Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach nor any of the characters.

Chapter Seventeen - Squad Three

Wearing Hyourinmaru secured across his back Toushirou made his way toward the Academy grounds for the ceremony that would make him an official Shinigami. One of the few occasions when un-ranked Shinigami were allowed to carry their Zanpaktou this would be when the white haired prodigy would find out to which squad he had been assigned.

"Are you excited little one?"

Hitsugaya listened as the voice of his Zanpaktou spoke, a stoic expression on his young face. He shrugged his shoulders as he replied honestly, "Not really."

Most if not all of the others who were graduating with him were excited about becoming full fledged Shinigami, and had been talking incessantly about the Squads that they hoped to be a part of, but not Toushirou. While it was true that he was glad to be leaving the Academy behind he wasn't delusional enough to think that things would be any different now that he was joining the ranks of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. People would still view him differently because of his age and the amount of time that it had taken him to go through the Academy.

Six months instead of the traditional six years.

He had been labeled a child prodigy due to this fact and many of his peers hated him because of it. They were jealous and tended to take out their pent up frustrations by mocking the white haired boy. For the most part Toushirou would merely stare at them until they had finished and then go about his business as though they hadn't spoken. This, in turn, had led them to label him as cold and unfeeling.

It wasn't the truth; he had feelings the same as everyone else. He had just learned to hide that fact better than most.

"Well if it isn't the child prodigy…" one of the Academy students said as Toushirou walked up to the group. The older male's voice was scathing, as was the look in his eyes, but the white haired youth chose to overlook both. He merely took his place in line without so much as a sideways glance at the boy who had spoken. He was here for one thing and one thing only… to find out to which squad he had been assigned.

After speaking with Urahara about the fact that traces of Aizen's reiatsu had been detected Head Captain Ukitake resumed his trip to the Academy grounds. His thoughts were filled with questions, none of which he could find the answers for, but that didn't decrease the white haired man's desire to watch the graduation ceremony.

This was Toushirou's time to shine so he would focus all of his attention on the boy that he had grown to view as more of a son than anything else. There would be plenty of time afterward to dwell on the situation with the missing Shinigami.

Ukitake arrived at the Academy just in time to watch as the names of all the graduates were called and they were given their squad assignments. Having resisted the urge to pull some strings and get the boy placed in his own squad the Head Captain listened intently as Toushirou's name was called. The child prodigy had graduated first in his class so his name was called first and the squad that he was assigned to turned out to be Squad Three.

This particular squad was led by the newest to join the ranks of the captains, the former vice-captain of Squad Five, Gin Ichimaru. The man had silver hair and wore a perpetual grin, making him very fox-like in appearance. He was inexperienced as far as leaders went but, like Toushirou himself, had graduated the Academy in less than a year. Perhaps that would aid in the young prodigy's adjustment… or at least Ukitake hoped that it would.

Because he couldn't fail to notice the fact that the other Shinigami didn't treat Toushirou the same as they treated one another. His abilities had always marked him as different and Ukitake hoped that this would change now that he was no longer a student.

For Toushirou's sake.

Things had been far from easy for the boy ever since his arrival in the Soul Society and, as much as he hated to admit this fact even to himself, Ukitake didn't think that things were going to get better anytime soon. Toushirou had powers that the others didn't, despite the fact that part of them had been sealed, and this would always cause him to be the object of envy among his peers. Regrettable but a fact of life that Toushirou seemed to have learned to cope with already, if his reputation for being cold was any indication.

"Such a sad destiny Fate gave this child," Ukitake thought to himself.

Once the ceremony was over the students were dismissed, having been ordered to report to their respective squads the following day. Catching sight of Toushirou, Ukitake motioned for him to come over. Which the boy did, though he appeared somewhat reluctant to answer the summons. There was a wary look in his teal eyes that he couldn't entirely conceal.

"Yes?" he said in a quiet voice.

"So how do you feel about your new squad?" Ukitake questioned as he gazed down at the boy.

Toushirou shrugged his small shoulders in a nonchalant manner, not really having an opinion one way or another on the subject. He quite honestly couldn't care less, it wasn't as though which squad he was in would change anything. "I didn't have any preferences… one squad is just as good as another."

Ukitake nodded, having known that the boy's reply would be something along those lines. A small smile appeared on his face as he reached out and tousled the boy's hair fondly. Of course this motion elicited a groan of protest from the boy as Toushirou stepped back, out of the man's reach. Ukitake chuckled, having expected this as well. Pride shone in his eyes as he gazed at the boy, speaking quietly. "I'm proud of you Toushirou…"

The boy blinked a couple of times in surprise before muttering a quick, "Thank you," and then making a hasty retreat.

A/N - End of another chapter and Toushirou is placed in Squad Three. So how many of you think that will turn out well? Hope that you enjoyed the chapter.