AN: Hi all, this is the 2015 revised version of the Kuchiki short-story collection I've written back in 2007. Be warned that there is no plot, there is no depth, and only hilarity ensues. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the anime/manga Bleach but I admit I have bleach at home. It's Clorox.
Chapter 1: Bubble Tea
It was a typical night at the Kuchiki mansion. A gentle breeze blew leaves back and forth to cast moving shadows on the undergrowth. Byakuya sat silently at his table, looking at its spotless wooden surface under the dim light of his lamp. He made sure the shouji doors of the room were left ajar. It would seem that he was waiting for someone, but he claimed this was not his intention. He was merely enjoying the calm emptiness of his dark garden.
As the night deepened, Byakuya shifted in his seat. He figured his plain desk wasn't all that enjoyable to look at after all. Still, he refused to leave for his bed chambers.
The moon soon climbed to its peak, shining upon the tranquil earth. Even the previously singing birds had retired to their nests. Byakuya closed his eyes and sighed, slight displeasure forming on his countenance. Just when he was about to stand up and leave, he felt a familiar reiatsu appear in the near distance. Immediately, the sixth division captain stumbled back to his seat and adjusted his robes so they were perfect and creaseless.
As Byakuya had expected, his adoptive sister soon appeared at the doorway, still dressed in the shinigami uniform she had worn for her mission in the human world. She stood there silently, her hands folded in front of her lap while she bowed deeply.
"You may have a seat, Rukia," Byakuya mentioned in his remote tone, all the while facing the newcomer with his back. The small-statured shinigami knelt onto the floor without a sound. Pleased by his sister's manners, Byakuya continued, "Was there a reason for your delayed return?"
Shit! Rukia mentally swore. Of course it was mentally. There was no way she could use such profanity towards her honorable adoptive brother even under normal circumstances, let alone that she was currently in big trouble for not having immediately returned upon fulfilling her mission. It was obvious Byakuya had already known the hollow she set out to kill fell by her blade within minutes of her arrival at the human world.
"I – I had some business with Urahara-san…I – I was running out of Soul Candy," Rukia stuttered. She mentally kicked herself for her nervousness, but maybe Nii-sama would not notice since she was always nervous when talking to him anyway.
"Is that so?" Byakuya's cold voice asked with a hint of doubt, but he did not delve further into the matter, "It would've been more convenient to acquire your supplies prior to your mission next time."
"Hai, Nii-sama," Rukia said, almost sighing in relief that her brother had gotten off the subject. However, she was still desperately trying to find an excuse to leave when he spoke again.
"Did you make any new discoveries in the human world?" Byakuya asked offhandedly. But wait, did Byakuya ever say anything offhandedly? Who was he kidding?
Why is he asking me that? What am I to say? There is no way I can tell him about going to Ichigo's house to watch Chappy the Rabbit on his tele…something, and I couldn't use that remo…something to turn on the tele…something, so he taunted me with…bubble tea? Nii-sama would be so mad if he found out I soiled the noble Kuchiki name by having failed to drink the dreaded bubble tea thing! I must avenge myself by winning my bet with Ichigo, I swear!
"Erm…" Rukia muttered, fiddling uncomfortably under the silhouette of Byakuya's unmoving back, "I – I apologize for my incompetence, but I – I have not made any discoveries in the human world…"
There was a long pause, and Rukia could've sworn her heart had stopped during the silence.
"Very well," Byakuya finally broke the tension, "you may take your leave."
Rukia couldn't have been happier to go back to bed.
When the sunlight shone through translucent washi paper to wake her from her slumber, Rukia was still troubling over how to drink the bubble tea she had brought back to Soul Society. She tried using the straws that came with juice packets, but soon found they were too short for the job, not to mention the diameter was too small for the black circular thingies called "bubbles" to pass through the tube. She definitely needed a much longer, larger straw for such task. The problem was where could she find a tool of such description? She hadn't even seen a regular straw in her whole life before her encounter with Ichigo!
With that last thought lingering in her head, Rukia changed into her shinigami robes and walked to the dining room for breakfast.
As always, the Kuchiki Head of House was already finishing up his breakfast when his little sister entered the room. It wasn't unfortunate for the young female shinigami though, because whenever she ate together with her brother, she would lose her appetite. If she made the slightest noise chewing her food, or drinking her soup, or even moving her utensils on the plates, she would be met with a pair of staring eyes. Sure, Byakuya never did anything but stare, but those stares were enough to kill.
"Sit down, Rukia," Byakuya stated when he saw Rukia enter the room. She did as she was told and sat down at her usual seat, the seat farthest away from him.
She carefully lifted her chopsticks and picked up a single grain of rice to put in her mouth as she took a quick glance at Byakuya's food. Only 1/3 of his miso soup left. He should leave in a minute! Suppressing her smile at the rate Byakuya was finishing his food, Rukia picked up a second grain of rice and soundlessly placed it in her mouth.
"Have my kenseikan been washed, Mika?" Byakuya asked upon placing his bowl down. Rukia was inwardly grateful his last comment was not directed at her.
"Yes, it has been washed and dried, Kuchiki-sama," the servant answered.
"Good," was all Byakuya said before he got up to leave the room. Everyone relaxed when they felt his reiatsu leave the mansion grounds.
Did Mika just say kenseikan? How come I've never thought of that! Kenseikan is a series of long, large tubes, right?
It was definitely not a good idea.
It was definitely a horrible idea when the thirteenth division vice-captain decided to skip the last part of her paperwork to go home early.
"Could you please finish up this last bit for me, Kiyone?" Rukia asked, pointing at the few sheets of paper left on her desk.
"Of course, Kuchiki-fukutaichou! I'm honored to be able to do such a thing for you! It is something that you cannot trust Kotsubaki to do, you know?" Kiyone blurted in happiness as she sat down at the vice-captain's table.
"You must not do that, Kuchiki-fukutaichou! Kiyone would be too stupid to do the job!"
"Who are you calling stupid?"
"Are you too stupid to know I was calling you stupid?"
"You are the one who is too stupid to tell a smart person as myself from stupid people like you!"
Rukia sighed while the two argued. She could care less who finished the paperwork so long as they were finished in the end. At times like these, Rukia would wonder if the reason for her promotion was because the two third seats would rather anyone but each other advance to that rank.
Anyway, what was most important for her now was to get home before Byakuya did.
Get home…get to the kenseikan…
Rukia couldn't help but chuckle evilly at the thought as she left the thirteenth division headquarters. Byakuya sneezed.
"Taichou! People say that if you sneeze for no reason, it's because somebody is doing something behind your back!" Abarai Renji shouted while pointing a finger at Byakuya's nose.
"Nonsense," Byakuya replied sharply, slapping away Renji's finger. When his vice-captain was out of sight, though, he shivered.
Rukia walked calmly down the corridors of the Kuchiki mansion, her head held high as the servants bowed before her when they encountered. Upon reaching the corner, she pushed herself onto the wall and risked a peek down the hall leading to Byakuya's room. All clear. Ready to go! She stuck her head out a bit more to take one last look. Seeing nobody in sight, she quickly used her shunpo to sneak into the room.
She crept her way towards the dark corner where the cabinets were located. Opening drawer after drawer in search of the headpiece of nobility, she grunted in frustration without having found it. Damn it! He must've placed it on the uppermost drawer! Going on her tip-toes, she managed to reach the tubes that lay there in the darkness.
"Found it! The special rubber kenseikan that Nii-sama wears on rainy days! Guaranteed stiffness even under the wettest conditions!" Rukia exclaimed, eagerly taking out the bubble tea and scissors she had obtained from Ichigo in the human world. Excitement overwhelming common sense, she took the scissors and cut out a tube of the rubber kenseikan and stuck it into the hole of the bubble tea container. This is it! I'll taste bubble tea!
At that very moment, a very nervous Byakuya (nervous because of what Renji said) opened the shouji doors to retire to his room. Upon hearing the sound, Rukia quickly slammed the drawer shut and stuffed the wrecked kenseikan into her robes. Byakuya stared at her, completely not expecting her presence. She forced a smile in return.
"Is there a reason for your presence in my bedchamber?"
"I-I-I was…was…trying to find you."
"And for what reason would that be?" Byakuya continued his inquiry. Rukia could feel cold drops of sweat trickle down her spine.
"Um…" she began, unsure of what to say until she saw the bubble tea lying on the ground in front of her, "I just recalled a discovery that I made in the human world. It slipped out of my mind because…er…well…it isn't all that important…but I thought it might be interesting to show you, Nii-sama…"
"Is that so?" Byakuya lowered himself to sit in front of Rukia and the bubble tea. He stared at the reddish liquid in the plastic container, mixed with ice and black spheres that lay at the bottom of the drink. "What is this?"
"Th-they call it watermelon bubble tea…"
"Ah…" Byakuya muttered, picking up the container to examine how to drink it. Recalling his past conversations with Rukia regarding juice packets, he placed his lips on the special straw (without the slightest idea that it was part of his kenseikan) and took a sip.
"I-Is it good?" Rukia asked, interested.
"It tastes like watermelon…and water…and ice…and mochi…" Byakuya answered. If it were possible for the Great Kuchiki Byakuya to make a dreamy gaze, that was exactly what he was doing at the moment.
"I guess it isn't that good then…damn that Ichigo…" Rukia muttered under her breath, but Byakuya was too obsessed with his drink to notice.
"The best part about it is the taste of red pepper," Byakuya said to nobody in particular.
What part of watermelon bubble tea would contain red pepper? Shit! It must be Nii-sama's red pepper-flavored shampoo!
"Is it just me, or is this scent a bit too familiar?" Byakuya asked. Rukia sweatdropped.