"We have to do it." Captain Ukitake was grinning widely, glancing at the his fellow captains with a fiendish light in his eyes. The room was spacious without being crass, lit well with a large, lacquered table sitting in the center.
"I agree. It's tradition." Shunsui smiled, sipping a sake cup slowly.
Kenpachi bared his teeth in what probably would have been a smile on a normal looking person. "Well, hell, I'm always up for drinkin'."
"He's only a boy." Unohana intoned softly, a disapproving look on her gentle face.
"Come now, Retsu." Aizen smiled affably, a chiding tone in his voice. "There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence every now and then."
"I can't believe your going along with this, Aizen." Komamura growled, his mask betraying nothing, but his voice was quite adamant in its abhorrence to the idea. "You shouldn't force him into anything."
"Well, we couldn't force you to come with us," Shunsui acquiesced lightly, a smile dancing upon his lips. "And we couldn't make Kurotsuchi either." He added, nodding toward the empty seat. "But still... it is tradition. Kurotsuchi came to his, even if we had to force him into it. And besides, that kid needs to lighten up."
"I hear that." Kenpachi grunted. "Little brat always makes me look bad with his neat, on-time paperwork."
"That's just because your handwriting looks like crap and makes old man Yama's eyes bleed." Shunsui countered, grinning still.
"Go to hell." The Captain of the Eleventh snarled irritably, even as chuckles arose from many of the other captains.
"This is ridiculous. I can't believe you told me this was important captain's business." Byakuya stood, his nose wrinkled in disgust. "I should have known this was a farce when the General wasn't here."
"Yeah, ya should have, rich boy." Kenpachi chuckled, and the tone of his voice seemed to be begging the head of the Kuchiki clan to a fight.
"Enough." Unohana said slowly, cutting apart the tension with her usual grace, "You may do as you like, but I, for one, will not consent to allowing a mere boy to become inebriated."
"Tch. You're no fun, woman." Kenpachi muttered. The Captain of the Fourth Division paid him no heed as she walked out of the door, with Byakuya following behind.
"I want no part of this ridiculous venture." Byakuya said irritably, stalking out the meeting.
"I too, will refuse." Tousen, who had been quiet for the duration of the meeting, said slowly. Komamura also stood, his stance clear beforehand.
"Well, how about you Soi?" Ukitake asked cheerily, turning toward the petite captain. "Are you in?"
The Covert Ops commander shrugged. "I have no duties that night. So I suppose I should take this chance to relax. Besides," she added, a hint of impish mischief in her voice, "It might be interesting to see how our newest comrade fares."
"Excellent!" the white haired captain smiled widely, glancing toward Aizen. "And you, Aizen? Or how about you, Gin?"
"Ah. My apologies, but I have duties that night." Aizen replied placidly. "I must decline."
"I'm free." Gin said simply, his enigmatic smile unchanged.
"Well then, it looks like we're goin' drinkin with the new guy!" Shunsui cheered.
And somewhere else in the Seireitei, the youngest captain in Soul Society sneezed.
The Captain of the Tenth Division, Hitsuguya Toushiro, should have known that there would be trouble from the moment that Matsumoto opened the door to reveal a smiling Ukitake Jyuushiro.
"Hey there!" Ukitake waved cheerily.
"... Hello, Captain Ukitake." He replied slowly, uncertain. "What's the occasion?"
"Ah, well, you've been released from your duties tonight, so I thought you might want to come with us on a little excursion." Ukitake kept smiling, and it made Hitsuguya uneasy.
"I don't think so." His voice was quiet and terse.
"Come now, don't be like that!" Ukitake smiled wider, if that was possible. "As the newest captain in our ranks, you have to learn to be more social!"
"... I'd really much rather prefer to spend tonight by myself, if I'm no longer needed here." Hitsuguya responded frigidly, barely in the boundaries of polite speech.
Ukitake sighed, running his hand through his hair in what seemed like defeat. Hitsuguya relaxed, and began to speak. "My apologies, captain, but-"
"It should be me apologizing," the older man replied calmly, and the smile on his face hadn't dimmed at all.
"For what?" the Captain of the Tenth asked slowly.
It was then that Hitsuguya felt the sheer, monstrous power that could only belong to-"Captain Zaraki?" he said slowly, watching as the massive captain lumbered toward the doorway.
Kenpachi merely grinned like the Devil himself.
"What's going on?" Hitsuguya demanded, his hand straying to Hyourinmaru's hilt.
"Don't move." Soi Fong's unmistakable voice was right next to his ear, her breath tickling his neck as she gripped Hyourinmaru. "Just come with us quietly."
Desperate and panicky, Hitsuguya turned toward his vice captain with a pleading look.
If he was expecting help, he was to suffer disappointment as Matsumoto cracked a grin and shrugged slowly. "Sorry, Captain, but this is tradition."
Hitsuguya couldn't respond as Zaraki Kenpachi proceeded to pick him up and literally frogmarch him out the door.
As he was leaving, however, Hitsuguya found his voice again. "I'll make you pay for this, Matsumoto!" he shouted, even as Ukitake laughed and, along with Soi Fong, followed Kenpachi out of the Tenth Division headquarters.
Matsumoto grinned widely, watching their departing backs with a hint of envy. "Damn, I wish I was a captain. I've heard these things get pretty wild..."
"And there's the boy-erm, man of the hour!" Shunsui cheered, raising his cup with a wide, already partially drunken smile on his face. "I see you had some trouble."
"Not really." Ukitake replied, smiling back, nodding to Zaraki, who tossed the young captain into the bar. "What with the help of Kenpachi and Soi, and all."
Soi Fong merely smirked, no doubt pleased that she had outmaneuvered the young genius of the Tenth Division.
"Why are you doing this!" Hitsuguya demanded, his hand straying to Hyourinmaru's hilt- only to find it missing. "And where's-"
"Quit yer yappin', kid. It's right here." Zaraki grumbled, downing a rather large quantity of booze while waving Hyourinmaru about. "You'll get it back after this."
"And what, exactly, is this?" Hitsuguya snarled, gazing about. From the corner, Captain Gin waved to him, that usual smile on his face.
"A tradition." Shunsui inclined his head sagely. "All new captains must drink with their comrades. It's an initiation of sorts. We all went through it... even Kurotsuchi."
Hitsuguya blinked, scowling. "I've never heard of such a thing."
"Of course not!" Ukitake chipped in, smiling widely, thrusting a cup of sake toward the youngest captain. "This is an... unwritten tradition. But a tradition nonetheless."
Hitsuguya looked at the cup as though it were poisoned. "I don't want to."
"Captain Zaraki..." the Captain of the Thirteenth began, but Hitsuguya, realizing that the partly drunk Zaraki Kenpachi would no doubt enjoy forcing booze down his throat, grabbed the cup.
"I'll drink it!" he snarled, taking a slow, cautious sip. After a brief moment, he coughed, and drops of sake splattered onto the floor.
"What a waste." Shunsui clucked his tongue, shaking his head.
"A damn shame." Zaraki muttered, grabbing another whole bottle for himself. He grinned, kneeling till he was face to face with Hitsuguya. "Can't hold yer liquor, kid?" he taunted, taking a long swig. "Guess you ain't as grown up as you always say you are."
"I'm not going to be goaded into this." The Captain of the Tenth replied frigidly.
"Right. That's why we thought we'd have to do this." Shunsui smirked, and Hitsuguya turned toward Gin, who had been muttering something under his breath the whole time.
Ichimaru grinned, raising his hand, speaking clearer, louder. "Binding Spell Nine: Geki."
Unable to break free or even move, Hitsuguya was helpless as they poured the alcohol down his throat. He coughed the first few times, but eventually, he succumbed.
"See?" Ukitake grinned ear to ear, like a Cheshire cat. "This isn't so bad, now is it Shiro?"
Hitsuguya, blinked, and mumbled, "Yeah... I guess..."
"He still sounds kinda surly." Kenpachi rumbled, and poured another cup for him. "Drink more. You're still a killjoy."
"Am I even allowed to drink?" Hitsuguya asked out loud, but it didn't stop him from swallowing the sake.
"Whatcha mean there, Cap'n?" Gin asked slyly, grinning.
"I think he's asking whether this is legal or not." Soi Fong noted, nursing her drink still.
"'Legal' is such a loose turn," Ukitake said in reply, chuckling.
"So what they're sayin' is, don't ask." Kenpachi grunted, before boisterously ordering another round of drinks.
"Besides," Ukitake continued, smiling amiably, "We're Captains of the Gotei Thirteen, leaders of Shinigami. We are the law."
"Here here!" Gin chortled, raising his glass. "So 'nless ya wanna arrest yerself, shut up and drink!" and with he passed Hitsuguya a drink that, as he discovered three seconds later, burned even worse than the sake.
After that... well, Hitsuguya could never be quite sure what did happened afterward. He distinctly remembered a very drunken, accidental kiss between Soi Fong and Kenpachi, which caused Ukitake to have a fainting spell, Shunsui spilling sake, and Gin merely chortling at managed to use Shinso to slice a leg off of Kenpachi's chair and causing the Captain of the Eleventh to stumble straight into Soi Fong's lips (or rather, he fell straight on top of them, but no one was quibbling over it).
But the sheer horror and wrongness of that moment made Hitsuguya never want to confirm if it really happened or not. And neither party seemed eager to broach the subject.
They were thrown out soon after- whether due to the blasts of reiatsu Soi Fong fired at Gin, or the roaring sword swipes that Kenpachi used, or the fact that Shunsui had hit on every woman in the bar, including the proprietor's daughter and wife, no one could clearly say.
Of course, turning several drunken Shinigami onto the streets, especially Captains with the power to level numerous small towns on their own, is never a good idea.
The casualties in attempting subdue an angry, drunken Zaraki Kenpachi alone kept the Fourth Division busy for weeks.
And in the end, Hitsuguya gained nothing except a hangover, a distaste for alcohol, several rather odd smelling stains on his uniform that he prayed were alcohol, and a twelve day journey to try and find Hyourinmaru that involved several shady shops, numerous people injured by an angry Hitsuguya, and a pawn shop owner who disappeared shortly after (however, a very lifelike ice sculpture was donated to decorate the Kuchiki courtyard).
Needless to say, he hasn't forgiven the other captains to this day.