Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach, its characters or its settings

This day came but once a year. This great task - lesser captains were no match for it; it required a hero amongst captains, a champion amongst champions, aman amongst men.

It started before dawn, when the eleventh division woke early to roar their encouragement to the Seireitei's most manly man. Every year on this day Captain Zaraki woke the sound to his men shouting his name, to be joined in time by members of other squads.

For a task such as this even the mighty Zaraki needed encouragement.

It was time. Zaraki rose from his bed like a nightmare from the darkness.

It was time.

Zaraki stepped into the hall of his nearly abandoned headquarters. Himself aside, only three people were left inside.

Yachiru gravely bowed, turned to proceed her captain outside, the third and fifth seats following as a guard of honor.

Yachiru threw open the door and the crowd went wild, all screaming for Zaraki. It could be heard as far as the Rukongai. All divisions but one were there, cheering for their hero. Thousands of shinigami, all cheering his name.

From the south the last division approached, the officers of seventh division, bearing with them a huge iron cauldron. This was all of one piece, with deep smouldering holes in the sides where charcoal fires had been lit, heating the water within until it steamed like a hotspring. Zaraki eyed it, removed his haori to redoubled cheering, then removed his robe to stand in nothing but his pants and sandals. All around him the Shinigami roared approval of their champion, and it puffed his massive scarred chest. They knew he alone was up to the job.

Vice Captain Iba approached Captain Zaraki and bowed low. In his arms he had a giant sponge and a huge bar of soap.

Za-ra-Ki! Za-ra-Ki! Za-ra-Ki!

"The water?" Demanded the manly captain.

"Heating since midnight, sir. It should be warm enough."

"The towels?"

"A hundred and fifty sir, just as you ordered."

"Extra soap?"

"Yes sir."

"Where is he?"

"Holed up in his office sir. With his Zanpakuto."

Yachiru presented Zaraki with his own notched blade.

"Very well," said Zaraki. And then, with a mighty shout heard above the screaming crowd, the Seireitei's manliest captain raised his sword and shouted-