Author's note: This is second version of the story. I corrected some typos and changed a few sentences, trying to add a couple of extra jokes, but nothing major.
Warning: Some characters are OOC. They didn't want to be nightmarish enough while in character. For others it was a piece of cake. If you think I'm bashing someone, remember it's all in Hitsugaya's head.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.
Hitsugaya was ready to murder Matsumoto. It was the night before the paperwork was due, there was a huge pile of unfinished documents on his table and his fukutaichou was nowhere in sight. She had popped up in the office shortly before noon, tried to smother him with her breasts, complained that said breasts were conspiring against her, doodled on a couple of reports and then went for a lunch break, from which she had yet to return. And it was already 2 AM.
He sighed, signed the report he had been reading and reached for another. He realized he had no idea what he had just approved. He only hoped that it wasn't the permission to drink sake at work Matsumoto slipped among his paperwork every once in a while, but he had neither the time nor the energy to reread it. It wasn't like it mattered, Matsumoto would always drink at work, permission or not.
He squinted at the next paper. It was a requisition form and he started filling it dutifully. His hand ached from endless writing, but he didn't let go of the brush. He wasn't sure he could even if he wanted. He was certain the muscles in his hand had cramped from staying in the same position the last twelve hours and it would require some difficult medical procedure to pry them loose.
He looked ruefully at his teacup. He wanted to take a sip of the warm liquid, but the cup had been empty since earlier this evening. And he had no time to get up and make new tea. He couldn't even order anybody to do it for him; the administration building had been empty since 10 PM. And 10 PM was coincidentally the time he had thought he had finished, but then he had discovered a pile hidden under Matsumoto's desk. He didn't understand how he could have missed it earlier, but his lazy lieutenant hadn't tried such a lame hiding place for years. So he was stuck here doing paperwork through the night and he doubted he'd be able to finish it in time even if he worked through the night.
Sleep was completely out of the question, but he felt so tired. He squinted at the paper. The kanji seemed either dancing or merely unfocused and once again he realized he couldn't recall what the report was about. He felt like banging his head on the table and since there was nobody around to see him, he did so. And laying his head on the table felt so comfortable. He closed his eyes for a moment to rest them. He had no time to relax, but he really couldn't go on anymore. And it was just for a moment. He'd resume work again in no time.
'I wish I had a different fukutaichou,' he thought. 'Anyone would do. It isn't humanly possible for anyone to be worse than her.' It was his last coherent thought before falling asleep.
Hitsugaya looked at the clock on the wall. It had been nearly two hours since he had sent his lieutenant off for some tea and the man wasn't back yet. What was taking him so long? He was tempted to go look for him. That is, if he was sure he'd recognize the man when he saw him. There was something about his vice-captain that just made people overlook him and forget about him the moment they turned their back on him. Hitsugaya was no exception, no matter how much it bothered him. What kind of captain he was if he couldn't even remember his second's name?
His musings were cut short as the door slid open and the person in question came in.
"Finally," Hitsugaya said. "What took you two hours?"
"Children these days, no respect for their elders," his adjutant muttered. "When I was young..."
"I didn't ask you what did you do when you were young," Toshiro interrupted his monologue, "I asked you what took you so long."
"Preparing tea mustn't be rushed, Hitsugaya-taichou," the grey-haired man replied with an aura of aloof haughtiness. "It's a most difficult task young children can't possibly understand. I had to carefully pick the best tea leaves from my latest harvest, check whether they have properly dried, check that there was no mold on them, find the ideal kettle for that particular brand of tea, bring and boil spring water, because the one from the tap just cannot compare, find the tea set best matching this brand of tea, bring and boil new water because the old one cooled down and reheated water doesn't taste the same, ..."
"Whatever, Sasakibe-fukutaichou," Hitsugaya cut him short. 'Hey, I remembered!' he did a victory dance inside his head. 'Now if I could recall his given name too...' "Just bring me the tea already."
"Right here, Hitsugaya-taichou," Sasakibe answered briskly setting the plate with the cup and kettle on his desk. "Honestly, children this days," he muttered under his breath. "No patience. No respect for their elders. No respect for tradition. It used to be unthinkable when I was young. I used to actually respect and obey my elders, not order them around..."
"Oomaeda, stop eating the crackers now," Hitsugaya commanded in his iciest tone.
"But why, Taichou?" the fat man whined. "I have already finished the report."
"The crumbs are falling into my hair. It's disgusting."
"What crumbs?" Oomaeda asked spitting another load of crumbs and saliva onto him.
"Those, you fat pig!" the short captain shouted losing patience.
"I'm not fat, I'm well-fed," the nobleman protested. "It's a sign of my high stature."
"Whatever," Hitsugaya grumbled. "Just get out of my sight and never, ever stand so close to me again!"
"But why?" Oomaeda complained. "It's my duty as your fukutaichou to stand right behind you."
"It's your duty to obey my orders!" Hitsugaya reminded him, his reiatsu flaring. His lieutenant took a step back, his numerous golden ornaments clinging. Toshiro suppressed a wince. The fat man surely was an eyesore. Not only he was grossly overweight and balding, he had also an atrocious fashion sense. Whenever Hitsugaya pointed it out, the man had the gall to claim it was a sign of refinement. Honestly, that moron was incorrigible. But then his whole family was the same, so maybe he shouldn't blame him. And he shouldn't judge anyone based on his appearance, because that would be childish, but with Oomaeda it was really hard.
"Well," he said, "since you have finished your reports, can you hand them to me?"
"Of course, Hitsugaya-taichou!" the man replied, another batch of crumbles flying from his mouth, this time hitting Hitsugaya in the face. The small captain winced and wiped his face clean with his sleeve. It was looking dirty considering how many times he had to do it today, and it was barely noon. And Hitsugaya hated looking untidy.
"Here you are," Oomaeda announced laying the thick stack of documents in front of him.
"Oomaeda," Hitsugaya growled. "What is the meaning of this?"
"What?" the fat man answered already munching on another fistful of crackers. This time Hitsugaya didn't even try to suppress his wince. "Are they filled incorrectly?"
"No," Toshiro shook his head, "but what do you see here?"
"Where?" his fukutaichou squinted.
"Here," the small taichou pointed, careful not to touch it accidentaly.
"You mean my signature?" the balding man questioned.
"No. I mean the smudge," Hitsugaya clarified. "You did your paperwork while eating again, didn't you?"
"I can't help it," the fat man defended. "I get hungry all the time!"
"I don't care!" Toshiro exploded. "Next time wash your ugly fat hands before touching official documents! Now look at this mess! It's full of smudges, crumbs and your dirty fingerprints! And is that snot?"
"I don't know what you are talking about," Oomaeda answered picking his nose.
"Idiot!" the captain groaned. "How am I supposed to hand these reports to the sotaichou? Now I'll have to rewrite all of them!"
There was a soft knock on the door of his office.
"Enter," Hitsugaya said. The door slid open and in came his lieutenant.
"I have finished the paperwork," he announced with a downcast air.
"Well done, Kira-fukutaichou."
"Thank you, taichou," the blond man answered like he had been expecting a punishment instead of thanks. Hitsugaya sighed. His second-in-command was reliable and hard-working, but his constant depressed face and the air of despair he was emitting was something he could do without.
"Is something wrong, Hitsugaya-taichou? Am I too late?"
"No," he shook his head, "everything is alright. Bring the paperwork here."
"As you wish, taichou." Kira slowly walked towards his table. He looked like he'd collapse with the next step. It was such an utterly miserable sight that it was influencing even the usually stoic captain.
"Here you are," Izuru said as he laid the pile of documents of the captain's desk. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Hitsugaya answered. He tried to look a bit cheerful, but it was nigh impossible in Kira's presence. It always made him feel like the sun suddenly stopped shining, the trees withered down and died, the pile of unfinished paperwork on his desk multiplied and there was no way he can complete it before the suddenly so close deadline...
He shook himself. He was succumbing to Kira's field of depression. The situation was far form hopeless. It wasn't even bad to begin with. Only his lieutenant's presence made it seem so. He was a captain. He could deal with it without being reduced to a sobbing mess.
He picked up the first document and briefly scanned it. Kira watched him with the eyes of an abused puppy. Hitsugaya signed the document and picked up another. His vice-captain was still watching him intently.
"It's alright," Hitsugaya said as he was reading the third paper.
"Thank you, taichou," the blond man spoke with utmost gratitude completely out of proportions for the occasion.
"You may go," Toshiro said. He found it increasingly hard to concentrate in the aura of despair Kira always dragged around.
"Thank you, taichou," Izuru bowed deeply. "I will take my leave now." But before he made it halfway to the door, Hitsugaya noticed something on the fourth document.
"Wait," he called.
"What is wrong, taichou?" Kira turned around, looking like he was about to cry. He seemed even more hunched over than usual. Hitsugaya felt sorry for him and almost said that there was nothing wrong, but he had a duty to fulfill.
"Are you sure this figure is right? The number seems too high." The lieutenant quickly walked back and looked at the number in question. His eyes widened in horror.
"Oh no! It is wrong!" he wailed. "I wasn't careful enough while writing! I don't deserve to be a lieutenant." Here he dropped to the floor and started crying. "I've been always too stupid and week and clumsy, I didn't deserve to become a fukutaichou, but taichou was so good to me, always putting up with my inadequacy, and this is how I repay him? Eternal shame on me!"
Hitsugaya watched it first with complete befuddlement, but when Kira began crying, the intensity of his field of depression intensified rapidly. He tried to fight it off valiantly, but it was too much for him. Soon tears filled his eyes as well.
"Oh no!" Kira's eyes broke all previous records of widening and sheer terror reflected. "I made taichou cry! I'm a wretched excuse for a shinigami! I don't deserve to be an officer. I don't deserve to wield a zanpakutou. I don't deserve to live!" He drew Wabisuke and positioned the tip against his stomach.
"Don't!" Hitsugaya shouted jumping over his desk and wrestled the sword form his lieutenant's grip. "Don't do anything like this ever again!"
"B-but the number... I'm shamed for all eternity..."
"Stop it already!" the young captain commanded. "It's just one document. It can be corrected easily. And please, please don't try to commit seppuku in my office ever again."
"Yes, taichou, I understand," Kira nodded. "I would have dirtied your floor. I'm despicable."
"No, you idiot!" Hitsugaya shouted with panic. "Don't try to commit suicide at all! Why do you have to be so depressed over everything?"
"I don't know," Kira sobbed. "I just am. Sorry, taichou."
"Don't worry about it," Hitsugaya tried to smile encouragingly, but failed miserably, resulting in a strained grimace. "Take the rest of the day off."
"But I don't deserve it," his vice-captain objected.
"But you need it," the captain pointed out. "And now go. I expect to see you here all fresh and cheerful tomorrow."
"Thank you, taichou." Looking at Kira's face now, one could almost think that Hitsugaya had just saved him and his family from a fate worse than death. "You're too good to me. How can I ever repay your goodness..."
"You can start with doing as I said," the white-haired boy suggested.
"Thank you, taichou," Kira said and finally left the office, probably to drown his shame, humiliation and depression in sake. Hitsugaya sighed in relief. The tragedy had been averted. He could sign all the documents in peace and mentally prepare himself for the next episode. Judging from experience, it should come sometime next week.
"So," Hitsugaya gazed at the woman standing in front of him, "would you care to tell me why did you have so much trouble with the mission, Kotetsu-fukutaichou?"
Isane shifted nervously. Hitsugaya stared straight into her eyes. He nearly snapped his neck doing so. Sometimes, it was really troublesome to have a lieutenant who was so much taller than him. Especially when said lieutenant was a woman. It emphasized his own lack of height much more than he was comfortable with. But it had its uses as well, especially when he needed something on the top shelf.
"I'm sorry, taichou," she hung her head, "the Hollow was just too terrifying." She shuddered in remembrance of the vile creature.
"How so?" he raised an eyebrow. "The report says it was just an ordinary Hollow, and a weak one to boot. A fukutaichou like you should have no problem dealing with it. Instead you only trembled in fear and there were three completely unnecessary casualties. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
"I'm sorry, taichou," she replied with her eyes downcast. She was trembling and she looked ready to burst into tears. "I'm so sorry our men died, but I just couldn't do anything. The Hollow was just too terrible." That was the one thing he really disliked about his vice-captain. She was excellent when it came to paperwork, good in managing the staff, adequate in battle, but she was a bit of a scaredy-cat. Sometimes she got completely spooked by the most random of things.
"So what was so frightening about this Hollow?" he asked. Isane looked like she was going to either burst into tears or burst out of his office, but in the end she gathered her courage and exclaimed:
"It looked like a fishcake!"
"Here are the reports, Shiro-chan," Hinamori chirped happily.
"How many times I have to tell you not to call me that? Refer to me by my proper title. It's Hitsugaya-taichou," he growled. She did it every day. Every bloody day. No matter what he told her, she did it again. And she had promised him she'd stop. Multiple times, in fact. First it was when he went to the same school as her. He did and did she stop? No. Then when he'd reach the same rank as her, did it stop her? Not a chance. And now he outranked her. And what did she do? You guessed it: she still called him that infernal childish nickname. Didn't she realize how much it bothered him?
"I don't get why you mind so much," she replied with nothing but wounded innocence in her voice. "I've always called you Shiro-chan, so why should I stop?"
Obviously not. He had worked so hard to be finally seen as an adult, but then she came, called him 'Shiro-chan' in public and all his hard work went out of the window. His division members were snickering behind his back and yesterday one idiot actually called him Shiro-taichou to his face. Needless to say, that moron found himself scrubbing the toilets for the next month, but the damage had already been done.
"I'm your superior officer now, Hinamori-fukutaichou," he reminded her in his best icy tone.
"You will always be my little Shiro-chan," she announced in her best sugary-sweet tone. It was almost enough to make his teeth hurt. He could feel a vein popping on his forehead.
"You will call me Hitsugaya-taichou unless you want to get in trouble for insubordination."
"How can you be so mean to me, Shiro-chan?" Tears formed in her eyes. "What did I ever do to you? Did I ever hurt you? No." Hitsugaya begged to differ, but didn't dare to say so aloud. "I've always looked after you. I knitted you a new scarf and did you wear it? No." Toshiro grimaced when he remembered it. It was pink with baby-blue cutesy baby dragons. He wouldn't be caught dead wearing something like that. "I buy you sweets and amanattou. And do you eat it? No." She could have really noticed by now he didn't eat it. "I'm doing everything for your good." 'In your mind,' thought Hitsugaya. "What would Granny say if she heard how you treat me?"
Hitsugaya visibly paled. He didn't want to make his Granny disappointed or even angry with him. It was like pissing off Unohana, only worse. Whose brilliant idea it was to make him work together with his sort-of sister?
"You can call me whatever you wish." He regretted the words even before he finished speaking them. Momo's face immediately brightened. She hugged him fiercely.
"You're such a sweetie, Shiro-chan! Oh, and before I forget, I have a new scarf for you..."
"You were supposed to be here an hour ago, Abarai-fukutaichou," Hitsugaya said in his sternest voice.
"Sorry, Hitsugaya-taichou, but I had something important to do," the pineapple-redhead apologized.
"Oh?" Hitsugaya raised an eyebrow. "And what, pray tell, was so important?"
"Rukia was scheduled to come back from the Real World today so I was waiting for her by the Senkaimon," Renji explained. "But she was late."
"Personal business isn't more important than your duty, Abarai-fukutaichou," Hitsugaya chastised him. "You could have greeted her later."
"I know, but that's Rukia!" Renji replied like it explained everything.
"Your point?" Toshiro deadpanned.
"If I'm not careful, that Kurosaki brat would steal her from me," the tattooed youth elaborated.
"Steal her?" Hitsugaya raised one eyebrow.
"Yes! She already spends so much time with him," Abarai explained. "It's like she forgot all about me! I have to make her notice me!"
"Is that why you got those new tattoos?"
"You noticed, taichou?" Renji smiled. "I had them done yesterday!"
"So that's why you missed the fukutaichou meeting. Sasakibe-fukutaichou was complaining about you."
"It was only once," Renji pouted. "And besides, the trouble is well-worth my new macho look! Now Rukia won't be able to resist!"
"So this is what you call a 'macho' look?" Hitsugaya looked at him dubiously. "I'm no expert but I'd say you overdid it with the tattoos."
"But there can be never enough tattoos! The more tattoos, the more manly! No girl can resist this!"
"I hate to break the news to you, but your face looks like some kid got carried away with a crayon. The girls are going to collapse with laughter when they see you."
"But they said this was the latest macho look," Abarai objected.
"They must have been pulling your leg," Hitsugaya shrugged.
"But that's terrible!" Renji wailed. "How am I going to capture Rukia's heart now?"
"Not my problem," Toshiro shrugged.
Renji headed for the door.
"And where are you going?" Hitsugaya stopped him.
"To have the new tattoos removed," the lieutenant explained.
"Good idea," the captain agreed, "but do it after work."
"But then I'd be late to meet Rukia!"
"As I said earlier, not my problem. Now sit down and do your paperwork."
"Taichou! How can you be so cruel? Have you never been in love?"
"Well, one day you will be and then you'll understand what I'm going through."
"I hope not," Hitsugaya shuddered. "I don't want to have my IQ reduced by 90%."
"You're mean," Renji pouted.
"I know. Now get to your work."
Three hours later, Renji was finished with his paperwork for the day. Hitsugaya took the documents from him and briefly checked them over. And scowled.
"Abarai, what's the meaning of this?"
"This," he pointed.
"You mean the report about the new squad members?"
"Yes. I wasn't aware we had a squad member named Rukia."
"We don't," Renji agreed.
"Then why is her name here?" the captain asked.
"It is there?" Abarai doubted. "I don't remember writing it there."
"But you did. You wrote the name 'Rukia' into every document at least twice and neither of them had anything to do with her!"
"I'm sorry, taichou! I can't help it! I can't stop thinking about her."
"You're obsessed," Hitsugaya observed. "Just get over her finally and redo this." He thrust the pile of paperwork back on Renji.
Hitsugaya left him alone and went to oversee the division's training. Yet he couldn't shake the feeling that he'd end up redoing the documents himself. There was no way his vice-captain would stop mooning over his crush for long enough. Therefore he was not surprised when he found the paperwork filled perfectly, but with little hearts decorating the corners.
Captain Hitsugaya was taking his afternoon nap on the office couch. The paperwork had been tough, so he needed his rest. Fortunately he had a competent lieutenant who did his share so he had the time to rest. He had heard about some of the other vice-captains and their less-then-enthusiastic approach when it came to bureaucracy. He sincerely pitied their captains. He wasn't sure he could have survived if he had to do all of the work himself. He considered himself lucky. His adjutant might not be the brightest or strongest out there and he was concerned about his manliness more than was healthy, but at least he did whatever Hitsugaya told him to.
Then suddenly his dreams were interrupted by a crushing weight. He awoke with a squeal. It was utterly undignified for a captain to squeal, but he just couldn't help it. Who wouldn't squeal when something so heavy suddenly landed on him? A shout answered him and the weight disappeared, but his ribs still hurt with every breath he took. He blinked at the man standing above him.
"Iba-fukutaichou," he growled once breathing ceased to be so painful, "can you kindly explain why did you sit on me?"
"Sorry! Hitsugaya-taichou!" the big man stammered. "I didn't see you there!"
"Then please stop wearing those thick sunglasses inside," Toshiro advised between painful breaths. "It might improve your eyesight."
"But those are the latest fashion approved by the Shinigami Men Association!" Tetsuzaemon protested. "I wouldn't look manly enough without them! You should try them too!"
"I don't care! I don't care about your fashion or your loser society and I'm not trying on any of your ridiculous sunglasses! You aren't getting any manlier, you only look like a clown." Now Iba looked ready to cry manly tears. "Just don't sit on me ever again. This is the third time it happened."
If there was a poll on who was the best fukutaichou, most people would agree on Ise Nanao. She was smart, diligent with her paperwork, strong and fierce in battle, and to top it off good-looking. Everybody agreed that Hitsugaya was extremely lucky to have her as his second. And Hitsugaya-taichou agreed as well. She was the near-perfect lieutenant. If only...
"Taichou," she said. "The paperwork is due in two days. Are you finished yet?"
"Almost," he answered. He had worked relentlessly through the night and now only twenty documents remained to be dealt with.
"Almost?" She raised her eyebrows. "Almost doesn't count! Everything has to be filled and signed in time!"
"And it will be," he assured her. "We still have two days left and there are only twenty of them remaining." He stamped the document he had been reading. "It's nineteen now. I'll complete it in no time."
"But what if there is an emergency and you cannot finish them?" she inquired.
"An emergency lasting for two whole days?" he asked. "I can't remember the last time it happened. In fact, I don't remember it happening at all."
"But it might happen," she insisted. "It isn't completely impossible. And if it happens, what then?"
"Then we'll be a bit behind with the paperwork," he replied with a shrug.
"Fall behind in the paperwork?" She looked completely scandalized. "But that would be... that would be..."
"What?" he shrugged. "We would catch up soon."
"Don't say such things, taichou!" she chided. "You fall behind in paperwork once, you'll do it again! And if nobody reprimands you, you'll do it again and again until you'll turn into a complete slacker who won't do his paperwork at all!"
"Relax, Ise-fukutaichou," he attempted to placate her, "it won't happen." Attempted being the keyword.
"You say it now, but I have my experience! Once you step on the slippery slope, there is no way back up! You'll slowly slide all the way down! And the Gotei 13 doesn't need another lazy slacker of a captain!"
"Now you're exaggerating," Hitsugaya pointed out.
"I'm not!" she protested. "As I said, I have my experience."
"I know what your previous captain was like, but sure you realize I'm not him," Toshiro argued with her.
"One can never be careful enough," she stated.
"True," he agreed. "And now, if you could please let me work on my paperwork in peace, I might complete it sooner."
"Yes, taichou," she nodded and walked closer to him.
"Was there something else you needed?" he asked.
"No," she shook her head. "I just wanted to check your work."
"That's very nice of you," he replied, "but I assure you I'm fully capable of doing my paperwork myself."
"Are you now?" she raised an eyebrow. "Then what is this?" She picked up one of the completed reports and showed it into his face.
"That's the report of the training progress of the new recruits," he answered not understanding what she had it mind.
"I can see that myself," she replied. "I asked what was this," she pointed at a seemingly random spot on the paper.
"What?" he didn't understand.
"This," she repeated. "You call that an official report? It's barely legible!"
"It is perfectly legible," he argued. It wasn't his best calligraphic achievement, but he couldn't imagine how anybody would have trouble reading it.
"Oh, it's still legible, but it's first step on the slippery slope of bad handwriting! If you don't stop it now, you'd soon degenerate into chicken scratch! And from there would be just a step to drinking and womanizing..."
"Now you're being ridiculous."
"I'm not! I have..."
"Experience," he completed. "I know. How many times do I have to repeat I'm not your previous captain before you finally get it?"
"I know you're not my old captain," she replied, "and I'd be damned before I'd let you become like him."
"There's no chance of it happening. For once, I don't drink."
"Yet," she deadpanned. "But you're already being less-than-perfect in filling the documents. And I can't stand to see it. Any bad habits you'd pick in your young age will multiply tenfold once you'll grow up."
"I'm not a kid," he scowled, but she shot him a glance that warned him from any future interruptions.
"I'm going to do my best to raise you into a proper captain," she stated and glared at him, telling him wordlessly that he'd rather not object, if he knew what was good for him. "And to do so, I'll have to instill the habit of doing your paperwork properly. So please, captain, redo this report, and this time as it should be. Not only is the handwriting unruly, but the stamp is two millimeters off the mark."
"I don't see why it is such a problem."
"It is a problem." She leant closer and the light reflected in her glasses, making her look extremely terrifying. "So redo the report now."
"No way, Ise-fukutaichou." He didn't even know where he found the courage to protest. "You're being utterly ridiculous." She smacked him on the head with her book so hard he saw stars.
"Redo it now," she spoke in a dangerous quiet tone.
"Yes," he agreed. Even his courage had its limits.
"And when you finish, redo this one as well. The ink is a bit smudged there. And this. You really shouldn't cross something out on an official document. And that one..."
Hitsugaya lay in his bed, closing his eyes. Today had been a good day. All the paperwork had been finished two days in advance, the drills with the squad had gone smoothly and he had a lot of time for his personal training left, and all of that was thanks to his almost-perfect lieutenant. Now it was evening and he was tired, wanting only to sleep and get his well-deserved rest. He snuggled comfortably into his pillow, waiting for sleep to take him.
Just as he had finally drifted off, a terrible sound jolted him back to awareness. He bolted upright, grabbing the hilt of Hyourinmaru, looking around for the attacking Hollow. It took him a second to realize that there was no foul reiatsu around. Just when he was about to dismiss it as a part of his dream, the screech sounded again. He grimaced in pain. The sound was piercing through his ears, flying straight into his brain and running around inside his scull, making his teeth vibrate and his eyes water with pain. He had heard the screeches of souls being devoured by Hollows, Hollows being purified, damned souls being dragged to Hell, but he had never heard something so horrible.
He tried to determine where the cacophony originated from, but it was very difficult. It seemed to be coming from all directions at once. But maybe if he concentrated harder... He almost had it when the sound returned with double the volume and all his concentration went out of the window. He could only smack his palms on his ears and bite his lip to prevent from crying out loud. But as the sound was dying down, he thought that among all the echoes he was able to tell where did it come from. The source seemed to be in the next room. He stood up, Hyourinmaru in hand, and started to deal with the problem.
It was a tedious walk. The sound was affecting his sense of balance and he fell four times before he finally made it to the door of the next room. He paused for a moment to compose himself and then slid the door open. And promptly fell to his knees as the sound attacked him directly, without being muffled by any walls.
"..ptain? Captain? Can you hear me, captain?" The voice was slowly gaining his attention.
"Hisagi-fukutaichou?" he spoke through clenched teeth. His head was still reeling from the last hit with the sound of doom.
"Hitsugaya-taichou!" the tattooed man exclaimed in relief. "Are you alright? You collapsed so suddenly. Should I call the Fourth?"
"No," Hitsugaya refused. "Now, what was that terrible sound?"
"What terrible sound?" Hisagi asked. If Hitsugaya wasn't so preoccupied with his hurting ears, he might have noticed a slightly guilty expression on his face.
"The one that sounds like a thousand of tormented Hollows! It was coming from your room."
"But there was no such sound," the spiky-haired lieutenant replied in confusion. "I was only playing the guitar."
"The guitar?" Hitsugaya asked.
"Yes," Hisagi pointed to the instrument lying on his futon.
"What I heard didn't sound like a guitar."
"No?" Hisagi asked in confusion. "But the guitar was the only sound here. Look." He swiftly walked towards the instrument and ran his fingers across the strings. The air was once again filled by the screech of thousands of damned souls screaming in Hell. Hitsugaya shrieked and collapsed again.
"Huh," Hisagi blinked. "What's wrong with him?"
"I'm bored! Come play with me, Snowball-chan!" Yachiru exclaimed jumping onto his back.
"Not now," he refused and than grimaced as she pulled on his hair. "I have somewhere I have to be."
"Yay!" she grinned. "Turn left!"
"I'm going straight ahead," he informed her.
"Turn left," Yachiru growled menacingly.
"You don't even know where I'm going," Toshiro reminded her.
She yanked his hair hard.
"Ow!" he cried. "Stop it!"
The people on the street pointed at them and stopped to watch the show. He suppressed a groan. He hated it when she did this. He put so much effort into being treated like an adult and she always ruined his painstakingly built image so easily. People called them the Mini-duo or the Kindergarten. And the worst thing was that Yachiru liked it. But he didn't. He absolutely loathed it. He scowled murderously at the trio of shinigami pointing at them and snickering.
"Is something wrong, kiddies?" one of them asked. Hitsugaya swatted Yachiru's hand from his face.
"Your attitude," he answered.
"Yes!" Yachiru shouted. "Icicle-chan hates when you call him a kid. I don't get why, because he is."
"Quiet, Yachiru!" he ordered. The pink-haired girl didn't obey.
"Seriously, loosen up," she advised. The three men started laughing. Hitsugaya twitched and reached for Hyourinmaru's hilt.
"Yes!" Yachiru shouted ecstatically. "Beat them up, Snowie! Kill tem! Slash them into pieces! Choke them with their guts!" She jumped up and down on his shoulder. Cheering on a battle was one thing she was really good in. Too bad she wasn't as good at actually doing battle. No matter what he did, he had yet to get her to fight. It was completely beyond him how she had ever made fukutaichou.
The three men were now looking a bit nervous. It was hard not to be when the temperature suddenly dropped thirty degrees and proceeded to fall. Before anything else could happen, captain Ukitake appeared around the corner.
"Hello, Shiro-chan, Yachiru-chan!" he greeted cheerfully.
"Why do you call her by her name and not me?" Hitsugaya scowled. Ukitake didn't answer. Instead he reached into his sleeve. Hitsugaya sighed and braced himself for what was sure to come.
"I brought you candy!" Ukitake announced and proceeded to shower them with bags upon bags of sweet treats. Hitsugaya sighed. 'There goes the rest of my dignity,' he thought.
"Candy!" Yachiru squealed, tore apart the first bag and proceeded to stuff herself. Hitsugaya had to admit there was at least one thing she was good for: he never had any trouble getting rid of the infernal candy.
The battle was over. The defeated Arrancar lay in a pool of his own blood, his body slowly dissolving into spirit particles. A petite woman in a miniskirt and high heels knelt next to him and took samples of everything she could before it disappeared. Hitsugaya watched her work in silence for a moment.
"What are you doing, Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou?"
"Gathering samples, Hitsugaya-taichou. It's important to bottle them in time."
"Eh, in case you haven't noticed it, I'm wounded here." To emphasize his words, he pointed at the deep heavily bleeding gash at his side and his badly mangled left arm. The Arrancar had been really tough.
"Judging from the severity of your wounds, your reiatsu level and usual recovery rate, you can last for another seven minutes before your condition becomes critical. This specimen will completely dissolve within the next twenty seconds," she replied never interrupting her work.
"Why is it so important?"
"I need all the samples I can get to properly analyze the Arrancar's abilities."
"Why bother?" he questioned. "This one is already dead."
"It might help us against other Arrancar," she answered. "We might be able to recreate some of their abilities."
"And if you won't help me now, I might bleed out here."
"You still have six minutes left," she informed him in her emotionless voice. "And research is more important than anything else."
The Arrancar's body finally dissolved. Nemu stood up, carefully stashed away all her sample vials and walked over to her wounded captain. She took a close look at his injuries before voicing her diagnosis.
"You have a ruptured artery. I can infuse it with special cells that can make it regenerate whenever cut. I can give you a serum that would make your blood cells divide whenever wounded. Your left ulna is completely shattered. I can replace it with an artificial one to make it more durable. I think I should also give you that potion that will make your muscles stronger so this doesn't happen the next time. In fact, I think I should improve all of your body, starting with the bones and muscles..."
Hitsugaya felt progressively sicker and sicker as she spoke and he was sure it wasn't due to his injuries.
"I think I'll just wait for the Fourth division," he said.
"But, sir, they won't get here for another six minutes," she pointed out. "You have only five left now."
"I'll take the chance."
"I finished first!" shouted Kiyone triumphantly and punched the air.
"That's not fair, mine pile was bigger," Sentarou replied. Hitsugaya groaned inwardly. Why, oh, why did his two Third Seats have to take everything as a competition? It made them work their hardest, but it inevitably resulted in drawn-out pointless shouting matches over anything and everything. Like just now.
"But mine was harder!" Kiyone boasted. "You had all the easy stuff, scruffy-beard."
"That's not true!" Sentarou protested.
"It is, monkey-face!" the girl scowled threateningly.
"It isn't, shrimp!"
Hitsugaya twitched. Not that word again. It wasn't aimed at him, but it annoyed him nevertheless.
"Snap out of it you two!" he shouted. His two Third Seats immediately straightened.
"Sorry, taichou!" Sentarou shouted. "I got carried away. Punish me!"
"Punish me more!" Kiyone yelled not to be outdone by her colleague in anything. "Freeze me to the floor!"
"No, punish me more!" Sentarou demanded. "Turn me into an icicle!" Hitsugaya suppressed the urge to bang his head on his desk. Did the pair even realize how ridiculous they were? He seriously doubted it.
"Enough!" he commanded. "Just bring me the paperwork already!"
"Right on, taichou!" they shouted in unison and dived for the piles of documents. Naturally they bumped into them and papers scattered all over the floor, except the one they tore in halves. Oh, and they also overturned an inkpot and its contents were currently soaking into the results of their hard work. It was hardly the first time such a thing had happened; such were the downsides to their constant competing. At least they didn't break the desk or tear through the wall, like the last time.
"Sorry, taichou!" Kiyone wailed. "I'll pick them up!"
"No, I'll pick them up!" Another screaming match was on.
Hitsugaya banged his head on the table.
Hitsugaya awoke with a start. He was still sitting behind his desk in his office, there was still a huge pile of unfinished paperwork in front of him, only now sunlight was streaming through the window, a half empty sake bottle stood on Matsumoto's desk and the fukutaichou herself was standing above him, trying to fasten a pink ribbon into his hair and giggling drunkenly. Seeing this, he did the only thing that came into his mind in this situation. He grabbed Matsumoto and hugged her like there was no tomorrow.
"Taichou!" the woman singsonged. "I didn't know you were so interested in my girls. Are you perhaps finally growing up?"
The words brought the young captain back to reality. In his elation over the fact that Matsumoto was still his lieutenant and not one of the others, he didn't realize he had plunged headfirst into her gigantic breasts. Not to mention, hugging his vice-captain was something he just didn't do. He hurriedly let her go and moved back.
"No need to be so shy, taichou," Matsumoto smiled and winked conspiratorially. "You're a growing boy and growing boys have their urges. It's only natural."
"Matsumoto," he growled. His earlier relief was completely gone, replaced with mild irritation and utter embarrassment. The tipsy woman completely ignored it.
"You know, if you wanted a better look at them you could have just told me," she purred, fingering the fabric of her shihakusho. It threatened to fall open and spill its contents any moment.
"Matsumoto," he spoke more forcefully. "I don't want a look at your breasts. Please cover yourself. And don't you have some work to do? There is still a lot of paperwork to be finished today."
"Aw, don't be so uptight, taichou," she pouted. "Why do you always have to work?"
"Because you never do," he grumbled, but if she had heard him, she showed no outward sign of it.
"Here," she pointed at her sake bottle, "Have a drink, it will loosen you up."
He got up, walked over Matsumoto's table, picked up the bottle and threw it into the trash bin.
"I don't need to loosen up, I need to finish paperwork," he informed her, but then he realized that he was talking to thin air. Only the morning breeze was blowing through the open window. Matsumoto had once again escaped.
So what if she wasn't the worst lieutenant ever, she certainly came close.
OMAKE: I originally wrote this for Renji, before I realized I remembered the scene wrong and Renji was out of character. But it was still funny so I present it here as a little bonus.
"Are you finished with your paperwork, Abarai-fukutaichou?"
"Mostly," the red-headed man replied. He took another document from the nearly depleted to-do pile and began scribbling on it hastily. Hitsugaya watched him for a minute.
"Abarai-fukutaichou, what is this?" he asked with a scowl.
"Oh that? This is the report on Konsou performed in..."
"Oh, is it?" Hitsugaya interrupted him. "I really can't tell. And do you know why?" Renji shook his head in confusion. "Because it's chicken scratch! Completely illegible chicken scratch!"
"It's not that bad," the pineapple-head defended weakly.
"I can read it perfectly fine."
"Can you?" Hitsugaya raised an eyebrow. "Because to me it seems like you just wrote the number of Konsou performed on the report on Hell Butterflies breeding."
"Oh," Renji squinted on the document. "But it looks like Konsou."
"No, it doesn't. The kanji look nothing alike. How can you confuse them? Don't tell me that not only you can't write, you can't read as well?"
"I can read perfectly fine!"
"Oh, then pray tell me, what is this?" He pointed on a particular symbol.
"Oh, this is, this is... uh... hn... a cockroach?"
"No. Try again."
"No, it's a dragonfly," Hitsugaya replied shaking his head. "If you can't read even this..."
"Oh, come on, taichou. cockroach, dragonfly, it's close enough. Whoever is interested in some dragon...whatever. I can read perfectly fine where it counts."
"Really? So what is this kanji?"
"It doesn't seem to me like you can read very well, but then, what did I expect from a former Eleventh Division member."
"Hey! Don't insult the Eleventh! It's the best!"
"Maybe in brawling," Hitsugaya scoffed.
"Damn well we're best at fighting!" Renji shouted, drawing his zanpakuto and overthrowing his desk, forcing Hitsugaya to defend. In the resulting fight, Renji stood no chance, but the office was completely trashed before he fell.