The noise was pretty much the same as usual. His third-seats were arguing just outside his office door, over something inane he was sure. Ukitake Jyuushiro wasn’t even going to begin to guess. He simply tuned them out and continued brushing his pen over the never ending stack of documents on his desk. He reminded himself that he had a meeting in a few minutes, but surely, he could-
“Stupid, brainless oaf!”
“I’m way smarter than a booger-girl like you!”
-surely, he could manage to finish this-
“I respect Ukitake-taichou ten times more than you!”
“Well, I honor him twenty times more than you!”
-to finish this incredibly large stack of –
“I’m more suited to the second-seat than you are!”
“As if midget-forehead!”
-incredibly large stack of papers if he had-
“Quit copying me!”
-if he had-
“Copying you! You’re copying me!”
Fury etched into his delicate features, the brush in Jyuushiro’s hands suddenly snapped into little bits as he shot to his feet. Papers scattered in all directions, and he tossed the broken pieces randomly, sweeping his hands over his desk to watch the paperwork flutter to the floor with much satisfaction.
“I have had enough!” he roared, kicking away his mat and tossing his ink well at a wall, where it exploded in a lovely spatter, causing black marks to drip down the plain white surface.
Outside his office, both of his third-seats froze mid-argument and turned towards the door. The first thing they saw was their captain, methodically destroying anything he could lay his hands on.
“Uki… take-taichou?” Kiyone stuttered, her eyes wide with surprise. “Maybe he needs his tea.”
“Are you an idiot?” Sentarou demanded, waving his hands wildly. “It’s obvious that he needs his medication. I don’t think he’s taken it today.”
The female Shinigami narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. “You’re the idiot, idiot! He needs his tea!”
“I just can’t stand these four walls!” floated angrily out of the office, seeking their ears and rattling noisily.
But neither paid it any attention.
Jyuushiro stormed out of his office and fixed his third-seats with the most evil glare he had in his arsenal, which was still rather cute given his comely good looks. Still, it managed to momentarily quell their arguments as they blinked at him stupidly.
“Shut up!” the captain repeated, throwing his hands into the air. “Just shut up for once in your lives! I don’t need tea! Stop giving me tea, goddammit! It’s not making me any better!”
When Sentarou dared to snicker, furious brown eyes turned his direction.
“And I don’t need medicine either! Just for once in your lives shut your mouths!”
And for once, they did as they were told, clamping their lips closed.
It was then that Jyuushiro remembered.
Frothing at the mouth, he snarled, “And now I’m late for the captain’s meeting.”
With that, he turned away from them and stormed out of the room, his reiatsu causing the walls to rattle in his wake. What suspiciously looked like scorch marks marred the former white splendor. Somewhere in Ukitake’s office, his favorite framed picture, previously hanging by a very thin thread, snapped and crashed to the ground with an audible smash.
Left behind was absolute silence.
Kiyone’s lower lip trembled as her eyes watered. “Is… is he…?” she couldn’t even complete her question as her fellow third-seat peered past her to gape at the destruction.
“Maybe we should contact Kyouraku-taichou?”
Kiyone nodded, proving once and for all that the two of them could agree on something. And that Sentarou could make a valid and intelligent suggestion. But really, who was counting?
Meanwhile, in another corner of Seireitei, the vice-captains were conducting their own meeting. It was a weekly affair for the second-seats of their respective squads, and while Sasakibe was technically supposed to chair, Nanao inevitably ended up taking charge. Most attributed this to the first division vice-captain’s complete inability to stand out in a crowd or raise his voice above a level higher than Yachiru’s.
In any case, the gathered vice-captains were just getting settled, preparing to start when a swirl of furious reiatsu and fluttering white hair stormed past the conference room they had borrowed. Iba, as the last to arrive, promptly stood to close the door he had forgotten to shut when the irate swirl paused, backed up, and looked in with slitted eyes.
For a moment, the crazed man strangely resembled Ukitake-taichou.
Twelve vice-captains looked up in surprise, Iba pausing two steps away from the door, and an uncomfortable silence descended on the room. Even Yachiru was silent, though fidgeting.
Shuuhei was the first to dare break the quiet, noisily clearing his throat. “Ukitake-taichou?” he asked as the captain continued to stare at them. Confusion was clear in his tone.
Ukitake Jyuushiro lifted one hand, causing those nearest to him, namely Omaeda and Sasakibe, to cringe away in distinct fear. With a slightly shaky finger, the captain proceeded to point to them all in turn, though it was in no particular order.
“Suck it up!” he told Momo, zeroing his anger on the petite female first.
“Stop pretending; we know you’re in love with him!” he demanded of Nanao, causing a stricken look of pure surprise to take over the normally stoic woman.
“Cut your hair,” he told Kira.
“Quit picking fights you can’t win,” he suggested to Renji.
“One word,” he informed Nemu in a matter of fact tone. “Patricide.”
Ukitake rounded on Iba, the seventh division vice-captain feeling a bit like a soul in the eyes of a hungry Hollow. “Lose the sunglasses. You’re not a gangster,” he declared. “You still live with your mother!”
Leaving Iba to wobble unsteadily on his feet at this revelation, the captain continued, turning to next Shuuhei, who was fearing for his dignity. A strange look crossed over Jyuushiro’s face. And for a moment, the madness almost disappeared.
He paused, tilted his head to the side, and tried a smile. “Would you like to have dinner with me?” he asked the stunned Shinigami.
Before Shuuhei could even formulate a response, Ukitake continued on his rampage.
“Shave the mustache!” he suggested to Sasakibe.
His fingers pointed not at Matsumoto, but at her rather large… assets. “You’re going to give the boy a complex,” he proclaimed. “Cover yourself!”
Matsumoto gasped, as if this was new knowledge to her.
“Some men like tall women,” he assured Isane, sparing the woman a tongue lashing.
Jyuushiro whirled and found Yachiru, wiggling excitedly in her seat as she awaited her turn on the chopping block. “Ken-chan is great!” the captain announced with a mad sort of glee, shooting her a thumbs up.
She cheered in response.
His eyes fell on Omaeda last, the vice-captain practically quivering in his chair, one finger firmly up his nose. “And you,” Ukitake began, voice thick with disdain. “You’re just disgusting.”
With that, feeling immeasurably better, Jyuushiro turned on his heel and left the room, careful to politely shut the door behind him. He took his swirl of furious and crazed reiatsu with him, finally allowing the vice-captains to breathe again. And therefore contemplate the advice they had just been given.
A sniffle pierced the stunned silence. “Aizen-taichou never would have said that,” Hinamori whined, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hands, lips pulled into a firm pout as she hunched over in her seat. “He’s nice. And kind. And handsome. Not like that heathen!” A tear trickled down her face.
Renji let loose a sound of disgust. “Man, he’s right,” the redhead declared, giving her a look from the corner of his eyes. “You do need to suck it up.”
Somehow, the petite female managed a glare even through the tears. “Well, you keep getting your ass kicked,” she sniveled in retort.
The sixth division vice-captain was outraged, his face coloring in both embarrassment and anger. “At least, I haven’t gone batshit!” he countered, fingers curling into fists.
“A relief for your enemies!” she shot back in a high-pitched voice. “Maybe then you’d be stronger!”
“Oh! It’s on, bitch! It’s on!”
On the other side of the room, oblivious to the impending scuffle, Shuuhei blinked in bewilderment. “Did I… did I just get asked out on a date?” he asked no one in particular, wondering if he had heard correctly.
Beside him, Kira Izuru fingered the long bangs draping in front of his face. “Yes, senpai. I think you did. Do you really think I should cut my hair?” he questioned, changing the subject with surprising speed.
A cry of pain floated from the other end of the room, which both ignored as Renji and Momo came to blows. Unsurprisingly, the cute girl was particularly vindictive. Renji appeared to be losing.
Shuuhei looked at him and tilted his head to the side, nodding slowly. “I think that it’s time for a change. How about now?”
The blond considered it, inclining his head thoughtfully. “Okay. Let’s go.”
They rose to their feet in tandem, heading for the door without second thought to the meeting that never occurred.
“You really think he meant to ask me on a date?” Shuuhei questioned as they disappeared, leaving the rest of the vice-captains to fend for themselves.
Matsumoto looked mournfully down at her assets. “Did he just…” she began but unable to finish her query trailed off in confusion.
Beside her, a triumphant look in her eyes, Nanao pushed up her glasses. “I think that was an order,” she replied sagely, appearing far too pleased and completely unperturbed by the revelation Ukitake had thrust upon her.
Her busty companion snorted inelegantly. “Says the woman who lives in denial.”
Nanao drew up straight, her back so stiff it might have been carved from granite. “I do not,” she argued back shortly, her fingers tapping against the cover of the book she always seemed to be carrying around. “Besides, suffocating Hitsugaya-taichou on a daily basis puts you in denial, doesn’t it?”
Fire crackled in the tenth division vice-captain’s eyes. “Take that back,” Matsumoto growled.
Nanao’s nose turned up towards the air. “It’s only the truth.” She rolled her eyes and added under her breath, “No wonder Ichimaru ran off with Aizen. He probably did it to get away from you.”
A cry of rage pierced the room as Matsumoto launched herself at Nanao. The other woman had half a second to drop her jaw in surprise before she was forced to defend herself.
“Ooh! A game!” Yachiru chirped, noticing the two fights already begun. “I wanna play!” she exclaimed, leaping into the fray.
And thus, the carnage was unleashed. Only Shuuhei and Izuru were able to escape the madness as the slim blond made his way to the nearest barber shop, his senpai at his side, still contemplating the supposed date. He not-so-briefly wondered if Ukitake-taichou liked Italian food, knowing a great place in the third district of Rukongai.
Nearby, but not caring enough to notice the surges of power or contemplate their reason, the captains were settling into their own very important meeting to discuss the topic of the week: their respective lunchtime menus. Zaraki was bound and determined to demand something more palatable. Mayuri was still staunchly arguing that as long as it was healthy and full of nutrients, what did taste matter?
It wasn’t something that hadn’t been seen before.
The meeting was scheduled to begin twenty minutes ago, but Yamamoto patiently awaited Jyuushiro’s arrival, having received no knowledge that the usually sickly captain was… well, sick.
There was a low murmur of conversation among the more talkative captains, while the other stoic Shinigami remained… er… stoic. Shunsui was the first to sense his best friend approaching, awakening from a light doze with the sense of a bloodhound. Yamamoto still hadn’t figured out how his former student managed to sleep standing up.
“Jyuu-chan?” the tall man murmured, gathering everyone’s attention as they, too, began to sense Ukitake’s reiatsu approaching.
Suddenly, Shunsui and Yamamoto groaned in tandem. “Not again.”
“What?” Hitsugaya asked, frowning as the two eldest captains shared looks of understanding. “What are you talking about?”
Unfortunately, his question was about to be answered.
The doors to the first division chamber flew open, striking the walls behind them with a loud bang. A demon wearing a captain’s haori and sporting tangled white hair appeared in the doorway, teeth gnashed and lips curled back in a snarl.
“J-Jyuu-chan?” Shunsui began cautiously.
The monster paused, his eyes sweeping over everyone present, a few stepping backwards at the force of his reiatsu. Truly, an angered Ukitake Jyuushiro was a presence not to be trifled with.
“Don’t you even start with me, you lazy &#!#, Shunsui!” the once-beautiful fiend snarled, causing the two nearest people to shy away in the face of a fear they had never felt before. “You ruined both my dates. Both of them! Do you even know how long it’s been since I got laid? Byakuya wasn’t even alive then!”
Dead, stabbed-through-the-heart, ground-into-ashes, scattered-to-the-four-winds silence followed that admission.
Shunsui swallowed thickly, shrinking back in his stance.
Unbeknownst to the danger, Byakuya grumbled under his breath, “Why am I a reference?” He hadn’t intended to be heard, but it was well known that the ears of a demon were swift and sure.
Jyuushiro swung his direction. “You! Trying to kill your own sister! Don’t get me started on you!” he hissed, waving his hand in Byakuya’s general direction.
“My… aren’t we a bright ray of sunshine today,” Hitsugaya muttered, petulantly crossing his arms over his chest.
The monster found new prey. “I don’t want to hear it from you, grumpypants.”
Hitsugaya gaped, mouth dropping visibly.
“Ukitake-taichou,” Soifon interjected, sensing that a bloodbath was about to occur, and as commander of the special forces, it was her duty to put an early end to it. “I really don’t think-”
“Oh, smile for once, bitch ninja!” the normally kind and pleasant man growled. “If you had, maybe she would have stayed.”
The woman’s eyes widened in shock as she staggered where she stood. “You… I can’t… you…” Words would not come to her.
“And by the way, Kenpachi’s a great father!” Jyuushiro announced, making no attempt to hide who he was chiding when he deliberately pointed a finger in Unohana’s direction.
She had the grace to look embarrassed.
Suddenly, Zaraki barked out laughter. “Take that, bitch! I knew you talked ’bout me behind my back!” the supposedly bloodthirsty maniac declared, raucously chuckling. “Kind and motherly, my ass.”
“Exactly!” Ukitake declared, smiling at the eleventh division captain. “And by the way, Ichigo likes you. Just thought you should know.”
Kenpachi grinned smugly at the stunned captains before Ukitake’s words pierced his brain. “Wait? What? Ichigo?”
However, the devil wasn’t paying him any more attention. He swept his eyes over the room, looking for another victim to feel his wrath. Komamura, like a ninja, somehow avoided detection. And even insane, it seemed, Jyuushiro knew better than to insult the old man.
His gaze fell on Mayuri, but not even Jyuushiro could find words for that bastard. He simply shuddered, then turned on his heels, storming from the room with a last insult tossed over his shoulder.
“No wonder Sousuke left.”
The doors slammed shut behind him.
“I’m not grumpy,” Hitsugaya stated, his face pulled into something that suspiciously resembled a pout, not that he would ever admit to it.
Byakuya shot the young prodigy a disbelieving look, raising one eyebrow. He muttered something under his breath, but like before, it was heard.
“Shut up, sister-killer,” the younger captain snarled back, in no mood to be insulted.
Grey eyes narrowed, his voice growing cold. “I wouldn’t expect someone so young to be able to understand,” Byakuya retorted icily.
Hitsugaya snorted. “Excuses, excuses, pretty boy. Yoruichi-san told me all about the things you did when you were younger. Does the phrase ‘Sweetcheeks-san’ ring any bells?”
“Dare to repeat that?” the Kuchiki heir growled, fingers inching towards the hilt of his zanpakutou.
Squaring his shoulders, the younger captain looked Byakuya in the eye. “You heard me,” he responded, his own hand shaking in an effort to refrain from pulling his sword.
Byakuya’s right eyebrow twitched.
“Bitch ninja? Bitch ninja ?” Soifon muttered to herself nearby, completely oblivious to the disaster about to occur. “That’s what made her leave? Bitch ninja?” Her voice threatened to grow shrill with disbelief.
Unohana patted her on the hand, trying to calm the other woman. “Now, I’m sure that he didn’t mean it like it sounded,” she attempted to soothe.
“Don’t pretend that you care,” Kenpachi inserted, snorting loudly. “You talk ’bout her behind her back, too. I heard what you said to that tall chick ’bout dependency issues or some other crazy shit.”
The healer colored, her cheeks turning a vivid pink of embarrassment. “I… I would never…” she stuttered, her voice trailing her off when Soifon turned a sneer towards her.
The temperature in the room suddenly dropped tens of degrees, plummeting to zero as a thin rim of frost coated the floor. The entire chamber took on a faintly pink glow as the discussion between Hitsugaya and Byakuya reached new heights.
Mayuri frowned, rubbing the bridge of his nose with one hand and almost scratching himself with his long fingernail. “What a worthless venture.”
“Shut up, freakshow!” someone shouted, but no one was quite sure who as in that moment there was an explosion, a misaimed kidoh that burst through the back wall of the division chamber.
“Yare, yare,” Shunsui sighed, taking off his ever-present hat and waving it in front of his face to clear away some of the resulting smoke. “Yama-jii, it’s happened again. How much damage do you think he’ll cause this time?”
The look on the captain-commander’s face was grim. “More than I am willing to accept,” he responded gravely.
Something whizzed over his head, bearing suspicious resemblance to one of Soifon’s ninja darts.
Momentarily distracted by the ice continuing to gather on the walls, Shunsui nodded in agreement. “We’ll have to stop him before he does something irreparable.
“Of course,” Yamamoto replied. “But we have to deal with this first,” he responded, gesturing towards the other captains who were growing increasingly violent.
Shunsui cringed when he heard what suspiciously sounded like “Chire, Senbonzakura.”
“It’s mad season, all right,” he muttered, wondering what it would take this time to stop his buddy from his rampage.
The man winced as the wall to his right suddenly exploded, shattering bits of spirit particles everywhere. He peered through debris and watched as Iba came flying through the empty hole, crumpling to the ground. His dear sweet Nanao-chan was on the other side, looking haggard and rumpled. Beyond the opening, Yachiru was taking down Omaeda and Sasakibe at once, while Isane was treating all of Renji’s injuries. Nemu was in the midst of trying to restrain Momo with a binding spell, having limited success.
It was complete and utter chaos.
Shunsui had half a mind to stop them until “Kakimushire, Ashisogi Jizou” floated to his ears. The hat returned to his head.
It was going to be a long day.
Meanwhile, Kurosaki Ichigo and his party of three had arrived in Seireitei for a visit, mostly to see Rukia but also to meet up with a few of their other friends. However, strangely enough, other than a multitude of unseated officers, the thirteenth division grounds were deserted.
“What do you think is going on?” Orihime asked as they walked back towards the Seikaimon, unsure of where else to go at the moment.
Ishida pushed up his glasses with one finger. “Kuchiki-san did say that there was a meeting for both the captains and vice-captains today.”
“Good point,” the girl mused aloud, chewing on her button lip until her eyes caught a familiar figure. “Hey! There’s Ukitake-taichou. Ukitake-taichou!” she called out, waving her hand to attract his attention.
Ichigo perked up, peering to get a better look. But then, he frowned at the white-haired mass of something dangerous that noticed them and began storming their way. His every sense prickled, screaming “Danger, Kurosaki Ichigo! Danger!” And his inner Hollow trembled, sensing an even worse monster heading towards them.
A wave of reiatsu washed over the group, leaving all but Ichigo stunned solid. Orihime tried to grasp for him but couldn’t quite make it.
“For god’s sake!” Ukitake blasted, much to the confusion of all and waving his hands wildly in the air. “The boy’s gay! Get over it!” he shouted, staring pointedly at the girl.
Her eyes welled up. “He’s what?” she asked, voice a tremulous whisper. “I-Ichigo?”
For the most part, the substitute Shinigami was frozen in absolute mortification. It definitely wasn’t the way he planned on coming out.
Jyuushiro, however, was already turning on Ishida. “Blue crosses don’t go with everything,” he chided. “Shunsui has better dress sense, and he wears pink flowers!”
The Quincy, for his part, was horrified at the prospect of Kyouraku Shunsui having better style than he. Everyone knew that the man was an unmitigated drunkard with an abysmal fashion sense.
Chad, so similar to Komamura, seemed to have the same ninja-like ability to blend into the shadows, even when there weren’t any. He somehow managed to escape Ukitake’s notice as the captain whirled on the last member of the group.
“And you!” Jyuushiro declared, shaking his finger at Ichigo, who was wondering how else the man could mortify him. “You’re the only one I actually like!”
Ichigo blinked. “I… what?”
“My apologies for our dates,” the captain continued, oblivious to the sniffling Orihime or the gaping Ishida. “You’re a great kisser, but I don’t think we’re going to work out. I’d love to remain friends though. You make great taiyaki.”
The substitute Shinigami turned a fiery red as Jyuushiro leaned in close, having enough grace to lower his tone so that the others couldn’t hear. “Besides, I know an eyepatch-wearing captain is more your flavor, ne?” The older man winked, to Ichigo’s mortification, and smiled as if he had uncovered some great secret.
Suddenly, before any of Ichigo and his party of three could manage to formulate a response, a pink blur appeared in front of them in a whirl of flowery cologne and a badly designed haori.
“Pardon,” said the guy who Ichigo recognized as being drunk all the time, tipping his hat at the two of them.
“Shunsui!” Ukitake hissed, his eyes looking around for an escape as he backed up one step. But he was effectively trapped between two exits and was on the verge of calculating how high he would need to jump.
The brunet waggled a finger. “Don’t think so, Jyuu-chan. You’re not going to continue your rampage on my watch, you naughty boy.”
And before anyone could so much as blink, Shunsui jerked out one of his swords and slammed the hilt into Ukitake’s forehead, the same way one would when conducting a soul burial. Jyuushiro’s eyes rolled into the back of his head as he slumped, but Shunsui was faster than that, scooping up his unconscious best friend and tossing him over his shoulder. The limp and finally subdued demon was silent.
Orihime rubbed her hands together nervously. “Anou… is he okay?”
The drunk-guy turned towards them, slipping his sword back into his obi and grinning apologetically at him. “Sorry about my buddy here. He didn’t mean any harm. Don’t worry, Orihime-chan; he’ll be just fine after a good rest.”
Ishida pushed up his glasses. “No harm?” he repeated in a blank voice.
“Something like that.”
When Ukitake made a strange groaning noise and twitched, Shunsui hurriedly said his farewells and promptly flashed away, leaving Ichigo and his friends to stare in bewilderment.
Chad coughed, the first indication he had made of his presence.
Ichigo nodded. “Yeah, I think that about sums it up,” he responded to Chad’s wordless statement. Pushing Ukitake’s mad behavior from his mind, he gestured everyone to follow him. “Come on, let’s go find Rukia. Maybe she has an explanation.”
They trailed after their leader like any good followers would do.
“Anou… Kurosaki-kun? Are you really gay?” Orihime asked, the question practically bursting from her in a desperate need to be answered.