Well, by the time you read this, you'll probably be really, really mad at me for taking so long to update. Here is my apology. Sorry for taking so long, but I was feeling really lazy, and I know that most authors can relate.
I think this will be the last chapter. Expect fights, a crying Ichimaru, and characters which were not mentioned as much during the previous chapters. If I do think of something to add on as a new chapter, I'll mention it later on down below. But for now, I hope you enjoy this (possibly last) chapter.
Disclaimer: If I owned Bleach, then you're a plot bunny (whatever that is.. Can someone please tell me what a plot bunny is?).
Party of the Year
The whole of Seireitei was buzzing with activity as the dateline for the show approached. New supplies were bought, food was prepared, and performances were practiced again and again. Except for Byakuya, who was never seen practising.
Time seemed to fly past, and before everyone was completely sure that absolutely nothing would go wrong, the day arrived.
Hours before the party started, Fourth Squad members trooped into the Great Hall, armed with decorations, tables, chairs, food, the sound system, and whatever else people need when they throw a party.
After setting up most of the important stuff, they called their Captain and the Captain-General in to inspect their work. They walked around the Hall together, muttering and nodding every once in a while.
Finally, when they finished their circuit of the Hall, they left with their approval, and with the Captain-General saying something about giving the Fourth Captain a raise in her salary.
The Fourth Squad took a break after touching up the area, and about half-an-hour after they finished their work, the first few early-comers arrived, hoping for good seats or the first pick at the food. Unfortunately for them, most of the seats had names on them, and the food and sake table had been barred off for later.
Hanatarou had arrived early as well, and was working the sound system to play music for people to dance. One by one, as more and more people arrived, shinigami and Rukongai residents alike started twirling around the centre of the Hall which acted as the dance floor.
Soi Fon and her men had already left to carry out security procedures. She had taken her Vice-Captain as it had been decided beforehand that if they left him there, he might have gotten grumpy without his rice crackers and start to offend the audience.
The Captain-General and his Vice-Captain arrived first. They quickly went to their seats at the front of the Hall, deciding to observe the activity around them.
After that came Captain Unohana with her Vice-Captain. They walked around the Hall, making a last-minute inspection of the squad members' work.
Next to arrive were Aizen, Gin and their Vice-Captains. They also wandered around the Hall aimlessly, talking about something or another.
Then the Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Twelfth Captains, as well as their Vice-Captains, arrived. Byakuya immediately sat down, waiting for the show to begin. His Vice Captain, as well as Hisagi, hurried to their tattoo booth to set their equipment up, which would only be used during the break half way through the show. Both the Captain and Vice-Captain of the Twelfth Squad followed their lead; they had to set up their face-painting booth.
Captain Komamura reluctantly went to a big booth near the main entrance. He had been ordered to stay there until the show started to look after any pets which any audience member had decided to bring along. However, if no one brought any animals along before the show started, he would be free to do whatever he wanted during the break.
When he reached the door, his fellow Captain of the Tenth Squad stomped through the double doors with the usual scowl on his face and headed towards where the children sat, followed by his big-busted Vice-Captain, who was giggling at something. Judging from their faces, Komamura guessed that Matsumoto had said something offensive about her Captain's clothes, which was similar to the residents of Rukongai.
Several minutes later, two squabbling third seats, an annoyed Vice-Captain and their white-haired Captain walked through the doors. Captain Ukitake took his seat beside Kenpachi's chair while his three subordinates headed for backstage prepare for the show.
Behind them came a partially drunk Captain Kyoraku with his straw hat tipped slightly over his face, followed by 'his lovely Nanao-chan'. He plopped down on his chair among the Captains while she shook her head before heading towards the other Vice-Captains.
Unfortunately, Captain Kenpachi was not around. Rumour had it that he had followed Yachiru's directions again, and that he was now somewhere in the Prohibiting World (Dangai/Severed World). Still, no one seemed to be very bothered by this because if the Captain was present, most of the sake would probably have been finished by now, and some sort of fight would have broken out.
About thirty minutes later, the last minute stragglers finally arrived (excluding Kenpachi) and quickly sat down on random chairs. Hanatarou cut the music, and the MCs used that as a cue to start.
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to Seireitei's first, and possibly last, party!" Sentaro called out to a roaring audience.
"We're your MCs for today! I'm Kiyone, third seat of the Thirteenth Squad-" "–And I'm Sentaro, the better third seat of the Thirteenth Squad!" As they glared at each other, Kaien decided to step in before they started their usual squabbling. "Well I'm better than both of you; Vice-Captain of the Thirteenth Squad, Kaien, so do as I say and shut up for now!"
The pair continued glaring at each other, but decided not to disobey their Vice-Captain for fear of the dreaded paperwork.
"Okay, so first up on today's performances we have the Vice-Captain of the First Squad, Chojiro Sasakibe, to play with fire! Remember kids, to never do this at home! Oh yes, and we can't forget the donor of the fire, Captain General Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai! Please give it up for both of them!" Kaien continued as he glared at his third seats, almost daring them to start fighting again.
The crowd cheered as both the Captain and Vice-Captain of the First Squad walked up onto the stage, Chojiro looking slightly nervous and Shigekuni tottering behind him, leaning on his walking stick. He had forgotten to release it earlier as no one had reminded him, and his old age affected his memory.
"Captain, if you will please release your sword so that we may start?" Chojiro looked over at his Captain nervously, anxious for it to begin.
His Captain straightened his back, held up his staff, and started off, "Reduce the whole of creation to smouldering ashes, Ryūjin Jakka!" Instantly, the entire audience felt a huge heat wave. The stage was burning up because of his release! Fortunately, the Captain-General had remembered on time what his shikai did, so he tried to control it.
The audience was not panicking at all. They all thought that it was all part of the performance. The captains, however, were more worried. They glanced at each other, knowing that if they didn't do anything soon, the whole of Soul Society would be burnt down as the Captain-General had to wait a while before he could turn off his shikai.
Hitsugaya jumped up, somehow managing to pull his unsheathed sword from no where. He figured he had no choice now that the stage was on fire but to release his sword. Besides, he didn't see anyone else helping out.
"Sit upon the frozen heavens, Hyōrinmaru!" A large ice dragon instantly appeared from the tip of his sword. "The flames!" The young captain called out, pointing his sword at the stage. The dragon wove its way there and circled the Captain-General, brushing against the fire and instantly freezing them before disappearing.
The audience sat for a few moments, stunned, while the Captains glanced nervously at each other. They received a shock when the audience broke out in applause, cheering the performance. Oblivious to the fact that they had been in any danger, the audience did not sit down for a few minutes.
Hitsugaya obviously felt awkward, but went up on stage and bowed anyway. He glanced at the Captain-General and his eyes widened. Hyourinmaru had thought that the Captain-General was an enemy and had brushed against him as well, freezing the old man.
Then he noticed that the ice had water on it, and that it was melting. He felt relieved and went back to his seat, where he was immediately surrounded by admiring children.
The ice cracked and shattered, and a dazed Captain-General stepped out of the remains. A Forth Squad member hurried onto the stage and gently led him off of it. As for his Vice-Captain? The poor fellow realised what had happened to his Captain, and quickly rushed downstage after him. Fortunately, he managed to escape with only minor burns.
"W-Well, that was certainly…exciting, wasn't it, Sentaro?" Kiyone choked out. Sentaro could only nod and glance towards where the Captain-General was being led away. "That definitely didn't happen during our rehearsals… Anyway, please give it up again for Captain Yamamoto and his Vice-Captain Chojiro, and uhh...Captain Hitsugaya as well!" The audience cheered and whistled again.
"Now we will have a short game for anyone who wants to play. Captain Ichimaru," Sentaro pointed at the captain, "will come up here on stage, and whoever can make his smile vanish will… Uhh…" Sentaro looked around wildly, his pleading eyes passing over his fellow MCs. "Will get recognition throughout all of Soul Society as Ichimaru's Smile Slayer!" Kaien quickly filled in for him as the crowd cheered their approval. "You have a minimum of five minutes, unless Captain Ichimaru wishes stay on-stage longer. Come on then, Captain."
The silver haired captain walked on stage and the MCs left him there to wait. After a minute of waiting, Ichimaru opened his mouth, "Wha'? Is everyone here scared o' me? Aww, I'm hurt." He hid his face in his hands, pretending to sob, but peeked out from behind them.
"My father told me to do this." A soft voice drew everyone's attention to the side of the stage, where Vice-Captain Nemu stood. She approached the Captain and knelt on one knee before him. "Captain Ichimaru, my father says that I like you, so I have to ask you whether you want to meet me later."
His features did not change as he patted her head. "Vice-Captain Nemu, please tell your father tha' I'll only feel the same way when the Tenth Captain grows taller than Kenpachi." He turned back towards the giggling audience. "Anyone else?"
"Okay! I'll claim that title for the Eleventh Division!" Heads turned towards a gleaming head moving towards the stage. Ikkaku, who no one had noticed until now, was walking up on stage, his usual predatory smile on his face.
"What would you do if I beat you in a fight?" Ikkaku questioned. "Would you break down crying?"
The captain smiled at him. "Maybe. Bu' I'd like ta see ya try, Ik-ka-ku," he said his name in a sing-song voice and the two of stared at each other, the tension rising.
Aramaki Makizou climbed up on stage. "N-Now, Ikkaku, you know the Eleventh Division's supposed to prevent fights… Could you make my job easier for me?"
Ikkaku glared down at him, before scowling and jumping off the stage. "You owe me a good fight, Aramaki."
"Well, tha' was fairly easy. If no one else wants ta try, I'll be goin' offstage now." Gin turned. "Wait, Captain. Can I try?" His blond Vice-Captain was there, looking at him through one eye. "Of course, lieutenant."
Kira approached him, but suddenly froze to the spot. His Captain was walking towards him slowly. He reached him and leaned close to him, so that their foreheads were almost touching. "Kira," the Vice-Captain shivered as he felt his ever-smiling Captain's breath, "whatever you're going to try, it's not going to work." Gin sidestepped and walked past him to the side of the stage and left his shaking Vice-Captain behind, who was ushered offstage by another member of the Fourth Squad.
"If that's it, then I'll be going now." Ichimaru turned away but stopped as he heard a voice. "Anyone can play, right?" He, along with the audience, turned his head towards the timid voice.
"O' course." Gin smiled at him, but now, it didn't seem as confident as before.
Hanatarou smiled, relieved. He stood beside Gin and beckoned for him to lean down before whispering something into his ear. He stood there for almost two minutes whispering while the crowd looked on.
Slowly, Gin's face changed. His eyebrows came together so that if he had not been smiling, it would have been a frown. Then his smile reduced gradually before curving the other way, so that now it looked as though he was concerned about something. Finally, his features scrunched together towards the centre of his face, so that he now seemed like he was going to burst into tears.
Gin Ichimaru, Captain of the Third Division and nicknamed 'Foxface', ran off the stage with his hands over his face.
The audience stared for the second time during that show. Then they all turned back to look at Hanatarou, who was already walking back to his sound system.
The first one to clap was Captain Unohana. Her slow, gentle claps were soon echoed throughout the Hall, and it quickly grew five times louder as people grew more and more supportive. Hanatarou looked embarrassed, but walked back on stage, where the three MCs met him.
Kaien took Hanatarou's wrist and lifted up his arm, almost carrying the boy. "Here he is, ladies and gents! Yamada Hanatarou, seventh seat of the Fourth Division and newly appointed Ichimaru's Smile Slayer!" The crowd cheered, but this time Sentaro quietened them. Kiyone turned to Hanatarou and asked, "So, what did you say to him, anyway, that would make someone like him cry like that?" She then held the mike in front of him, waiting for him to speak.
"…Well, actually… Do I really have to say it?" Hanatarou muttered. "Yes. I'm sure everyone wants to know what you told him." Kiyone replied. "A.. Alright, then. If you people really must know, I just told him stuff… Stuff t-that happened to m-me."
There was an awkward silence. "Well… Uhh, thanks, Hanatarou, for sharing that with us…yeah…" Kaien trailed off as Hanatarou went back to his sound system again.
"Okay, so up next we have Vice-Captain Kira Izuru from the Third Squad to demonstrate some kido for us. Please welcome him now!" Sentaro said as enthusiastically as he could.
There was a loud applause, but softer than normal; the audience were still surprised by Hanatarou's reply.
Kira nervously went up on stage again. He signaled to Aizen, who nudged Tousen and told him to turn off all the lights.
"Thank you, Captain Tousen. Now, if you would all kindly look this way, towards me voice…" Kira said and started off his show.
Half-an-hour later, the entire hall rang of applause for a few minutes. Kira stood on the stage awkwardly, blushing lightly at the sudden attention. He walked towards the edge of the stage, tripped and landed on the floor, before he scrambled back up and jogged to his seat.
"Thank you, Vice-Captain Kira for that spectacular performance! We all enjoyed it very much!" Sentaro said before Kiyone cut in. "Yes, and now, we will proceed to the break! Please feel free to enjoy the booths we have prepared-" "-or get autographs from shinigami, like our fantastic Captain!" The two of them glared at each other while their Captain tried to shrink in his seat. Kaien picked them both up by the scruffs of their necks and threw them backstage.
"Sorry about that. Okay, you guys are free to go, but please be back here by forty-five minutes' time, thirty if you can help it." Kaien waved and went backstage, presumably to give his third seats a lesson.
Murmurs broke out as one by one, the audience got up and stretched their legs. They wandered around and visited the booths. Strangely, the queue outside Captain Kurotsuchi's booth was the shortest, and those standing there looked ready to run away.
Of course, the sake table was immediately hogged by drunkards (excluding Kenpachi who was still missing). Vice-Captain Iba stood vigil over the table with Matsumoto and Ikkaku, who was trying his best not to beat them up and steal all the sake. Surprisingly, his fellow guards were doing quite well in resisting the sake.
Then, Ikkaku snapped. He drew his sword and brandished it threateningly at Iba. Matsumoto frowned and said, "Think about what you're doing, Ikkaku. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Ikkaku smirked. "Idiot. When have I ever regretted what I've done? Why don't you guys join me instead? Either that, or fight me. I don't mind either way." He started inching his way towards the table, his eyes trained on them the whole time.
Matsumoto and Iba exchanged glances. They did not want to fight him, even though they knew they would get in trouble if they didn't. Matsumoto acted first. She stepped forward, and purposely tripped over her own feet. "Ow! My ankle, I think I twisted it!"
Iba, catching on, gasped. "Oh! We should get some ice or something. I'll carry you." Matsumoto allowed herself to be picked up, and Iba shunpo-ed away in search of some unnecessary ice.
Ikkaku smirked, grabbed the nearest bottle, and sat down on the floor. He drank through many bottles as no one was brave enough to stop him, before finally collapsing in a heap on the floor, heavily drunk.
Nanao sprung into action. She marched up to him, armed with her giant book, and leaned over him. "Ikkaku, you have to leave. You're too drunk to stay here."
Ikkaku murmured something inaudible and rolled over on his side. Nanao frowned and poked him. "Ikkaku! You have to leave! Don't make me use force!"
Ikkaku laughed. "You? Force me?! Hah! Yeah, right…" He trailed off before dozing off. Nanao growled, "That's it." She rolled him so that he was looking at her face, then she removed her glasses and glared at him sternly. "Now, Ikkaku."
The bald third seat almost paled visibly. "Y-yes. Right away, ma'am. I-I'll just b-be leaving n-now…" Ikkaku scrambled to his feet and dashed towards the door. Nanao just smiled knowingly, before replacing her glasses on her nose. Unofficially, she had just taken over Iba's job, and everyone steered clear of her after that.
Kyoraku mingled with the crowd, exchanging polite phrases now and then. Hitsugaya was forever swamped by an adoring crowd, who couldn't seem to get enough of him no matter what he did. He ended up with a bigger scowl on his face than when he entered the Hall.
Around the booths, a huge queue was forming outside the tattoo booth, mostly made up of wannabe-macho-men and swooning fangirls of Hisagi and Renji. Oddly, there was hardly a line outside the face painting booth, and those that were there were all members of the Twelfth Squad. The Captain growled and glared at the other queue, but no matter what he did, the crowd would not move.
Nearby, Yumichika was doing a roaring trade with teenage girls. However, he only spent a few minutes with most of them because they could not stand him telling them that 'no matter what you do, I'll still be prettier than you' again and again and yet
Captain Komamura wandered the Hall happily; no one had brought any pets along this time, thinking it would be inappropriate.
Hanatarou started the music again, and a clearing was formed around the centre of the Hall, where people started dancing, or just have a good time.
Forty-five minutes whizzed by, and soon, everyone returned to their seats with sloppily painted faces, tattoos here and there, or full stomachs and a smile, excluding Captains Hitsugaya.
"Alright! You're all here early, so I guess you guys must be expecting something big! Well, you were right! Please welcome Captain Aizen and his Vice-Captain Hinamori, both from the Fifth Division!" Kiyone said before going backstage.
The audience politely clapped, unsure of what to expect. Smoke poured out from backstage, enveloping the entire stage in it. The audience started muttering, wondering if something was wrong.
The thick smoke cleared, and on it stood both the Fifth Captain and his Vice-Captain, dressed in elaborate outfits. They bowed, Hinamori rolled out a box of about her height from backstage. She climbed inside, shut the door on herself, and looked out of the round hole towards the audience.
"Now, I will perform a trick which is highly popular in the Living World. Please sit back and enjoy." He slid a panel over the hole and proceeded to draw long, sharp swords out of nowhere and plunge them into the box. The audience gasped, and one woman even fainted.
Aizen then threw a huge cloth over it, completely covering it, and, after retrieving a saw from backstage, started cutting it into three parts. When he was done, he put each separate segment on a nearby table and tugged the cloth away. Hinamori's face was showing in the hole of the first box. She was smiling cheerfully. The second box did not reveal anything, but the third box had a pair of feet sticking out of them, and the feet were wiggling.
More women fainted. Aizen took the boxes, and stacked them up on the floor, but in the wrong order. Hinamori ended up with her head at the bottom, her feet in the middle, and her torso at the top, but didn't seem very worried that her Captain had dissected her.
The audience laughed, and Aizen grinned with them before putting his assistant back to normal. He opened the box and Hinamori stepped out, normal. The audience cheered, and both of them bowed before going backstage together.
"Heh… I guess they were a little short on material today, huh, Kiyone?" Kaien turned to the third seat and she shrugged. Her fellow third seat piped up, "I was expecting better, actually, because of the rehearsals, but it Captain Aizen's choice what he wants to perform right?" Kaien nodded and picked it up. "Wow, you two have actually stopped fighting for once. Better enjoy the peace for now, I guess. So, while I'm enjoying the peace and quiet backstage, please enjoy our last performance today by the Captain of the Sixth Squad, Kuchiki Byakuya, who will be performing a ventriloquist act." Sentaro placed a chair on the middle of the stage before being ushered backstage by Kaien.
The audience clapped again and the noble sighed to himself as he took out his puppet, put it on his hand, and sat down on the chair on the stage. The audience stared at him silently for a moment, waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, the monkey puppet on his hand sprang to life (but it was still attached to his hand) and introduced itself. "Woah, what a big crowd! Lemme introduce myself before we do anything! My name is Koko, and I think I'm a monkey from the Living World."
The crowd glanced at each other and laughed lightly. 'What was the Captain thinking? Well, whatever it was, it had better be good.' They were thinking along those lines.
"Alright then! Joke time! Okay, here I go! There was once a man. When he woke up in the morning, he had a habit of farting loudly, before getting ready for the day. His wife would always tell him, 'one day, you'll really fart your guts out!'
"The husband ignored her, and continued farting every morning. One Thanksgiving morning, the wife woke up early to prepare the turkey. She gutted it, and after she had stuffed it, she caught sight of the turkey's guts, and had an idea. The wife snuck upstairs with the innards in her hands, and put them down her sleeping husband's pants before going back down and continuing with her work.
"Some time later, she heard a loud fart from the upstairs bedroom. Minutes later, her husband hurried past her to the bathroom. After about two hours, he came out with a big smile on his face. He looked at his wife and told her, 'Honey, you were right, I did fart my guts out this morning! But don't worry, because I spent the last two hours in the bathroom stuffing them back in!"
There was a sort of horrified silence in the audience for a few moments. Then, the first few chuckles were heard among the children of the crowd. Soon, the Hall erupted into laugher. Who would have thought that the Kuchiki Byakuya knew such rude jokes?
The crowd laughed a few minutes, before the monkey started speaking again. This time, they gave it their utmost respect and attention, hoping for another joke.
"Alright, here's another joke! There were once three men that wanted to-" Koko stopped talking and looked down with Byakuya. Kneeling down in front of the Captain General was a messenger from the Second Division. His voice rang out clearly around the silent Hall.
"Urgent message from Captain Soi Fon! The Patrol guards have spotted a strange monster emerging from Dangai, headed in this direction. It is crashing through all the walls, and the other guards and the Captain are trying to slow it down now."
The old man considered the situation for a few moments before replying, "Very well. Return and assist your Captain. I will try to contain the situation here."
The man disappeared and the Captain General stood up. "Please remain calm, the Covert Ops are taking care of the situation. However, if a monster crashes through the main doors, please make sure that you leave the Hall in a quiet and orderly fashion through the side doors; the remaining Shinigami will take care of this 'creature'. Captain Kuchiki, please continue."
Byakuya nodded and settled back on his seat. Koko said, "Where was I? Oh, yeah! Okay, so the three men all wanted a job as a police detective. They went to the police chief, and he decided-"
The front doors decided to burst open at that moment. Standing there was a slimy, purple monster. It had spikes on its head, and it towered at least a head over most people. The crowd was starting to panic when a high-pitched scream was heard at the front of the Hall. Onstage, Koko seemed to be hyperventilating with fear, and was screaming. Suddenly, he jumped off the Captain's hand and ran towards the nearest exit. The crowd stared. Wasn't 'Koko' just supposed to be a puppet, with Captain Kuchiki controlling it?
Then the monster at the doors started walking in, and the crowds started running through the side exits. Strangely, it did not seem interested in the people. Rather, it was heading towards the sake table.
A ball of slime was shot from the purple creature, and it landed on the floor with a plop near Captain Hitsugaya. It tilted its head at him as he drew his sword, and said, "Hey, grumpy-pants, where's my candy?"
The slime was starting to fall away. Before the eyes of the present Captains, Zaraki Kenpachi and his lieutenant appeared.
"Debrief, now!" The Captain General called to anyone who was still in the Hall. The Captains gathered around him, Kenpachi still drinking from a sake bottle.
"Well, at least we can say tha' we ended off wit' a bang this year," Ichimaru nodded.
"Captain Zaraki, what were you thinking, going into the dangai like that?" The Captain General looked sternly at him, and he shrugged. "I dunno… Yachiru was leading, and then we ended up there, so we went straight. By the way, I think ya ought to send someone out to Soi Fon. She went and attacked me for no reason."
The Captain General sighed and turned to Byakuya. "Well, Captain Kuchiki, why were you using an artificial soul? Didn't I say to use ventriloquism?"
"I was doing so well that the puppet came to life, and it got scared, so it ran away." The nobleman intoned, and the Captain General nodded, unconvinced, but decided not to pursue the matter.
"Captain Aizen, was there any reason why your performance was so short and mediocre this time?" The old man looked at him.
"No, sir. Please turn your questions to the others now." Aizen said and Yamamoto sighed. "Very well. Captains Unohana, Ichimaru, Komamura, Kyouraku, Tousen, Hitsugaya, Kurotsuchi, and Ukitake, do you have any comments or feedback you would like to share?"
"I can't see the decorations!"
"My subordinates have been overworked!"
"We should ban pets next time."
"Don't forget, we need more candy too!"
"There are too many kids!"
"I would like to do a live dissection demonstration next time!"
"Why can't we jus' choose wha' we wanna do?"
The Captain General frowned. "I have nothing left to say. Dismissed!"
Congratulations! You have come to the end of Party of the Year! Thank you so much for sticking with this fic for so long, and giving so much support!
Can anyone guess who gave which comments up there? There's no prize because it's pretty obvious, but I just want to know.
Thank you again for reading all the way to this point. If I didn't have your support, I might have given up halfway. Does anyone want me to do a companion fic where Byakuya pays Urahara back? It won't be money, of course; probably some ridiculous favour. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to drop me a line.
Thank you very much.