Disclaimer: Bleach and its characters belong to Tite Kubo.
Rated for language.
There's a bit in here dedicated to my Beta. Just a little joke concerning the major problem of this fic pre-beta. ;) Thanks Nee-chan! (See if you can spot it)
11th vs. 4th
Relations between the 11th and the 4th divisions had a history which many members, especially of the 11th, weren't aware of. Prior to the arrival of Zaraki and his small band, interactions between the two groups hadn't been much different than between that of any other division and the 4th. The current air of general malice among the majority of the 11th toward the 4th was an unintended side affect of Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Yachiru's early interactions with the healer shinigami. The only influence Zaraki had had on relations was his obvious annoyance during his time spent in the General Relief Station. As any time spent being healed was time he wasn't able to fight, something that always put him in a bad mood.
The first few weeks were rather busy for the newly seated officers of the 11th. Having gained their positions due to Zaraki's defeat of the previous captain and never having attended the Academy, they weren't readily accepted as legitimate members of the Gotei 13. It was especially hard for the other shinigami to accept that a child, barely more than a toddler really, had been made a Fukutaichou. Their general reaction had been to laugh, ("Hey, isn't she a cutie?") and pat her on the head. But Yachiru disliked being patronized and her general reaction was a spirited attempt to bite the offending hand off.
This didn't go over well.
Ikkaku and Yumichika, on the other hand, had to deal with the more traditional attempts at intimidation and threats of violence (which tended to end up as actual violence because, it was their thinking, if you were going to make promises like that, you had better keep them). Their first encounter had been a traditional bar brawl. The two had gone out for sake to celebrate their good turn of fortune and had only had a few glasses before a disgruntled shinigami from another division had made his move. Having mistaken the new 5th seat of 11th for a woman (later Yumichika would cut his hair, irritated with this common mistake) he decided a little sexual harassment was in order. Running a hand down Yumichika's back he implied that the only reason the 5th seat was in such a high position had to be the possession of considerable assets and why not give a demonstration? Yumichika threw him through a window and things had only gone downhill (or uphill, depending on your perspective) from there.
Between prying Yachiru off of various body parts, and treating the participants of nearly daily brawls, the 4th division saw a considerable amount of the new officers. At first the timid healers weren't sure what to make of them. How do you react to a pair who bring their own victims in for treatment and then reminisce about the higher points of the fight while receiving their own? How do you explain to a toddler that she can't gnaw on her subordinates, not even if they deserved it - or if she had a tooth coming in – no, not even by accident – no, there were no exceptions – yes, we're sure - absolutely positive – look, will you stop if we give you a sucker? ...oh dear...
It was a couple of weeks after they're arrival, watching a pair of 4th division healers negotiate with Yachiru over the amount of candy it would take to get her detached from the leg of a particularly offensive member of the 3rd, that Ikkaku realized most shinigami tended to ignore members of the 4th completely. It wasn't simply that they didn't talk to the shy healers or interact with them. A hall with a member of the 4th in it was empty; they often got jostled and trampled in crowds. Members doing chores didn't even exist as far as other shinigami were concerned. When they were noticed it was because they were doing something 'wrong', they were being yelled at and degraded. And the 4th put up with it, never talked back and never defended themselves.
It was disgusting. Ugly, Yumichika decided. The 4th did all the boring, but entirely necessary, tasks and healed anyone without compliant and the other divisions, the idiots, didn't even have the decency to show a little gratitude. After all, Ikkaku and Yumichika reasoned, if the 4th didn't do these tasks that meant that they would have to do them which meant less time for training and fighting. And you couldn't get as much fun out of a fight if you were being held down by old injuries. So, really, the 4th was doing everyone a favor.
Never being ones to overlook such favors, the three were compelled to show their gratitude, albeit in unique ways. Yumichika never stopped talking. Mostly a running critique, usually with some form of praise, though with Yumi it was hard to tell. Ikkaku joked and teased and generally made a ruckus. And because he wanted the submissive 4th to grow a backbone he never let them back down. Yachiru insisted they play games with her. Her favorite was tag, she was always it. Slowly the shy healers (after much quiet debate) came to the conclusion that, no they weren't being targeted and that the general havoc the trio created was in some strange way a form of thanks.
Around the same time, the 11th as a whole was coming to the revelation that they were becoming the strongest division of the Gotei 13. After the first couple of weeks the weak of heart and body had transferred out in hordes. Those remaining looked in awe at the psychotic power of their captain, the huge turnover of opponents their 3rd and 5th seat went through and the strange ability of their lieutenant to send grown men running in terror. These qualities became a matter of pride, and an odd kind of hero worship began to emerge where the 11th attempted to emulate these characteristics. Members started presenting themselves in ways meant to make them more intimidating. Seeking out fights, and becoming easily provoked, their opponents were given no choice but to fight or run. Mitigation was no longer an option. And because his subordinates saw their Captain as practically invincible they strived to be as well, avoiding the 4th division whenever possible.
But with all the fights they were starting it was only a matter of time before someone would need a bone set or a gash sewn shut. During their stays in 4th division headquarters the fight happy shinigami couldn't help but notice how their top officers interacted with the puny healers. And because most of the 11th trained under the three officers and not alongside them, they didn't have a good understanding of their officers' mindsets. So the 5th seat's endless chatter and critiques were full of disdain. The 3rd seat's jokes and rowdy behavior were torments and pranks. The lieutenant's games were a rein of terror. The 4th were too weak and timid to be worth fighting but that didn't mean they couldn't be bullied. So the 11th spent their time there being as obnoxious as possible.
As time passed this view of things solidified and was unquestioned among the lower ranks. It was this mentality that allowed a squad from 11th to leave Hanatarou to a potentially horrible fate at the hands of hostel invaders without guilt. And it was this mentality that had the 11th drinking and posturing in the middle of an infirmary.
The fight was finished and Seireitei was now short three captains. 11th had taken heavy damage at the hands of Ichigo and his group and were now recovering, but mostly causing trouble, in 4th division headquarters.
Ikkaku was in his own personal hell trapped between a sparkly, flirtatious Yumichika on one side and Risa (who was supposed to be checking him over for cracked bones and bruising but was actually being bubbly and cooing over his friend's hair) on the other. Risa was one of Yumichika's favorite healers for the sole reason that she'd gasped and babbled about what a lovely shade of lavender his eyes were the first time they'd met. He'd been sure to snatch her the moment they came in and now Ikkaku had to put up with their endless, pointless chatter.
"Ahhh, Risa-san, your nails look so lovely today!"
"That's so nice of you to say, Yumichika-san! I had free time earlier this week, so I got a manicure."
"Those are so wonderful, I haven't got mine done in ages."
"But your hands always look amazing!"
"Hey! Remember me? Crater in the floor ringing any bells?" Ikkaku snapped, not being able to take anymore of that girly shit.
"Ah! Of course, my apologies." The girl blushed getting down to business. "Hold still, please. This should only take a few minutes."
"You're no fun, Ikkaku." Yumichika pouted. "Just because that boy dodged and you got hit by mistake, you're so grumpy!"
"Whatever," he grumbled. Looking around the room he felt his mood lift. The division was going all out with this visit. Bottles of sake were being passed around and a group was singing drunkenly and off key across the room. He could see Yumichika wincing beside him as they tried and failed at harmony. Jokes and friendly jeers were thrown casually from one member to another. The healers made their way from one shinigami to the next juggling their supplies while avoiding swinging arms and empty sake bottles, good-naturedly ignoring teasing and taunts.
The rest of the day was definitely looking up, Ikkaku thought as some younger members of 11th started playing keep-away with a healer's bandages.
"There, all done!" Risa chirped patting his shoulder. "No major damage, just don't get blasted into the floor again for the next week or so, ok?"
"Don't worry, Risa-san!" Yumichika laughed as Ikkaku glowered at the two of them. "I'll take good care of him, ne Ikkaku?"
"You try to baby me and I'll-" He was cut off when a particularly scrawny member of the 4th landed, sprawling at his feet.
"Ya fuckin' worm! I said I didn't need any of your shit!" A burly shinigami yelled, red in the face. Ikkaku recognized him. He'd been transferred in recently for fighting and insubordination, his previous officers thinking 11th could knock him down a notch. He'd come strutting into the training grounds a couple weeks ago looking self-important and cocky. He didn't look so cocky now with his feet dangling above the ground and Ikkaku's fist wrapped around his throat.
The room went silent.
"You okay, kid?" He asked the little healer, not taking his eyes off the man hanging from his grip. Ikkaku noticed the guy's face was starting to turn purple.
"Ah! Y-yes, I'm fine!" He heard the kid squeak from behind him. Ikkaku nodded and loosened his grip so the other could breathe.
"What's your name?"
"Kotsuga, sir!" The man rasped.
"Right, Kotsuga." Ikkaku sneered. "I don't know how things were done in your old division and I don't really care. But in the 11th we treat the 4th with a little more respect."
"B-but, but-" Kotsuga sputtered. "they're weak, pathetic! They're beneath us, they said so!"
"They?" Ikkaku questioned. "Who the hell'r you talkin' about?"
"Them!" Kotsuga wailed, indicating the group he'd been sitting with. "Everyone in the barracks!"
Ikkaku blinked, not sure what to make of this information. He'd always thought that Yumichika, Yachiru and himself had set a pretty clear example of how the 4th should be regarded. The way their subordinates acted seemed to indicate that they'd understood.
"There seems to have been a misunderstanding in regard to intentions. How ugly." Yumichika sighed, abandoning his seat on the cot to stand a little behind him.
Ikkaku thought about this for a moment and then things clicked. Morons, he thought.
"Yo, Risa." He said out load. "Who heads the squad that does chores at 11th?"
"Oh, ah, Tashiyo-san."
"Tell Tashiyo and his squad to take a month off, 11th will do their own chores." Ikkaku said, letting Kotsuga fall to the ground. The statement was greeted by groans and protests from the whole room.
"Shut up!" Ikkaku yelled and drew Houzikimaru. All noise, all movement stopped. "4th does all the shitty jobs so you don't have to. Heals your injuries so you can keep fighting. You're going to do all their work at headquarters until you appreciate that! Got it?"
"B-but, I was just doing what they told me to! I'm new, I shouldn't get punished!" Kotsuga's voice came from somewhere near Ikkaku's feet. The man was a coward, Ikkaku decided, and was about to do the Gotei 13 a favor by gutting him when Yumichika's slim hand took hold of his wrist.
"You're so right, Kotsuga-san!" He cooed, coming around from behind Ikkaku. "Don't listen to Ikkaku, he's so grumpy today. You won't be doing any chores, I promise."
"The hell?" Ikkaku growled, confused.
"No, you'll be doing something much better suited to your personal qualities." Hearing this, Kotsuga's expression lifted considerably, and then fell. "Yachiru's been restless lately, she needs a new playmate."