"Oi, Hitsugaya-kun. Hi, there."

Hitsugaya Toushirou turned, raising a thin white eyebrow at Kyouraku Shunsui. The captain of the Eighth Division was holding a saucer of sake in his hand, as was usual with him, and it was clear to the boy genius that he was well on his way to completely sloshed. His bearded face was flushed, his brown eyes half-lidded and clouded, and he swayed slightly on the stool he sat on.

"Kyouraku," Hitsugaya said, crossing his arms.

"C'mere, Hitsugaya-kun, c'mere. Have a drink, won't you?"

"I'd rather not," Hitsugaya replied coldly, deciding to let the fact that he was too young to drink slide. The man was drunk, for one thing, and wouldn't listen to Hitsugaya even if he brought it up, and for another...no one was better than Kyouraku Shunsui at making up excuses.

"Well, then, sit down here and let's have us a little chat, hm? You need to loosen up more, Hitsugaya-kun. You're young; you shouldn't spend all your time working."

Hitsugaya didn't bother mentioning that Kyouraku never did any work, and so was not exactly the best person to be telling him how to do his job, but only because he didn't feel like listening to a alcohol-induced monologue about how little credit he was given by his fellows and how he did his best and by the way, Yama-jii was pleased enough with him to keep him instated as a captain, so he had to be doing something right.

Kyouraku didn't complain on a regular basis, of course; he was as laid back as you could get, and very little bothered him. But sometimes, after five or six bottles of liquid motivation, he ended up in a very emotional mood...

...And it looked like he was in just such a mood tonight.

Having heard numerous horror stories from Nanao about how often Kyouraku cried when he was like this, Hitsugaya decided it was the lesser of two evils to do as asked and sit down to have a "chat."

"You know, Hitsugaya-kun, you're lucky."

Hitsugaya looked over at Kyouraku and raised an eyebrow again. "...Oh?"

"Of course, of course! Don't you know how lucky you are?"

He didn't. Not really. How lucky was he to have request forms and dismissals and contracts and mission briefings and new regulations and God knew what else flung at him every morning to look over and sign and send off to the proper destination before a meeting with the rest of the captains where he would be mocked for his height and ignored because he was "just a child" and didn't understand how things really worked?

Well...okay, so he had proven that last assumption to be false already, but it was still annoying!

"...Not really," he finally replied.

Kyouraku's eyes widened slightly. "Really...? Oh, come now, Hitsugaya-kun, how can you say that? Don't you know how many people are jealous of you?"

Jealous? Yeah, right.


The drunken captain blinked at him. "...Why, you have the most beautiful, ravishing vice-captain in the entire Gotei 13, Hitsugaya-kun! How can you say you don't know how lucky you are when you get to see that vision of loveliness every day?"

...Oh. That.

Hitsugaya rolled his eyes. Of course a skirt-chaser like Kyouraku would think having a vice-captain like Matsumoto Rangiku was a dream come true. She was beautiful, yes, and charismatic, and she loved to have a drink with a friend, and she had enormous...


The fact was, everyone who thought he was lucky to have Matsumoto as his second-in-command didn't realize what a hassle it was. Honestly, all the woman ever did was slack off and hide her share of the paperwork under her favorite couch! How often had he walked in on her napping during work hours? How often had he had to pick up her slack because she'd been out too late and couldn't keep her eyes open? How often had he been forced to pull all-nighters because she was too sick (hung-over) to get out of bed?

Honestly...she was like a child.

Lucky? Yeah, whatever.

"You don't look very convinced, Hitsugaya-kun," Kyouraku noted with a slight frown.

"Hnh," Hitsugaya grunted.

An arm was suddenly draped over his shoulder, and Kyouraku's bearded face was suddenly inches from his own. "You'll understand when you get a bit older, Hitsugaya-kun," he whispered with a conspiratorial grin.

Hitsugaya wrinkled his nose at the painfully poignant smell of alcohol on the man's breath. "...Yeah. Sure. Okay."

Kyouraku leaned back to a normal sitting position, swaying slightly as he did. "...Are you sure you don't want to share a drink with me, Hitsugaya-kun? Drinking's always more fun with a friend."

Who said I was your friend, Kyouraku? Hitsugaya thought bitterly.

"...No. I, uh...have to go."

"Tch...back to work? Of course, of course...Hitsugaya-kun is Hitsugaya-kun, after all...fine, fine. Go. Go back to Rangiku-chan. I'll just sit here and...wait. Nanao-chan will be here soon...ah, my sweet Nanao-chan...when will you finally understand...?"

Taking the opportunity before it was lost, Hitsugaya left.

He walked quickly to his headquarters, the smell of sake still overwhelming his senses.

No surprise, Matsumoto was snoozing contentedly on the couch, and there was a mountain of paper on his desk waiting to be done. Hitsugaya sighed, shaking his head, and strode over to his chair. Best to get started now; the sooner he started, the sooner it would be over with.

There was a piping hot mug of tea waiting for him.

Hitsugaya looked at the drink for a long moment before picking it up and taking a small sip. As the hot, soothing, delicious liquid slid down his throat, he let out a sigh. The slightest of smiles crossed his lips as he picked up a pen.

He glanced at the mug. "HITSUGAYA-TAICHOU" was emblazoned in bright blue lettering across the otherwise white surface. Matsumoto had given it to him the year before on a whim, stating simply that, "I thought you would like it."

Although he hadn't admitted it aloud, he did like it.

How many other captains received gifts for no reason? How many other captains could look forward to always having a hot drink on long nights, without fail? How many other captains had such a friendly relationship with their vice-captains?

...He guessed he was pretty lucky, after all.