.
He was glad he wasn't a fukutaichou, or a taichou for that matter. He dismissed the thought of doing the monstrous paperwork, just like his own captain always does so, and preferred a seated rank over anything higher than that. It was just a wonder how he disliked using too much of his energy during the seated officer training and still wound up gobbling almost all of the food supply for the day. Again, he blamed Hyourinmaru, but he couldn't wait any longer; he stood to join in the queue, waiting for his turn patiently while Hyourinmaru simply glided across the never-ending blanket of blueness in his mind. At least it wasn't speaking to him anymore; they both weren't exactly good at conversing, after all.
Footsteps came up behind him, approximately a few feet away from where he was. A sigh was tugging at his vocal chords, but Hitsugaya held it back, awaiting a moment where he accepted three bowls of the soba and stepped away from a group of lower-ranked shinigami in quick succession, shunpo-ing to an unoccupied table at the corner. No one looked in their direction, or rather, no one bothered to. Mornings were already enough boring as they were, watching that handful of seated officers fight so early in the morning would ruin their mood; they had learned to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye unless things really got out of hand, but what were the odds of that anyway?
Maybe he should've had asked for an extra bowl, just in case those idiots 'accidentally' topple one of them over, as always. He was exceptionally hungry, he knew very well three bowls were just the tip of the iceberg, and he would be sure to go for a second round. As long as they didn't ruin his appetite, that is.
Footsteps came approaching again; Hitsugaya finally let the sigh loose. Five...the footsteps came louder than before. Four...someone just spat on the ground; how disgusting. Three...a couple of them were laughing with each other for some apparent reason he didn't want to find out. Two...they were getting so close he could hear their zanpakutou clanging about in their obi as they walked about clumsily. One...and there goes his good meal.
The white-haired seated officer didn't bother looking up to see who had just so nicely thrown away his bowl for him, and carried on poking at the ebi he asked for with a pair of chopsticks in tow, resting his cheek on his palm. He wanted to see how this would all turn out if he remained silent throughout the upcoming bicker; last time he tried, he had to be restrained by the fukutaichou himself before he really let the dragon loose and land a cold, solid punch on each of their sorry faces. They were lucky they got away unscathed but apparently, they didn't know of their good fortune.
"Hey, Hitsugaya, how'zit going, huh?" Taikiri Suyumi (tai - sea bream; kiri - fog; su - nest; yumi - bow) - 4th seat, also known as the leader of the pack - snickered. He had watched the same scene unfold every single freakin' dawn, his men getting their faces printed on the wall whenever they failed to get a tear in Hitsugaya's shihakushou sleeve. They always aimed to at least rip it off him, but everyone knew it was impossible for a bunch of lower-ranks to do that. "Well, you don't want to reply, then forget it. I don't know about you, but I am sick of the same ol' thing. My boys chasing you, you dodging them, coming all the way here to his godforsaken table and you enjoying your food. Soba, is it today? Fine, soba then. And anyway..."
"Taikiri-yonseki's friggerin' mad, Kuriga-san," Nigano Nezumi (niga - bitter; no - field; nezumi - mouse), 11th seat, whispered to the 9th seat standing beside him. "I wonder when that white-haired brat will finally give in and admit that Taikiri-senpai is, like, leagues away from him."
Namiki Kuriga (namiki - row of trees; kuri - chestnut; ga - moth) gave a wry smirk as their prideful leader continued his side of the row with the owner of rolling emerald orbs. "Heh, that little snob doesn't know what's good for him. You're a new recruit, so you probably don't know this, but during our final academy year, Hitsugaya-san was transferred to our class. We heard he was promoted straight from 4th grade after getting perfect results for every single test. Yes, yes, before you say anything, I know it's hard to believe that this miniature shrimp could be that outstanding. We couldn't believe it either, and we've started disliking that thick skin of his when he preferred being the damned loner he is to being one of us."
"This lil' kid? But he's half our age, maybe even less! He's got some guts, I'll say, for someone so pint-sized like him..." the navy blue-haired 11th seat mumbled under his breath, folding his arms and giving the ground a stomp. Now he could see it all, how much everyone in the group hated him so much, just like how he hated him as well. Their first encounter wasn't pleasant in the first place; his first impression of the younger, was a stuck-up oddball who didn't even bother to look at him in the eye. What he hated most, and apparently so did everyone else, was those piercing teal eyes he had. It was like they were shooting arrows at everyone they fell upon, being all so sparkly like some kind of weakling. The 6th Division accepted no weakling; all of the twigs were sent to the 4th Division. Why hadn't the little brat been sent there as well? He'd be more welcomed there than here.
But then again, if Kuchiki-taichou allowed him to get till this far, it must mean this boy was the real deal. The higher-ranked officers tended to train by themselves or in pairs, while he, belonging to the lower half, never had the chance to see his zanpakutou's release. Well, Nezumi never actually thought much about that weird-looking zanpakutou anyway; he doubted the pea could even unsheathe it without having the length of the blade affect him. It was, what, about the same height as he was, maybe even longer; sometimes he would hear the distant clanging of metal and turn back only to find the white-haired shinigami wandering about the division with paperwork in tow.
"...and that room of yours, pfft, oh goodness, what a room it is. I mean, it's just a little dump, nothing compared to mine," Taikiri's boasting shook the 11th seat out his daze; oh, it was getting more and more interesting. He could just see the veins pressing against the little rice grain's skin all over. Taikiri-senpai was really into it, making sure that the kid wasn't going to have a meal in peace. "Just one glance and I know it's bad stuff. Listen up, guys, this little kiddo's room here is one-fifth the size of mine, don't you agree? And my room obviously has better stuff than his room does, right?" They nodded enthusiastically. "See, Hitsugaya? Everyone agrees that I'm so much better off than you. Except for, maybe, where I came from, but hey, for all we know, you might've had come from Zaraki!"
Hitsugaya restrained a wince as the group beside him laughed as noisily as they could, snorting and choking on their own saliva. Now this was new; he could feel everyone's gaze on him as he picked up the cup and sipped the chrysanthemun tea calmly as if nothing much had happened. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing that almost every single seated shinigami thought of him as someone from the worst of the Rukongai districts when he never bothered sharing much of himself to anyone in the division. Somehow, he had gotten used to this.
As long as none of them decided to pester him about his origins, he figured he was fine. Even if they did, he wasn't going to care. A silvery white eyebrow faced up as he stole a glance at the empty bowls in front of him, bringing the edge of the cup to his lips before finishing off the last bit of his tea. He managed to slither his way through this mess, for the umpteenth morning in a row, and was quite frankly not very happy about it. Grabbing this chance to get far away from this noisy pack, the young shinigami stood up from his seat and turned to leave while gripping onto the tray, only to have someone tap on his shoulder.
Irritably, he and Hyourinmaru shrugged it off and walked on to return the tray. The dragon coiled itself around its wielder, making its presence known by freezing the surrounding air, while assuring him that he was to be forgiven since he evidently wasn't in the mood to go for a second round of food. It, like Hitsugaya, wanted to escape the canteen as soon as possible and not hang around with these insufferable people any longer. Their influence over others wouldn't do them any justice, or rather, wouldn't do Hitsugaya any good at all.
"Oi, where the hell do you think you're going, Hitsugaya?" the sour voice called out to him before the shinigami shunpo-ed and appeared in the doorway. "You know, you always carry that zanpakutou around with you, but you barely even touch on releasing it during training sessions, and it just so happens that everytime you do, I'm either off doing a mission or helping other captains with some work. And when I return, your shikai becomes the damned talk of the town; I ask for details but no one will bother telling me. You don't suppose I'm that stupid that I'm not able to figure out what you're playing at, do you? Don't screw with me, I know what's going in in that tiny brain of yours."
"...And what do you propose that I am 'playing at', Taikiri?"
Deep, brown eyes glinted like a cat's while it's hiding in the shadows; Hitsugaya stiffened slightly, his sixth sense - if he had any - was telling him that this man who just so happened to be a former classmate of his was not going to just be touching on this topic alone. Hyourinmaru was being unusually shifty; something sinister was forming in this show-off's mind, and they weren't going to like it. "Ain't it obvious? You hate me, you don't want me to have anything to do with you, you want me to leave you alone. Well, poor you, Hitsugaya, I'm not going to stop torturing you until you become someone of higher rank than me, but I'm betting on shit that you can't go anywhere further than the Fifth Seat you are now. The fact that I'm of higher rank than you is enough proof that you're nowhere as good as I am. Don't think that because you're some kind of prodigy who graduated from the academy in less than a year you can just ignore a superior when he's talking to you!"
Hitsugaya opened his mouth to retort, but Taikiri beat him to it. "You know, I have this feeling that you're just too scared to admit that I'm much better than you at everything. I think you're just keeping your zanpakutou's shikai thing a secret so that I don't know what it can do and someday if we're supposed to have a trial fight with each other, you'll be able to beat me hands-down only because you know what mine can do, while I don't know what yours can. Well I'm just gonna show to everyone that cowardly side of yours. After all, if I remember correctly, all you had back then was this purple-haired friend of yours. You two practically did everything together; ugh, it makes me sick just thinking about it.
"Heh, but whatever. Kusaka disappeared to who-knows-where, and he left you all sad and alone. That just goes to show how much of a coward you really are, I mean, even your best friend left you to fend for yourself. And...eh? Now what's this...?" Before the higher-ranked shinigami could take a look at the weird thing his hand was trapped in, he felt the same thing cover his legs, rooting him to the ground.
His eyes widened as the ice slowly made its way towards his upper torso, freezing him to the skin as the ice from his hand started to spread. It was like a disease, a raging disease that couldn't be stop. The sixteen officers present in the canteen caused an uproar as they watched their Fourth Seat struggle against the ice's hold on him, only to fail at doing so. The surrounding temperature fell drastically; they panicked when they saw their breaths heading for the ceiling in forms of white smoke, while bits of frost started invading their early morning meal. Breakfast suddenly became utterly unappetizing that none of them dared pick up their chopsticks and spoon and carry on with the once warm and filling soba.
The white-haired shinigami responsible merely leaned against the wall, arms stubbornly folded and resting against his chest. It wasn't like he was deliberately making the room this cold, but that was just the effect of letting even a shred of his reiatsu loose so sloppily. He reined it in swiftly, but the degrees in the canteen were falling to below single digits; Hyourinmaru distinctively snarled at the unkempt man half-encased in its ice, repeatedly reminding Toushirou that its wrath was his wrath, and his wrath in turn became its wrath as well. And as this concerned the matter of the past, there was no way the young dragon could let it slide without making his displeasure known. He didn't want to resort to this either; it just happened. He did his part to bring it under control but he couldn't help it if his other self was this furious. Kusaka was its wielder too, and whoever smeared its wielders name so openly was going to pay for it. He deserves it, the dragon constantly yelled while hovering above the plain of ice.
Hitsugaya rubbed his temples slightly; somehow this wasn't turning out as well as he expected it to be. Not only couldn't he stop the room from freezing up, but he could feel like he was losing himself to something, or some cause which he couldn't explain in words. He wouldn't say he was falling sick, per se, for the number of times he fell sick was equal to the number of times he got himself injured while going on a mini hollow hunt in the human world. This feeling was completely foreign to him...it bore no resemblance to the recent nights when he had to suffer the effects of being lethargic. Hyourinmaru's echoing roars weren't helping either; he just felt dizzier and dizzier as the minutes passed...
"What is the commotion here?"
All eyes fell on the new reiatsu presence entering the room that was half frozen over, widening as the raven-haired man calmly smashed the ice with a simple spell of Soukatsui, thawing the trapped 4th seat out. The captain of the 6th Division stonily gripped onto the limp, frozen arm of Taikiri before giving him a thrust. The subconscious shinigami found himself out of breath as he sought support from the wall he was knocked into, steadily falling to his knees as his eyelids drooped over, sending him to the abyss of darkness. As if uncaring about the condition of his subordinate, Kuchiki Byakuya turned to face the source of the icy reiatsu while all of the seated officers in the room, with the exception of the fallen one, bowed before their captain. Hitsugaya merely lowered his head, gluing his eyes to the ice patch below his feet; the pounding seemed to have lightened since the presence of his captain.
But nonetheless, he couldn't deny it; he was really in the brew this time round. "I can assume you are the source of the trouble here, Hitsugaya-goseki." Said emerald-eyed Fifth Seat remained silent. "I would like to have a word with you when night approaches. It is your wish if you would like to come or not, but if you do not, the soutaichou will meet you himself tomorrow morning. Is that understood?"
"Hai, taichou," Hitsugaya answered, keeping his head lowered. In one way or another, be it seeing Kuchiki-taichou personally or having the head captain of the Gotei 13 arriving just to meet him, there was no way the conclusion could be anywhere good in his opinion. He scanned the surrounding area; taichou had either masked his reiatsu as soon as he arrived here, or gone off to one of those captain meetings of his again. The emeralds only dared to reveal themselves when he heard the familiar chatting of his colleagues, voices barely above that of hushed murmurs.
He saw no purpose in staying in the canteen any longer. He should've had left with a dash of shunpo when he had the chance; Taikiri wouldn't be lying in a pool of icy water with pieces of torn flesh if that had been the case. No matter how much of a bastard he was, he didn't deserve having his blood vessels exposed to the germs present in the air, nor did he deserve the suffocation of lying within a case of ice. The freezing method wasn't this drastic in the past when people would simply give a yell and run off without bidding farewell - it was more like they didn't want to anyway. On the other hand, Hitsugaya never needed to resort to freezing somebody's limbs. It wasn't like he had the time to when everyone used to go in the opposite direction of where he was heading so as to not get in his way.
Without taking another look at the tattered arm, Hitsugaya turned and shunpo-ed into the distance. Mornings at the 6th Division canteen weren't going to be the same anymore.
On a whole, Yamamoto-Genryuusai Shigekuni was definitely interested to know how his colleagues were going to react to the piece of news he was about to share with them. He knew, for a fact, that being the head of the Onmitsu Kidou Soifon was bound to disagree; this was the first time of many when he did not first consult her agreement for a serious matter such as this. And there she stood in her usual posture, arms folded and haori covering most of the shadowy uniform she donned. He had specially given her a message to come to the meeting, as well as be mentally prepared for something which she wouldn't expect during her many decades of being the 2nd Division captain after her mentor.
With the thought of disagreement lingering in his mind, he thought about the possibilities of the other captains' reactions: Ichimaru was probably going to mention a few sentences, but leave it at that once the meeting was over; the head doctor of Soul Society would definitely reject the idea at the initial stages, and it was proven to be a challenge to persuade Unohana to letting it slide; Aizen wasn't someone who gave his opinions so openly so Yamamoto could say that he wasn't very worried about having an additional taichou disagreeing; Kuchiki's consent was long given before the intention of holding this meeting even came about; there was little to say about Komamura as he never once went against him; Kyouraku, one of his beloved pupils, and Ukitake, the other, were almost worlds apart, and he could expect to hear of Jyuushirou's reasons to disagree; Tousen, like Aizen, normally kept his views to himself; Zaraki of the 11th was nowhere to be seen, but if he were to arrive to hear of the news, there would be a need to put a restraining order on both him and Kurotsuchi.
But in the end, those were but mere possibilities of the near future.
Resting upon his seat, Yamamoto took this chance to do a head count. Indeed, judging by the dormant reiatsu traces in the room, excluding his own, all of the captains were present for the meeting. By 'all' of the captains, he meant, only twelve of the original thirteen if he included himself in the list. From when it was established until now, only a select few were still holding their captaincy and would surely continue to do so. It was this day, he decided, that it was a good time to break it to all of them that at last, there was a glimmer of hope for one day to have thirteen captains leading the thirteen divisions. Taking in a deep breath - even he was excited for this day to come - Yamamoto opened his mouth and spoke.
It was late into the evening, the sun had long bid its farewells for the day and handed its shift over to its counterpart which had yet to rise from its slumber. It merely took a few minutes for the luminous orb to disappear into the horizon before the next appeared like an ascending sun, its bright peal hue reflecting off its fine, circular body as it called upon the stars to appear, illuminating the darkened heavens. Like the jubilant balls of gases they were, an array of mint green, pale blue, snow white and violet displayed attracted the young strawberry blonde staggering her way back to her respective division. She glanced up towards the night sky, cooing when she detected the presence of colourful lights. Shaking the bottle of sake in her fingers, she leaned against a nearby tree and brought the edge of the jar to her rosy pink lips.
A cool night breeze brushed against her shihakushou, the ends of the cherry blossom pink scarf tied around her waist like an obi dancing along with the strands of perfectly blond orange. Ripples in the pond right next to the tree spread around like some sort of bushfire, the tails of the koi flipping about adding a composition to accompany the chilly winter night. It was no winter solstice, merely a step closer to December, but for some odd reason, things just got colder and colder around these parts. At least the innocent fishes weren't badly affected, the shinigami wasn't going to care about the weather. She had everything; the stars, a gaze of the full moon, a nice tree she could lean on, some light gusts of wind, music to go along with it, and best of all, a jar of sake, still half-full in her possession. But it was still not what she would call a perfect night.
"Peace has always been revolving the grounds of Soul Society," the old captain began with a tightened grip on his staff. "However, we must not forget the incident that took place approximately eight decades ago which caused a drastic loss of leaders in the Gotei 13. Eleven powerful figures were exiled to the living world due to an unforgivable crime they have committed, out of which one dared to go against us and accompany them to the human world. All of them were former captains and lieutenants, which some of you are holding now."
Soifon narrowed her eyes slightly; it would've had been better if Yamamoto mentioned twelve instead of eleven, but she wouldn't even be in this cold hall to hear him say that if her beloved Yoruichi-sama were willing to take her along. A future without her mentor wasn't even sufficient enough to call itself a future. She took up the 2nd Division captaincy, all with the reluctance, but each time she thought about that violet-haired woman who taught her almost everything she needed to know, she swore that if one day fate allowed them to meet, she wasn't going to let her go so easily. Not if she was going to train hard for that likelihood of things. But whatever the soutaichou was saying wasn't going to be something she, or anyone, for that matter, was going to like very much.
"It has only been in the recent years where we have lost yet another captain, but his reason to reside in the living world was acceptable. For unknown reasons, juuban tai taichou, Kurosaki Isshin, has lost his powers as a shinigami, and to regain them, we have allowed him to stay in the world of the living. However, he has requested that we give him the right to stay there permanently. As you all may know, it has been a while since we have another captain joining us for this gathering, and it is for Kurosaki-taichou's sole reason alone which kept it this way." With a slight pause, the old man turned away as if pondering over his next choice of words, before he turned back and banged his staff against the ground. "That is why I have decided to give the 10th Division another chance, for them to have a new captain who will lead them. In other words, I have chosen a suitable candidate for the captaincy. Therefore, I have gathered all of you here, to now share your views on the person I have personally picked from the handful of seated officers."
"And that candidate would be...?" Aizen asked, mentally smiling at whoever could be so fortunate, and unfortunate at the same time.
Yamamoto's brows furrowed. "The current Fifth Seat of the 6th Division, Hitsugaya Toushirou."
It wasn't like she was complaining or anything close, but if her taichou had been around to see this with her like he always did, it'd make her world as a fukutaichou go around. Ever since she came to the 10th Division as a seated shinigami, she has had heard rumours circulating about the division of the Narcissus symbol. The most exaggerated, and probably the closest to the truth, was that their captains were the unluckiest batch amongst all of the shinigami. All of the previous 10th Division heads either perished in an unknown accident, or stripped of his rank to be exiled to the human world. Never once did this happen to a division so often, except for the division with the perfect not-so-perfect number ten. It took her long enough before she was finally promoted to Second Seat, also known as her lieutenant rank, and she finally had the chance to work closely with the previous captain.
He was...kind, to say the least. He appreciated all the good effort the division members put in during their training; he'd simply go around waving hi to just any shinigami and thank them for their hard work. Each time they had to slay a hollow, he would comfort any nearby children, assuring them that he would get the job done, and proceed on to purifying the invader with just one slash from his blade. They would set up a big welcome party for any shinigami, be it ranked or not, and pass countless jars of sake around. However, Matsumoto knew, every taichou had his faults. And Kurosaki-taichou's biggest was that he never got the job done. By job, she meant that piling stack of papers from Hell, or so called by her captain. It wasn't that he never had time in his hands, it was just that he would rather go to the bar and take a drink. She once attempted to complete it for him, but he stopped her and passed her the irresistable wine. That was good enough a reason not to do the paperwork.
Of course, over time the head captain would ask Kurosaki-taichou for the overdue paperwork, of which he would complete overnight to hand it in. It was like how humans needed to hand in their homework, he'd say. Schools in the human world were probably the strictest places on earth, and strange in their own way. But since he was comparing it to that of the Shin'ou Reijutsu In, he wasn't in the position to smear the name of schools. When asked how he knew of so much about how humans worked when he never worked undercover as a student before, he would grin and reply that he worked undercover as a teacher.
With a sigh playing at her lips, Matsumoto tossed the empty bottle after licking off the last drop, savouring it before pushing herself off the bark. With Kurosaki-taichou gone - lost his powers, he said, needed to go to the world of the living, he said, met the girl of his dreams, he said; she could never understand the ways of her captain - there wasn't much fun in the 10th Division anymore. She was put in charge of handling 10th Division matters, all of the paperwork thrown into her arms and major meetings she had to attend as a fukutaichou; it wasn't an easy job, that was all she could say. She was tackling both a taichou's and a fukutaichou's workload, but it eased with the gracious fact that she didn't need to attend those numerous captain meetings every single day of the week.
Continuing on her way, the buxom fukutaichou walked with her feet crossed, and her eyes glued to the path that laid before her. It wasn't until she noticed a spike in the surrounding reiatsu did she look up to see a figure moving in the shadows, the glistening of his blade reflected into her eyes; her hand swiftly made it to the hilt of her zanpakutou while she bit her lower lip, resisting the unusually high reiatsu.
"But sir, he is just a boy." Unohana was the first to speak. "While it is true that he is strong, the responsibilities of a captain remain too much for someone of his age to handle. I just don't think the rank of captain is suitable for him."
"Following that, I would like to add that someone of such age is incapable of achieving bankai, which is a necessary requirement for captaincy other than this poor excuse of a taichou here," the masked scientist spoke as-a-matter-of-factly, pointing at the towering figure not more than a few feet away from him accusingly. He gained himself a beautiful vulgarity from the monster of the 11th Division, but nothing more than that. "Based on my understanding, someone who is capable of gaining bankai is an average of twice, if not, thrice the kid's age. True, he makes an intriguing subject, but nevertheless, having someone like him join our ranks is completely unheard of. Moreover, I've measured the extent of his reiryoku in an experiment you allowed me to conduct. Need I remind you, soutaichou, that the results were completely disappointing? In the first place, the core of his reiatsu is unstable, and his shikai hasn't been fully mastered. He is incapable of achieving bankai. If he does, I will personally conduct another experiment on him and prove everyone wrong."
"Ah, but this is where you are wrong, Kurotsuchi-taichou," Yamamoto replied, remaining indifferent. "The experiment was conducted when Hitsugaya Toushirou just graduated from the Shin'ou Reijutsu In. The child has a promising future as it is; I do not wish to waste this chance to bring out that boy's potential. Kyouraku-taichou, Ukitake-taichou, as well as myself, have evaluated his strength without hosting the taishushiken openly, and we have satisfactory results." The named captains of the 8th and 13th smiled faintly with Kyouraku tipping his hat over to hide the larger of the smiles. Oh yes, it had been satisfactory, all right.
When the night was young, and the diamonds in the sky sparkling like there was no tomorrow, they remembered, sensei had asked them out to the 6th Division training grounds. Byakuya gave them his approval, mentioning that whatever they wanted to do with his Fifth Seat was 'none of his business whatsoever', but Ukitake knew there was more to that than what met the eye. In truth, Yamamoto-sensei had sent the candidate to the 6th Division not because of his fighting abilities, but because he felt that there was something from the young shinigami that everyone, especially the noble, could learn. And even though it wasn't much, the 13th Division captain could tell that Byakuya had indeed learnt something after Rukia once admitted to him that her nii-sama returned home in a better mood than usual; she could tell, even though he still carried that solemn stare of his.
And when Byakuya gave a nod of his head to the promotion of the white-haired 5th seat, Yamamoto was certain he had made a good choice.
So when they arrived at the training grounds, they were prepared to witness how the well-known prodigy had gotten his title; they masked their reiatsu, hid themselves equally well, and awaited the arrival of the possible candidate. Ukitake and Kyouraku were just all too surprised to see a certain strawberry blonde stagger her way into their view after apparently finishing off a bottle of her sake which the flamboyantly dressed captain almost jumped at if not for the fact that she tossed it aside. Tears were practically streaming down his face and Ukitake had quite the trouble of calming his friend down. What distracted the both of them, was the fact that they heard a click of a blade; Matsumoto had her hand clenched on the hilt of her zanpakutou, looking at something seemingly suspicious in front of her. They followed her gaze, and found the current apple of their teacher's eye.
To the widening of blue grey eyes, a lone figure stepped out from the shadows, clutching onto a sheathed zanpakutou with a hilt of icy blue and a guard of a star which seemed to hang from the heavens. A sash of forest green drooped carelessly with its ends tied to the ocean blue sheath, with the wielder having a frown etched onto his features finely, eyes stuck on the zanpakutou in his grasp. Matsumoto's hand immediately loosened its grip on the crimson hilt of her own, gaze intently kept on the child heading for her direction. She focused on him; indeed, this reiatsu that was practically freezing the surrounding air, sending particles of ice falling to the ground, stemmed from this kid that didn't look as if he realised anything about his reiatsu leak.
Now that she thought of it, this awfully reminded her of something. Nostalgia seeped into her mind as it was filled with the thoughts of this certain white-haired brat she met at a stall while she was in Junrinan...She took a closer look as the figure came closer; a tuft of silvery white hair which glistened in the pearl moonbeam bounced as he walked, and those piercing emeralds...there was no mistaking it. It was this kid, the one she found all those years ago, living with his granny in this nice, little hut. No wonder the reiatsu felt all too familiar for her liking; it was the same ice sensation her body sensed when she entered that hut to look for the kid. Ah, but it looked like all that training at the Shin'ou Reijutsu In was for naught. After all, he looked like a graduate, maybe even a member of the 6th Division, but he still couldn't control his power properly. Exactly what were they teaching the kids nowadays? What a pain...
"Oi, so it's you again, kid! It's been a while, hasn't it?" Matsumoto asked in a sing-song voice, flashing the white-haired boy a bright smile and wink.
"...You!" Hitsugaya yelled, resisting the urge to point a finger at the woman standing in front of him. He hadn't even noticed her presence, well, not till she called out to him, obviously. "What are you doing here? I don't remember seeing you around here...so you must be from another division. It's late, shouldn't you be heading back?"
"Well the same goes for you, kiddo. And just so you know, I am on my way back to my division," the blonde teased, stroking the white fluff the kid had for hair. Funny, it felt like cotton and silk mixed, and quite frankly it was in a much better condition than the tuft he had those years ago. "I see you aren't doing very well. You didn't even notice I was here until I acknowledged your presence. Seriously, how did you graduate? You still can't control your own power properly..."
Hitsugaya slapped her hand away, a throbbing vein pressing against his forehead. "I graduated in less than a year, thank you very much. Touch me again, and I'll freeze you, whatever you name is."
Matsumoto stuck her lower lip out, placing her hands on her hip. "For a kid, you sure are boastful, not to mention mean. My name is Matsumoto Rangiku, I'm the 10th Division fukutaichou. Not bad, huh? You say you graduated in less than a year? I wouldn't be too surprised to hear that. You must be that prodigy everyone's talking about, aren't you? That Hitsu-Hitsu something person...well, Hitsu-something, what are you doing out here in the cold night? Kids like you should sleep more, you know."
"First off, it's Hitsugaya Toushirou, Fifth Seat of the 6th Division," the young shinigami answered grumpily. The way he held Hyourinmaru in his arms was equivalent to that of a human child who woke up in the middle of the night, pulling his plush toy closer to his body in an embrace. Matsumoto could've had squealed aloud if not for the fact that it would wake the nearby shinigami up from their sleep, and complaints would start swarming in the 10th Division. "I've...just finished a round of late training, but I encountered a small problem. I thought I could fix it on my own, but when I found that I couldn't, I thought Kuchiki-taichou could suggest something good..."
"Heehhh...tell you what, I'll help you in your problem. I told you you should become a shinigami so that you could control your power, and now that this happens, I feel like it's my responsibility. So come on, tell me what's the problem, Hitsugaya-chan." The kid better appreciate it...if I weren't such a nice person, he'd end up getting a lecture by Kuchiki-taichou or something. And besides, he's cute. I don't want him to leave so soon.
A silvery white eyebrow almost vanished into the sea of whiteness, but the prodigy gave a sigh. "This," he mentioned hesitantly, pointing his thumb at whatever was behind his back while keeping his frown in place. "is the problem."
Not all of the captains exactly followed where the meeting was heading to, mainly because their head captain had suddenly stopped in his little storytelling session. When silence settled in, Zaraki shifted about uneasily, shrugging aside the stiffness of his biceps. He had this urge to run out there and find someone to pick a fight with to warm himself up; maybe it was better if he had done so before this whole solemn gathering. The old man was taking a much longer time than he expected it to be. Not only was he interested in getting to know this kid, a desire to have a fight, even if it was a few seconds short, with him soon developed as Yamamoto recounted the tale of the so-called child prodigy gaining unexpected power. Power meant strength, strength meant power, and both meant that the brat could put up a good fight if he wanted to use them both. The thought of how interesting it could get flashed in his and the mad scientist's minds.
The old captain nodded in his student's direction, with Ukitake acknowledging it and stepping forward to continue from where it had left off. All eyes were on him except for the statue-like noble of the 6th Division, and his fellow twin-zanpakutou wielder Kyouraku. The white-haired captain coughed into his sleeve for a few seconds before he began, "Yamamoto-sensei, Kyouraku-taichou and I feel that Hitsugaya-kun should be given a chance for captaincy not only because we think he can handle it, but also because there is a special matter concerning his zanpakutou. We believe that Hitsugaya-kun developed his bankai prematurely, and therefore he doesn't have much control over it. He admitted it to Matsumoto-fukutaichou that he didn't even realise that he had attained bankai."
Before Mayuri could begin his unneeded explanation on the odds of achieving accidental bankai, Ukitake added on quickly, "I have checked the library for all the details, but I could find none. We think that in this case, all the more we should hand the captaincy of the 10th Division over to him. On one hand, he and Matsumoto-fukutaichou have long established a friendly relationship and we wouldn't need to worry about them not being able to get along. On the other, he can gain experience and learn how to master bankai more efficiently. It will turn out in a win-win situation for both of us. There is also another characteristic we have discovered about his zanpakutou; it's not in his favour, having this troubling characteristic. And..."
And Matsumoto nodded, arms folded beneath her ample bosom as she sat on the rough ground Indian-style. Standing in front of her, a seemingly perplexed Hitsugaya stared while brushing off the shreds of ice on his shoulders; judging by how confident she seemed, she must've had some kind of clue leading her to a conclusive result, except that perhaps she was thinking about how to put it in an easier way for him to understand (if that was really the case, then he had another reason to freeze her solid). When minutes were devoured by the silence, he folded his arms, suppressing a cold sigh, and tapped his foot noiselessly. She had a finger to her puckered lips, a 'hmm' vibrating off her mouth while she tilted her head backwards, a snow white orb reflected off her eyes.
"Huh, huh...I see, I see..." she mumbled to herself before perking up and grinning again. "So this is Hyourinmaru-chan, ne?" Matsumoto nodded at the spectacular dragon if ice hovering behind its wielder, only to have the dragon stare into her eyes with its scarlet orbs. It was enough to send chills down anybody's spine as it was; the icy scales reflecting the moonlight with its wings folded, but she was certain that if it were to unfurl them, it would freeze their entire radius and uproot the surrounding sakura trees. "Well, I can understand why you're so troubled, Hitsugaya-chan. Your zanpakutou manifests itself every night, and it drains you of your reiryoku as a result. In actuality, I've never heard of manifesting your zanpakutou's spirit and losing spiritual energy like that. From what I understand, if you had used your zanpakutou's power, then it would make sense, so...This may sound a bit crazy, but I suspect that you've already gotten your bankai, Hitsugaya-chan."
"Ban...kai?" Hitsugaya replied, raising an eyebrow as he stroked the dragon's jaw which rested comfortably against his right shoulder. "Hyourinmaru...and I? We've reached bankai? But how? I don't remember training that extensively...and besides, I never wanted to learn it, and neither does Hyourinmaru."
"Hmm...Instinct, I presume. After all, Hyourinmaru-chan is a dragon, so technically speaking, you are too, you know." She took a pause and tapped him on the chest, just about the same way she did the last time they met. "Besides, you've got so much power in you, don't you think it's a bit too much for the both of you if you try to keep that power in and not release it? The only reason I can think of is that your power just keeps piling and piling till it's impossible to keep it in the same form anymore, so that power manifested itself as your bankai. It's a bit illogical, maybe even off what we studied, but there are just some things that no one knows, and it's up to us to find those things. I'm not the 10th Division fukutaichou for nothing, you know.
"Just trust me. And trust Hyourinmaru. You've got each other; what else do you have to lose? Take your chances, kid, and don't give up until the end. Now that that's said..." A sly smirk formed at the edges of her lips. "I wanna see your bankai. Now."
A dust ball rolled by. "...Oi, don't you think that's a bit too abrupt?" the two dragons chorused.
"Nonsense!" She waved a hand in front of her, chuckling it off. "It's only natural I want to know. Even if you don't say it, I'm sure you want to know what it's like to have bankai, Hitsugaya-chan. I don't think I'll ever have the chance of having Haineko materialise like that yet, but if you do show me, maybe you'll be able to motivate me. You did say that during your training, something strange happened to you, right? I think that's just bankai taking its form. You're just so close to it, yet so far. Like I said, don't give up. Just move forward!" she exclaimed excitedly, giving her fingers a v-shape while tossing the both of them a wink.
Hitsugaya sighed in response; he really didn't want to bring it to a further step, at least, not in front of someone he didn't know very well. He required more training, he knew at least that much. Unsheathing Hyourinmaru's blade with reluctance, he gave the dragon a mental note to which it nodded. Closing his eyes and calming his mind, he allowed the iciness from within himself spread out; true to what Matsumoto had said, he had caved in all of this reiatsu and was, for the first time, willing to let it all out in that one key moment. He felt the dragon disappear into himself, while the earth beneath him shook in the burst of his reiatsu. Just as he expected; it was too sudden to call upon a power which he didn't know he had in the first place. The dizzy spells started to blur his vision as his head pounded, a certain coldness creeping up from his shoulders to his arms. It was only for that period of time did he regain a bit of his self-consciousness, noticing the concerned look on the woman's face, before his world turned black.
"Unfortunately, it seems that he can't maintain his bankai for very long. No longer than three seconds, if estimated correctly," Ukitake ended before taking a bow as he stepped back. It was a bit of a pity, he wished he could've had seen more. It must be a grand scene, for a dragon that majestic to bestow the power of bankai upon its wielder unconsciously. But he couldn't blame the child; in the first place, forcing bankai whenever he wished took a toll on his body, whereas in the past it was most likely it just came whenever it wanted to, the only side-effect being the fact that he needed to replenish that much power lost by eating more. It was astounding enough, for him to call upon bankai and pass out without having any other sign of experiencing pain. From his personal experience, learning bankai was no easy task, and using it was just as taxing as going through multiple battles in a row without it.
"That is why after discussing it with Kyouraku-taichou and Ukitake-taichou, we have arrived a consensus," Yamamoto continued. "If we place Hitsugaya Toushirou in the 10th Division, he will be able to gain enough experience which will give him the chance to train his bankai in order to control it properly. Before we officially hand him the captaincy, we will give him a trial run which will prepare him for his bankai training. At the same time, we can keep a close eye on him. Should anything out of the ordinary happen, I will have Kurotsuchi-taichou to take a look into matters, but I will also give Matsumoto-fukutaichou the right to investigate them properly before Kurotsuchi-taichou assists her, and I strictly mean, assist her."
Mayuri scoffed, but left it at that. "Well, if there are no further objections, I hereby pronounce that the 10th Division captain will be former Fifth Seat of the 6th Division, Hitsugaya Toushirou. As his captain, Kuchiki-taichou will prepare the promotion ceremony which we will carry out one month later. Until then, we will host another meeting. All thirteen of us," he added, hiding a content smile within himself.
Ukitake nodded lightly; yes, everyone was going to help, in some way or another. That alone made him excited for what the future could hold for the young captain. In all of Soul Society's history books, there was no one younger than he who held a captain rank; he was to be the youngest, living up to the name of tensai, a respected figure of Seireitei. With a mental, playful grin, the elder Shirou thought about what kind of welcome gift he should present to this Hitsugaya Toushirou the next time they meet. And during that next time, he knew, the child wasn't going to forget his first encounter with the man known as Ukitake Jyuushirou. Just like how the sickly captain wasn't about to forget what transpired in that night. Looking in his direction, Kyouraku shared the same smile on his face.
"Youngest ever to reach captain rank, huh? That's my Toushirou for you," the old grandmother commented, giving the smooth, snow white hair a firm brush. "It has only been a few years since you came to visit me, and you have changed this much. And yet, your hair is still in the same condition as it was when you were by my side, if not, better. You must be sleeping very well lately, haven't you?"
"Not really," her grandson replied flatly, stroking against the folded fabirc in his palms.
"Toushirou, are you sure you're all right?" Grandmother Hitsugaya asked, wetting her fingers in a bowl of icy water before letting them run through Hitsugaya's hair. "You've been staring at your haori ever since you came here. You don't look like you're very happy to achieve captaincy either. Is something troubling you, my dear child? Something about that friend of yours you told me so often about?"
He glanced towards the wall that was further away from him, staying in that position as the thoughts rummaged through his mind. 'Kusaka...if it had been you, would you have accepted it? Would you be acting the same way I am now?' his fingers curled into a fist. In his mind surfaced a young adolescent, hair of deep royal purple, eyes of fine navy blue which reminded him of the vast ocean, and a smile dawning upon his face. Hitsugaya softened, allowing a weak smile replace his frown. 'Yeah...knowing you, you'd take this haori and leap with joy. You'd tell me how hard you've worked to the top, then show me this piece of white cloth, try it on, and ask if you look good in it. You'd tell me how much you've wanted to hold a haori with your own two hands. You'd tell me all of the good things about being a captain, and repeat it everytime we meet. That's just like you, idiot.'
"For...the sake of...Soul Society...I..."
And again, his grip hardened, nails digging into his palm. Near drawing blood, he swallowed a lump of his saliva, and sighed. 'You just couldn't get any dumber, could you, Kusaka...? You were truly the idiot of all idiots...'
Hitsugaya blinked, biting his lower lip before letting a true smile find its way to his face. "It's nothing, baa-san."
'Yeah...the idiot of all idiots, alright.'
"Well, what do you think of it now?"
Hitsugaya nearly inched away from the reflective piece of glass, having this horrible feeling in the gut that his hairdo had taken on a whole new look and that he wasn't going to like it very much. But since this was his grandmother he was talking about, and not those crazy hairstylists back in Seireitei...He had no reason not to oblige either, at any rate. Sighing a little, he accepted the mirror with both of his hands and looked into it. There, he saw himself, though as awkward as it seemed he had to admit that he hadn't realised how...mature he seemed. By mature, he didn't mean like grumpy or anything close to that. He just didn't realise that his brows were whiter than he expected, and his eyes, smaller than it usually appeared. Maybe it had been because he was back at home where he was used to seeing large teal eyes and pale skin staring back at him.
And there it was, after tilting the glass for a bit, he saw his hair. Sure, there was that large wisp of it covering his left eye; it looked like even obaa-san couldn't do anything about that troublesome hair. But what exactly did she do, he had no idea. There had to be some reason why all of his hair, save that bunch of strands, was standing upright as if he were some porcupine or something. It definitely didn't have that smooth feel to it as opposed to the past. It was probably going to take a while before he and everyone could get used to that sort of do.
"It's the best I could do for you. I just thought that if I made it stand out like this, perhaps you look more like the authorative figure you are, and everyone can give you their respect for it, Hitsugaya-taichou," she teased, wrinkles creased as the edges of her lips pulled to a wide, warm-hearted smile. "And if you're worried about the stiffness of it, it'll soften over time. By the time you drop by to visit, it'll pop back to the same style you used to have. So when it does, be sure to come look for me, my little Hitsugaya-taichou."
"This is probably the first time I'm ever going to say it to anyone," he replied, smiling back. "but please, baa-san, when we're alone, it's Toushirou."
The grandmother took a deep breath, sniffing slightly as she pulled her grandson into an embrace. "Of course, my little dragon."
If I had been more careful
Perhaps I would've had noticed
That there was someone right next beside me
With a heart of ice.
And maybe, just maybe...
That person turned out to be you.
A/N: In all weirdness, yes, this is how my brain operates. Now I don't know why I called his 'Heart of Ice'...when it has absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever. And the last bit was actually referring to Kusa's and Hitsu's opinions of each other. But this was barely a shounen ai fic, let alone KusaHitsu.
Actually, I find that this oneshot is pretty abstract in some way. I can't understand things myself as some points...I admit that I plunged into this without really thinking straight. I just wanted to get this off my chest as soon as possible becaues the idea was just begging to be written. I left a lot of loopholes which I'm really too tired to fill. I need to continue on the trilogy, otherwise I'll never hear the end of the plot bunnies...if Isshin were really the 10th Div captain, all the better. Another bunny's about to be born, and I don't know if that's good or bad. -inches away from bunnies-