The Personal Ad
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
"What is this?"
Kiyone and Sentarou both looked at the paper thrown on the desk in front of them.
"It looks like a letter, Sir." Sentarou said, glancing at the envelope.
"Addressed to 'The Most Handsome Shinigami in Existence', too." Kiyone provided.
"I know that," Ukitake frowned. "What is the meaning of this?"
"Well," Sentarou swirled the paper around to get a better look at it. "It looks like a reply to a personal ad."
"A personal ad?"
"You know those things people put in newspapers to get a date."
"I know what they are, Kiyone," Jyuushirou replied. "Why am I getting these? I wonder if they were supposed to be sent to Mayuri instead. It seems like something he'd do and I am always getting his mail..."
"No, I'm pretty sure it's for you, Captain," Sentarou started reading the letter. "She's apparently into the medical field."
"Hey," Kiyone peeked over her adversary's shoulder. "That looks like Unohana-taichou's handwriting."
"Throw it away," Ukitake whispered.
Kiyone frowned, "What?"
"Please, just throw it away."
"Okay," Kiyone snagged the letter from Sentarou and dumped it in the trash.
Sentarou opened a pink envelope. "Oh, this one's from 'The Candy Princess'!"
"You really shouldn't be opening other peoples' mail, Sentarou," Ukitake chided. "Mayuri will be furious."
"There's a crushed lollipop inside," Sentarou poked at it. "Ew, it's sticky. I think this one might be a little young for you, Captain."
"For me?" Ukitake shook his head. "I didn't send in a personal ad."
"Of course you didn't, Captain," Kiyone smiled.
"Oh, we know," Sentarou pulled out a large pile of envelopes. "Well, what do you want us to do with the others?"
"Others?" Ukitake paled. "What did you two do?"
"There are quite a lot of them," Kiyone laughed happily. "I knew you'd be popular."
"What did you do?" Ukitake repeated.
"It's not so much as to what we did as to what you didn't," Sentarou shrugged, tossing a letter into his "maybe" pile.
"And what didn't I do?"
"You haven't found yourself a date for the Captains' Commission Ball yet, Captain!" Kiyone looked horrified by the thought. "You have to have one this year!"
"I usually just go with Shunsui and Nanao..."
"We know," Sentarou sighed. "But you honestly not noticed?"
"They might want to go by themselves," Kiyone said gently.
"But they never will unless you have a date," Sentarou said bluntly.
"It's not like I'm imposing on them or anything..."
"You are," Kiyone stressed.
"But they invite me!"
"Because you never have a date!"
Ukitake sighed and took a letter from the pile. "Let's see, 'most handsome shinigami...am answering your ad...and you sounded like you were'..." Jyuushirou paled again. "What did you two write in that ad?"
"Oh, we weren't the ones who wrote it, Captain," Sentarou chuckled.
"We asked Captain Kyoraku to write a paragraph about you and the one he wrote was so amazing we kept it exactly as it was."
"Except we added a little extra," Kiyone nodded, opening her desk drawer and pulling out the previous day's paper. "'The Most Handsome Shinigami in Existence'"— at this Ukitake scoffed—"'is seeking a young, beautiful, highly ranked lady to accompany him to a black-tie event. The young master is a charming conversationalist, a skilled dancer, and most importantly, extremely handsome. Any lady who should chose to reply will obviously have the most attractive date at the banquet, but should be warned that he must have a date of equal beauty. People of lesser beauty need not reply.'" Kiyone finished proudly.
Ukitake blinked at the stupidity of anyone who would actually believe that. "So, what you did add?"
"Punctuation," Sentarou nodded smugly.
"Oh my," Ukitake sat down at his desk. "This is going to be very embarrassing, isn't it?"
"Well, it's all anonymous, if you don't want to go through with it, then you don't have to..." Kiyone said gently.
"No, he has to." Sentarou frowned, holding out an envelope. "Look."
"It's addressed to you."
"What?" The captain grabbed the letter and opened it. "'Dear Captain Ukitake, that was quite the personal ad, how could I not reply? You are, after all, the "most handsome shinigami in existence". What girl wouldn't want to be on the arm of the most attractive man attending the Captains' Commission Ball?'"
The two third seats looked stricken. Sentarou was the first to recover. "I think you should reply to that one."
"I don't have a choice," Ukitake swept his hand through his hair and starting writing.
"What are you going to say to her?" Sentarou wondered.
"I'm not replying to her."
"I got your letter!"
"What?" Ukitake shot up out of bed and fumbled for a light. Shunsui lit a candle, and pranced over to his friend's futon.
"I got your letter!" Shunsui repeated.
"Yes, I heard. What do you want?"
"You weren't as mad as I thought you'd be," Shunsui lounged happily on the ground. "You only threatened to kill me in four unspeakable ways!"
"It seems I should have made it five," Ukitake pulled the covers over his head. "Go away."
"Don't be like that," Shunsui chuckled. "If you want, I'll write your reply!"
"Are you drunk? What makes you think I'd accept anything written by you after the horrible ad you put in the paper?"
"Because I already sent it?"
"I would've rather gone alone."
"And leave my poor Jyuu-Jyuu all by himself? Never."
"What did you say to her, Shun?"
"Nothing," Shunsui looked sheepish. "Just that you were going to sweep her off her feet."
"She's going to be disappointed!"
"Ah, so you will go with her!"
"No, I'm not!"
"You implied it!" Shunsui gasped. "You aren't going to stand her up, are you? You devil!"
"She already bought a dress!"
"How do you know?"
"You have been exchanging letters."
"I never wrote anything!"
"I've been impersonating you!"
"Shunsui, that's illegal!"
"I asked Yama and he said 'you boys can play, just leave me out of it', so as long as we don't bother him or murder anyone it's fine!"
"I'm going to murder you, Shunsui," Ukitake growled, throwing a pillow at his dearest friend's head.
"Now, now, no violence or I'll tell Yama!"
"Fine," Ukitake glared.
"You don't have to be so grumpy, Jyuu." Shunsui chided. "She's a very nice girl."
"You know her?"
"Well, of course."
"Who is it?"
"I'm not going to tell you, it'd ruin the mystery and wonder of it all."
"Goodnight, you better get some sleep. You've got a big date tomorrow!"
Ukitake straightened his tie for what seemed like the fiftieth time. He did not like it at all. He'd had to pull his hair back into a ponytail to keep it out of the way, but some was still falling in his face. Maybe he should wear it down after all...
There was a knock at the door. Jyuushirou's eyes widened. Already? He walked to the door and slowly opened it.
Kenpachi Zaraki stared back at him.
"Uh," Jyuushirou hesitated.
"I'm not your date," Kenpachi rumbled.
"Hi!" Yachiru beamed from Zaraki's side.
"Uh," Jyuushirou looked down at her.
"Neither is she," Kenpachi stated.
"Oh, well, can I help you then?" Ukitake smiled at Yachiru. "You look very pretty, Yachiru."
"We're here to take you to the dance," Kenpachi looked at him, "But we're not your date."
"Did she cancel?" Ukitake asked hopefully.
"No, and I'm pretty sure you don't want her to." Kenpachi snorted, "You ready?"
"I guess so."
Yachiru grabbed his hand, "Come on!"
The dance was an elegant affair. It was held annually in celebration of the Thirteen Court Squad Captains. Every seated officer was invited and allowed to bring a date. Shunsui honestly had no idea where Yamamoto had found the orchestra, but he hired the same one every year and Shunsui knew each song in turn by now. He glanced at the two women accompanying him and smirked. The ballroom was starting to fill up quite nicely and Kenpachi would probably be dragging Jyuushirou in soon.
"Where's Captain Ukitake, he usually comes with us." Nanao frowned, looking at her captain.
"He'll be here soon, my lovely Nanao," Shunsui chuckled. "Don't worry about it."
"If you say so," Nanao looked doubtful.
"Ah, see, there he is now," Shunsui pointed across the room. "Breathtaking, isn't he?"
"Yes he is," Nanao nodded.
"Very," Matsumoto agreed.
"What are you doing here, Rangiku?" Nanao was surprised to see her friend still there.
"I asked her to come," Shunsui said brightly. "Doesn't she look wonderful?"
"What?" Nanao asked. "But we usually all go together."
"Yes, well, two guys and one girl doesn't work for me. I don't like to share." Shunsui's smile widened as Kenpachi walked over, a reluctant Jyuushirou following behind.
"Thank you for walking with me, Yachiru," Ukitake patted her head gently. "Have fun tonight, okay?"
"Yes, promise to dance with me later, okay?"
"Of course," Jyuushirou smiled fondly. "Any time you want."
"Just so you know, we aren't your date, so don't get any funny ideas about following us around or anything."
"Oh, yes, of course," Jyuushirou nodded.
"Jyuu! You actually came!"
"Well, still, glad you're actually here." Shunsui clapped, "Time to meet the girls! You know them both already, my lovely Nanao and Rangiku!"
Jyuushirou smiled hesitantly at Rangiku, "Well, uh, thank you for coming with me."
"Oh, Shunsui asked me, actually," Matsumoto smirked.
"What?" Nanao frowned at Shunsui. "You should have told me you already had a date. If I had known, I would have—"
"I got you a date, too," Shunsui pouted. "Don't be mad. I believe you already know Jyuushirou."
"But, Shunsui," Jyuushirou frowned, "I thought you—"
"Yeah, I know."
"But the personal ad!"
"It was mine," Shunsui chuckled. "I actually wrote that ad for myself and just forwarded it to your address so Nanao wouldn't get mad at me. It was all part of a simple plan to get you to go with Nanao and for me to have my own date. Kiyone and Sentarou were kind enough to go along with it."
"But, you said you wrote notes from me," Jyuushirou frowned.
"Yes, well, you can't always believe what I tell you," Shunsui shrugged. "I knew you would have found out what was really going on, so I had Matsumoto send in a few fake notes to throw you off guard."
"You should have just told us," Nanao muttered.
"You wouldn't have come," Shunsui sighed dramatically, throwing an arm around Jyuushirou's shoulders. "And my darling Jyuu-Jyuu would have been all by himself with only old man Yama and his third seats as company."
"I wouldn't wish that upon anyone," Matsumoto agreed.
"Exactly, so if I somehow managed to get you a date, then you wouldn't be stuck with the old geezer and Nanao wouldn't be by herself."
"I could have found a date," Nanao snapped.
"Oh, if you had someone else in mind, I understand," Jyuushirou said, not wanting to force her into anything.
"Oh no, I—"
"Honestly, Nanao," Shunsui interrupted, "It's the same thing every year. I watch you sit around, refusing to dance with me all night until Jyuushirou always asks you for the very last dance. I know you just want to be with him. It's not fair to make you sit around all night for my sake." Shunsui straightened his pink tie and offered his arm to Rangiku. He began to lead her to the dance floor. "This is the first year I'll be able to dance!"
"Well," Jyuushirou looked down at Nanao. "I guess that just leaves us."
"Yes, it does."
"Could I ask you for the first dance?"