Disclaimer – Bleach, its characters and its settings aren't mine
All the captains of soul society have one thing in common. All have achieved Bankai. This is a requirement; one cannot hold the haori without being a master of Bankai. There has never been - and never will be - a captain of the Gotei 13 who has not achieved this level.
For some of them it's just difficult to admit...
Look, it's a long story and you don't need to know the details. Suffice it to say I'd ended up helping a crying little Shinigami who'd been doing some field work in the real world, and that field work involved carrying some very broken equipment back to twelfth division so I could explain to Butthead that I had broken it and what exactly was he planning to do about that?
I hadn't actually broken it, but you know - that's how it goes.
Anyway, that's why I happened to be walking through the Seireitei near midnight on a Friday. As I wasn't concentrating on keeping my pressure down a few people knew I was there. And that's how-
They'd been drinking for hours at Eleventh, the whole crew of the Seireitei's usual drunks. Minus one – Shunsui had begged off. Matsumoto was there, Kira and Hisagi, Iba, Renji, Yumichika and Ikkaku - and the very drunken captain of Eleventh squad, Zaraki Kenpachi.
He'd become quite maudlin.
"Ichi-Ichigo." Muttered the captain. "Gonna get him. Gonna get him next time. Damn orange haired punk. Gonna get him with my Bankai. Bankai." He made a sound that might have been a drunken giggle. "Bankai Ichigo punk."
Ears perked up. Zaraki insisted he didn't even know the name of his sword - how could he have a Bankai?"
"Damn Kurosaki punk," muttered the captain. "M'gonne - m'gonna give him my Bankai, show the little bastard. Lil' bastard." He hiccuped loudly.
It was the gossip monger Rangiku who tried to get more information, despite the terrified warning gestures of Ikkaku and Yumichika.
"M'Bankai," said Zaraki owlishly. He raised his sword and blinked at it. "Most ter-trifying in all Seireitei. No one got a Bankai like meeeeeeee."
The captain grabbed up another jar of sake. He'd already had enough to drown a legion.
Rangiku wanted to know more, but for some reason her legs weren't working. She managed to crawl forward, eventually losing her balance and tipping onto her abundant chest.
"You two love me," Burped Rangiku happily. "Always there to break my fall." The Vice Captain tried to kneel, fell back into the seiza position. She plaintively asked "Why doesn't my captain like my girls? I thought everybody liked my girls?"
Renji muttered "I like your girls."
Kira said "I like girls too."
"No you don't," accused Yumichika. "I caught you staring at my ass again." Yumichika moved towards Rangiku. "But I like your girls. I like thema lot."
Rangiku burst out laughing and gave the fifth seat a comradely shove, knocking him over. It took him a few moments to figure out why he was looking at the ceiling rather than Rangiku's cleavage. Yumichika complained. "How come you don't ever flirt withmeeee?"
Rangiku looked at him, her face flushed and her eyes a little confused.
"I thought you were gay."
Yumichika thought about this. "No. No." The fifth seats eyes crossed. "At least I don't think so." He blinked owlishly at Rangiku and her girls. "How would I know?"
Rangiku asked "who has a prettier ass, me or Kira?"
Yumichika thought about this, smiled. "That one's easy! 's me! Isn't it?" He said that last like he was hazarding a guess.
"You're gay," said Rangiku.
"'s not easy, being gay," confided Kira. "Nobody understands-"
"M'not gay," insisted Yumichika.
"'S true," said Ikkaku. "He likes girls."
Kira sat up as though he'd just experienced a great drunken revelation. "Wait a second, I'm not gay!"
"Yes you are."
"Oh," said Kira. Feeling something else might be required he said, "Didn't know that."
"He's emo," muttered Renji. "'s not gay."
"Oh," said Kira. "Wos that?"
"Not sure," muttered Renji, by now face down on the floor. "But you're it." Renji changed gears. "Rangiku?"
"Mmmm?" Rangiku was in the process of counting. "Two."
"How come," said Renji, "How come they say the Shinigami Womens Society writes slash fiction? I bet Kira's gay in that."
Rangiku thought about this. For some reason she felt she ought to know the answer to this.
"Not sure, never read slash."
"I dunno. Ask Kira."
"He's not gay," mumbled Renji. "Emo. Like Ich-Ichigo. All drippy." He looked disdainfully at his blond colleague. "Sap."
"Booger," said Hisagi. The others waited politely, but this appeared to be the sum total of Hisagi's contribution to the conversation.
"Don' mind him," said Renji. "'s drunk."
Zaraki suddenly looked up. "Ich-Ichigo? That punk is here?" The huge captain staggered to his feet and lurched forward. "'M gonnakill him! M'm gonna show him Bankai-"
Even in a near stupor the captain's bear-like strength carried him through a window. They heard him screaming Ichigo's name as dread Zaraki picked up to a run.
Ikkaku and Yumichika, scared into something approaching sobriety were already on their feet and moving towards the window.
"We gotta stop him!" Shrieked Ikkaku. "His Bankai could get us all!" The bald man was out the window like a shot, pretty Yumichika a step behind.
"'m thinkin' – 'm thinkin-" There was a very pregnant pause, as the entire world waited on what Renji Abarai was thinking- "'m thinking we should see this." Then Renji's eyes rolled back and he collapsed in a heap, legs kicking as though he was trying to walk. Kira and Rangiku helped him up and they followed the others out the window.
Rangiku giggled, released her spiritual pressure. "We gotta – we gotta catch 'em-"
Renji and Kira flared up as well, the release of their spiritual pressure countering some of the effects of the alcohol. The three Vice Captains charged after the monster Captain and his seated officers, both of whom were shouting incoherent warnings at everyone within earshot.
Iba, meanwhile, started to snore.
So there I was, walking with Rukia in the moonlight, when a drunken Zaraki Kenpachi staggers into the street ahead of us.
"Not tonight Zaraki." God, the man could barely stand.
"'M gonna," then he staggered a bit, "'M gonna get you, punk. Gonna get you good."
"Look, lets do this tomorrow-"
"Tonight!" The Eleventh squad captain pulled off his eye patch. The spike in spiritual pressure made Rukia stagger back.
What? So I went to see Rukia, what's wrong with that?
"Come on, man! You're drunk! Be sensible!"
"Gotta be drunk!" Shouted Zaraki, his sword above his head. "Gotta be drunk to release my Zanpakuto!"
"That's crazy! You don't have to-"
But Zaraki had his sword up and he shouted the most surprising (and in my opinion the single most awesome) release phrase that any shinigami,anywhere, has ever heard.
"BURN BABY BURN! DISCO INFERNO!"
Disco Inferno? Disco Frickin' Inferno? And what the Hell kind of release phrase is that? Nah, wait, this - his Zanpakuto is called Disco Inferno? Okay, I mean on the surface it's pretty cool, but- well no wonder he tells everyone he doesn't know its name-
I was already grabbing for Zangetsu, because this was going to get ugly – I'm pulling power for Bankai. Zaraki's Shikai release turned the sword blade into pure white light, light that shot up to the height of the surrounding buildings and formed a huge glowing sphere -
I can only describe as a disco ball - you know those mirrored balls that spin and the lights reflecting off them make all the little circles spinning-
Well haven't you ever been to a high school dance?
Oh, wait a second - all the little circles? Anything that light hit was going up in smoke - if those circles hit - shit I couldn't get near him, those beams would cut me apa-
And thus did my day improve. Zaraki Kenpachi released his bankai.
"Yeaaa!" Shouted Yachiru, appearing out of nowhere. "It's Ken-chan's Bankai disco party! Yaaaaay!" The little girl jumped in front of me -
-and started to dance.
-and what the Hell was she wearing?
Then the band picked up! There was a horn section! - Zaraki's Bankai summoned some kind of infernal disco - it was truly the disco from Hell! There were like thirty guys in the band alone! All wearing matching red suits! There was this big disco horn section – there was cheesy disco guitar – there was early synthesizer music – it was dreadful!
There was a pretty funky guy on bass guitar – that I could approve of-
Oh man, this was Zaraki's band, they took their cues from him and he was starting to go-
I wasn't alone either – all the others there - Rukia had been swept up, but her clothes had changed, she was wearing scary bell bottoms, bigger than my head, and these huge platform shoes. Rangiku was there, in a skin tight black bell bottomed jumpsuit - and jump was the word, she wasn't wearing a bra! There was Ikkaku - in a pea green short sleeve leisure suit!
Okay, all of this was worthwhile just to see Ikkaku dressed like that-
Beside him Yumichika had his hands on his cheeks, he was screaming as his hair was rising out from his head, sticking straight out, curling up into an afro the size of a beach ball.
Not quite as good as Ikkaku in the leisure suit, but still pretty good-
Kenpachi was wearing a horrible one piece, a frighting - nay terrifying sequined number he must have stolen off Elvis himself. It was this spangled jumpsuit number, open to his waist – the sequins were everywhere! Either he'd come to dance or he'd come to jump the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle, I don't know which-
I myself was wearing a tasteful white polyester suit with a black shirt open to my waist and a butterfly collar so big that someone was going to lose an eye to it. And where did all this chest hair come from? And the medallion? I don't wear a medallion-
And Renji-Oh Renji, would that I had a camera to preserve this moment forever in the annals of the Shinigami Woman's Society. Renji wore this badass three piece suit with an ascot and some sort of helmet of disco hair - it wasn't the enhanced natural afro of Yumichika, this was the look that could only come from a bad home perm.
He looked like a Narc trying to fit in – here was a man who wasn't hip with the kids-
There wasn't a Zanpakuto to be seen, but the mirror ball of Zaraki's sword still shone in the rafters as the band thundered on – the horn section picking up volume as they picked up the beat-
Underneath our feet the paving stones had started to glow, then they started to flash on and off in different colors-
Zaraki's bankai even provided its own back-lit dance floor.
I realized my feet were moving. Really moving, like I couldn't stop them.
I was doing the Hustle.
Oh my God I'm doing the Hustle.
It suddenly all made sense - when we found Kenpachi at the end of the war he was standing all alone over the bodies of Aizen, Gin, Tosen and three of the Espada. This was how he'd killed them - he'd danced them to death.
Oh shit - Zaraki was starting to go and he had killer, kick-ass moves.
I couldn't beat him - I couldn't even stop my own feet.
That was happening all around me, and it was the same dance, everyone but Zaraki was forced to dance some kind of holding pattern – I'm sure it was the Hustle.
At the far side of the club I saw Byakuya, tricked out like an early Elton John.
It was pretty obvious how it worked – you danced the holding pattern until it was your turn, then you tried your moves against Zaraki-
I have no killer disco moves.
We'd been joined by others, all roped in by the awesome, horrid power of Kenpachi's Bankai. There was Hitsugaya, wearing a pair of platform heels that must have been a foot high, he was almost as tall as a real boy in them - his clothes had changed, he wore a sort of bell-bottom-and-vest combination that looked liked it'd been made from bad wallpaper and also (for reasons I can only imagine) a pair of those thick-assed black framed Clark Kent glasses.
And the little guy had these monstrous white mutton-chop sideburns - creeped me right out.
The seventies must have sucked ass, I'm glad I wasn't there. But the Shinigami were – all of them were - some of them are hundreds of years old-
I got nothing - I wasn't there! I've got no kick ass disco moves!
"Hitsugaya! What ya got?"
He was like me, he couldn't stop his feet.
"My Zanpakuto is gone," shouted the other captain. "I've got nothing!"
"Can you dance?"
"Not even a little?"
Hitsugaya pointed at the monster boogie of the Demon of Zaraki. "Not enough to beat that!"
Zaraki was still picking up steam – he hadn't taken his first challenger yet-
"You'resupposed to be a goddamn prodigy!"
And Hitsugaya says to me "What you talking 'bout Willis?"
Willis? Who the hell is Willis?
Zaraki was really starting to cook, I don't know much about disco but the captain of Eleventh was going to be tough to beat. The band was heading for a horn-fired crescendo, the first song had to be his intro - any second now someone would have to step up-
I looked around desperately - there was nobody - if the kid didn't have the moves - Ikkaku? Nah. Rangiku? Oh this wasn't good. When you're the man at the disco with the Man-From-Glad suit they're usually leaving it to you.
Byakuya might have the moves-
He didn't like me that much, and he was near the back of the line-
There was a single place, a single ally.
"Old man!" I shouted in the silence of my mind. "I need killer moves and I need them now!"
I could feel Zangetsu's presence behind me, even if I couldn't reach my physical sword.
"I have the moves," growled the sword.
Crescendo then silence. That first song was over.
It was time. The horn section picked up and Zaraki started to kick in his Disco Infernal.
In my mind Zangetsu roared "Groovy baby!" His voice shook the heavens of my inner world.
And I shouted back "Let's boogie dooooown!"
I grinned as I stepped onto the dance floor. I grinned that ferocious, fiery grin that meant I'd brought my game face with me.
Disco? Not a problem. You and me Zaraki. Any place, any time, any contest.
You're going down.