Author's note: So here comes my first multichapter Bleach story. This is about the younger days of Captain Hitsugaya, his journey from Rukongai to becoming a captain of Gotai 13. There are no pairings in this story, at least not for Hitsugaya.

Also, I completely disregard the Diamond Dust Rebelion here. I don't like the premise the story was based on and I don't understand how was it supposed to work. So if you are Kusaka fans, sorry, he doesn't exist here. Otherwise I'm keeping to canon, with manga being more important than anime.

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.

On the frozen plain 1: Dreams of snow


The snow was covering the ground everywhere he could see. It was deep; his short legs were sinking into it well above his knees. And it was cold. His breath was condensating in small clouds of fog. The freezing air was biting into his thin body covered only in tattered old clothes, utterly insufficient for such weather.

He took a look around. The scenery appeared very much the same in every direction. A seemingly endless snowy plain with a couple of low hills and the occasional leafless tree. It was snowing lightly and the flakes dancing in the air were preventing him from seeing far. He knew there was a town nearby, but he couldn't see it anymore. It was just fine with him. He didn't want to go back there anyway. Not after… the thought remained unfinished.

A gust of wind brought even more cold with it. The child wandering through the snow didn't even shiver. He was well past it. But it reminded him he should move on. He didn't know why, but he went on anyway. He had no idea where he was going, but he knew he wanted to get away from…

He lifted his right leg, pried it from the merciless grip of snow and forced it to move forward. There was a little pain. It was an improvement compared to the beginning of his journey. He hoped that he was healing, but realistically he realized he was probably just going numb from the cold. It was very likely considering his fingers and toes were completely blue. He didn't even want to know how did his lips look like.

He laid his right foot on the ground and the hungry snow swallowed it whole. He didn't even blink. He lifted his left foot and repeated the motion. Then right again and then left and then right and left and again and again and again. The unbroken whiteness of the scenery and the monotony of the walk, no matter how strenuous, lulled him into quiet apathy.

Then suddenly the routine was broken. His foot slipped and he fell onto the thick, soft snow. It wasn't cold. He realized he hadn't been feeling cold for quite a while now. Actually, the snow seemed almost warm, like a big fluffy pillow. It might be because the harsh winds couldn't reached him there, or rather because his body couldn't feel the frosty temperature anymore. He knew this was a bad sign, but he couldn't bring himself to care anymore. Yet something in him refused to simple give in. He pushed himself up on his hands. His arms were shaking badly, barely holding him up. He moved his legs under his body and tried to stand. He fell right back down. Whatever he had slipped on earlier was still slippery.

He lay in the snow for a while longer, waiting for his speeding heart to slow down a little. He knew he shouldn't linger, but he couldn't muster the strength for another attempt just yet. Finally he tried again. It was hard. He could barely feel his limbs anymore and his fingers were refusing to obey his commands stubbornly. But he refused to give in. He pushed with all his might and somehow managed to stand up. The cold winds immediately attacked him again, but he barely noticed them. He made a step forward and then another. His legs moved sluggishly, but he walked on.

Too soon he fell again. He had no idea why this time. He couldn't feel his legs anymore. He tried to push up again, but his arms refused to obey him. He remained lying in the snow, completely helpless. He knew he should try to move, but what was the point again? He felt perfectly comfortable where he was. The snow was soft and warm, like a big pillow, much better than anything he was used to sleep on. The snowing thickened. The snowflakes were falling on him, not thawing anymore, covering him like a blanket. The wind couldn't reach him there. It was a perfect bed. It tempted him to just close his eyes and sleep. But he didn't. He knew that if he did, he wouldn't be waking again. At least in this world.

Yet he wasn't scared. What was there to fear? There probably was something, but he couldn't recall it right now. All he could think of was that there would be no more hunger, strife and… he didn't want to think of it. Yet, he didn't really want to die. He wanted to see the clear skies again and feel the warm breeze in his hair, walk across the grass and pick berries, taste their sweet…

And unwelcome memory wormed its way into his mind. He almost shivered, but he didn't have enough energy for that. He didn't want to go there again. He instead gazed into the snow again. The snowflakes were falling without pause. He watched their slow dance, completely entranced by their motion. He was grateful to them for letting him forget. He decided he loved the snow.

Slowly his eyes drifted shut.


His eyes snapped open. He lay on his futon, staring into the darkness. Only a thin beam of moonlight was shining through the window, giving a bit of light to the otherwise dark room, revealing four bare walls and another bed with its occupant. Judging from its angle, it was still the middle of the night. The boy sighed. He wouldn't be able to sleep after this dream, he never was. And it was still too early to get up. Maybe he'd just visit the kitchen and look for something to eat or drink. He sat up. The mattress under him rustled. It wasn't a loud sound, but it echoed in the silence of the house. It woke up his roommate. The young girl stirred and opened her eyes.

"Trouble sleeping again, Shirou-chan?" she asked.

The boy scowled. "My name is Toushirou, remember it finally." The girl shrugged.

"Whatever you say, Shirou-chan," she shrugged. "Did you have that dream again?" He didn't answer. "Are you scared again?"

"Scared?" he took offense. "I'm not the one who pissed her bed!"

"You're mean, Shirou-chan," she protested. "That was only once!"

"Bed-wetter Momo!"

"Little Shirou-chan!"


"You're repeating yourself, Little Shirou-chan-chan-cutie!" she pointed out.

"Now you did it!" he shouted jumping from his bed.

A rumble was heard from the room next door. Toushirou paused in his charge.

"We woke up Granny," Momo whispered urgently. Her companion immediately ran back to his bed and disappeared under the covers. In the next moment the door opened and an elderly woman walked into the room.

"Are you awake again, children?" They gave no response. "I know you are," the matron continued. "So now go to sleep again, you're disturbing an old woman's sleep. Or do you want me to tell you a story? Or perhaps chase away the monsters under your beds?"

"We're not little kids," Toushirou grumped.

"Whatever you say," the woman smiled. "Did you have a nightmare again?"


"He did," Momo supplied.

"That's not true!" he protested.

"Sure it isn't," Granny replied. "But I'd rather chase it away anyway." She walked slowly to his bedside. She reached out with a wrinkled hand and ruffled his hair. "Here, here. Isn't it better now?" Toushirou nodded. It really was better. He usually disliked being treated like a kid, but he made an exception for Grandmother. She was one of the few bright points of his afterlife.

He remembered, how, soon after he died, a shinigami approached him and promised he'd get to a better land, to Heaven. He nearly scowled at the memory, but managed to school his expression. He didn't want to worry his Grandmother. So where was he again? Ah, the shinigami. That guy had promised him paradise, but failed to deliver. Sure, Junrin'an, the First District of West Rukongai was better than what he used to live in before, but it most certainly wasn't the Garden of Eden. The village looked nice, but the inhabitants weren't much better than the people he knew when he was still living.

But then again, what had he been expecting? All the souls here used to walk the Mortal World once. And just like down on the Earth, even up here people looked at him strangely thanks to his looks. White hair was a really uncommon sight on a young child, but it wasn't like he bleached it. It was his natural color and he had no idea how he ended up with it. But even that couldn't be the full reason. There were much stranger sights in the Soul Society and most of them weren't ostracized. Yet he was always considered the freak. Everybody said he was so cold and that he was giving them the creep, but he honestly didn't know why. He was usually trying to be polite, and if he sometimes acted like a brat, it was because someone else started it. And besides, most of the kids he knew acted like brats and they received much warmer treatment.

He sighed again. There was no use pondering over it. He felt Grannny's hand stroke his hair again. He smiled. He had her and Momo. Life, eh… death, wasn't so bad after all.


The day was nice and warm, not a single cloud floating on the clear blue skies. A group of children was playing in the street, kicking a ball among themselves. Two more kids walked up to them.

"Can we play too?" the older one, a girl, asked.

"Sure thing, Momo," the leader of the group smiled. The pair moved to join the game.

"And where do you think you are going?" one of the children playing scowled at the newcomer boy.

"To play," he answered like it was the most obvious think in the world. "Tecchin said we could."

"You'd really let him here?" the complainer scowled.

"Sure, Ayumi, I don't mind him that much," Tecchin shrugged.

"I'm not playing with him," Ayumi insisted.

"And why not?" Momo asked.

"Just because," the girl stated. "He's strange."

"Shirou-chan is a perfectly nice boy," Momo declared.

"He's strange," Ayumi repeated.

"Take it back!" the girl scowled.


"Do it!"

"Quit it, Momo," Toushirou interrupted. "I don't want to play anymore anyway."

"But Shirou-chan…" Momo began.

"I'll just go for a walk," Toushirou interrupted.

"I'll go with you," she offered.

"Nah, you don't have to." He waved his hand dismissively. "You want to play so go play."

Momo looked undecidedly between him and the group. "Well, if you say so," she shrugged and joined the game.

Toushirou was left alone. He shot one last wistful glance to the merry group before walking away. He sighed. He wanted to just play like a normal kid, but he couldn't. Other children never let him. He never understood why and he had pondered over it many times. Well, there was no need to depress himself needlessly. He supposed he should count himself lucky. The First District of West Rukongai was a peaceful and orderly place, being right beside the walls of Seireitei. He heard that further from the center the situation was much worse. That shinigami was really lying when he had promised him 'Heaven.' Or maybe he just didn't know what he was talking about. Very few shinigami ever entered Rukongai and when they did, they were just rushing through to deal with whatever Hollow managed to enter the Soul Society. In whole his afterlife, he couldn't recall a single one who would have simply stopped and chatted with the inhabitants of Rukongai. That didn't mean they didn't exist, only that he never saw any, but he wasn't there for a long time.

He paused when he realized where his aimlessly wandering feet brought him. He was staring right at the white walls and the huge West Gate of Seireitei. It was open today, but Jidanbou, the gigantic gate guardian, was on duty, diligently watching out for anyone who would try to get around him without a pass. The giant seemed intimidating to most people, but Toushirou never feared him. The gatekeeper had a gentle nature and anyone who knew him at all had to realize it. Many of the residents of the district knew it, Jidanbou once used to live here before he went to the Shinigami Academy and joined the Gotei 13, but that had been a very long time ago. Toushirou always liked talking with him. The man never treated him like a freak.

Toushirou walked up to him and greeted. Jidanbou looked startled around before noticing the child.

"Oh, hello there, Shirou-chan." Toushirou gritted his teeth. He hated that nickname. Was it so hard to remember his full name? It had only three syllables. But for Jidanbou it might really be too much. His body and heart might be great, but his mind wasn't, as he usually proved the moment he opened his mouth.

The gentle giant picked him up with one hand. Toushirou scowled, but secretly he enjoyed the view. He could almost peek over the wall of Seireitei from up there. He made himself comfortable on the giant palm. "You are so small I can barely see you," the gate's guardian remarked.

"So what's new?" the boy asked and the gatekeeper began to talk. Toushirou always loved listening to his tales, no matter they were often repetitive because the giant tended to forget what he had already said. Sometimes he even forgot what he was talking about in the middle of the story. He spoke of the various shinigami passing through his gate, life in Seireitei and the battles against Hollows. Toushirou always listened entranced. Not that he loved shinigami that much, but life in Rukongai was generally boring. Every little break of routine provided a welcome excitement. He often imagined himself applying for the Academy, joining the Gotei 13 and partaking in heroic battles. How would the citizens of Rukongai look at him if he saved them from a Hollow? Surely they would see him as a hero, smile at him and nobody would scowl upon seeing him anymore.

"So here you are," a voice hoarse with age snapped him out of his daydreaming.

"Where else would he be?" a younger one added.

"Grannny! Momo!" he smiled. "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you, obviously," the girl replied.

"It's dinnertime, didn't you notice?" Grandmother pointed out. Toushirou looked at the sky. The sun was indeed nearing the horizon. He must have been really lost in thoughts to completely miss it.

"Sorry," he grinned sheepishly. Jidanbou gently lowered him to the ground. Toushirou jumped down from his palm.

"Go, home, little one," the gatekeeper said.

"By, Jidanbou," Toushirou waved.

"You looked so cute sitting on his hand," Momo observed. The boy only grunted in response.

"Let's go," Granny commanded before her two charges could start a full-blown squabble. She shuddered and wrapped her shawl closer around her body. "It's getting cold already. The autumn must be coming early this year. So come before you catch a cold." Neither of the children felt cold, but they went nevertheless. The prospect of dinner was too welcoming to pass. Unlike the other souls in Rukongai, those two were often hungry.


The snow was covering the ground everywhere he could see. It was deep, but he could walk through it without much trouble. It was snowing slightly and the snowflakes were dancing in the breeze. The scenery was mostly flat, but he could see small hills in the distance. The monotony of the white scenery was disturbed only by occasional trees with their seemingly black trunks and branches covered in snow. It was cold and his breath came out in small clouds of fog. He walked forward, on and on. He was cold, his thin garments not enough to keep away the harsh winter, his toes and fingers blue and stiff. But he still walked on. Behind him was something he didn't want to think about. In front of him… He had no idea, but he had to find out. So he walked.

Suddenly his foot slipped and he fell into the snow. It was so inviting. He wanted to just stay there and enjoy its white softness. But he couldn't. He had to walk forward, to find out whatever was on the end of his journey. He pushed his week, hypothermic body up and walked. And walked until he fell again.


He had never seen Momo so excited before. Not even when she was unwrapping her birthday presents. And today wasn't her birthday nor there was any festival he was aware of. So what had gotten her so hyped up? He couldn't help but ask.

"Guess!" she grinned. "I bet you'll never get it right!"

"You bought a new yukata?" he tried.

"No," she shook her head. "Try again."

"You discovered a new sweets stall?" he guessed.

"Wrong again," she shook her head.

"You met a boy who immediately fell madly in love with you?"

"Now that would be great," she said dreamily, "but no, that's not it."

"No clothes, no sweets and no love?" he mused aloud. "What else could it be?"

"Guess," she prompted, "I still think you won't get it right. Or do you want to give up already?"

"Never!" he protested. "I'll get it!"

"Then try again!" she prompted. "You have only one more try!"

"Hey!" he protested. "You never said anything about the number of tries!"

"But you already had three!" she pointed out. "I'm being nice and allowing you a fourth one! So you'd better get it right now!"

"You'd just said I'd never get it right!" he reminded her.

"You won't," she replied, "But try anyway."

"You're going to become a shinigami?" he blabbed the most ridiculous thing he could come up with.

"Yes!" she cheered. "I can't believe you got it right!"

"What?" Toushirou blinked in disbelief. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that Momo, the sweet, kind Momo, might actually become a fighter. The girl seemed totally oblivious to his befuddlement and prattled on.

"I met a shinigami today, and he was so nice, and he said I had reiatsu and that I should apply for the Academy!"

"And you are going to?" Toushirou asked.

"Of course!" She looked at him like he was stupid. "Who wouldn't want to become a shinigami?"

"I don't know," he shrugged. "Maybe somebody who doesn't want to get eaten by a Hollow."

"You're no fun," she complained. "I thought you would be happy for me. Why do you have to be such a pessimist?"

"I'm being realistic," he retorted. "Why don't you remove your rose-tinted glasses for once? Do you even know the average life expectancy for a shinigami?"

"No," she shook her head. "Do you?"

"No," he admitted. "But that's beside the point. It's dangerous."

"It's not that dangerous," she disagreed. "Besides, once I am a shinigami, I will be able to protect myself."

"And you'd have to go against more dangerous Hollows," Toushirou pointed out.

"Why do you always have to spoil my mood?" she whined.

"Somebody has to keep you grounded, Bed-Wetter Momo."

"And you just can't miss any opportunity to do it," she huffed.

"So when are you leaving?" he asked. The word left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. Momo was leaving. His Bed-Wetter Momo was leaving. He'll be all alone with Granny from now on. And she looked so completely happy about it.

"I'll have to take the entrance test first," she answered. "If I pass, I'll start school early spring."

"If you pass?" the boy inquired. So there was a chance that Momo won't be going anywhere.

"Yes," the girl nodded, "but he said that with reiatsu as high as mine there shouldn't be any problem getting in."

"Aren't you a bit too young?" Toushirou questioned.

"No," she shook her head, "many people my age enter."

"I still think you should wait," he said.

"Wait for what?" she asked.

"Until you're older," he answered.

"Until I look like Granny?"

"No!" He squeezed his eyes shut. The mental image was too disturbing.

"Don't worry, Shirou-chan," Momo smiled. "I won't be gone forever. I'll visit you whenever I can."

"You promise?"

"I promise," she smiled reassuringly. Despite that, he didn't feel any better.


The days passed in a blur after that. Momo was chronically ecstatic; all day prattling about what the Academy was going to be like. Every single soul in Junrin'an must have known about her invitation by the evening of the second day. And she wasn't even officially admitted yet. Toushirou couldn't help but imagine what would happen if she failed. She would be the laughing stock of Rukongai, but at least she would stay home with him and Granny. And maybe her friends would stop talking to her and she would spend more time with him. Then he berated himself for being selfish. He should wish Momo luck; want her to become a Shinigami. He had heard that nobody had to go hungry in Seireitei and you got to live in giant palaces. It was a huge step-up from Rukongai. But still, he would be happier if she stayed.

Then the day of the test came. Momo had been all anxious through the previous week, barely able to sleep on the last night. When they walked with her to the gates of Seireitei, she was trembling. Then she walked through and they lost their sight of her. They waited the whole day for her to return. When she did, she looked ready to fall asleep on her feet. When he asked her how did she fare, she answered she didn't know. Then they waited for the letter with the test results.

When it finally came, her hands were shaking so hard she couldn't open it. Toushirou had to do it for her.

"So what does it say?" he asked. She finally found the courage to read it. Her face brightened with a wide grin.

"I'm accepted!" she shouted. Toushirou couldn't help but cheer with her. But ever since then, he counted the days until he'd lose his Bed-Wetter Momo.


"Good morning, Shirou-chan!" The shout made him stop pretending he was still asleep and open his eyes. He wanted to just lie for a while longer, to pretend that this day didn't come yet, that it would never come. But the voice broke through his illusion and forced him to look at the reality. Momo's too cheerful face was smiling at him much closer than he appreciated.

"Get out of my face," he grumbled. She stood up, but he didn't delude himself into thinking she had listened to him. She was just too impatient and wanted to leave already. She was even dressed in her uniform. Toushirou didn't like seeing her like that.

"C'mon!" she called. "Hurry up and eat breakfast! It's my first day and I don't want to be late!"

You shouldn't be so damn cheerful about leaving us, he thought sitting up on his futon. Aren't you even a little bit sad? Aren't you going to be homesick?

"I'm going to say hi to Tecchin and Acchan next door!" she called running out. Really too enthusiastic, he thought.

"Tch. What a pain." That was all he had to say.

Breakfast was awkward. Hinamori was bouncing enthusiastically, barely able to restrain herself from running to Seireitei already. Toushirou was scowling. Granny was trying to keep peace at her table, but she had little success. Both children stubbornly refused to cooperate. Finally, or all too soon, depending whose opinion you asked, it was over. Momo picked her bag and the trio headed to the Western Gate. Tatsukichi and Ayumi came as well, but they were keeping their distance. Momo chatted with them for a while before reaching the gate. There she showed her pass to Jidanbou and the giant opened them the gate, wishing her luck.

"See ya!" she yelled. "Even though I'll live in the dorms, I'll come to see you and play with you again, alright?"

Like seeing you once a month is enough, Toushirou thought.

"Don't come back again, Bed-wetter Momo!" he shouted after her. She didn't answer. The gate closed behind her. Toushirou felt Granny's hand on his head.

"Even though you won't see her again for a while, you say such things," she chided.

"I don't care," he snapped. Because she doesn't seem to, he thought but didn't say aloud. "She'll have a break soon, won't she? Whatever the case, she'll come back again." I hope she does. I hope she won't forget all about us.

Tatsukichi and Ayumi were watching them, but when they noticed Toushirou looking at them, they turned around and ran. Toushirou sighed. They had at least tried to talk to him whenever Momo was present, but now they had no reason to hide their true feelings toward him. He never understood what had brought them about, but he was used to it. At least when Momo had been there, she would keep him company and sometimes make the other kids play with him as well. But now he was going to be all alone again. Well, it would be him and Granny, but she was too old to play. He didn't know what he was supposed to do with all his time now. And Momo remained oblivious to all of it.


The snow was lying thick on the ground, but he had little trouble moving forward. Everywhere he could see was white. Snowflakes were floating through the air, piling on the covering on the ground, sticking to the frosted branches of the few frosted trees around. He walked on. The wind was playing with his hair, but he barely felt the cold. He had to move on. Behind him was… what again? He couldn't remember. In front of him… He didn't know either, but he felt it was important to reach it, whatever 'it' was. He walked and walked. The scenery around him was completely silent, only the occasional gusts of wind brought at least some little sound to this frozen wasteland. It sounded almost like a voice.


"Guess what, Shirou-chan?" Momo's eyes were shining with excitement when she said the words. Four months had passed since she had entered the Reijutsu Academy and she was visiting them again.

"Don't call me Shirou-chan," he grumbled. "It's Toushirou. You should be able to remember."

"Of course, Shirou-chan," she smiled and ruffled his hair. He huffed in response. There was no use arguing with Hinamori. She would just call him whatever she wanted anyway.

"So what's so great?" he asked.

"Guess!" she grinned. "I bet you can't get it right!"

"The guessing game again?" he raised an eyebrow. "I'm not in the mood."

"You're no fun," she pouted.

"Be nice, Toushirou," Granny reprimanded him from inside the house. "Who knows when you'll see Momo again."

"Who cares?" he shot back. He didn't have to feign the annoyance in his voice. Momo had left them, dropping all the responsibility of looking after Granny on him. Couldn't she see she was needed here? Granny hadn't been well lately. She was getting cold all the time and he couldn't be sure, but he thought she had gotten thinner. Airhead Momo was completely oblivious as ever. At times, he despised her for it. And then he despised himself for despising her. How could he even thing something like that? This was Momo, little Bed-wetter Momo, the girl who had been nice to him when no-one else was and introduced him to Granny. He owed her too much so he should feel ashamed of himself for ever thinking that.

"You're so cold," she scowled. Then again, at times it was extremely easy to despise her.

"Now, now, children," Grandmother interrupted the brewing argument before it could start. "Be nice to each other. Didn't you want to tell us something, Momo?"

"Oh yes!" the girl exclaimed. "You'd never guess what happened!"

"Just tell us already," Toushirou prompted, mildly irritated.

"Then listen, silly!" Momo turned to him, her voice overflowing with excitement. "There was a captain inspecting the Academy earlier this week!"

She obviously expected an enthusiastic response, but she was grossly disappointed. The only reaction she got from her adoptive brother was a bored "So?"

"So?" she scowled. "So? Is that all you have to say?"

"Yes," he replied curtly. "Should I say something else?"

"Of course, you moron," Momo chided. "You should have asked what he was like!"

"Why?" he raised a white eyebrow. "You're going to tell us anyway."

"But it would be no fun," she complained. "Why can't you be a bit more sociable?"

"Why do you have to complain about it all the time?" Toushirou shot back. "You know me."

"Yes," the girl sighed. "I know you."

"So what was the captain like?" Granny interjected. She honestly loved both her surrogate grandchildren, but their constant bickering was taxing on her patience.

"Awesome!" Momo squealed.

"And what was so awesome about him?" Toushirou inquired.

"Well, he's a captain, for once," the girl explained.

"And?" he asked skeptically.

"Do you have to be such a grouch?" Momo rolled her eyes. "Captains are just awesome, and Aizen-taichou is the most awesome of them all!"

"So what's so awesome about him?"

"You'd have to see him to understand! He has such an aura, such power around him; it makes him look like a god. And yet he is so kind and nice…" she explained dreamily.

"And how do you know that?" he questioned.

"Because I met him!" Momo was annoyed with the interruption.

"Did you really meet him or did you just see him?" Toushirou refused to leave the question unanswered.

"I met him, really," she answered. "I got pushed into the aisle and I felt so silly for running into his path, but he wasn't angry at all! He even patted me on the head!"

"So?" the boy shrugged.

"So? You're really impossible, Shirou-chan," Momo sighed. "A captain patted my head! And captain Aizen, no less. Can you say the same?"

"No," he shook his head. "And I don't want to."

"You're just jealous," Momo guessed.

"No, I'm not," he denied the accusation. "And you're an obsessed fangirl."

"Now that was uncalled for," Granny interrupted.

"Hn," Toushirou grumped.

"If you saw him, you'd like him too," Momo insisted.

"Not going to happen."


He was walking through the snow with no hindrance. Everywhere he could see white was covering the ground. The scenery was completely flat, only a few leafless trees were growing around. The wind played with his thin clothes, but he barely felt any cold. He wasn't numb, the cold simply couldn't reach him anymore. As he walked, a couple of snowflakes danced in front of his eyes. He paid little attention to them. He had a purpose. He had to move forward and confront whatever was awaiting him at the end of his journey. He didn't even think about what was behind him. The thing before him was all that mattered. He walked and the wind blew around his ears. It brought along a voice, a voice he couldn't understand at all.


It had been two months since Momo's last visit, half a year since she started the school. And now she was visiting again. And once again she was starry-eyed, but this time it was different, there was also something... jaded? Mature? Scared? He couldn't name it, but he could tell it was important. Something in his Bed-Wetter Momo had changed and he didn't like it a bit.

"What happened?" he asked instead of greeting.

"Why do you think something happened?" she retorted.

"I can see it," he replied. "Something important happened."

"You're right," she sighed. "Something did happen."

"And it was bad because you aren't impatient to speak about it," he observed.

"That's true," she answered. "I don't even like thinking about it."

"So what was so bad?" he inquired.

"We were attacked by Hollows," she answered.

"What?" Toushirou jumped. "Are you alright?"

"Yes," she replied. "I'm alright."

"But you don't look like it," he insisted.

"I don't feel like it," she admitted.

"Now what is that supposed to mean?"

"That means she's shaken up," Granny said coming to the porch. "Come inside, children. Some hot tea will make you feel better."

"Thanks." They settled around the table, sipping the hot drink.

"So what happened?" Toushirou asked. He was close to bursting with curiosity.

"We went to the Living World for an exercise," Momo began. "Everything was going right, we were about to head back, but then the Hollow suddenly appeared. It was terrible." She took a deep breath and fought tears for a moment. "We didn't even know it was there until it killed Kanisawa. Aoga tried to kill it, but it killed him too."

"They were your classmates?" Toushirou asked.

"No, they were there to lead the exercise," she answered.

"It killed two fully trained Shinigami?" Toushirou inquired.

"No," Momo shook her head. "They were sixth-years students."

"What were they doing there?" Toushirou questioned. "I thought only you first years went on the trip."

"They were there to oversee us," she answered. "I already told you."

"And who oversaw them?" he questioned.


"What?" Toushirou jumped. "You mean to tell me they let you students go to the Living World, where Hollows are abound, only in the company of how many other students?"


"That's stupid," he stated. "How could they think that three students would be enough if something happened?"

"Hisagi-senpai was already admitted into the Gotei 13," Momo pointed out.

"Still, this isn't enough," he insisted. "Don't they value their best students enough to protect them?"

"Such things don't normally happen," she said.

"Once is enough," he pointed out.

"Yes," she nodded staring into the space, "it is."

"So what happened then?" Toushirou prompted when Momo remained silent for too long in his opinion.

"Hisagi-senpai told us to run and tried to fight the Hollow himself. It was so huge. He stood no chance." She shivered at the memory.

"It killed him too?" Hitsugaya guessed.

"No," she shook her head. "It only wounded him. He's going to have a nasty scar on his face." She paused for a moment before continuing. "It was terrible. Everybody was running to the Senkaimon, only Hisagi stood there alone, so small in front of the Hollow. It was huge. Like several houses built on top of each other." Toushirou tried to imagine it. "And then another one appeared. It was just as big as the first one."

"Another huge Hollow?" Toushirou's eyes widened. The tale was getting grimmer by the moment.

"Yes," Momo confirmed. "It was terrible. Everybody was panicking. But then something occurred to me: Why were we running?"

"Because there was a monster chasing you?" Toushirou offered.

"Well, there was," she replied, "but why were we running? We were the chosen elite of the Academy, the students picked for their talents and trained the hardest to fight Hollows, so why were we running?"

"You didn't try to fight them?" Toushirou asked in disbelief. She nodded. "That's crazy! You could have been killed!"

"I have to agree with Toushirou," Granny spoke. "You might be talented, but you've been studying for less then half a year. What you did was reckless."

"I know," Momo looked down. "Kira-kun and Abarai-kun said so, but at the moment it seemed like the right thing to do."

"Who are Kira and Abarai?" Toushirou asked.

"My classmates," Momo answered. "We were in the same group during the exercise. They're really great guys."

"So what happened next?" he prompted.

"I turned around and ran at the Hollow. And don't even tell me how stupid that was. Kira-kun and Abarai-kun ran after me. We reached it just in time to save Hisagi-senpai. And I fired Shakkahou at its mask and it disintegrated."

"You killed a Hollow?" Toushirou asked wide-eyed.

"Yes," she confirmed.

"You're amazing."

"You're really a big girl now," Granny commented.

"We thought that was the end of it, but then the smoke cleared and we realized we were surrounded. There were giant Hollows everywhere! We thought we were done for. There was no way we could fight all of them off. I was so scared. All I could think about was 'I don't want to die.'" She took a sip from her cup. It was obvious she was fighting back tears. Even Toushirou didn't dare to say anything. Finally Momo found her composure and continued.

"We thought we were going to be eaten for sure, but then the Hollow right in front of us was suddenly cut in half. We didn't know what happened. Then somebody spoke and we turned around and there was captain Aizen with his lieutenant standing behind us!"

"The same you talked about earlier?" Toushirou inquired.

"Yes," Momo nodded, her cheeks flushing, "the one. He was so cool and powerful! The Hollows stood no chance! They dispatched them in no time."

"That's good," Toushirou said.

"Yes. And then he smiled at me and told us we all had performed admirably and then he patted my head! Again!" Now Momo was blushing so deep her face could compete with her uniform.

"Hah! You really are his fangirl!" Toushirou exclaimed.

"Now, now," Granny interjected. "It's only natural to admire somebody who just saved your life."

"Yes, I guess," he replied.

"I'm going to become his lieutenant," Momo announced.

"What?" Toushirou couldn't believe his ears.

"I'm going to train hard, so I will be worthy of serving under him," she elaborated.

"That's a worthy goal," Granny approved.

"Well," Toushirou scratched his head, "I guess you are good, but a lieutenant? Isn't that aiming a bit too high?"

"No goal is too high when the heart is young and the will is strong," Granny said.

"You see, Shirou-chan?" she smirked. "I will make it."

"If you say so, Lieutenant Bed-Wetter," he shrugged.

"Hey!" She scolded him. "Can't you let off on the stupid nickname?"

"When you stop calling me Shirou-chan!"

Granny watched them with a smile on her face. They already acted like nothing had ever happened. Children. They would always overcome anything life would thrust at them. She wished she could be so young too.


He was walking on the snow easily. Everywhere he could see, white was covering the flat ground. Only a handful of trees broke the monotony of the winter scenery. He moved through it easily, the cold couldn't touch him anymore. The wind was blowing and it was carrying a thundering voice with it. He couldn't understand its words, but he knew it was calling him. He strode purposefully through the frozen wastelands, intent on meeting its source.


Toushirou stared intently at his knee. There was nothing interesting about it. It was a perfectly normal knee. Except it hadn't been so just this morning. He had scraped it rather bad when he misjudged the jump off the roof. Momo had shown herself on a day off from the Academy. She had failed to come during her previous day off and Toushirou had wasted no time in telling her so. He had been so worried that she won't come back at all, that there had been another 'accident,' only this time nobody came in time to save the unfortunate students. But he didn't tell her that. She had been offended and let him know it. He had grumbled and jumped down the roof and that was when he had scraped his knee. Momo had fussed over him, completely needlessly in his opinion, but it still had felt nice. Then she had shown him what she had learned at school. Healing Kidou, she had called it. He was fascinated how her hands had glowed, how the energy was flowing into his body and how his wound closed in front of his eyes.

"It's just a basic technique," she had said with a smile while he was staring openmouthed. "We didn't learn any of the fancy stuff yet. But even this is useful."

The rest of her visit proceeded like it usually did. She prattled on about herself, her new friends Kira and Abarai and the oh-so-wonderful captain Aizen. Then she had bid them goodbye and disappeared through the gate again.

Toushirou was left alone, once again sitting on a rooftop and staring over the walls of Seireitei. Momo's demonstration of power made a deep impression on him. Healing Kidou, she had called it. What he wouldn't give to be able to do it too. Then he would have been able to help Granny when she had cut her hand two months ago and it had bled badly. Waiting for the wound to heal was torture for him. Granny had insisted it was nothing, but he couldn't miss her small flinches and grimaces of pain. He hated seeing her that way. But he wouldn't go to the Academy to learn, not a chance. He had no intention to attend an institution that let its student go into dangerous zones without sufficient security. That place must be run by dimwits. And it would mean leaving Granny alone and that was unthinkable.

But maybe he could do it anyway. He had seen how Momo did it. He might be able to reproduce it. And if it didn't work, he could try asking Jidanbou. The giant had usually trouble counting up to ten, but he might know something useful.

With the new resolve, he went to work. Now how was the chant...


He strolled through the frozen white scenery. Snow and ice was everywhere he could see. The wind was blowing, but he didn't feel any cold. He knew he should find it strange, but he didn't. Somehow it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. A voice sounded like thunder in the distance. It was calling, calling for him. He wanted to answer, but the roar of the winds drowned his voice. Instead he walked forward. He wanted to meet the unknown speaker.


"Stop accusing my grandson, people!" Granny ordered with much more force than Toushirou had thought possible. He had seen her angry before, quite often at him, but never like this. He was only glad that her ire wasn't directed at him. He could only imagine how did Elder Arata feel. Despite feeling a bit unwell lately, Granny was still a formidable woman. Very formidable. The only reason why Arata wasn't shaking in his sandals or running away was the mob standing behind him, at least Toushirou couldn't see any other explanation from his position hiding behind Granny.

"Two people saw him," the old man stated.

"Saw him do what?" Granny prompted.

"He broke the roof on Rikuto's house," Arata answered.

"And who are the two witnesses?" she inquired.

Forward stepped Tatsukichi and Ayumi. Toushirou didn't get to see them often ever since Momo left. But he didn't miss them, they were never his friends, only Momo's.

"Hello, children," Granny greeted them sweetly, but Toushirou could hear the venom hiding deep under the layers of sugar. "I haven't seen you in... how long it was? Two years? The time is running so fast. You could have stopped by even though Momo isn't here. I would always welcome you." The two teenagers didn't look too excited to be there and they kept shooting half-angry and half-frightened glares at Toushirou.

"This isn't a reunion," Arata reminded them. "Describe what you saw." The two youths nodded.

"We saw him break Rikuto's roof," Tatsukichi said.

"Yes," Ayumi nodded. "He made a huge hole into it."

"My little Toushirou?" Granny raised an eyebrow.

"Yes," Tatsukichi confirmed. "It was him. No-one else has hair like him."

"Really?" Granny raised one grey eyebrow. "And how did such a small boy make such a big hole?"

"He did!" Ayumi insisted.

"He did something weird," Tatsukichi added.

"He blasted the roof apart," Ayumi said.

"My little Toushirou?" Granny asked in disbelief. "He can't do anything like that."

"But he did!" Tatsukichi protested. "He was always weird."

"Just because somebody is weird, doesn't mean they did something wrong. Understood, young man?" Granny scowled. Tatsukichi took a step back. "And I would appreciate if you didn't try to put blame on my grandson anymore."


"And if you absolutely have to accuse somebody, next time come up with something believable," she added. Then she turned to the crowd. "And if you don't want anything else, you might leave," she suggested. She followed with a stare so scary, that the mob actually complied. Arata grumbled something trying to save face, but even he seemed relieved to be able to get away. Toushirou stared in wonder. He had always known his Granny was intimidating, but he had no idea just how much. He made a mental note to never, ever give her a reason to use this tone on him.

"And now, young man," Granny said turning to him, "care to tell me about the roof?" Toushirou gulped. It looked like she already had a reason.

"I didn't want to!" he blurted out.

"So you did it?" Only now he realized his mistake.

"Yes," he admitted.


"It was an accident!"

"I wonder what kind of accident could have made so much damage," Granny mused aloud. Toushirou had the sinking feeling that she already knew the answer. But he couldn't tell her. He couldn't let her know.

He had spent over a week trying to perform the Kidou Hinamori had shown him. It had taken him that long to admit that he was going nowhere. The next logical step was to ask Jidanbou for advice, but it turned out he wasn't good at Kidou (big surprise there). But Toushirou had been able to pry one little tidbit of information from him; the gatekeeper told him to look for the power inside his heart and let it flow. He wasn't sure whether it was correct, but he decided to try it anyway. After another week, he thought he felt something. It made him ecstatic. He tried again and this time something happened. A beam of light shot out of his outstretched hands and hit the roof of a nearby house. He stared at the resulting hole in surprise. Had he really done that? There was little time to ponder over it. The sound of rapidly approaching voices told him that he should make himself scarce. He ran and hid at home, hoping he wouldn't be linked to it, but then Arata and the others appeared.

And now he was kneeling before Granny, squirming under her gaze and wracking his brain for a believable excuse.

"So how was it?" the elderly woman asked patiently.

"I'm sorry, I won't do it again." His ability to come up with excuses seemed to have completely deserted him.

"See that you don't," Granny said. She decided to let the issue of how exactly did Toushirou destroy the roof slide. "And to make sure you don't get into any more trouble, you'll be doing all the cleaning in the house for the next month."

"Yes." Toushirou was glad he got away with only this. He honestly didn't want to tell Granny the truth. He didn't want her to know that he secretly wanted to become a shinigami and even did a bit of training on his own. He didn't want her to think he wanted to abandon her, because he didn't. She was more important to him than his dreams of adventure. For her, he would stop with his attempts. Or maybe he should just find a better training location... no. He wouldn't take the chance. Granny was that important to him.


He walked through the frozen, barren, white landscape again. The wind was howling around him, but he could barely hear it. The calling voice rumbled like thunder over it, drowning out all other sounds. It was calling for him. If he concentrated enough, he could almost understand some of the words, but the overall meaning was still eluding him. He purposefully made his way forward. The winter weather wasn't bothering him a bit. He didn't give it a thought anymore. It didn't even occur to him that the cold should bother him. Everything he cared about was meeting the source of the voice.


He was sitting on the porch, enjoying his watermelon. He concentrated on its sweet, watery taste, trying to ignore the girl sitting beside him. It was one of the rare occasions when Momo visited and he thought he should be happy for it. But he wasn't. He couldn't be when all she talked about was Aizen. Her precious, perfect captain Aizen. She barely remembered to ask how they were doing and wasn't really interested in hearing their answer. How they could be possibly doing, alone in a hut in one of the nicest parts of Rukongai? It's not like anything ever happened here. Toushirou thought she didn't even notice how Granny got even thinner since her latest visit. It had been quite some time. But what interest would be some poor wandering soul to the high and mighty student of the advanced class on the reijutsu Academy? No, as she sat there in her fancy school uniform, her slice of watermelon untouched, all she talked about was Aizen. It was then he decided he hated the man for stealing his sister from him. It didn't matter that he had saved her life once, when he had taken her away afterwards.

"Are you even listening, Shirou-chan?" Momo's angry voice brought him out of his musings. He turned to her and spat the watermelon seeds on her pristine white shirt.

"Don't call me Shirou-chan," he growled. She scowled at him, brushing away the seeds.

"I'll stop calling you Shirou-chan, when you go to the same school as me," she retorted.

"Who would ever want to?" he shot back. Who would look after Granny when the both of us are gone, was what he really wanted to say. Can't you see she is unwell? But he held his tongue. He couldn't bring himself to wipe her sweet smile from her face, which would undoubtedly happen if he told her. But maybe not. Momo wasn't the type to worry over anything for long. She always believed things would get better. Worries and disasters had no place in her rose-tinted world. That was just the kind of person Momo was. Sometimes he wanted to shatter her world of dreams, but he could never bring himself to. She was still his Bed-Wetter Momo, no matter how much she was currently hung up on Aizen. He only hoped she would get over him soon, even though all evidence pointed against it. He couldn't imagine it ending well. No-one could be as perfect as she perceived him and he didn't want to see her heartbroken once she realized it. But there was nothing he could do.

"Then I'll call you Shirou-chan forever," she smiled triumphantly. He scowled. He so much wanted to say yes, to go to the Academy and take the entrance test, or at least ask her to show him the Kidou she had used so long ago and inquire how did it work. But he couldn't. The thought of Granny lying indoors, taking a nap because she didn't have the strength to stay awake all day, stopped him. He couldn't do it to her. Never. No matter how much it pained him.

"Bed-wetter Momo," he spat. "Who ever cares?"


The frozen plain looked exactly like before. Endless wasteland of snow and ice and jagged shapes that were probably mountains on the horizon. He now knew it just as well as the interior of Granny's house. He didn't even look around.

"Come," a thundering voice called. He nodded and his feet moved forward on their own. He wanted to meet the speaker. He felt he'd see him right after the next turn of the road, but it wasn't that easy. No matter how long he walked, the voice didn't become any stronger. Then suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks. There was something moving in front of him. He couldn't recognize the shape, but it was huge. It moved towards him.


It's been five years, Toushirou mused. Five yeas since Momo abandoned us. He watched her retreating back getting smaller and smaller after one of her progressively rarer and rarer visits. He wondered where did their previous closeness go. She used to visit every chance she got at the beginning, now she barely remembered. It was a small miracle that she showed up so soon after the term began. And all she did when she visited, the same as every other time, was prattle on about how awesome her friends were. Kira and Abarai. For what he had heard about them, they were decent guys, but he couldn't help but feel jealous about them. Oh, and Aizen. The perfect and wonderful captain Aizen. She never forgot to add something about him, no matter whether she had something to say or not.

And not even once did she ask how did they fare. She automatically assumed they were doing well. Nothing ever happened in Junrin'an, so why should they be an exception. The fact that Granny was getting older and thinner somehow went right over her head. It might be because she had grown up, if only a little, so she found it natural that everything else seemed smaller. The thought made him grimace. He didn't grow at all in the time she was gone. The line on the doorframe was proof enough of it.

He looked into the darkness of the house, where Granny was sitting. She looked so old and frail. How could have Momo missed it? It was so obvious to him. But then, Momo had always watched the world through rose-tinted glasses.

Suddenly he couldn't take it anymore. He had to get out of there, or the walls of the house would close up on him and the shadows within would suffocate him. Or worse, he'd break into tears in front of Granny.

"I'm going to buy some amanattou," he announced. "We're almost out." It wasn't exactly the truth, but she didn't call him on it. And even if there was some, it could disappear with amazing speed anytime. Toushirou found himself often hungry these days. It was another thing that set him apart from the other residents. He picked his money pouch and ran into the street. He spent a good deal of time just wandering aimlessly through the streets, watching the clouds and avoiding people and their stares. Then he realized that it was almost time to return home. He headed for the food stand and placed his order.

The shopkeeper packed the amanattou grudgingly and Toushirou gave him a coin in payment. He then extended his hand for the return change.

"Here's your change, 3 kan," the man grumbled dropping the coins on the counter. "And go right home from here, I don't want to see your face any more than I have to."

Toushirou sighed and swept the coins from the counter. Before he could put them back into his pouch, a loud female voice sounded from behind.

"Hey! Is that any way to treat your customers?" Toushirou turned around. His head came into contact with something soft, but unyielding, and he was flung back into the counter. He hit the back of his head painfully and was knocked to the ground hard. He massaged the wounded spot, fighting back tears. No blood, good. He thought he had torn the skin open for sure.

"You think you can treat him like that because he's a kid?" the newcomer continued. "I would have never thought there were such rude people here."

Toushirou finally got a good look on her. The first thing he noticed was that she was dressed like a shinigami, complete with a zanpakutou. She also had very nice honey hair and a pink scarf tied around her neck. Then she turned around and he could see she was a beautiful woman with a pretty face and blue eyes and the biggest bust he had ever seen. Is that what I bumped into? He mused. I should be cautious around it.

He had barely the time to finish the thought when the lady reached down, pulled on his yukata and lifted him into the air. He really hated when people did that. Before he could tell her so, she started ranting at him.

"And how long are you going to cry on the ground? Be a man and stand up for yourself!" It really, really pissed him off.

"And just who knocked me down?" he yelled into her face. "And I wasn't crying! Let me go!" The woman just stared at him. "I said let me go!" He swatted away her offending arm. He could sense something uncoiling in him, some strange feeling (was it power?) trying to get out.

The woman dropped him. He landed on his feet and ran away.

"Wait!" he heard her shout, but he paid her no heed. He turned around a corner and disappeared in the maze of the streets. He wandered around aimlessly until it got nearly dark. Only then he returned home. Granny looked at him questioningly, but he didn't tell her about the strange encounter. There was no reason to. The shinigami woman would go back to Seireitei and everything would return to how it was before, only the shopkeeper would be even ruder to him. It was then that he realized that he had forgotten the change in the shop. He grimaced. There was no chance to get it back now and three kan could have bought him a lot of amanattou.

So it was in a somber mood he went to sleep that evening.


Matsumoto Rangiku stood in the middle of the street. The strange boy had disappeared and there was little chance she would find him in the labyrinth that was Rukongai. She didn't know this district well, she barely ever ventured here. In fact, the last time was probably shortly after she had graduated from the Academy. It was pure chance that she had stopped by now, on the way back from a patrol and decided to wander around a bit.

The boy at the stall had caught her attention. First it was his white hair shining like a lighthouse. Then she thought she might have felt spiritual power from him. That was why she had acted when the shopkeeper had been bullying him. And then, when he had hit her arm, that was definitely reiatsu and not a weak one. She had a bruise on her forearm to prove it.

The kid was very strong, especially for his age. She could have just forgotten all about him and gone back to her squad, but despite her reputation she was a responsible shinigami, at least when she wanted to. And that was why she couldn't just let it go. The kid needed training and it was up to her to invite him into the Academy. She didn't want to let him wait until some other random shinigami encountered him and recognized his potential. And besides, the boy interested her.

That was why she found herself wandering the streets of Junrin'an, searching for traces of his reiatsu. The night has fallen, but she didn't give up. She was a stubborn woman. Yet she was about to call it a day when she finally felt it.


He was back on the plain from his dreams. The snowing wasn't so hard and he could see more of the scenery. The mountains seemed taller and closer than before. He stood on the frozen ground and took a look around. And froze. There was a dragon right in front of him. A huge dragon with scales the color of ice was poised elegantly on the snow, his wings spread wide, like he was about to jump into the air and fly right at him. Yet he wasn't scared.

"What are you?" he shouted.

"Boy! I am..." he couldn't understand the last word.

"What are you saying?" he yelled. "I can't hear you!"

"My name is..."

"I can't hear you!"

"Come, child." said the icy dragon. He made a step forward. The ground suddenly shook.


He came to. He was at home, lying on his futon, and the crazy shinigami woman from before was shaking his shoulder. He noticed her enormous cleavage was dangerously close to his face. He felt irritated at her. She had woken him from the middle of his dream.

"You, from this afternoon," he growled.

"Suppress your reiatsu when you sleep, boy," she commanded.

"What are you talking about?" he scowled.

"It seems like your grandmother's cold," she pointed out. He looked at Granny in alarm. Was something wrong with her?

She was shivering and her breath was coming out in white puffs of mist. There was frost on her blanket and on the ground around her too. Now he noticed it, there was an even thicker layer of frost and ice around him, but it wasn't bothering him. The dreams of snow and ice and the dragon, he realized. Is this my doing? Suddenly he felt cold inside. He had thought he had been helping his grandmother, but what if he was actually hurting her? The thought was too terrifying to finish.

"Boy, you should become a shinigami," the lady spoke, interrupting his train of thoughts.

"What?" he blinked.

"Strong children like you must learn how to control their power," she continued. "I'll tell you, just like this, you'll directly kill your grandmother with your power."

"What?" The prospect scared him. Was she telling the truth? Was it really his fault? Did he really make all the ice? Then how comes he had never noticed it before? Did it always melt before morning? And why didn't Granny say anything? What if the ice was the shinigami's doing and she was trying to trick him?

Matsumoto could see that the boy wasn't convinced. But she had to convince him somehow, otherwise she would have the old woman on her conscience. And she didn't even want to think about what it would do to the boy. But what should she do?

Come to think of it, why was his reiatsu so out of control during his sleep? She had barely noticed it when she had first met him, but it shone to her like a beacon once he was asleep and it had dropped again once she had woken him up. Asleep and dreaming, if she had judged correctly from his tossing on the futon. There was an idea. It was a long shot, but she had to try.

"You can hear a voice, can't you?" It was rare for shinigami to be able to contact their zanpakutou without several years of training under their belts and only very few prodigies were able to learn their names while still at school. Somebody being able to hear their zanpakutou before even beginning their training was unheard of. She had felt extremely stupid saying it, but then the kid nodded. Amazing, was the only thing she thought.

"You have to find out where the voice is coming from," she continued, not allowing her surprise to show on her face.

That's what I was trying to do before you woke me up, Toushirou though, but said nothing.

"You have to learn how to handle your power. And that is done only by becoming a shinigami. I'll say it only once, boy." She sat back on her heels and observed what effect her words had on the child.

Toushirou was silent. He understood everything the woman had told him. He had instinctively known that he had to learn more about the dragon, get to know his name. He only had no idea how to do it. And now he was told that it was his zanpakutou spirit. He knew about them. The last time Momo had visited she had prattled on about how she was finally able to hear hers, though she wasn't able to make out anything it had said.

So now the question was: Should he listen to the lady and abandon his Granny, or should he stay with her and...

As he looked at the slowly melting ice, he realized that the decision had already been made.


End notes: If there was too much drama for your tastes, I apologize. Next chapter has more action. and it's also almost finished, so it should come out soon.