Disclaimer: Nope, I don't own Bleach.

A/N: Okay, so.. I started this over two years ago, and while it has been fun to write I'm mainly just relieved it's finished now. xD; I've tried to keep this fic as close to canon as possible though a couple of liberties may have been taken. ..Then again, this whole fic is meant to be entertaining - please don't take it too seriously. ^_^; The rating is for language and violence (well, these are the Espada we're talking about here xD), but please say if you think it needs to be changed. But I won't keep blithering. On to the story..!

Taste Testing

Fracción. Most Espada had at least one – Szayel Aporro had a dozen. Each Fracción he possessed was carefully picked out, then modified and tweaked to suit his own needs. Their primary function was to heal any wounds their master acquired. Instant rejuvenation through ingestion – Szayel's Fracción were unique, to say the least. A work of genius, close to achieving perfection.

Close. Not perfect. There was one factor which stopped the term of 'perfection' from being applied. Their taste. Of course, he didn't have to eat his Fracción very often, but necessity had dictated it enough times so that a single realisation had fast become apparent. He was sick of eating something which tasted like rubber. Every single one... bland, prompting none of the joyous sensations which he so deserved.

There was an obvious solution to this problem, and Szayel was quick to put his plan to action. Why, all he had to do was to modify each and every one of his Fracción so that they'd taste differently! They would all be numerous flavours; tastes to savour, relish, to set his tongue alight with their vitality! Only the best would do, of course. The best in quality – this is the only standard that would please him.

He had a wide variety of choices to select from, but the tastes that he had immediately gone for were those which he already had sampled beforehand and liked. However, there was so much more that was unknown to him, so much more to try. He had exacting standards (befitting of his fabulous personality), but he was certain that there were a plethora of tastes out there which would bedazzle his senses. All possibilities had to be examined thoroughly before they were discarded.

It had taken a lengthy amount of time, but he had finally obtained the numerous options which were laid out on the surface before him. Taste was the only factor which he would be analysing, so each possibility had been intentionally shaped into a small cube of apparent monotony. The selection of cubes currently before him were due to be sampled in his aim to discover new preferences. A wide range of food (and beverages), ordered only by when he managed to procure them.

Szayel stood over the batch of cubes, a wide grin lighting up his face. He clapped his gloved hands together as a sense of accomplishment welled up in him, accompanied by a tinge of smugness. Well, why shouldn't he be? He was a genius, the only one in Las Noches capable of such superior scientific successes (besides Aizen-sama, but that was a given).

"Excellent, excellent." He ran a hand slowly through pink locks, almost caressing them. Now, which one to sample first...? In a logical order – from right to left, row to row? Yes, he could work through them like that. First up...

"Lemon." He murmured, reading the label that it sat on. Ah, yes. A yellow coloured fruit, citrus limonium juice was approximately 5% or .030 moles/Litre citric acid, which would give it a pH of 2 or 3. He predicted that this would give it a tart taste, and of course, one had to investigate one's reasoning; prove it to be correct. This would be interesting...

Szayel picked the lemon cube up, eyeing the small box for a moment before popping it in his mouth. He sucked it, ready to analyse the taste, then... It hit him, shocked his whole mouth. He involuntarily sucked his cheeks in as the sensation overwhelmed him. Whoa-hoh, the acid! Like electricity hitting water, it instantly sent a shockwave across his tongue. The crackling, the zing! Acidity like you wouldn't believe, so sharp the overwhelming static and suck in twist reflexive reaction must swallow now...! Szayel did so, gulped the cube down, ah... a bit better. The strong flavour was still there, the tart taste imprinted onto his mouth (taste buds) like an aftershock.

"Sour...!" This one word described it perfectly and yet was a complete understatement. The tart flavour had caused Szayel's face to contort into a slightly amusing expression, but as this lemony aftershock died away he gradually relaxed. His normal face didn't last long, though. His expression twisted again as he pondered his experience, this time into a grin. He had almost... liked it. It was the way that it was sour, that it gave him the sensation of being lost in involuntary throes caused by electricity... the way that it gave him something at its height; its most intense moments. It was an inexplicable feeling... but it was good. Definitely something to investigate further...

The grin didn't dim until he'd finished his notes and turned his attention to the next cube. Szayel picked up a nearby bottle and sprayed the substance contained within it into his mouth. A previous development of his – it wiped the last of the taste of lemon from him (after all, he needed to examine every option without bias). Took away bad breath, too.

His full attention now shifted to the cube in front of him. It was small, blue, boring; not unlike the cubes surrounding it. A glance at the label revealed it as potato. Potato: Solanum tuberosum. A small and starchy brown root vegetable. Taste testing imminent...

Szayel plopped the cube into his mouth, waited. Hmm, a flavour was there, but not nearly as strong. Heavy; this taste carried considerable weight. He swallowed, took notes. Tolerable, but on the dim side; dull. No, no – that wouldn't do at all...

Soon he was looking at the label for cube number three. Chocolate. Subcategory: Milk chocolate. Contained alkaloids (examples being theobromine and phenethylamine) and linked to seratonin levels in the brain. Szayel put the cube into his mouth and widened his eyes slightly.

"Oh..." It was melting in his mouth, the taste forming... The sumptuous flavour enveloped him, caressed him. He was savouring it, loving it... this was pleasure! Silken pleasure, warm and soothing and oh so good... "Mmm..." Szayel made a noise of appreciation – it was still melting and appealing in all the right ways. "Oh, yes... Yes, yes, yes...!" His eyes had rolled upwards as he relished this feeling, relished all that this taste had to give him...

If any of his fellow Espada had been listening outside the laboratory door then, they might have had many questions and disturbing theories as to what was currently happening inside the room. However, it was as relatively innocent as the Octava Espada got... not that they would have understood. The Espada were largely clueless about human foods and beverages. Luckily the only Arrancar who had a chance of being in earshot were used to strange sounds coming from the lab – Szayel Aporro was a scientist, and any scientist had a penchant for experimenting, after all. Szayel's experiments in particular could always have been considered... unusual.

It was discoveries like this that made it all worthwhile. Just think, if he hadn't decided to embark on this investigation, he would have never found the taste of chocolate! Humans were pathetic creatures, but even simplicity (rarely) got things right. He had swallowed the cube that had enclosed such a delightful flavour, but similar to the lemon, the taste had not yet died completely. Szayel giggled as he recorded his findings, the sound ringing out in the quiet hum of the laboratory for some time. At last, it was time to fully cleanse his mouth from the taste again, ready to test the next cube. It was with a hint of reluctance that he did so, but that taste sensation was something that Szayel vowed he would experience again in the future.

"Option number four..." Szayel picked up the cube and read the label that had been underneath it, "Chilli pepper. Specifically, the Naga Jolokia pepper." Contained capsaicin, which gave it an irritant quality – measured highly on a 'Scoville scale', used to determine piquancy of chilli peppers. That meant that the taste would be hot, but nothing he couldn't stand, right? Only one way to find out...

Open mouth, place cube, close mouth, wait- Szayel's eyes widened as the taste began ravaging his tongue. He choked – burning, he was burning, so intensely! Burning up, the fire was scorching him no no no too hot...! He was reddening, his eyes streaming with water that should have been dousing the flames. "G.." It was a struggle, but he forced himself to swallow. "GRAH!" His exclamation came out as a wheeze, he was wheezing - choking - streaming - burning - too. Goddamn. HOT! A hand flew to his collar, yanking it madly, but it was a vain effort. Water. He needed water! Yes, H²O, water to extinguish his poor mouth which was roaring with the intense flames, the intense heat.. hot hot unnatural danger...! Spray. He needed the spray to eliminate this fierce flavour!

Szayel reached out, his hand darting about until it gripped a spray-like bottle. In a swift motion he had moved it to his mouth and squirted. He slowly drooped, heaving a long sigh of relief. Ah... That was considerably better. He was somewhat surprised that his mouth wasn't steaming. It did feel dry, however (understatement; his tongue was currently comparable to sandpaper). Rough and parched. There was a long pause before the Octava Espada scribbled down his notes. Finishing them off with a scowl, he proceeded to make himself presentable once more. A gentle dab of cloth on his cheeks, collar adjustment, straighten the posture. Brushing a hand through his hair with a flourish, Szayel carried on with his experiment. The best scientists (aka. him) were never ruffled by anything. It had been a mere triviality. Move on to the next option...

"Milk. Contains significant amounts of saturated fat, protein, calcium and vitamin C." Well, his prediction was that it did not possess a particularly strong taste. So long as it bore no similarity to the fiery specimen experienced before... It could be as mild as it liked.

"Let us discover what flavour you have to offer me." Szayel told the cube softly, then placed it in his mouth and waited.

Szayel Aporro's experiment lasted a considerable amount of time; a duration of hours at the very least. However, there finally came the moment when the Octava Espada finished sampling every cube. He completed his notes on 'pear', then stood, regarding the empty table. He smiled and spoke, the immodest words that carried across the room addressed to no one in particular.

"Well, what do you know... I'm done!" His investigation had been a largely successful one and his conclusion was clear and satisfactorily in his head. The necessary adjustments would not be a problem to make, but they would nevertheless be high on his list of priorities.

When one problem was solved, however, another one always appeared and demanded one's focus. Szayel turned and ambled over to a door, no different in its plain white colour and sheen than every other one in the area. It was opened silently, and Szayel casually leaned his left side against the doorjamb. He tilted his head to the side, one hand against his cheek, and scanned the contents of the room within.

Food and drink. The room was piled with the stuff, everything from jelly to vinegar, marmite to olive oil. Oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries... A sack of potatoes and a bag of garden peas... Broken up chocolate bars... The list went on. The food (ranging from fresh to rotten) was systematically ordered, yet still managed to resemble a dumping ground or a bomb site. An explosion of colour; it almost overloaded the senses.

"What to do with all of this?" The query summed his issue up nicely. Indeed... what should he do with all these consumables? Since he (and Aizen-sama) had gone to some lengths to procure every last item that sat in this room, it would be a shame to waste them. Unthinkable; not an option. Szayel supposed that he could ingest the lot himself, but approximately 60% of the items were not to his taste. Much of this 60% were such to his distaste that he would rather creatively terminate his existence with Yammy's leg than consume them again.

Yammy... Espada...

Ah-hah! An imaginary light bulb may as well have shone over Szayel's head. In that moment it had come to him; a plan, perfectly formed. The solution to the problem. Yes! He knew exactly what he could do with all of this. He could make it into another experiment – an opportunity to observe his fellow Espada. He would also be granting them a chance to indulge in human food and drink, so they could hardly complain...

Szayel smiled, his countenance fast becoming calculating. Aizen-sama had always implied that he wanted the inhabitants of Las Noches to maintain some semblance of respect for each other. The Octava Espada's plan would adhere to this unspoken wish, for what was that old saying? 'Sharing is caring?'

Szayel Aporro laughed as he closed the door and made his way out of his laboratory. Why, he must be very caring indeed...

Aizen Sousuke and Ichimaru Gin's conversation trailed off as they sensed that a third party had arrived. An Espada, but it was more the Espada's identity that was surprising.

"Why, I do believe ya have a visitor." Gin casually put the overt into words, his usual slit-eyed, smiling expression not shifting.

"Indeed," Aizen murmured, then addressed the newcomer in a louder, carrying voice. "Szayel Aporro, what a pleasant surprise."

Szayel entered the room, dropping into a bow before speaking, "Aizen-sama."

Aizen's deceptively gentle features were unchanging bar for a slight raise of the eyebrows which emphasised his next words. "It is nice to see you outside your usual domain, though to what do we owe the pleasure?"

The Octava Espada smirked as he thought of his upcoming plan. "Actually, Aizen-sama, I have a favour to ask of you..."

The large doors creaked open, revealing the Espada, who...

Stood there, staring at the sight before them.

A veritable banquet lay on the long table – which was so covered in food, drinks and condiments that the initial impression was that said items were floating; a mass identity of their own. The range of goods were a feast to one's senses – juicy fruits and gleaming beverages appealed and tempted, the odd rotten morsel was morbidly repulsive, and a mixture of smells wafted around the room, ranging from delicious to downright pungent. The majority of the consumables sat on plates, displaying them fully to intense scrutiny – others were bottled up, ready to be poured out or drank from if one so desired. It could all be called a colourful overload.

As one, the Espada ripped their gazes away from the table to the assumed culprit, one of their 'colleagues'. The Octava Espada, Szayel Aporro Granz, stood some distance away at the head of the table. The sole beam of light in the overall gloomy room spotlit him nicely and had his glasses actually contained lenses they would have been shining, the sheen obscuring his eyes in a rather eerie fashion. Cosmetics aside however, he made for a portentous image as he smiled sinisterly, his anticipated guests spotted.

"Welcome, fellow Espada... won't you sit down?"

None of them moved, their attention on Szayel remaining absolute. Finally, Baraggan spoke for the newly arrived group.

"What's this?" He grunted, eyeing both Szayel and the banquet warily. The Octava Espada laughed, the sound echoing throughout the room in an otherwise prolonged moment of silence.

"Doesn't what is on the table answer everything? However, if you still find that queries are arising... I shall answer you. This is a variety of food and drink; consumables, an assortment of items for everyone's ingestion and taste!" Szayel's hands outstretched and opened as he gestured at said table for emphasis.

Nnoitra's eye narrowed at Szayel's response. "Not what he meant, dumbass. We can tell what's on the damned table. What we want to know is why this is all on the table – what the hell's going on!"

"Yes, I was under the impression that I had been summoned for an important meeting." Zommari said impassively. His words were met with murmurs and nods of agreement.

Szayel shook his head with mock sadness. He was well aware that, for the moment, he was pulling the strings and held all the answers here. It was a fact and situation that he was rather enjoying. It had never been more apparent that he was one of the most clever people here in Las Noches – honestly, his fellow Espada were so clueless! It was lovely to head and control an experiment, to watch his plots play out and come to fruition on such poor little playthings. "Well, you have been summoned for what you could call a meeting. I know this particular event as 'dining', but name it whatever you like."

The other Espada exchanged looks, fast losing patience with the whole situation and lack of answers.

Starrk made a sound similar to a groan, turning and already walking out as he spoke. "Ugh. Forget this, I'm going back to sleep..."

"Oh, I wouldn't do that, if I were you." Szayel's disturbingly cheery tone stopped him in his tracks. The Primera Espada levelled a dark look in his direction.

"Why is that?"

"Aizen-sama will be arriving soon, and I'd imagine that he would be displeased if you went and ignored his summons."

Szayel's words sent a ripple throughout the group. Well, if it was Aizen-sama's wish for them all to dine with him, then that was a different story. The clincher, really. There was sudden mass movement as everyone made their way to their usual seats (some with more reluctance than others). Szayel's smile had faded somewhat but not disappeared as he took his place between Baraggan and Zommari. I knew everyone would see it my way. Excitement coursed through him; anticipation for the dining event to come. This would be the best opportunity he would ever have to observe the subjects (the other Espada were the main focus of this experiment, so he currently thought of them as such) sampling both the joys and horrors of human cuisine. Of course, it was the latter that would be interesting...

"Still don't see what this is all about..." Nnoitra grumbled as he, like everyone else, stared at the feast before them. "Aizen has never invited us to dine on tons of twisted looking food, especially at meetings like this; why the heck would he start now?"

"I suggested it to him, and he approved of the idea." Szayel explained, remembering to keep his language simple and his sentences short for maximum comprehension. Of course Aizen-sama had liked the idea; it was perfect (as it only could be given the person who thought of it). Thankfully Aizen would be arriving shortly, then the Octava Espada could begin his observation. I wonder if Nnoitra would enjoy those chillies...? Oh, he just couldn't wait for the fun to really begin...

This revelation had made an impression on most of the Espada, and you could practically hear the suspicion in the room shoot up. The amount of wary glances towards Szayel and the food and drink had certainly increased threefold. Szayel supposed that he had better augment everyone's intelligence count – they knew him a bit better than he had believed.

Nevertheless, he should alleviate their concerns (put them off their guards a bit). He smiled, an action which came easily to him given his current mood. "Relax... there is nothing here that kills or has been tampered with. Aizen-sama will be joining us also, and it is insulting that you think that I would attempt to maim or kill him through simple ingestion. Besides, these are things that mere humans would eat and drink – I imagine that you can all handle anything on this table."

Szayel's smile deepened as his words sank in and he idly trailed one hand down the length of his hair, waiting for the next question. Grimmjow looked at the banquet and muttered something to himself. However, he made no effort to keep his voice down and so everyone heard his words.

"Weird-ass stuff, but I guess we got no choice..." Yes, very observant, Grimmjow. Aizen-sama's word is law, after all. I have utilised this fact to my advantage.

Yammy was perhaps the one Espada who had needed little to no persuading from the start. He eyed the feast in front of him hungrily, a small amount of drool adding to his desperate image. "When can we eat?" He shifted his gaze to Szayel, almost in a bid to gain permission. The news would come as a disappointment.

"As soon as everyone has arrived – it would be bad manners to start without all of us at the table."

"Oh." The word came out as a sigh, a short groan of impatience. All the same, Yammy didn't have to bear waiting for much longer, as the sound of opening doors heralded the arrival of the expected, main attendee.

Attendees, really. However, it wasn't disputed that Aizen Sousuke was the main focus of attention. He was the leader, after all – the top dog, the head honcho... Whatever you called him, he greeted those already seated with his trademark warm smile. His countenance betrayed nothing as he calmly made his way to his own chair and a couple of steps behind him, Ichimaru Gin and Tousen Kaname also took their places (Gin in Aaroniero Arruruerie's empty chair and Tousen standing nearby the seated gathering).

"Well then, shall we tuck in? Itadakimasu."

The meal got off to a slow start due to different people's approaches of eating and drinking. Some dived in immediately, whereas others gradually came to a decision as to what unfamiliar consumable they should try first. Eventually all was underway and for the moment relatively silent as everyone tucked into whatever they fancied. Szayel found himself leaning back in his seat, observing and trying to chasten his eagerness. In one respect he was succeeding, for only a hint of the excitement he felt graced his features – however, 'chaste' had never been a word which could properly describe him so on the inside his fervour was severely threatening to overflow.

Szayel began to flick his gaze around the table, his scientific mind carefully filing away what he perceived and concluded for future notation. Unfortunately a clipboard at a dining event could not be considered either normal nor appropriate – a pity, but with his perfect intelligence he could easily dispense with convenience. Besides, he somehow doubted that whatever events due to unfold would not be memorable in some way.

He found himself looking around the table in an anticlockwise motion, so Baraggan was where his eyes first rested on. The older-looking Espada was munching on some misery that was asparagus, 'cantankerous' plastered all over his face. Since this bore an uncanny resemblance to his usual expression, it made it slightly more difficult to tell what his opinion of the asparagus actually was. However, the fact that he hadn't stopped eating it immediately out of sheer disgust gave out the general idea that it was positive.

"I'd recommend the prunes." Szayel Aporro nodded slightly at Baraggan before indicating a nearby plate. Baraggan stared at the dark, shrivelled food which was so blatantly inconspicuous that it gave the impression of staring innocently back.

"Seriously, try them. They are commendable." Szayel said earnestly, a finger casually brushing under his nose going unnoticed. They are commendable, but only for you. Hmm... shrivelled, dark, unpleasant... an almost perfect likeness! His confident prediction was that Baraggan would find the prunes more than agreeable.

There was a moment before Baraggan evidently decided that trying them was safe enough as he slowly reached out then plopped the dry fruit into his mouth. Szayel carefully watched Baraggan's face as his fellow Espada chewed. Finally, he got his answer as Baraggan's expression shifted, brightening ever-so-slightly as the taste fully sank in.

"Hmm." His noise was grudging approval, telling Szayel everything he needed to know. A small smile formed on the Octava Espada's face as he watched Baraggan eat more of the prunes. I knew it. That joyous feeling of being right never ceased to get old.

Szayel's attention shifted to the next person along; Yammy. He had tactfully ordered the plates full of potatoes to be placed near the Décimo Espada, so it was no surprise that Yammy had dived into them first. The obvious fact that he was enjoying said potatoes was not to his astonishment either. Beginning to find the manner in which he stuffed the food into his mouth unpleasant, Szayel turned his gaze away and gave a slight roll of the eyes. Nauseating, but matches my usual low expectations of him.

To Yammy's right was Gin, who was making idle talk with Harribel who was at his direct right. He occasionally sipped at what appeared to be a glass of blackcurrant juice, a fact which Szayel found somewhat puzzling. He was sure that such a drink had not been on offer... Ah, well. The matter would have to be discarded for now. Szayel often found Ichimaru Gin to be like that – full of malign mysteries, never quite able to be solved. There was nothing worse to a scientist than not being able to pursue a questionable matter. It irritated him; was an itch to his mind that could not be scratched. Szayel found it difficult to look at Gin for very long as the grating feeling intensified, the urge to peel away layer upon deplorable layer to discover what was beneath it all... No. Such thoughts were nonsensical. He must continue his observation...

"Lucky Aaroniero's not here, ne, Harribel? Gives us the chance t'have a proper conversation like this. We don't get ta talk enough, y'know." Gin chirped, supposedly (slitted eyes, remember) casting his gaze over the variety of foods on offer.

"Yes... the Noveno Espada was deployed on a mission some hours ago, as I'm sure you realise." Harribel answered dispassionately as she placed a handful of cherries on her plate. Szayel watched, one brow slightly raised, certain that her display of politeness was only due to the fact that Gin was her superior. Of course, his regard for his own life made Szayel positive that he would do the same if he were currently her. Thankfully, he was his genius self as ever, and he could only hope that Gin would not switch his focus to him any time soon. No... such hope was irrational. He should expect himself to be in a similar situation sometime during the course of the meal.

"Not like it would make a difference if he was here or not." Nnoitra snorted, looking up from his plate piled with kidney beans. "Freakin' fishtank that he is... A mystery how he eats..."

Szayel's mouth twitched in amusement – the point Nnoitra made was true, if painfully obvious. Though naturally, he had to remember that not everyone in this room was as mentally gifted and sophisticated as him. He touched a hand to his face briefly before listening to Gin's next words.

"Now now, Nnoitra... Might wanna be nice to yer fellow 'freaks'. As I was sayin', it's lucky that Aaroniero ain't here. Would've been such a wasted opportunity otherwise."

"Yes." Harribel nodded in assent, giving off the impression that she was humouring him. Gin didn't appear to notice.

Szayel turned his attention elsewhere, his eyes stopping on Starrk, who had one elbow resting on the table and his other hand holding a stick of broccoli. He idly twirled it a couple of times, giving it a long stare before finally popping it into his mouth. He munched it monotonously, his outwardly jaded expression unchanging... for a moment. Starrk gagged, spitting out the sad (and now wet) looking broccoli back onto his plate in an almost reflexive reaction. Wiping his mouth with a gloved hand, he looked at the offending food item in disgust. There were some titters and even more amused looks sent in his direction. Aizen put his cup (of tea, no doubt) gently back onto the table and turned his attention to the repulsed Espada in question.

"Chew your food, Starrk." Aizen chastised, appearing both mildly entertained and disapproving.

The aforementioned member of the Espada twitched and nodded. "Of course, Aizen-sama." He half glared at the spat out broccoli in front of him, but nevertheless picked the green mess up and shoved it back into his mouth, forcing himself to swallow. The disgusted expression formed on his face once more.

"Guh.. feels like something just died in my mouth." He muttered, then began to scan the contents of the table, presumably for something to take away the repellent flavour. Szayel resisted the urge to smirk. Oh, that was nothing compared to some of the treasures on offer. Besides, he'd found the broccoli tolerable... but each to their own and all that. Some people merely happened to be cursed with a poor sense of taste (unlike himself).

Next to Starrk sat the Cuatro Espada. Ulquiorra's expression – as ever – was devoid of all emotion as he sampled some seaweed, his cold gaze boring into all it fell upon. It was pointless trying to analyse his countenance; Szayel would have to discern some other way to tell if Ulquiorra approved of the seaweed or wished to cast it to the hell of bad tastes. Again, it was common sense – he didn't seem like he was about to spit it out anytime soon. However, would that theory apply to this subject? Hmm... now that he thought about it... the statue-like Espada seemed to be the type to ingest anything without complaint (whether he liked it or not), betraying nothing of his own emotions while doing so. Almost as if they didn't matter. Perhaps that is why Aizen-sama favours him so much.

Indeed, it was food for thought... Ugh. Szayel winced. Maybe his company were a bad influence, if he was going to start spouting awful jokes. Huh, you think? This sarcastic thought only solidified the possibility, if it wasn't definite before. Right, Szayel Aporro... move on to the next person...

Ah, our great and glorious leader. Indeed, his gaze was now on Aizen-sama, who was calmly eating from the selection of foods on his plate. The consumables seemed to be going down well with him – seemed. Szayel would not presume to truly know what thought processes were occurring in his superior's marvellous mind. He was an intellectual, just like himself. It was his intelligence, and his lack of fear which made Szayel recognise him as their leader. Szayel smiled, casually brushing aside his pink fringe (which flew immediately back into place again). No one more worthy...

The Sexta Espada sat at Aizen's other side, a fact which always made Szayel smirk slightly. Keep the delinquents close at hand. Grimmjow had a green, juicy apple in his grasp and was gradually eating it. He took big bites out of it each time, though he almost choked on a piece of the fruit when he spotted Aizen. To be more specific, when he spotted what Aizen was eating. Amongst the assortment of foods Aizen had on his plate for his consumption were a group of strawberries, glittering and pleasant to the taste (Szayel at least could attest to this). Aizen had picked one of the biggest strawberries up and dropped it into his mouth, now chewing with a relatively satisfied expression on his face.

"Strawberry..." Grimmjow muttered, an odd look appearing on his face. His hand gradually tightened into a fist, crushing the apple he was holding. The mulched remains oozed down his wrist and arm – though this slow, miserable sight went ignored in favour of an apparently more pressing matter. "Kurosaki..." Grimmjow snarled, his face contorting in anger. Szayel could construct what was most likely happening in that brain of his – the cause of his ire was a vivid image throbbing in his mind, so small then growing... getting bigger and bigger and bigger with more detail and memory and anger-

"You said something, Grimmjow?" Aizen prompted, no doubt well aware that he had just cut off some dangerous or critical train of thought. The Sexta Espada blinked then sharply turned his attention to the one who had addressed him. For a moment there was a vaguely disorientated air about him, as though he had recently been lifted from some sort of trance.

"Huh- Wh- I... No." Grimmjow finally answered, then amended his statement. "I mean, no, Aizen-sama. Nothing at all."

A pause before Aizen spoke again. "Very well." He turned his attention back to his own meal, content enough with Grimmjow's reply. The Sexta Espada made a short, unrecognisable sound and shook his head slightly, as if to rid his mind of something. Then he too resumed his meal.

Szayel watched, his face betraying little of his own thoughts. That, along with his inferior brains (compared to the wit and charm of myself) is why he will never be a scientist. It had long been known to him that Grimmjow was a creature of drive and ambition – two admirable traits which soured beside impulse and emotions. The key to success was never to let your emotions rule you; anger was all well and good, but when it was unbridled.. perfection laughed in its face. You became a joke. Worthless – superiority knew how to control.

Grimmjow had poured himself a glass of milk and was draining it, a fact which Szayel happened to find humorous. How very... befitting. Yes, it was common knowledge that cats were partial to milk. The Octava Espada smirked, his gaze flitting to the plate of chocolate nearby. I wonder if that would kill him? His hand hovered over the numerous tempting squares, before he finally decided on a piece of milk chocolate. He gently picked the square up, the care with which he handled it a testament to how tasty he had previously found the substance. The smirk hadn't disappeared as he pondered. The presence of theobromine renders this toxic to animals such as cats... would it have the same effect on a cat-like Espada? I must test this hypothesis... Though if the Sexta Espada did happen to be terminated then he himself might be held responsible – this whole event had been his idea, after all. The brains behind an operation always got blamed if something happened to go wrong. Damn. Maybe at the next meeting he could replace Grimmjow's tea with hot chocolate? An appealing idea...

Szayel halted his musings and looked up, happening to catch the Cuatro Espada's eye. The two stared at each other for an almost prolonged moment before Szayel Aporro's expression shifted, giving Ulquiorra a dazzling, almost mocking smile. Ulquiorra was unaffected, his frigid countenance perhaps even intensifying. Szayel let the gaze bore into him for a bit longer, the blankness threatening to leave him devoid of everything; cold and cowed. ..Hah, threatened. The stare had long lacked any negative effect – only the very worst of the Cuatro Espada's repertoire was worth fearing and the stare currently being directed at him was average. You're losing your touch, Ulquiorra. Whether that thought was true or not Szayel possessed enough common sense to not voice it. Instead he broke the near-staring contest, plopping the square of chocolate at hand into his mouth. Instantly his expression took on one reminiscent of bliss.

"Mmm-hmm...!" Szayel made a noise of appreciation, unaware that Ulquiorra had turned his gaze away and had briefly closed his eyes in a mixture of exasperation and disgust. The Octava Espada let the sumptuous food melt in his mouth, relishing the time in which it did so, then shifted his focus back to analysing. The only Espada which he hadn't observed yet was Zommari, who sat next to him at his left. Zommari was digging into a pumpkin, skin and all. Szayel watched, his face showing some amusement and a small amount of disdain. Zommari seemed to be ignorant of the fact that pumpkins were traditionally not eaten whole – only the pulp inside was ingested. Ah, well. He'd find out soon enough...

The meal went on for some time in relative silence, until Gin spotted his fellow Lieutenant at the far side of the room. Tousen stood, almost blending in with the surrounding lack of light and heavy gloom.

Gin's smile dimmed and he slowly pushed his chair back before addressing Tousen. "Tousen, ya not gonna have anything?" He idly gestured at the long, food-covered table. "Plenty to go around!"

There was a pause before Tousen tonelessly answered him, his voice louder than normal in order to be heard. "I am not hungry."

"Aww, y'sure?" Gin said, his words accompanied by a slight frown.

"I see little point in partaking."

"'Kay. Though ya may as well have somethin' to help ya walk along y'path of justice. Here," Gin blindly grabbed from a plate, "Have a banana! Catch!" The yellow fruit was lobbed in the former kyuubantai-taichou's direction. The banana soared over the long table (all heads looked up and turned to follow its path of flight) and Tousen stepped forwards, catching the fruit with ease.

"There ya go!" Gin grinned. "Plenty more where that came from, ne, Szayel?" He glanced at the pink haired Espada who responded without missing a beat.

"Certainly." A somewhat self-assured smirk followed his words.

A barely perceptible darkening of Tousen's expression indicated that he was not very appreciative of Gin's 'helpful' efforts. Nevertheless, he said nothing as he retreated back further into the darkness, banana in hand. He slowly held the fruit up, the classic yellow shade of its skin barely visible due to the surrounding shadows (not that this mattered much, or even occurred to the ex-taichou's unseeing eyes). Finally said skin was peeled back and the fruit gradually ingested.

Gin's smile deepened and he moved his chair forwards again, satisfied... for now. As he shifted his attention back to the table Szayel hastily looked away, unwilling to turn into the centre of Gin's currently wandering focus.

He didn't, thankfully. That honour was given to Starrk, who had just shovelled a block of butter into his mouth and was chewing with a dull expression on his face.

"Not nice?" Gin asked, his tone just a bit too cheerful for it to be genuinely sympathetic. Starrk grunted but otherwise waited until he'd swallowed before he responded.


"Well, perhaps the salt'll help with that. Over there, not far from Zommari – that weird container. Yeah, that one. Y'should try it. It'll give it a bit of flavour.."

Starrk stared at the salt pot, either not convinced it would help or reluctant to reach over and get it. Oh yes, of course, Szayel figured with some derision. Raising a little out of your seat, leaning over and picking up a small container was obviously too far and strenuous a task to manage.

Gin was nonplussed by the Primera Espada's lack of action, coming up with a handy solution instead.

"Ne, Zommari-san, care t'give Starrk-san the...?" He called, his question trailing off as he noticed his target was too busy choking to pay much attention. Gin frowned at the sight, though it would be foolish to say that it was out of any great concern.

"Why, whatever's the matter?"

It clearly was going to take a few moments to get any sort of reply from him, but no one was in a hurry for one. Indeed, Nnoitra and Grimmjow seemed to be quite amused by his plight, the latter even derisively saying something like "Forgotten how to chew as well, Rureaux?"

Szayel didn't personally care either way – either Zommari would soon desist with the unsavoury spluttering, or he'd imminently expire and provide with a fresh corpse for scientific research purposes (such donations, however weak, were always welcomed). Whatever happened would entirely advantage his wonderful self... He did love it when things worked out like that.

"Th.. Those.. Red...!" Zommari finally managed, his face as crimson as the colour he had named. A shaky finger was directed towards the cause of his discomfort.. Not that Szayel needed to see. It was fairly much obvious, and the Octava Espada smiled as he handed the container of salt over to Starrk (who was surprised, as he had already given up on ever getting it and had instead helped himself to something more strongly-flavoured; curry). Yes, it seems that the Naga Jolokia has claimed its first victim. ..Szayel Aporro himself didn't count, as that implied that he was worthless in some way when clearly such a description was impossible to apply to him.

"Ah.. Yeah. Those chilli. Best to stay away from 'em if ya can't handle 'em." Sage advice, but only patronising when it came too late. Zommari took the words silently, evidently wanting to forget all about the incident as he darkly searched the table for something nicer-looking to consume.

"Nah, Zommari, go ahead and eat it some more. If you can't take the heat we'll happy to sit there and watch you burn."

Yammy chortled at Nnoitra's comment, probably fantasising about the flames... or wondering whether ashes would taste good. "Weaksauce."

"Tch.." Grimmjow scoffed with a shake of his head. "Pathetic.. Probably isn't that bad anyway."

Nnoitra looked over, eye gleaming. Szayel watched the upcoming interaction with mild interest – he sensed something amusing was about to happen here.

"Did you not hear what he said, Grimmjow? 'Best to stay away from 'em... if you can't handle the heat'." A smirk.

"I heard," was Grimmjow's slow reply, followed by a dangerous look. The implied challenge was obviously recognised. "And handle it? It's just some human gunk. I can take it."

"I don't believe you. Go on, prove it. Or are you too.. scared? You are, aren't you! Bet you can't even eat a single one without passing out from fear." Nnoitra declared, grinning at the expression on the other's face.

"Shut up." Grimmjow snarled, and snatched for the plate with the food in question. Szayel rolled his eyes as the Sexta Espada poured dozens of chillies down his mouth and he knew that everyone else was thinking lesser variations of what was running through his own head.

Grimmjow, you are so easy.

But there you have it – it was entertainment for the rest of them. Szayel wasn't about to complain, and now.. Hm. Time, that tricky little construct, was slowing down. Just by a minute amount – probably not even a microsecond, but it was enough. Enough to notice the smallest of beats... A silent countdown. Pseudo-suspense, and it was really killing him.

..Not. Even that fool Yammy didn't need more than one guess to work out what was about to happen, and yes.. Here it came.

It was like watching an eruption. On a small scale, of course, but it was nonetheless (self) destructive. The Sexta Espada lit up like a bonfire, metaphorical smoke pouring out from his ears as he choked and coughed and streamed and the 'human gunk' burned and burned. Szayel stared with rapt fascination (trying to memorise exact details in the name of science.. and future amusement, as well), but soon gave into laughter. Oh, how beautiful. What a show, what a show... Bravo! He couldn't have handled that more pathetically if he had tried himself! It just goes to show you should always be careful with portions.

Grimmjow looked incensed- no, furious.. Or perhaps that was just still the effect of the chilli. Regardless, no one moved to assist in any way – Nnoitra was actually in fits, which wasn't helping Szayel smother his own giggling. While this was funny, he wanted to be calm enough to enjoy this properly.

"My, what a brilliant shade of red you are, Grimmjow. I didn't realise someone could so accurately resemble living combustion. You truly are a shining example to us all." Szayel said mildly, to increased laughter (and eye-rolling).

Grimmjow reddened even more, if that was possible, but he was still incapable of stringing a snappy retort together (not that Szayel would believe he could conjure any sort of witty comeback in normal circumstances, anyway). It didn't help that any intimidating image was ruined by the water streaming down his face and no doubt pooling on the food-laden table.

Gin started to move, apparently having taken pity on him (hah, Szayel thought, now was the time to be worried). While he searched the table Nnoitra was already jeering at Naga Jolokia victim number two.

"Whassamatter? Nothing to say, or are you just gonna sit there and cry? That's even more pathetic than Zommari!"

Grimmjow swiped at his eyes angrily and tried to speak, though all he could manage was a croak before he was almost thwacked on the head by a container.

"Don't worry, s'just water." Gin needn't have bothered to say anything, for the moment the Sexta Espada saw the clear liquid inside he 'brightened', relief etched onto his face as he glugged the contents down.

"If you wanted any 'jugs'," Nnoitra chirped up with his gratuitous lewd comment of the day, "You could've just asked Harribel over here." He nodded over at the female Espada beside him, who returned this mention with a foul look.

Attention was swiftly returned over to Grimmjow, however, when fresh choking erupted from him. His colour, having started to fade, once more approached bright red.

"What- the- hell?" His face had twisted into quite an interesting expression, probably something akin to extreme disgust (or horror).

Gin frowned. "Huh? What's wrong this time? Y'don't like water?"

Szayel thought he could surmise what had happened. "He may not, but I do believe you just gave him a substance called 'vinegar' to drink, and not water at all." Nasty. ..He would have to keep an eye on this subject for any interesting reactions.

"Oh.." A slight shrug. "Whoops."

Certainly if the 'repentant' lieutenant had been any closer to Grimmjow the latter would have been ripping him a new one, but since the cackling Nnoitra was nearer that spoonhead would have to do. The Sexta Espada lunged...

..And dangled there, held aloft by a strong grip.

Aizen dropped the peeved Grimmjow back in his seat. "Please do not spoil the food."

Grimmjow's intended target, having thought he was off the hook, was glanced at too.

"Sit down, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your meal."

Which was akin to shut the fuck up, let me eat in peace and you will not die, Szayel knew. Ah, well.. It had been getting a little out of hand, he supposed. Besides..

It was silly to think, even though this was Aizen-sama's intervention, that this peace would last for very long.

He was right (what beautiful words, weren't they..? 'Szayel Aporro was right'). Silence did ensue for a stretched out amount of time, uninterrupted bar for the eating and occasional prompted conversation. It was peace, certainly.. but not a very easy one. Something hovered above the group, a hostility, barely suppressed and not quite out of reach. Try though one might, it pretty much dampened the mood of their humble gathering a little.

Szayel could sense the impending explosion. But when was it going to, as Yammy would say, 'go boom'?


He had been watching all interaction in his vicinity for any sign, enduring the false niceties, the polite words dripping in honey but all hollow inside (aka. your average exchanges around here, whenever Aizen-sama was present and nearby). ..But nothing. Absolutely nothing. He was almost bored, waiting for his.. well, waiting to end.

Baraggan was irritated. This was a common occurrence but perhaps it was relevant this time. Harribel looked like she didn't want to be here – like she thought this whole event was like a narrow band of elastic rubber, taut and stretched and about to snap. Zommari simply looked resigned, while Starrk was tired (again, perhaps, relevant?). Ulquiorra was probably a harder-to-read version of Harribel, Nnoitra was getting bored and Yammy.. Yammy seemed pretty happy, though he'd be just as pleased to see something break out here, Szayel was sure (..oh, how nice it must be to be that simplistic).

He didn't want to think too much about Gin, and why consider Tousen at all? So, that left Grimmjow. The unruly male was frowning at his portion of potato, as if it were not to his taste. If that were the case Szayel would actually agree with him. Urgh, potatoes... so dull.

Grimmjow was looking around for a solution to his problem. Some sort of flavouring.. though Szayel personally doubted even that could save them. Some things in life, sadly, were just doomed to monotony. That was the way it was. ..But back to Grimmjow's hapless search. He had found something – salt – however his expression had darkened when he realised where it was.

Szayel wanted to titter – how typical, wasn't it? Nnoitra must have used the salt sometime after Starrk acquired it, and at Nnoitra's place it had stayed. ..Most unfortunate.

Grimmjow opened his mouth to speak, and Szayel Aporro observed with a small smile. The detonation is imminent.

"Oi, Nnoitra. Pass the salt, would you?"

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Nnoitra munched, apparently favouring devouring his stick of celery over any interaction with his fellow Espada. Grimmjow twitched, and tried again.

"Nnoitra.. Pass me the salt."

Munch.. Munch.. Crunch.

Grimmjow bristled.. The freak was deliberately ignoring him. His next words were delivered through gritted teeth.

"Nnoitra... Pass. The fucking. Salt."

Sensing that if disregarded again the Sexta Espada's next action would take the form of violence, Baraggan stepped in.

"Do. It. Jiruga, before I rot your damned bones and feed the rest to Cuuhlhourne."

Crunch, munch, swallow.

"Alright, alright, no need to get touchy. Here you go, crybaby. Don't sob over it all in one go."

Catch sneer. "Bawl over it yourself if you're that bothered, asshole."

"You were the one getting all.. 'hot' and bothered about it, remember? Or is your puny head too fried to even recall that?" Nnoitra grinned, leering at the already irate Grimmjow. "You were makin' quite the scene.. It's amazing, really – how simple 'human gunk' can have such an effect on you. ..'Sexta Espada'... Hah!"

"Like you- you.." Grimmjow trailed off into sound resembling a growl, apparently either now bereft of a decent comeback, or (more likely) simply too angry to use it. He settled for his modus operandi instead and that, folks, was when Szayel felt it was clear to all that their nice little period of conversation was now well and truly over.

The affronted Espada, determined to do something to wipe that priggish smirk off his taunter's face and yet subconsciously still mindful of Aizen's earlier warning, had seemed to conclude that chucking something at it would solve the problem (or at the very least, go towards 'satisfying' his ire at the target in question). So of course off the salt went, that hotly fought for trophy lobbed without a second thought as to its previous importance.

It might as well have been knocking over a domino. Naturally, having expected (no, hoped for) some kind of physical retaliation Nnoitra countered the container with ease, batting it aside as though one would a fly. The pot shattered instantly, the contents within pouring onto an unprepared Starrk, who sneezed violently into his custard.

"That's the best you can do?" The Quinto Espada mocked, moving around now as several more foodstuffs were hurled in his direction. Yammy laughed as rotten watermelons flew everywhere, guffawing further as Harribel got caught in the crossfire.

"Bastard! Stay still!" Grimmjow was chucking whole plates now, as if increased size and volume was going to improve his accuracy. It may have worked but for another flavouring-filled pot being pelted and smashed, the air fast filling with a cloud of powder. Grimmjow, who naturally was engulfed by the majority of the stuff, was left to choke while the plate he was aiming soared across the table, having been jolted wildly off course.

Ah, (ground) cinnamon. Szayel thought appreciatively, inhaling delicately as the pungently sweet scent hit his nose. While not to be inspired in any great quantity, it is such a treat to the olfactory senses. His company did not seem to be of the same opinion, Zommari grimacing a little even as some half-melted ice cream from Grimmjow's other plate slopped onto his shoulder.


The off course plate had found a target, and oh dear... It was Baraggan, the grumpy male in the middle of muttering some disparaging comment before his face had been met by a concentrated mass of a dozen or so plums.

Time to get out of the danger zone. It was downright idiotic to stay in this place for much longer. Szayel made a move for it, noticing that Gin had also had the same idea (judging by the empty seat, anyway). It was not a second too soon.

"You... Insects! How DARE you treat the great Baraggan Luisenbarn with such insolence! You will pay for your utter disrespect..!"

Grimmjow was too busy dodging plates himself to reply (Zommari got some nice walnuts and mangoes to accompany his ice cream) but Nnoitra paused to look over and sneer.

"Oh, get over yourself, old m-!"

While reiatsu had already been blaring out from some as a part of various petty outbursts, the power now exuding from Baraggan, Szayel had to admit, was fairly impressive. I never thought he was quite this dramatic. Other disturbances had merely rattled the tableware and items thereon (or in); here the whole table was shaking, and consumables were plain being blown into the air, or swept off onto the floor.

Nnoitra was back to dancing and ducking around. "Haha, you're too slow! You really think you're gonna g-"


"Che.." Nnoitra wiped the gravy off his face, decorated with food but bravado intact. "You're gonna have to do better than that!"

Well, being so tall was always going to make it easier to hit you. Szayel thought bemusedly. It was bound to happen sometime. Baraggan hadn't even needed to lift a finger – his reiatsu had done it all for him.

Ever the opportunist, Grimmjow gathered more ammunition, ready to hit the Quinto Espada while the latter was distracted. Again, it might have worked had his arm not been grabbed by an intervening party.

A short sound of frustration. Who was it this time? Ulquiorra..? Tousen..? ..Aizen again? Everyone just loved to grope him around here. -No, dark hand, must be Tousen.. and sure enough, Grimmjow glanced back around to be met with the Lieutenant coolly glaring at him.

"Cease this foolishness," he admonished, as Grimmjow struggled. He was not in the mood for a sermon from this self-righteous asshole. Who did the bastard think he was, telling him what to do anyway?

"Aizen-sama did warn you."

Aizen-'sama', you, Ulquiorra, it doesn't matter. I'll freakin' waste 'em all, and it'll serve 'em right for underestimating me. Whatever Aizen or that pile of bones over there thought, there was only one king around here. Tousen could dump on him all he wanted, it wasn't gonna make a damn bit of difference in the end.

Now, though, to shut him up before he launched into some speech about 'justice' and 'needless violence' and crap (hypocrite that he was). Though standing all pretty with his shiny halo that Aizen had practically gifted him with, Grimmjow bet there was something he could do to ruffle the lieutenant's feathers..

Yeah.. It wasn't like Aizen could kill him for that, right..? Nnoitra could wait a few minutes – this was too good an opportunity to pass up.


Szayel turned away from the sight of Grimmjow smashing grapefruit into Tousen's face to look at the rest of the gathering. It was fast turning into pandemonium; a site of some edible bomb explosion. This was some grand entertainment – how he'd laugh if he could stay in one spot for very long. It was one part adorable (look at the children playing..) alongside several parts pitiful. ..Honestly.. What witless creatures I am surrounded by. All this spontaneous violence.. What did it do? Nothing except create one big mess.. no substantial results. Come on. Where was all the planning and preparation? Enjoyment of the torture that resulted? They were all so quick to get their hands dirty.. So lacking in style.

It seemed that more and more were being dragged into this battle – Starrk was under fire from Baraggan and Yammy was forgoing items of food altogether, attempting to pummel Zommari with nothing but his fists.

Put into perspective, a rather sad scene indeed. Szayel himself was certainly not going t-



"Haha! SCORE!" Yammy's smug voice rang out from the other end of the room, the big Espada grinning at the bowled over duo on the floor. Zommari was quick to stand again, his expression as unflappable as he could currently manage.

"Such arrogance.. Don't even think that this is over."

Szayel, meanwhile, arose like a phoenix from the consumable ashes. Anger was his fire.. and artichokes covered him, dropping occasionally as if in mockery of his Resurrección state.

Those... Worthless...!

"Oh, you've done it now.." Szayel seethed, fixing the two who had the gall to defile him (HIM!) with a dangerous stare. These clothes were completely ruined, he'd have to change and disinfect – right after he'd taught these fools a lesson...

Zommari was completely unaffected by this – his second mistake (that ego of his would certainly contribute to his death someday). Yammy merely looked amused (of course with a vacuous head such as his, he could not hope to understand the danger he was now in).

Where to start.. A hemicorporectomy, or- No. I'll be more creative than that..

Szayel lunged (avoiding a dropkicked Nnoitra who hurtled by), thereby officially entering the brawl. Time was speeding up now – or maybe the Octava Espada wasn't noticing as much. Either way, instances were blurring into one another.

Zommari dodging.

Baraggan brushing cauliflower off his shoulder.

Himself lunging..

Yammy attempting to strangle Starrk.

Nnoitra weaving around-

("It is pointless. You know I am the fastest of the Espada.. You are quick also, but it is not enough to defeat my Gemelos Sonído. Give it up."

So condescending. Eyeroll. "Yes, you're fast enough to get hit by Yammy of all people, I see..!")

Tousen getting up.

"Kishire, Pante- Ugh."

A snicker.

Ulquiorra calmly walking over to Yammy-

"Forget that we had to leave our zanpakutou behind, moron?"

-Gin comically slipping on banana peel-


-Nnoitra attempting a surprise attack on Harribel-

"What the hell, Ulquiorra? Outta my way!" Slip-slide "Wh..?"

-Pumpkins flying through the air-

-Manic whirlwind arm movements, nearly pummelling Ulquiorra-

-Harribel flooring Nnoitra with a durian-

-Gin ducking the oncoming mass of food-

-Yammy sliding across the consumable-carpeted floor-

-Tousen trying to intercept, seeing who the food conglomeration was heading for-


-Starrk's attempts to help landed him face-first onto the cracked table-


-Grimmjow threw more coconuts, unaware he was only adding to the problem-


The food soared towards the ex-shinigami, though naturally it never made it there, scattered before the increased reiatsu which now emitted from him. All stilled. Szayel swallowed thickly – forget Baraggan, this was truly power to be worried about.

It was with a calm approaching serenity that Aizen stood and regarded his Espada (and two lieutenants). It would be beyond lunacy to describe this calm as peaceful, however. The reiatsu said it all; containing a particular undercurrent that did nothing less than tie your stomach in knots. At times like this Szayel swore his IQ actually dropped, his brain already blaring out with a painfully obvious thought.

Oh.. We've gone and annoyed him.

"Alright.." Aizen began, after a careful sip of his tea. "That's enough, everyone." A pause, though a reply was not expected (not that anyone attempted to speak – they would have choked on the words).

Not a muscle was moved – even Grimmjow appeared to be frozen to the spot. They were all waiting, Szayel knew, waiting as ever in these instances for the axe to fall. Their heads on the chopping block... Breathing.. Time, miserable human-labelled construct that it was, was dragging again.


Practically everyone, certainly on edge at this point, jumped and an almost unanimous glare was levelled in the direction of the sudden collision. Szayel actually winced – Goddamn it, Yammy! Could that oaf not do anything right? It was but another nail in the potential coffin and shit he should not be here, taking the fall along with the rest of these chumps-

No. It wasn't all lost yet. Certainly, everyone was going to get some sort of punishment but he could still avoid total culpability for this one. ..Disassociation, disassociation.. While it had been his suggestion he had not been the one to start off the violence. All he needed to do was pin this on someone else (Grimmjow and Nnoitra would do nicely), take down his observations, draw his conclusions and move on to the next experiment. ..And plan better next time.

The wall was still shuddering from Yammy's collision with it, the Espada heaving himself up, rubbing his he-



The bastard had the nerve to slip again, and the sound shot through the air with the impact of physical pain.

"Argh, damnit Yammy, get the hell up!" Nnoitra snapped, voice taut with anger. Szayel almost voiced his frustration as well, but any such inclination was smothered by what happened next.

The ceiling rained. ..No, that implied a light shower; the ceiling poured, food previously stuck there falling on the unlucky inhabitants below. It was not a huge amount, but it was enough to blanket everything and everyone. Some managed to block the onslaught, some were already brushing it away but everyone was left gasping as the smothering reiatsu heightened in strength.

Curse you, Yammy, and the sheer breadth of your infinite stupidity..! What a bitter aftertaste this dining event was going to leave.

..If they got out of this alive to taste anything again, that was.

A/N: Still here? Great. I know it was long, but I still hope you enjoyed it. ..There might have been some dodgy writing (and inadequate science used) in the story too, but to be honest if I had to polish and tidy this up any more I would go insane, LOL. And there are some things that only occurred to me long after I wrote them - Can Harribel eat normal food with that mask of hers (do we even want to know)? All of them eating in the projector room they normally meet in (..well hey, there's a long table and they drink tea there, so why not)? Most of them being that ignorant about human food (call it negligence, I don't know)? ..Oh well. Like I said, best not to be as picky as me and ignore those sort of things. xD;

I'll end this rambling note by saying that Szayel's fun, if a little disturbing to write (the drama genre label is mostly there because he is, LOL).