"With this," Hitsugaya soldiered, the timbre of his young voice corded and commanding, "- my squad hopes to eliminate the erroneous endeavors that have so plagued the recent annals of my Squad. I propose then, to the Captain, that my recommendations be considered in due time and course. Thank you, sir."

"Toushiro-san…," the old voice rang from the dark bowel of the sunless room. "You really do have a stick up your ass, don't you?"

Silence is the mate of eternity; it was usually quiet in the Seireitei, disconcertingly so. But one could hear the throbbing of veins in Hitsugaya Toushiro's forehead. He swallowed, perhaps considering if he had heard the ancient elder wrong. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me. A stick. Up your ass. You're a pretty stiff fellow, and let me tell you that you're just asking for wrinkles, keeping your face all screwed up like that… I ought to know." With this bold statement, Captain Yamamoto hunkered up from his ivory seat and began to hobble down the center of the mat-lined receiving room. Hitsugaya didn't so much as blink.

"What imposter faces me here!-"

"Oh, relax- this is just a guy to guy thing, okay?" the old man broke in, his beard lifting in an entirely disconcerting way as he shrugged into a smile. "Two of your comrades came to me because they're getting worried about you…"

"Would these 'comrades' happen to be a giggling pair of women, one with no chest and the other with enough to supply the entire Asian female populace…?"

"No… well, maybe. That's not the point. Listen, it'd do you some good to get away from the madness of being a captain. You never stop working! As your commander, young man, I am ordering you to loosen up and pull the stick out- and I'm setting a group of your fellow commanders out especially to ensure that you do!"

The protests leapt up in Hitsugaya's throat: "Sir, this is errant nonsense- isn't diligence expected of a Captain!" The boy was cut off as the massive, oak doors to the room creaked open with a sinister, old cry. The pad of sandaled feet approached as if from afar, and finally the single window of the long hall cast light upon the ambling forms of Ukitake and Kyoraku. The latter tipped his hat genially first at his elder, and then at Hitsugaya. "Afternoon, Shiro-chan."

"My name is Hitsugaya Toushiro," snarled the pale-haired captain as he crossed his thin arms determinedly. "You will have the mutual respect not to call me by-"

"Wow, he is pretty high-strung." Ukitake whistled. "D'you get him to come along?"

"I'm working on it!" Yamamoto replied peevishly; his slitted eyes found the young boy again. "Like I said, Toushiro-san, you will pull the stick out and let loose: you are going to an evening's entertainment with Ukitake, Kyoraku and I- in strictest confidence of one another."

The suspicion in his flushed face was, of course, hilarious. "And to what," he stammered, "do I owe this great honor of accompanying Captain Yamamoto and his most famed puils?..."

"Shoot- honor, nothing!" Kyoraku giggled; it being around five o'clock in the afternoon, his carriage was of course already well-lubed by sake. "Yama-sama there needs you to trick the guy into opening the door, so we can sneak into Heaven!"

"… I'm sorry?"

"The Captain and the three of us are to attend a private concert of female entertainment," Ukitake clarified, shoving Kyoraku's hat over his face and sending the drunk into a confused spiral. "Unfortunately, the doorman has some spiritual powers, so we cannot simply walk in and remain unseen by the humans. We need you, Captain Hitsugaya, to collaborate with us on an infiltration."

"Wait, wait-" the white-haired teen balked, sprawling a hand at the conflagration of men. "You want me to-"

"Help us sneak into a building,…" Kyoraku hiccupped helpfully.

"A gentlemen's club." Toushiro cut him off.

"Well… yes."

"Building, building, building…" Kyoraku sang. "…" More silence, save for his wheedling, loose-lipped snickers.

"Let me get this straight…" Hitsugaya deadpanned at long last. "You want me to distract the bouncer long enough so that you three perverts can sneak into a, a house of ill repute. In the human world."

"You can come too," Yamamoto huffed from behind his copious facial hair. "It's not like we were going to ditch you or something." Ukitake choked here, which caused Kyoraku to roar with laughter.

"Come on, Hitsugaya- it's just men being men-" the Captain roared over his student's voice, as he leaned forward and began to stab the man over the head with his gnarled walking stick. "You're so cute, the girls will attack you and we can all slip in-"

"Forget it!" Toushiro shrieked, whirling to face the men in turn. "I get enough cleavage shoved in my face every day without-"



"This is inane," Toushiro grumbled, his white hair sparkling under the neon strobe lights.

"Hic- ah, maybe. But if this what it takes to be a captain, well… Hic!"

"I hate you all," he whispered above the music, sinking into his chair.

"No, you just haven't hit puberty yet… Ey, Shiro-chan, pass me a couple a' dollar bills, will ya?"