Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or any of its characters. I do, however, own this story.
A/N: Happy Birthday wishes go out to MatsuMama, paragon of awesomeness. Enjoy your special day, pal.
Be Careful What You Wish For
Kaien Shiba had flat-out had enough.
Here he was, shouldering most of Captain Ukitake's responsibilities, working himself to the bone, and those two jokers Kiyone and Sentaro had never once offered to help him. Oh, sure, they found plenty of time to get hammered, while on duty, Kaien added bitterly in his head, but filling out a few forms here and there was impossible. The stress of the job had taken such a toll on Kaien's stability that even his kid sister had expressed open concern for him, a sure sign of the apocalypse. But the final straw came when the Lieutenant missed a date with Miyako, his fiancé, because he had pulled another all-nighter picking up Kiyone and Sentaro's slack.
Those two were going to pay for their laziness, and pay dearly.
As the morning dawned and the new day began, anyone who had gotten to work early enough to meet Kaien Shiba as he walked through the halls was immediately struck by the wide, maniacal grin on his face.
"What's wrong, Shiba?" a tall, dark-haired and glasses-wearing Soul Reaper asked. "Did you have some spiked tea this morning?"
Kaien's grin widened as he realized how prophetic that question was, and he turned to face the person who had asked it with a gleam in his eye.
"No, Lisa," he answered, "the tea I had this morning was excellent. In fact, I feel fantastic!" he finished, a hearty spring in his step as he hurried away that unsettled the Eighth Division Lieutenant greatly. What was that crazy bastard up to this time?
Shiba had to fight back a cackle as he poured the flask of extra-strong Umbriacan sake that he had scored from Matsumoto evenly between the two cups of tea that were destined for Kiyone and Sentaro. Kaien knew how much those two loved to get sloshed on their own terms; when the delinquent Soul Reapers had no idea the alcohol was coming and suddenly they were seeing triple, however, there would be no way they could possibly escape punishment. A punishment that, the Lieutenant hoped, would include weeks of paperwork duty. He could already see himself sleeping in late, and enjoying a long-delayed dinner or three with Miyako.
The plan was utterly foolproof. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turned out, although the plan might have foolproof, it was most definitely not Kiyone-and-Sentaro-proof.
"Get out of the way, monkey-face!"
"Who're you calling monkey-face, booger-face?!"
Ukitake listened to the duo's bickering with furrowed eyebrows; they just wouldn't quit. Reaching for his usual cup of tea to calm himself down, the Captain's exasperation turned into confusion as the usual tea cup was nowhere to be found.
"That's odd…" he muttered, before the doors to his office were thrown open by two pairs of frantically-clawing hands.
"Captain Ukitake, sir!" Sentaro bellowed out, "I noticed that your cup of tea was still in the main room; please except mine as a replacement!"
"Captain Ukitake, sir," Kiyone added fervently, "please accept my humble offering of tea to make up for my staggering act of negligence in not bringing you your usual cup!"
"Ooh, look at you, busting out the big words, pea-brain," Sentaro grumbled, only to have his head thoroughly walloped by Kiyone.
"Enough, enough," Jushiro said in a strained voice, waving his hand in a request for peace and quiet. It was promptly obeyed, as each Soul Reaper slapped their hands over the other's mouths.
"You know what," the Captain sighed, "give me both of them. I could really use a pick-me-up right now."
The two cups were quickly shoved in front of Ukitake, and Kiyone and Sentaro vanished as the white-haired warrior made it clear he wanted some privacy.
Back in the main room of Thirteenth Division, Kaien was already glorying in his victory when he noticed that there was a cup of tea still sitting in the tray.
It was the Captain's cup.
As he began to connect the dots in his head, Shiba's heart jumped up into his throat before diving down into his stomach. In his haste to screw over those two buffoons, Kaien had forgotten to deliver the Captain's usual cup. As he fervently prayed to any God willing to listen for assistance, the Lieutenant heard Kiyone and Sentaro's voices float down the hallway.
"Who cares whose he drank first, you idiot? We both gave him our cups, after all."
"I still think he drank mine first, fish-breath."
Shiba's eyes widened as the worst-case scenario swaggered cockily up to him and punched his teeth out.
"You have got to be kidding me," he muttered incredulously, before hurrying down the hall to his Captain's office. When he got there, Kaien could only look on in horror as he watched Ukitake finish off the second cup of tea with a satisfied sigh. Looking up, his warm brown eyes met his Lieutenant's green ones and the older Soul Reaper smiled widely.
"Ah, Kaien, nice to see you so early on this beautiful morning," he greeted, and Shiba was about to reply when the white-haired Captain suddenly leaned forward with a slight lurch and clutched his forehead.
"Ah," Jushiro groaned, while Kaien just wanted to disappear. "This is… strange…"
As the room began to spin around the Captain, Shiba rushed over to grab a couple of nearby pillows. While he used those to cushion his superior as Ukitake slumped over, the Lieutenant scrambled to think of a solution to the one outcome he hadn't planned on. He just hoped that Captain Ukitake wouldn't get too drunk too quickly.
"Look at the walls, Kaien," Shiba heard Ukitake say in an awed voice. "I'd never noticed how pretty they were before."
Realizing he was going to need some heavy reinforcements, Kaien made up his mind to seek out the one person he thought might be able to deal with a heavily-drunk Captain Ukitake. Hopefully, Jushiro wouldn't hurt himself too badly before his Lieutenant got back. Thinking for a moment, Kaien took the Captain's zanpakuto away for the time being before flashing away.
When he finally reached the doors to Eighth Division, decorum was the last thing on Shiba's mind. As he barged into the room, Kaien found himself staring in shock at Captain Kyoraku, who was currently engaged in a blatant round of tonsil hockey with his Lieutenant.
Today was just not his day.
"Am I interrupting something?" he asked, almost chuckling at the speed with which the pair split apart. They'd clearly had some practice at being interrupted on short notice; if it hadn't been for the slight skew of Yadomaru's glasses, Kaien might have thought nothing had been going on at all prior to his entrance.
"Lieutenant Shiba," the floral-cloaked Captain greeted smoothly. "To what to I owe the most unexpected pleasure of your company?"
Quickly collecting his scattered thoughts together, Kaien straightened himself up and was about to explain the situation when Shunsui noticed the extra sword at his hip and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
"May I ask what exactly you're doing with Sougyo no Kotowari, Lieutenant?"
"I can explain that," Shiba said hastily. "You see, I, eh…" gathering up his nerves and taking the plunge, Kaien completed his story in a rush. "I kind of got Captain Ukitake drunk."
Rather than the wrathful outburst he was expecting from Captain Kyoraku, the Lieutenant was surprised when he saw a sly smile spread across Shunsui's face.
"Really?" he asked. "How drunk is he?"
"Drunk enough that he couldn't be trusted with his own sword, apparently," Lisa chimed in drolly, and the Captain's smile widened.
"I have got to see this," he declared, sweeping out of his office with a flourish of his floral-patterned cloak. As the two subordinates were left alone in the room, Yadomaru sent Shiba a withering glare.
"If you tell anyone about this…" she began, before Kaien cut her off.
"My lips are sealed," he said quickly, and Lisa smiled with feigned sweetness as she walked out of the room.
"Good boy," she spoke as a parting shot, and Shiba sighed before following wearily in her wake.
"So, what exactly did you give him?" Kyoraku asked as he stood on the threshold of his friend's office, and Kaien gave another sigh.
"I didn't give… it was an accident, all right?" he finished sharply, but the Captain's smile didn't fade and eventually Shiba folded.
"A flask full of Umbriacan sake."
Shunsui's eyes widened briefly before a wicked grin spread across his face.
"Shiba," he said happily, "if you were in my Division, I'd promote you right now."
Stepping quietly into the office as to not interrupt whatever the thoroughly drunken Captain was doing at the moment, all three spectators had to struggle to keep from laughing at the sight in front of them.
Jushiro was sitting cross-legged on the floor, a drum in front of him, performing slam haiku.
"Old Yamamoto," he began theatrically, "is strong, but my money is on Unohana."
"Good thing Yama-ji didn't hear that," Shunsui said lowly. "He'd probably start bawling."
"The Captain-Commander?" Kaien repeated incredulously. "Are you serious?"
A far-off look of recollection flickered into Kyoraku's eyes for a moment.
"You should have seen him the last time someone said they thought his mustache was ungainly," he said. "Those were some waterworks for the ages."
Jushiro heard the conversation and looked up, his normally focused brown eyes wide and slightly hazy. His gaze was drawn first to Shunsui's floral cloak, and a brilliant smile lit up his face as he rose to his feet.
"Shunshui, my friend!" he exclaimed. "How long has it been since we last crossed paths?"
"About four hours," Kyoraku replied honestly, unprepared for his friend's reaction as the white-haired Captain half-roared in anguish.
"Four hours of my life, devoid of your wit, your witticisms?" he exclaimed. "Four hours of my life, spent in but a pale simulacrum of existence! Oh, woe is me, deprived of Shunsui. Where, oh where, could he be?" The Captian wailed as he threw himself around the room, before his friend spoke up in an effort to placate him.
"I'm right over here, Jushiro," he said worriedly, and Ukitake's troubled expression changed immediately into a happy one as he saw his friend once again.
"Kyoraku!" he shouted gleefully, running over to the befuddled Captain and stopping a few paces short of bowling him over. "How long has it been?"
"I wouldn't answer him this time, sir," Lisa suggested, and Shunsui nodded in agreement as Ukitake's brown eyes moved over to regard the Eighth Division Lieutenant.
"Lisa-chan?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm just…" Yadomaru began, before an odd glint came into Jushiro's eyes and he smiled.
"Say no more, fair maiden," he spoke dramatically, before sidestepping closer to Shunsui and trying to whisper to his friend. The sake had made voice modulation all but impossible, however, and Ukitake might as well have been speaking at normal volume.
"Shunsui, I'm so honored you wanted me to be here for this!"
"What are you talking about, Captain Ukitake?" Lisa asked curiously, and Kyoraku, who knew his friend all-too well, tried to hide his rapidly rising alarm behind a veil of nonchalance.
"Yeah, Jushiro," he asked, "what are you talking about?" The floral-cloaked Captain hoped that the unspoken plea to shut up would get through to his drunken friend, but he had no such luck.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about, silly!" the white-haired Captain exclaimed. "There's no need to be embarrassed about it. In fact, I think it's a marvelous gesture! About time, too, if you ask me," he finished in a mumble, and all of a sudden the smooth, confident Don Juan Captain Kyoraku was looking decidedly anxious.
"What would be a marvelous gesture?" Lisa asked pointedly, arching an elegant eyebrow over the rim of her glasses.
"Oh, nothing," Shunsui said as casually as he could, "nothing at all. Jushiro's just jabbering."
Ukitake, apparently tired of his friend's constant deflection, decided to pick up Kyoraku's slack in the most cataclysmic way possible.
"Shunsui wants you to marry him!" the drunken Captain blurted out, finishing the announcement just seconds before Kyoraku clamped his hand over his friend's mouth to silence him.
Silence reigned in the office as Shunsui was torn between excitement and nervousness, Lisa's face had turned the color of a ripe red tomato and Kaien just felt incredibly awkward.
"Captain," the Eighth Division Lieutenant said a few moments later, once she'd found her voice again and her pounding heart had calmed down somewhat, "is that true?"
"Well," Shunsui replied with a hint of nervous energy, "I was going to wait until your birthday at the end of the month before I said anything, but yes, it's true."
Before Lisa could say anything in response, Jushiro removed his friend's obstructing hand and broke back in with a much more serious tone than anyone thought he was capable of at that point.
"You should thank me for getting you to do it earlier, Shunsui," the still-inebriated Captain spoke. "For all we know, she could be dead by the end of the month."
"Because that's not in the least bit morbid, or anything," Kaien chimed in, and soon found himself pinned by a stony gaze from Kyoraku. Right when the Captain was about to follow up verbally, though, his arms were suddenly full with a jubilant Lieutenant Yadomaru. Before he got too distracted, however, Shunsui gave Shiba a look that told him to go find a way to fix the mess that was Jushiro Ukitake or he'd be in deep shit.
Kaien got the hint and hurried from the room, hoping that by the time the dust cleared from this whole fiasco, Captain Kyoraku would be too happy to dispense any kind of punishment for getting Captain Ukitake so catastrophically hammered. It was a long-shot, sure, but a man could dream.
Moving as quickly as he could, the Thirteenth Division Lieutenant soon found himself at the doors of the one place that might be able to supply him with a cure for his drunk Captain. As soon as he'd entered, an almost gratingly cheery voice called out to him in greeting.
"Shiba-san, what brings you all the way down here?"
"How many times do I have to tell you not to be so formal, Captain Urahara?" Kaien replied with a sigh, but Kisuke just waved him off.
"Don't be ridiculous," the blond-haired Captain said. "If being nobility doesn't at least mean that other people have to address you formally, then what's the point?"
The Lieutenant shrugged the question off, wanting to get this whole ordeal done with as soon as possible.
"My Captain had a lot to drink this morning, Captain Urahara," Kaien began, "and before you ask," he added quickly, seeing the curious gleam appear in Kisuke's gray eyes, "you don't want to know. Long story short, I need something that'll knock sense back into him, and fast."
Urahara thought for a moment and then smiled, walking over to a rack of test tubes.
"I think I have just the thing," he replied triumphantly after searching for a moment, returning to the impatient Soul Reaper with a vial of blue liquid.
"This should perk the Captain right up," Kisuke said enthusiastically. "Just don't…" he added, but Kaien vanished before he could finish. Sighing, Urahara ran a hand through his messy hair.
"Just don't use the whole thing at once," the Captain mumbled ruefully, inwardly terrified at the prospect of what he might have just unleashed.
Kaien was about to rush back into Captain Ukitake's main office, but then he paused at the last moment. Having learned from his scarring experience earlier in the day at Captain Kyoraku's office, the hapless Lieutenant paused at the threshold and called out.
"Are you guys decent in there?"
"Very funny, jackass," Lisa's snappy voice shot back, but Shiba could tell there was a smile on her face. Stepping into the office, he tossed the vial of liquid to Shunsui.
"That should do the trick," Kaien explained simply, before turning his attention to his fellow Lieutenant and looking at her hand, surprised by what he saw there.
Yadomaru rolled her eyes dismissively, as if she'd just been asked whether or not two plus two actually equaled four.
"Of course not. I thought you were supposed to be a genius, Shiba; it's not like we can publicize a relationship between a commanding officer and one of their subordinates, now can we? Besides," she added, "jewlery's never been my thing."
"Fair enough," Kaien acquiesced. "I'm just glad this is all over, to be honest. Now I can go get the crap beaten out of me by Miyako for standing her up again last night, which is exactly how I want to round out this fantastic day."
"Good luck with that," Lisa sincerely commiserated, before a loud noise drew both of the Lieutenants' eyes to the other side of the room.
"What… the…" Lisa began,
"Hell…?" Kaien finished, as the two of them could only stare, dumbfounded, at the living incarnation of chaos in front of them.
It seemed as though the compound Urahara had given Shiba was a very concentrated, very powerful stimulant, designed for use in very small, controlled doses. And since Kisuke was the kind of guy who assumed that everyone already knew these sorts of things, he never put warning labels on any of his potentially dangerous drugs. So, of course, Shunsui had given his friend the whole vial, thinking it was measured out to be one dose. In actuality, however, it was closer to 100.
Which led to the bizarre scene unfolding in front of the two shocked Lieutenants, as Captain Ukitake went from drowsy and on the verge of passing out to literally bouncing off of the walls.
"Candy!" he called out jubilantly, swerving out of another hold attempted by the now-frantic Kyoraku. "Candy! I want candy! Ooh, it's a lake," he said suddenly, looking out at his pond like it was the first time he'd ever seen it. Tearing outside, the Captain jumped into the water with a monstrous splash and began swimming around like a barracuda on speed.
"Shiba," the exhausted Eighth Division Captain said as calmly as he could, "what the hell did we just give him?"
"I have no idea," Kaien answered, "and I really don't think I want to know."
Things came to a head when Ukitake thought it would be a good idea to go barreling into Eleventh Division Headquarters and shout out a challenge at the top of his lungs, forcing Shunsui and Lisa to drag the kicking and screaming Captain away before he got himself killed; even though Kaien still had his zanpakuto, Jushiro was adamant that he could defeat Zaraki Kenpachi with nothing more than a wooden sword. The white-haired Soul Reaper argued the point quite vocally until Shunsui knocked him out, sighing in relief as his friend finally settled down.
While that had been going on, Kaien had obtained the antidote from an irate Urahara. The Twelfth Division Captain had gone as far as to let Hiyori wallop the Lieutenant a few times with her sandal as punishment for his hastiness.
"Next time take a moment to consider your actions before you go barging off, Shiba," Kisuke told Kaien as he left the lab. "I swear, your brashness is going to be the death of you!"
Captain Ukitake woke up a few hours after the antidote had been administered to his unconscious form, groaning as it felt like someone had taken a jackhammer to the inside of his skull.
"Are you awake, Captain?" he heard Kaien's voice float over, and Jushiro blinked wearily in an effort to clear his vision.
"Regrettably," he muttered. "What did I do that gave me such a bad headache? The last thing I really remember was having Kiyone and Sentaro's cups of tea this morning, and then…" the Captain trailed off as his memory faded into a blur, interspersed with vivid flashes that involved him rampaging around his office and swimming laps in his fish pond.
"Well, sir," Shiba began hesitantly, "here's what happened…"
Jushiro listened calmly as his second-in-command explained the prank, how it went horribly wrong and the chaos that had ensued. He tactfully omitted the confession that had passed between Captain Kyoraku and his Lieutenant; the fewer the number of people who knew about that, the easier it would be to keep under wraps. That, and Shunsui would definitely tell his friend what had happened when he was ready, without a doubt.
As he finished his tale, Kaien waited anxiously for a stern reprimand. He was shocked, therefore, when Captain Ukitake just sighed guiltily.
"You've been working yourself to the bone on my account, haven't you?"
"What? No, not at all," Shiba sputtered, but Jushiro cast him a serious glance that told him not to lie.
"I know that handling your normal workload, my paperwork and practically running the Division on top of that is a horrendous amount of labor," Jushiro spoke, "and it's not right that you're dealing with it all on your own. Take two weeks of vacation, Kaien," the white-haired Captain finished,
"You've earned them."
The Lieutenant's green eyes widened in shock. He was being rewarded for causing such a massive disaster?
"But… but who's going to do all of the paperwork?"
Jushiro flashed a mischievous smirk that was gone almost as soon as it had appeared.
"It's about time Kiyone and Sentaro earned their stripes, don't you think?"
Shiba was about ready to weep tears of joy, but after so many days of grinding work from dusk to dawn, he wasn't sure what to do with himself.
"Two weeks is an awful lot of time to fill, Captain," he said, and his superior smiled.
"I'm sure Miyako can think of something to do, no?" the white-haired Soul Reaper replied, and the green-eyed Shiba mirrored his smile.
"Enjoy your vacation, Kaien," Jushiro called after him as he left. "When you get back, there's a matter I'd like you to look into for me: Shinji mentioned something about 'Disappearing Souls' in the Rukongai the other day, and it stinks to high heaven."
"Will do, Captain. See you in two weeks!" Kaien called back over his shoulder, before turning his head back towards the sun and glorying in the feeling of the warmth on his face.
A/N: First off, another Happy Birthday wish for MatsuMama, seeing as how I wrote this fic as a present for her. I hope you all enjoyed this story, and please review if you did to let me know! Also, I know Kaien isn't technically Ukitake's Lieutenant during the time leading up to the Pendulum Arc, but I took a bit of artistic liberty.