Note: This story is tied in with my first story "Senbazuru". No, you don't have to read it to get this story but if you like Hitsuhina please do :D This takes place during the Senbazuru story line.
Discalimer: I do not own Bleach (by Tite Kubo)
Chapter 1 - Ready Set Go!
Matsumoto was bouncing up and down on her seat like an impatient child waiting for something exciting to start, and boy was she ready to start. She glanced at the other people seated down at the table. Kira and Hisagi were locked in an arm wrestle, both having the attention span of a three-year-old. On second thought, make it a Yachiru on a sugar high. Shunsui had his straw hat tipped down and his legs propped up on the table. In his mouth was a piece of wheat; he must've found a non-poisonous kind. Ikkaku, Iba and Ichigo were engaged in a violent battle of rock-paper-scissors, the latter of the three participating only after Ikkaku made fantastic use of the words "chicken" and "loser". Yumichika clucked his tongue in boredom before whipping out his cosmetic mirror and smoothing over his hair.
Matsumoto gave them all disapproving looks and shook her head, wondering what was wrong with them. The beautiful stack of glimmering bottles was sitting right in front of them, tempting the eight to just lose all control and guzzle down their glorious contents. Not a dime wasted too; all in the name of the game. Oh what a sight for sore eyes!
She deliberated on whether or not to just rush up there and drink as many as she could before being forcibly disqualified from the game. No, she must not give in to this temptation for the winner's prize made the stack before her eyes pale in comparison. She must wait with her newfound patience for the event to start. Ah, spoke too soon Matsumoto; waiting was never her strong suit anyway.
Yachiru bounced onto the little stage in front of them. She tried to reach the microphone but no matter how much she jumped, stretched and whined, she could not reach the little black speaking device; and yes, she was on the stand behind it to boot. She dashed off and returned a minute later dragging Kenpachi by his sleeve. It mustn't be very comfortable being dragged when you're hunched over like he was because lets face it, he's more than double her height!
She stopped him in front of the microphone and clambered up to her territory, his left shoulder. The elusive microphone was now in her reach! She swiped it from the stand and everyone covered their ears.
"HI HI SEIREITEI! YOU READY TO START?!"
No-one answered. Her voice was still ringing in her ears. Miraculously Shunsui was still asleep. He probably wouldn't even wake up if there was a myriad of elephants stampeding right on top of him. Granted he would be deader than dead, but that's beside the point!
"HEY! I SAID ARE YOU READY TO START?!"
Kenpachi grabbed the microphone out of her small hands and placed it back on the stand. "You're loud enough," he told her somewhat annoyed. The force of her voice made his hair tilt at an angle.
"Oh, okay Ken-chan!"
She cleared her throat.
"So is Seireitei ready to start?!"
Having realised that their ears were no longer endangered, the crowd cheered and hollered. Satisfied, Yachiru put up a hand to silence the crowd.
"It's the time you've all been waiting for! Get ready for the Winter Festival Sake Race!"
She stopped and turned to face Kenpachi, curiosity written all over her face.
"You know what Ken-chan? Why was Yachiru on the prohi-prohibi-ah ha! prohibiatationy list? Yachiru wants to try that sake stuff that makes people say funny things! And then when people say funny things, Yachiru can blackmail them like she did with peacock-head. And they get doofy smiles too! And sometimes they even go BAM on the ground and Yachiru can kick them for hours and draw on their faces and drag them on top of trees and-"
Kenpachi silently motioned for Nanao to take over the position of announcer. Clearly the pink-haired fukutaichou was too absorbed in her vivid monologue to continue.
"Sake Race is your basic racing competition. Now the rules are simple."
Wow. Nanao didn't waste any time…well only a little to wake Shunsui from his slumber. Now how did a stern voice and a book to the head wake up the sleeping taichou when the loudest shinigami failed to even make him twitch? Well Nanao had her ways. Satisfied with the growing lump on his head, she continued.
"The contestants," She looked at the people seated on the table. ",will all drink a pre-selected amount of sake before starting. You have to complete three full laps of the course but each time you finish a lap, you must drink another pre-selected amount of sake. Shunpo may only be used during the final lap. The first one to complete three laps wins. Participants will be automatically disqualified if they pass out, go around the obstacles or use shunpo during the first two laps. And NO killing or serious bodily harm.
She motioned for the sake to be placed out next to the starting/finishing line.
"Okay, contestants start drinking."
The eight walked out to where the sake was. Each of them had to drink a third of a bottle worth's of sake for the first lap. Kira looked from the sake in his hands and the obstacle course. Yumichika however, just shrugged before raising his sake towards Kira as if toasting him.
He drank the contents followed a second later by Kira. Kira, being veteran drinker, had no problem holding the alcoholic substance down. Yumichika on the other hand, being a novice, had a bit more trouble. He was swaying from side to side, his arms dangling limply. A far-off expression was on his face.
Matsumoto, Shunsui, Iba, Ikkaku and Hisagi all guzzled down their sake, still looking quite sober after doing so. No surprises; they drank on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Ichigo looked down at his still full cup of sake.
"Why am I even doing this?! I'm under-aged for the love o-"
"Hey Strawberry, you're not chickening out are ya?" Ikkaku said with a malicious grin.
A vein popped out on Ichigo's head and he downed the sake without a second thought. "Get ready to eat those words Cue Ball!"
"Who's gunna be eating huh Orangey?!"
Ikkaku marched towards Ichigo and clashed foreheads with him while gripping his wooden sword. All zanpakutos had been confiscated before the competition. It would be extremely dangerous to have people swinging weapons when drunk; amusing probably, but dangerous.
"For someone who doesn't have hair blocking their ears you sure suck at listening!"
"Wanna say that again?!"
Simultaneously they both grabbed each other's necks and proceeded to strangle the other before Nanao decided to intervene. Placing a hand on the back of their heads she smashed them together, nearly making their lips meet. They jumped away from each other clutching their throats and making hacking noises even though nothing really happened. No attention was given to their heads; you sort of get used to it after the first hundred smashes.
"Starting line," Nanao said without a hint of sympathy.
The eight lined up, some doing stretches and some waving and blowing kisses to the crowd (courtesy of Yumichika and Shunsui). The red light lit up with a bing, followed a moment later by the yellow light. A suspenseful second later the green light went off and with that the contestants.