Well, about a year after not updating, I finally decided to get off my lazy ass and type out the second chapter. My problem with procrastination is, once I've written out the chapter in long hand, I don't want to hafta retype the chapter up. Sometime in July, I sent this chapter off to a random beta from the site, but they never got back. So I decided screw it, I'll toss this up here anyways, and if there is any huge glaring mistakes that you think I should be aware about, please tell me.
Disclaimer: I do not own bleach, yatta yatta yatta.
Edit: Thank You to Ishasuki Mitochi for pointing out that it had repeated a line at the beginning.
Toshiro Hitsugaya was a very big stickler about time. He believed that if you should be somewhere at a certain time, you should be there when expected, no exceptions. A week ago, he had told Captain Unohana that he would be at her division at exactly eight o'clock that morning.
That's why he was extremely agitated as he stood in the hallway to the senior officers' quarters at 7:47, waiting for his lieutenant, Matsumoto. While he had risen with dawn, Rangiku had decided to sleep in. Hitsugaya had pounded at her door at 7:30, yelling at her to wake up. Inside, Matsumoto rolled over and continued to snore loudly. For 15 minutes, Hitsugaya bellowed himself hoarse, shouting at the door until Matsumoto opened the door, yawning in his face and complaining sleepily, "What's the problem, Captain?" It didn't help matters for Hitsugaya when he noticed her sleeping attire, cringed and rolled his eyes skyward as a red flush crept up his neck.
"We have to be at Captain Unohana's division in ten minutes!" Hitsugaya snapped, turning around and folding his arms crossly. "Hurry up and get dressed." He didn't considered what Matsumoto was wearing for sleep attire to constitute as clothing. Picked up on an excursion to the living realm, Matsumoto was standing behind him in a sheer pink chemise, barely covering her voluptuous hips. Matsumoto stared at her captain's back in confused silence until Hitsugaya turned around to question her stillness.
And promptly wished he hadn't. Matsumoto had begun to pull her nightie over her head, asking, "Why are we going, Captain?" Hitsugaya made a strangled choking sound and clapped a hand over his eyes.
"Matsumoto!" His voice raised several octaves and he turned his head away with a furious blush on his cheeks.
"What?" Matsumoto asked innocently. Looking over his shoulder, she raised her arm and waved, calling loudly, "Oh! Hello Jong!" Hitsugaya peeked through his fingers to peer at who Matsumoto was greeting. His stunned 6th seat, flanked by several subordinates, was staring back at her with wide eyes. With another strangled gasping sound, Hitsugaya whirled around and slammed his arm across the doorway, his captain's cloak billowing out and blocking the view of Matsumoto's chest.
"Matsumoto!" He hissed through clenched teeth. "Get dressed NOW! We're going to Captain Unohana's for the spa opening. She announced it last week, remember?"
Realization dawned on Matsumoto's face and she squealed joyfully, right into Hitsugaya's ear. If he had been an animal, he would have laid his ears back at the high pitch of her voice. Instead, he squeezed his eyes shut as Matsumoto (and her bare chest) bounced up in down in delight.
"Ah, Of course! I'll be ready in just a moment, wait for me Captain!" Before Hitsugaya had time to respond, she slammed the door shut, right on his fingers. A searing pain shot through his hand, traveling through his arm up to his head, but he suppressed a swearing yell and pulled his fingers away from the door frame. Turning around, he came face to face with Jong and the other 10th division members still staring at him in shocked silence.
"What is it? Don't you have work to do?" Hitsugaya snapped irritably, dropping his throbbing hand to his side and trying to resume an authoritative figure.
"Ah, err – yes Captain Hitsugaya!" Jong stammered quickly, bowing deeply. "Right away, sir!" The group hastily left, bowing as they backed out of the hallway. Hitsugaya scowled and brought up his aching fingers, rubbing them with the other hand. He wandered a few feet from Matsumoto's door and leaned against the wall to wait for his lieutenant.
For ten minutes.
Hitsugaya didn't think it should take so long to get dressed – merely pull on the standard shinigami uniform and sandals. Turning to the door, he knocked raptly and waited for an answer. None came. "Matsumoto!" Hitsugaya called irritably. When no answer came, he called her again and rapped on the door. It easily opened and Hitsugaya hesitated, waiting for an ambush. "Matsumoto?" He called cautiously, pushing open the door and peering into his lieutenant's room. The room was strewn with huge heaps of clothes every few feet, towering well over somebody of Hitsugaya's… "vertically-challenged" size. Stepping into the messy space, he scanned the room, wondering how his lieutenant could have escaped him. He nearly passed over a lump of uniforms on the end of the bed before realizing it had strawberry hair and was snoring loudly.
"Aw, come on Captain," Matsumoto coaxed. "It's not my fault; the bed just looked so comfy. It was CALLING to me, enticing me to lie down, just for a moment."
Hitsugaya stalked in front of Matsumoto, arms folded crossly as they walked through the Seireitei to the Fourth Division. "We're going to be late." He muttered darkly in an accusing manner. "We're the only ones on the street."
"No we're not." Matsumoto corrected. "Look!" She pointed a slender finger and Hitsugaya followed, looking ahead of them. "It's Captain Zakari and the guys. They must be late too!" Before Hitsugaya could stop her; because he really rather not walk with the 11th division captain and his tag team of ruffians; Matsumoto called out to them, cupping a hand around her mouth and waving an arm over her head, bellowing, "Ikkaku! Yumichika! Yachiru, Captain Zakari!"
Though they were much further ahead, the small group stopped and looked behind them curiously. Matsumoto waved furiously, bouncing on the balls of her feet which caused her enormous chest to bounce up and down as well. Hitsugaya was surprised they didn't smack her in the face. He wanted nothing more then to just melt into the ground as he inwardly groaned, his shoulders sagging in exasperation. Up ahead, the 11th division team recognized them and Yachiru returned the wave, yelling, "Hi Boobies!"
Matsumoto nudged her captain. "Come on, let's catch up! We can all walk together!" She dashed off, running to catch up with the group before Hitsugaya had time to argue.
'I rather not.' Hitsugaya thought in defeat. 'Who in their right mind would walk with the men who probably haven't washed the blood off before they came this morning?'
"Hey Ikkaku; Hey Yumi." Matsumoto greeted with a slight panting as she jogged up to their side. She flashed a dazzling smile at the four of them before greeting Yachiru and Zakari with a bow of her head. "Good Morning Captain Zakari, Yachiru-chan."
Zakari eyed her with disinterest and responded with a grunt. Yachiru leaned over Kenpachi's shoulder as far as she could and chirped, "You're late too! We're late cause Baldy and Ken-chan!"
Ikkaku responded with a loud and indignant, "I am NOT BALD!" the same moment Zakari grumbled, "I didn't want come."
Yachiru smiled sweetly as if she didn't hear them and asked Rangiku, "Why are you late?"
Matsumoto grinned and waved her hand dismissively at Hitsugaya as he trudged up to the group. "The captain here woke up late."
Hitsugaya scowled. The audacity! Opening his mouth to correct her, Zakari gave a predatory grinned, leering down at him and asking, "Pipsqueak needed his sleep huh? Did he stay up past his bed time?" Ikkaku snickered and Yumichika covered his mouth with his hand, twittering behind it. Yachiru cried out in a peal of high laughter and giggling, "Ken-chan is so funny!"
Hitsugaya felt heat rushing up the back of his neck and folding his cheeks. Matsumoto was hiding her giggles behind her hand as well, looking sheepishly at her captain, almost sympathetically. "That's Captain Hitsugaya to you, Captain Zakari. You will address me as such with the proper respect of rank." Hitsugaya snapped back, squaring his shoulders as if trying to appear authoritative.
Zakari chuckled, grinning down at Hitsugaya. "Don't get your big boy shorts in a bunch. I'm just messin' with ya." He turned around and resumed walking towards the fourth division. The rest of the group followed, Ikkaku behind Zakari and Yachiru, Matsumoto linking arms with Yumichika and a miserable Hitsugaya bringing up the rear.
"Oh, this is going to be so mush fun!" Matsumoto gushed to a beaming Yumichika. "I love visiting spas, I tell Captain that we don't go enough, we would really finish so much more if we were relaxed!" Hitsugaya didn't bother to remind Matsumoto that the last time they went to a bathhouse, he had been mistaken for a child and Matsumoto didn't do any work at all.
"I say the same thing to our Captain," Yumichika said flippantly. "But he doesn't listen. I swear he would be happier bathing in a stream then visiting a bath house."
Up ahead, Zakari grunted. "Rather bathe in a stream then be caught in some pansy frou-frou place that smells funny." Yachiru crowed her agreement, despite the fact that she loved attending bathhouses whenever opportunity granted.
Yumichika made a face in distaste behind his captain's back before turning back to Matsumoto. "Anyways dear, have you considered getting highlights? I promise you, they could amplify your already exquisite beauty."
Matsumoto tugged on a lock of her strawberry hair, eyeing the ends. "You really think they'd look okay?" She sounded doubtful but Hitsugaya knew she was fishing for compliments.
"Of course my dear Rangiku!" Yumichika assured. "I often indulge in low lights in my own hair. You can't really tell though, they blend in so well." He patted the ends of his own well treated tresses with a smug smirk and it was easy to tell that he thought his own hair was superior to anyone else. "They'll have all sorts of hair treatments, I'm sure."
"And bubbles!" Yachiru piped in to remind helpfully.
"Yes Vice-Captain and bubbles." Yumichika said practiced patient tone.
Ikkaku looked over his shoulder to add to the conversation but as he opened his mouth, his eyes focused past them. "Hey…" He said casually. "There's Nemu and her captain." Immediately, five heads twisted around to look. "Huh." Ikkaku mused. "Surprised they're showing up."
Zakari grunted, bluntly grumbling, "Great, the freaks are coming as well." He sneered and turned around again to start walking when Yachiru pulled one of his hair spikes.
"Heeeyyy Ken-chan, let's wait for them!" Yachiru crowed, yanking on his ear with enough force that could rip off a car door. Without waiting for a response, Yachiru raised her arm over her head and waved, squealing at the top of her lungs, "HHIIIII BOZO-FACE! NEMU-MU!"
Hitsugaya groaned inwardly. It was bad enough that first they were late, then ended up walking with the 11th division, now they had to run into the psychotic captain from 12th and his unnerving vice captain.
Even from far away, Mayuri cringed visibly at Yachiru's shrieked greeting. He quickly started fumbling around within the folds of his captain's coat, as if searching for something to protect himself with. He patted the hilt of his Zanpakutou before drawing out various vials of poison and stuffing them back, hunting for a defense that might stay the 11th lieutenant from approaching him. As Mayuri and Nemu neared, the others could hear his mad muttering, "Damn specimen brat; it's bad enough that deplorable woman is making me come, that miniature beast is here too?"
"What's Captain Bozo-Face mumbling about?" Yachiru asked sweetly as the pair drew up behind Hitsugaya.
Mayuri stiffed, straightened up and sneered back at her, "That's Captain Kurotshuchi to you, you indefinable creature!"
Yachiru laughed as if he had something very silly then continued. "We're going to the baths today! There's going to be bubbles!"
"Of course something as insignificant as bubbles would amuse your simple mind." Mayuri sneered. Zakari's eye glinted dangerously as Ikkaku narrowed his eyes and Yumichika frowned, but the 12th division captain didn't notice. Yachiru merely giggled and turned back to face the front. Hitsugaya frowned, stiffening a shudder as the scientist's eyes glanced over and swept over him appraisingly before looking away again. Mayuri might be a genius but his social skills matched the frightening look of his face.
As the group resumed walking to the Fourth division, now flanked by Mayuri and Nemu, Hitsugaya shuffled along thinking 'Great, now everyone is going to think I'm late because I hang out with maniacs.' He tried to hold his head up high but the idea of being associated with two mad men and a rowdy set of subordinates (minus Nemu, who was so quiet it was creepy) kept his shoulders hunched and a sulking look on his face as he scowled at the ground.
The group passed the Sixth division and soon the Fifth. Histugaya had kept a lookout for Hinamori, hoping that despite the uneasy terms they were on, she would come out and join them. But they passed the Fifth division headquarters and nobody came out. Hitsugaya sighed and let his shoulders slump. Hinamori had made very little progress in her health since Aizen's betrayal. She had become weak and fragile both physically and physiologically. She constantly looked sleep deprived and Vice Captain Isane had informed him that Hinamori slept fitfully, tossing and turning, breaking out into cold sweats and crying in her sleep. When Hitsugaya saw her, he could tell her smiles were forced and she was struggling to hold herself up. She was polite, too formal and distant since his refusal to believe in the notion that Aizen was innocent.
Matsumoto, sensing her captain's gloom, fell back a step into stride alongside and slapped Hitsugaya on the back with enough force to nearly send him flying. "Cheer up Captain!" She sang out encouragingly. "This time I'll tell them you aren't my kid and you can bathe with the men! Would that make it all better?" Hitsugaya tried to glare at her, but he could see past Matsumoto's dazzling smile that she was desperate to cheer him up.
"Looks like almost everyone is here." Yumichika commented airily. Hitsugaya looked up to see that they had indeed arrived at the Fourth Division, outside what looked to be new headquarters. Passed the 11th division, Hitsugaya could see most of the other divisions already gathered. Yamamoto was seated on a stone bench outside the door, his vice captain standing primly behind the General with his own hands clasped behind his back. To Yamamoto's right, Soi Fong stood scowling in front of her lieutenant and her arms crossed. Omaeda was behind her, picking his nose as if nobody else could see. To Yamamoto's left, Ukitake stood with his hands clasped behind his back and his two third seats crowded on either side. He was chatting with Captain Kyōraku, who stood close by with a lazy smile and spoke in a low voice. His own lieutenant stood dutifully at his side, holding her book to her chest and her eyes fixed sternly on the division door. A couple feet away from the oldest Captains, Byakuya stood stiffly at attention, while a fidgeting Renji shifted behind him while looking around. Hitsugaya was just beginning to count who was also missing when Ukitake caught his eye.
Smiling, he broke off his conversation with Kyoraku and waved, calling across the courtyard, "Hello!" He hurried across to the group, stopping in front of Hitsugaya. "Good morning, Captain Zakari, Yachiru." Ukitake greeted warmly, smiling pleasantly up at the pair behind Hitsugaya.
"Hi Cough-Cough!" Yachiru sang out, popping up from behind Zakari's shoulder. Kenpachi merely grunted in reply, his eye sweeping over Ukitake disinterestedly before looking around and moving away. Unbothered by his rudeness, Ukitake nodded at Ikakku and Yumichika before turning to Matsumoto.
"Hello, Matsumoto." Ukitake greeted with another sincere smile. "How are you this morning?"
Matsumoto batted her eyelashes and purred back, "Good Morning Captain Ukitake. You look as handsome as ever. How are you feeling today?"
Ukitake beamed back at her, answering in a pleasant tone, "I'm well, thank you." His eyes went from Matsumoto to Hitsugaya, taking on a deeper and knowing look. "And yourself, Captain?"
Hitsugaya shifted, trying to avoid eye contact. Ukitake once said they had a connection due to their white hair, but whatever it was, Hitsugaya got the feeling that Ukitake was able to read his mind better then he joked. The knowing look in his eyes made Hitsugaya wonder if Ukitake knew that he was thinking about Momo and where she was. Clearing his throat, he asked Ukitake, quietly, "Have you seen Hinamori?"
Ukitake smiled reassuringly and reached out to pat Hitsugaya's shoulder. "Captain Komamura is picking Hinamori and Kira up. Don't worry, she'll be here." Glancing up, Ukitake broke into a bigger beam and announced more loudly, "Ah! And here they come now!"
Hitsugaya turned to see the towering Captain Komamura striding up the street from the direction of the third division. Hisagi and Iba flanked either side and behind them, he could see Hinamori half-hidden by Komamura's height, trotting alongside Kira to keep up. She looked cheerful but incredibly weary and tired. Kira trudged next to her, looking downcast as always since Gin's betrayal along with Aizen and Tousen.
"Good Morning. I apologize for our tardiness." Captain Komamura greeted as he drew closer. He bowed his head and gestured at the lieutenants surrounding him.
"Oh it's alright, we're just glad you're here." Ukitake waved his hand dismissively and smiled encouragingly. "I'm pleased you all could join us." He peered around Komamura to beam at Hinamori. "It's good to see you up, Miss. Hinamori. Hitsugaya was hoping you would attend."
Hitsugaya felt his ears redden as Hinamori noticed him for the first time that morning and smiled shyly at him. "Good Morning Shiro." She greeted quietly while her eyes softened. Hitsugaya swallowed and nodded.
"Good Morning." He flicked his eyes to Kira and nodded curtly again. "Morning, Lieutenant Kira. Nice to see you here."
Kira looked up in mild surprise and seemed unsure how to respond. Thankfully Matsumoto stepped in, clapping her hands and stepping forward. "Ah, Kira, Hisagi, Iba! Come on, let's see Renji! We walked over here with Ikkaku and Yumi." Matsumoto seized Kira and Hisagi by an arm and dragged them away, Iba dutifully following after them. The cluster of lieutenants marched over to Ikkaku and Yumi, where Renji was already standing. Zakarai stood nearby, with a bored expression but Yachiru popped up and leaned over his shoulder to chirp her own greeting to her coworkers.
Left standing next to Ukitake, Komamura and Hinamori, Histugaya felt an awkward pause fall over the small group. He and Komamura exchanged polite nods of greeting at each other but said nothing. Hinamori stared at the ground, rocking back and forth slightly on her heels, with her hands clasped behind her back. Histugaya watched her for a moment before looking away uneasily. He caught Ukitake's eye, who smiled and clapped his hands jovially.
"Well! Looks like we're all here now!" he said loudly, his voice sounding a bit too cheerful and his smile a bit too bright as he rubbed his hands together. "Let's knock on the door, shall we?" Hitsugaya nodded, and Ukitake turned, stepping towards the entrance of the building. With a quick flash step, he crossed the courtyard and knocked soundly on the wooden doors to the 4th division spa.
The knock echoed off the stone walls of the courtyard and everyone fell silent. The doors creaked and swung open inwards and Captain Unohana stood in the doorway with a serene smile and Lieutenant Isane at her side. She opened her arms in greeting and announced in a clear but soft voice,
alright, you know the drill. Read and Review. Take a cookie or several on your way out. If you're gonna add the story to your favorites or alerts, at least just comment me with "fav'd". A comment is all I ask. Tell me if you see any horrible mistakes, if a character was OOC...I really had trouble thinking up a nickname for Nemu. So I finally decided to use a camp kid's trait (I use to be a camp counsler) and use how she would say "Nikki-ki" and throw that onto Nemu. Anyhoo. See you next chapter.