Disclaimer: I could never come up with as awesome a character as Nell, so obviously I don't own Bleach.
A/N: Yes, I know. It's been a really long time since I've last updated, but that's because nothing inspired me, and Zaraki and Unohana both (yes, I mean both, in the same location, potentially becoming cannon, oh please Tite-sama….) reappeared in the manga. Yay, we can make more chapters out of this….
A messenger carefully ran towards the 11th division building. He was now extremely grateful that his uniform had a mask, because he was leaking cold sweat in fear. The last time a messenger had been sent to tell the 11th division something, he had been found out cold, and when he had finally woken up, he had started screaming something about pink cats. This definitely did not improve his own chances that he would come out alive from the infamous 11th division.
He landed on the roof of the 11th division building soundlessly, and straightened up slowly.
"What are you doing?" a high voice asked curiously from behind him.
He whirled around to see Yachiru sitting with her head propped in her hands, peering at him with interest.
He automatically kneeled before her, lowering his head and feeling more sweat slide down his neck, "Kusajishi-fukutaichou, I am to tell Zaraki-taichou and yourself that Soutaichou wishes to see both of you in the 1st division building."
Yachiru tilted her head to the left, frowning, "Old Baldy wants to see us?" she asked, "Last time he wanted to see us, he yelled at Ken-chan for letting me do the paperwork."
The messenger fidgeted, "I think it's more serious than that, Kusajishi-fukutaichou."
Yachiru pouted, standing up, "I still don't see what's wrong with writing in crayon," she complained, "I drew pictures of what happened too!"
The messenger began to back away, "W-w-will you tell Zaraki-taichou?" he asked tremulously.
Yachiru put a finger on her chin in thought, "Hm…I know! I'll take you with me to Ken-chan! He can decide!" she said happily.
The messenger began to back away from Yachiru even faster, "I don't think that's the best idea, Kusajishi-fukutaichou—"
Yachiru grabbed him by the waist, hauled him above her fluffy pink head, and took off in a pink blur, giggling at the messenger's terrified screams.
Zaraki stepped back from a wooden training dummy that had been turned into splinters, "That's how you kill shit dead, you pansies!" he barked at the cowering group of 11th division members, "Let's see you do it!"
The 11th division members had taken a few hesitant steps toward the looming wooden training dummies, when the terrified screams were heard.
A pink blur zipped past everyone and stopped in front of Zaraki, revealing a beaming Yachiru throwing the messenger on the ground, "Hi Ken-chan!" she chirped, grabbing the messenger by the front of his uniform and hauling him up, "Screamy has something to say!"
The messenger looked up at Zaraki towering above him, with one narrowed eye and a zanpaktou propped on his shoulder, and promptly passed out with a gurgle.
Zaraki prodded the messenger with his foot a few times, "Hey. Hey! Damn, he really has passed out," he turned to Yachiru, "Brat, what did he want?"
Yachiru scampered up to his shoulder, "He said Old Baldy wants to see us!"
Zaraki grunted, and turned to Ikkaku and Yumichika who were lounging around, "We're going. Beat some sense into these pansies," he ordered, walking away from the training field.
Ikkaku stood up, and cracked his knuckles, grinning evilly at the assembled 11th division members, "You heard what taichou said," he bellowed, "Get off of your lazy asses and do Suicide Drills 10 to 20!"
Yumichika yawned, and commented, "Don't forget to do the Drill of Death either.'
Zaraki walked into the 1st division building to see Unohana standing there peacefully with Isane fidgeting nervously next to her, Byakuya standing calmly at attention, Mayuri grumbling to himself and railing at a stoic Nemu, and Yamamoto staring balefully at him.
"You're late," Yamamoto stated, looking down from his chair at Zaraki.
Zaraki turned to Yachiru, "Next time you are not showing us the way here brat," he grumbled, lazily attempting to swat her.
Yachiru giggled and easily dodged, "We got here though, didn't we Ken-chan?"
"Pure luck," Zaraki replied gruffly.
Yamamoto coughed to get their attention, "Enough. I have assembled all of you here to inform you that Urahara has finished stabilizing the Garganta so that we can safely pass into Hueco Mundo."
Byakuya opened his eyes to look at Yamamoto, "I thought that it would be done in three months?" he asked in a bored voice.
Yamamoto nodded, "Yes…however, Urahara managed to get it done in one."
"Lazy bum," sneered Mayuri, breaking off from ranting at Nemu, "He only got it done that fast because he has nothing else to do, being banished and all."
"Yes," replied Yamamoto dryly, "And that is why of course that when he was a captain he created so many inventions that we had to banish him when he went too far, and you on the other hand have still yet to show me anything on par with that."
While Mayuri sputtered in high dudgeon, Zaraki's mouth twisted into a fanatical grin, "So I get to go over there and fight all those Espada bastards?" he asked eagerly.
Yamamoto frowned, "No," he intoned, "All of you will go, Zaraki-taichou for brute strength, Unohana-taichou to heal any of the wounded, Mayuri-taichou so that you can pick up on the Espada techniques, and Byakuya-taichou since you are worried about your adopted sister and fukutaichou."
Zaraki and Mayuri automatically began to complain.
"What the hell?"
"I have to go with that moron?"
"I have to go with that freak? Yachiru will get bad influence from him!"
"That imbecile will mess up all of my data-collecting!"
"Quiet," snapped Yamamoto, "both of you will be going, along with your fukutaichous, and that's final."
Zaraki and Mayuri stopped yelling, but Zaraki was still muttering under his breath, and Mayuri had begun to scream at Nemu again.
Yamamoto sighed, rubbing his head. Why were all captains dysfunctional? He was sure it hadn't been like that when he had been young…
"Hey, wait a minute," Zaraki's bark breaking Yamamoto's thoughts, "Why's Retsu going?"
Yamamoto blinked in surprise. …Retsu? What—I'm not even going to ask.
He coughed and replied, "To heal any injured, especially you Zaraki-taichou since you have a tendency to get bloodied up."
"She's not going," protested Zaraki, "It's dangerous there!"
"I can defend myself, Zaraki-san," Unohana cut in, "I'm a captain after all."
"Yes," agreed Zaraki, scratching the back of his head, "But over there…those things are….it's not—"
"You will need Unohana-taichou," Yamamoto interjected, "The Espada are strong, and therefore we cannot hope to come out uninjured. Besides that, I have heard that the ryoka, along with some others," at this he gave a very pointed look at Byakuya, who ignore it, "And considering all the damage that was caused when the ryoka burst in here to rescue Kuchiki Rukia, a healer will be definitely needed for everyone."
Zaraki still looked as though he wanted to protest, but then Unohana touched his arm lightly, "We can discuss this later," she said quietly to him. Zaraki grudgingly nodded and shut his mouth.
Yamamoto contemplated that next time he'd have to find out how Unohana had actually made Zaraki shut up. It had to be some sort of miracle. "Gather a few useful members of your divisions," he finally said, "and made arrangements for your absence. It might be awhile before you come back."
The captains nodded, and began to filter out. Byakuya quickly flash-stepping away, Mayuri stomping angrily away with Nemu in tow, and Zaraki walking in step with Unohana.
She looked up at him and smiled serenely, "Do you have something to say, Zaraki-san?"
Zaraki grunted, but before he could say anything, Yachiru clambered onto the top of his head, and asked, "Should I go tell Baldy and Feathers, Ken-chan?" she asked cheerfully, pushing one of the bells hanging from his hair back and forth.
"Go ahead," Zaraki replied, shaking his head in an attempt to dislodge the squealing Yachiru, "Just let go, brat."
"Okay!" Yachiru grinned, and took off in a whirl of black robes and pink hair.
Unohana watched her go, "Yachiru has gotten very fast with shunpo, hasn't she Zaraki-san?" she asked calmly.
Zaraki shrugged, "The brat's always been fast," he commented, "she used to happily run circles around bandits in Rukongai."
"I see," said Unohana, carefully tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, "And you are not worried about her going to Hueco Mundo with you?" she asked.
"Hell no," said Zaraki incredulously, looking at Unohana, "I'm more worried about her beating the shit out of some arrancar, and then deciding she wants it as a pet and dragging it back home."
Unohana laughed merrily, covering her mouth with her hand, "That would be rather terrible," she said in mock-seriousness.
"It would be," stated Zaraki in perfect seriousness, "It'd be like that time she dragged back a goddamn bear she named Fluffy."
Unohana raised her eyebrows in bemusement, "That would have been a long time ago?"
"Long time ago," agreed Zaraki, crossing his arms and looking around, "Wait…you know your way around, right?"
"Yes," replied Unohana slowly.
"Good," said Zaraki with some relief, "You can show me the right way back to my division then."
Unohana gave Zaraki a wry look, "You still don't know your way around?"
"Can never find my way to or from the 1st division," replied Zaraki easily, "The old geezer bores me out of my mind."
Unohana plucked on his sleeve to turn him down the left street instead of the right, "This way Zaraki-san," she said lightly.
They walked for a few moments in silence, passing shinigami doing double-takes at the sight and quickly whispering among themselves, before Zaraki muttered, "You shouldn't go to Hueco Mundo."
"Orders are orders," replied Unohana pleasantly, "Besides, all of you will need a healer. Hopefully however, you will try to keep yourself from being needlessly injured, Zaraki-san."
Zaraki shrugged, "A fight's not a fight unless both opponents are dripping blood. But you—" he paused to arrange his thoughts coherently, "Aizen was the biggest bastard I have ever seen, stabbing his vice-captain through like that. Any of his followers have to be as bad as him."
Unohana lightly touched Zaraki on the shoulder, turning him around so she could look him in the eye, "I'll be fine," she said firmly, "Aizen did not harm me last time, and he won't now. Don't worry."
"I'm not worrying," responded Zaraki automatically, "I'm just…trying to keep you safe."
"You do not mind Yachiru going with you," Unohana pointed out, "I am a captain while she's your vice-captain."
"That's different," Zaraki explained, "I've trained Yachiru since she couldn't even talk to kick ass. I've never seen you fight before anyway."
"I don't like to," admitted Unohana quietly, "But Minazuki has never let me down before when I've had to."
Zaraki looked at the steel in Unohana's look, and sighed, "Alright then," he said, "You better keep yourself safe though."
"Obviously," replied Unohana sweetly, quietly directing him to the next street, "I'm not a captain for nothing after all."
Zaraki grunted as Ikkaku and Yumichika skidded to a halt right in front of him, and quickly saluted. "Taichou! Unohana-taichou," they quickly bowed and then turned back to Zaraki, "You're going to go to Hueco Mundo without us?" Ikkaku demanded.
Zaraki shrugged, "Don't see much of a point in bringing you two. Need someone to keep running the division while I'm gone after all."
Yumichika sniffed, "But who will take care of Yachiru while both of you are there?"
"I can take care of the brat fine," Zaraki said flatly, "Besides; she needs some better people to fight against besides all of you pansies."
"But taichou!" Ikkaku pleaded, "We also need someone better to fight for once! Please?"
Zaraki glared at both of them, "No. I don't want to see your stupid luck-luck dance, and I really don't need Yumichika over there complaining about how his hair has gotten messed up again."
Yumichika turned smartly towards Unohana, "Unohana-taichou, you're taking some other members of your division, aren't you?"
Unohana pursed her lips pensively, "Well…I will obviously be taking my vice-captain, and I have been considering taking a few others…"
"See?" said Ikkaku, pointing at Unohana, "If she's taking extra members you should too, taichou!"
Zaraki crossed his arms, "I'm not taking any," he repeated, "I need you two to make sure the pansies might actually be able to swing a sword right one day. Besides, it'll be enough with Yachiru and me."
"Pfft," said Yumichika, flicking his hair out of his face, "we can get someone else to take care of the division. Besides, there could be beautiful arrancar, in which case, I wish to meet them."
"Besides taichou," added Ikkaku, "It gets so boring around here. We need a good fight!"
"For the last goddamn time," snapped Zaraki, "No."
"Also," Unohana broke in gently, "If you two go, there will be even more injuries that we will need to tend to, to the point where I would have to bring more than one squad. With Kurosaki-san and the others there already, we do not need any more injuries, do we?" she asked, smiling eerily.
Ikkaku and Yumichika instinctively backed away a bit. Yumichika tried one last time though, "But Inoue-san is there, Unohana-taichou," he pointed out, "She's a really good healer."
"A rather unusual one to be sure," Unohana said thoughtfully, "But she is only one person, whatever her powers, and the very person who has been captured. No, it will be better to have less people going."
Zaraki nodded in agreement, "Right then, they know the way, so I'm going to get back to my division. Thanks Retsu."
"You're welcome Zaraki-san," replied Unohana, and began to walk away.
As Ikkaku and Yumichika led the way back to the division, they furtively whispered among themselves, every once in a while glancing back to make sure Zaraki hadn't heard them.
"My bet will definitely come true at this rate," Yumichika muttered gleefully.
Ikkaku snorted, "I doubt it. Yachiru probably has a better sense of romance than taichou does, and she hasn't even hit puberty yet, thank god."
"As I said before, you have about as much romance as a sword has, and you still got Nemu, didn't you?" Yumichika blithely asked, ignoring Ikkaku sputtering, "He might make a move right when they're leaving!"
'In front of everyone?" Ikkaku skeptically asked.
"Obviously," Yumichika said with a toss of his head, "What better way to declare that she is his and no other's?"
"What are you two whispering about?" asked Zaraki suspiciously.
"Nothing taichou!" they both quickly chorused.
Unohana tapped the neat stack of papers on the desk and turned to Iemura, "Make sure the paperwork is still completed on time, please keep my office clean, and try to keep things basically on the same schedule as always."
Iemura beamed with pride, pushing up his glasses. Finally his true worth was being noticed! He was being left in charge of the 4th division while Unohana-taichou and Isane-fukutaichou were leaving! He saluted her happily, "Yes Unohana-taichou!"
Unohana nodded, and added, "Go ahead and hide the candy in a new place also…and—"
The sliding door of the office slammed open, and Hanatarou fell in. He scrambled up quickly, and bowed to Unohana and Iemura, "I apologize for interrupting, Unohana-taichou, Iemura-san," he said, "But please Unohana-taichou, will you take me with you to Hueco Mundo?"
"The impudence!" Iemura fumed, striding forward and grabbing Hanatarou by the back of his collar, beginning to drag him away, "You dare to—"
"Stop," commanded Unohana, stepping forward, "Let him go. Yamada-san, why do you wish to come with us?"
Iemura grudgingly let go of Hanatarou, and Hanatarou hesitantly said, "Well, Kurosaki-kun, Kuchiki-san, and the others are there, and since I helped them last time, I think I should help them again."
Unohana looked at Hanatarou in thoughtful silence for some time, and then asked, "You are in good shape, Yamada-san?"
Hanatarou nodded eagerly, "Yes Unohana-taichou!"
"Then you may come with us as soon as Isane finishes taking care of her affairs," Unohana said kindly.
Hanatarou smiled widely and deeply bowed, "Thank you Unohana-taichou!" he said as he scampered off to pick up his supplies.
Unohana turned back to Iemura, "And please do keep the tea kettle clean, and throw out any tea leaves that go bad. Is there anything you wish to ask me, Iemura-san?"
Iemura's mood had soured with the thought that maybe it was an even higher honor to go with Unohana-taichou to Hueco Mundo than to stay in Seireitai and run the division. However he bowed and said, "No Unohana-taichou, I will follow your orders exactly."
"Oh yes, also," said Unohana, her smile still in place, but her eyes narrowing, "If any 11th division members cause trouble, please mention that I will be severely displeased when I get back."
Iemura inwardly cackled. It was payback time for that sake bowl thrown to his beautiful face, "I will be sure to inform them of that, Unohana-taichou."
Zaraki slammed a hand down on a teetering stack of paperwork that reached all the way up to his shoulder. He glared at Ikkaku and Yumichika who were goggling at the stack, and said, "Finish the paperwork on time, or else the old geezer will get into a snit. If you don't, I'll make you both take care of whatever fucking monster Yachiru brings back as a pet."
Ikkaku and Yumichika shuddered at the memory of the hollow Yachiru had dragged back with her once, and both solemnly swore to finish the paperwork on time.
"Also," commanded Zaraki, nodding at the window where outside the division members were trying to break a stone with nothing but their foreheads, and generally producing nothing more than a solid concussion, "Beat those wimps into fighting shape. Tell them that any guy who can't run three laps around Gotei 13, balancing three stones on their heads, and break them with their goddamn foreheads at the end gets a sparring match with Yachiru."
Ikkaku and Yumichika nodded, wincing in sympathy. Sparring with Yachiru usually ended up with her foot in your face, and then you'd be inevitably thrown across the room cheerfully.
"And tell those bastards that fighting shape means that when I get back I want to be able to have a pretty good fight with each of them," Zaraki ground out.
Yumichika mentally calculated the amount of training needed to get any average shinigami into the fighting state needed to last against Zaraki for five minutes, and muttered to Ikkaku, "Let's start Hell Training Regimen today, and toss in a few minor death drills also."
"Plus Yachiru's HappyHappySugarHyper! Drill twice a day," Ikkaku muttered back.
Yumichika considered it, "…might be a little hard without Yachiru," he commented.
Ikkaku shrugged, "We can always drag Kira away from the bottle, dye his hair pink while he's hung-over, and blackmail him into flash-stepping it around as fast as he can go."
Yumichika nodded solemnly, "That'll work."
Zaraki grunted as Yachiru came whizzing in, landing neatly on his shoulder, "Then we're off," he said, "Remember: don't bother the 4th division or you get to spar with Yachiru."
Yachiru giggled happily, rocking back and forth, "That'll be fun!"
Ikkaku and Yumichika shuddered again, and chorused, "Yes taichou!"
As soon as the door slid shut behind Zaraki and Yachiru, Yumichika hurried towards the window, "Come on!" he hissed.
Ikkaku stared at him, "What/" he asked in bewilderment.
Yumichika opened the window of the office and began to climb out of it, "We have to go see the captains go, of course," he replied.
"Then why are we going through the window and not the door?" asked Ikkaku.
Yumichika shook his head, "One, taichou doesn't want us to go, and he wants us to start training those buffoons now. Two, I want to finally win my bet, but if either Unohana-taichou or taichou find out, I'm dead. Three, you want to see Nemu off and I want to see Isane off."
Ikkaku nodded as he slowly as he crawled out of the window, "I can't see how point two is bad though, Yumi."
"Don't worry," Yumichika said sweetly, "I'll tell them you were going to take pictures as proof if we get caught."
Ikkaku froze in horror, and nearly fell out of the window. Yumichika sighed and shook his head, "I really don't know what Nemu sees in you."
The first thing Zaraki noticed when he walked to the Garganta was Mayuri's new deformed hat. It looked sort of like a red turban made out of two giant worms. Yachiru summed it up best when she squealed, "Wah, Robot Freak isn't Robot Freak anymore! He's Wormy!"
Nemu's mouth twitched slightly at the title, which Mayuri unfortunately noticed. He raised his hand to slap her, roaring in anger, "So you think that's funny?"
Zaraki grabbed his wrist, twisting it into a rather painful angle, "Hey," he said contemptuously, "that's enough."
Mayuri wrenched his wrist away from Zaraki's grip, glaring, "I don't recall giving you the permission to tell me how to treat my own creation," he spat.
"Ikkaku would give me hell if I let you hit around his girl like that," Zaraki said flatly.
Mayuri sneered, 'That bald ingrate is only interested in the slut for one reason," he fired, the suddenly howled due to Yachiru appearing on his head, and beginning to pull his ears out.
"You can't make fun of Baldy," Yachiru said seriously, hands steadily pulling out the long globby mess, "Only I get to do that. And Ken-chan. And Robot Freak's daughter is nice, so no hitting her around either, okay?"
Mayuri tried to shake Yachiru off his head, shrieking, "Get you vicious animal off me Zaraki!"
Zaraki snorted, "Why? You deserve it."
Yamamoto sighed in exasperation. These were supposed to be the finest captains assembled to take down Aizen? "Kids these days," he muttered, and then ordered, "Zaraki get your vice-captain off of Kurotsuchi-taichou."
"Yachiru," barked Zaraki, "Get back over here. You don't know where that thing has been."
Yachiru let go, wiped her hands on Mayuri's strange hat, and hopped onto Zaraki's shoulder, "Okay Ken-chan!" she said happily.
Mayuri adjusted his hat, muttering balefully, "Just you wait Zaraki, you still have members in the 4th division, and when I'm through with them—"
"And when you're through with them, what Kurotsuchi-taichou?" asked Unohana, appearing right behind Mayuri.
Mayuri's eyes bulged and he quickly backed away, "Nothing!" he said frantically, "Nothing at all!"
Unohana smiled pleasantly, "That's good. I would so hate to find out that anyone would dare harm my patients, Kurotsuchi-taichou. If that was the case, the person in question might find that most of the various chemicals he always asks for will have turned into untested products that could very well have dangerous side-effects."
As Mayuri sulked, Zaraki let out a bark of laughter, and Byakuya appeared silently. Yamamoto nodded, and said, "Alright, all of you are here. Remember, your main objective is to retrieve the Hougyoku, destroy Aizen, and bring back Ichimaru and Tousen for judgment. Unless the Espada get in the way, don't fight them. Especially don't go seeking them out, which really applied to you, Zaraki-taichou."
Zaraki spat on the ground, "Not much fun then," he muttered.
Unohana gave him a pointed look, "Zaraki-san," she began, "If you become injured due to a battle you sought out, I will not be pleased."
Zaraki rolled his eyes, "Right Retsu, I'll just have a fight with any bastard with enough balls to get in my way. But you better keep yourself safe."
Unohana nodded calmly, although her cheeks did flush pink a little, "Very well."
Yumichika giggled happily as he watched the scene unfold, "At this rate taichou might actually kiss her soon!" he exclaimed happily, peering out from behind a pillar.
Ikkaku grunted, busily trying to fold a piece of red paper into something slightly aerodynamic, "Maybe," he replied.
Yumichika turned to Isane who he managed to drag behind another pillar, "Now you must also keep your beautiful self safe," he said seriously, lightly kissing her on the forehead.
Isane turned bright red, "A-alright," she stuttered, looking over at where Unohana was, "I should be going now."
Yumichika nodded understandingly, as Ikkaku cautiously threw the deformed red paper airplane towards Nemu. The flicker of motion caught her eye, and she quickly snatched its wobbling form out of the air before Mayuri even turned around. She turned around, and curiously unfolded it, and then smiled, tucking it into her obi.
Ikkaku grinned, and scratched his head. Yumichika looked at him and asked, "So what'd you write?"
"Just telling her to be safe, and that I love her," mumbled Ikkaku, embarrassed.
Yumichika raised his eyebrows, "Well I suppose I was mistaken about you Ikkaku," he said finally, "You do seem to have picked up a few romantic senses from somewhere. Been reading those Shinigami Women Association articles, have you?"
Ikkaku sputtered in indignation, "What the fuck Yumi? You're the fruity one, not me!"
Yumichika twittered, throwing his hair back, "You really should read it if you haven't Ikkaku. Their hair tips are fantastic, their romance advice sound, and above all it would give you a few fashion tips to follow for once," he remarked, staring at Ikkaku critically.
Ikkaku snorted, and crossed his arms, "Shouldn't you be watching taichou and Unohana-taichou? In case you miss something and are forced to buy the entire 11th division drinks?"
"Oh right!" exclaimed Yumichika, quickly turning back around and staring intently at the assembled captains.
Yamamoto stared critically at Garganta, and then turned to the captains, "Alright then. It's time. Good luck, and come back safely."
Everyone nodded solemnly, aware of the gravity of the situation. This was not a jaunt to the human world for a routine shift; this was a battle against a ruthless ex-captain who wanted to be God.
As one by one they filed through the Garganta, Zaraki's hand snapped out to grasp Unohana's in his own. She turned her confused eyes up to him, and he just grinned, "Come on," he said.
She smiled back, and tightened her own grip on his hand as they walked through the Garganta to face Aizen and the Espada.
A/N: Bad ending? Good ending? I rather liked ending this chapter this way…anyway, please review! I will try to update as soon as possible, which means as soon as Tite-sama tells what happened to Zaraki or Unohana. Although, personally I bet Zaraki kicked Nnoitra's skinny ass.