Summary: Soifon's night out with Yoruichi doesn't go as planned.
Authors Notes: A couple of things I want to clarify before I begin.
1. This is just a silly story I'm writing for my own amusement. I doubt the captains would ever be this foolish, and like a sitcom, most of these situations are unlikely to happen to anyone with common sense. I'm probably not going to put as much work into this as my other ones.
2. I'm not going to attempt to clarify Soifon's sexuality here. I'm basically going to do the best I can to portray her behavior the same way the manga and anime do. It won't be easy. I apologize in advance for the OOC action.
Soifon pulled two dresses out of her closet and rushed over to the mirror. She was so proud of herself. The events from earlier in the day played over and over in her head.
"Uh, say, Yorichi-sama."
"Hmm? What is it Soifon?"
"Um, Youruichi-sama. If you're not, uh, too busy or anything tonight…um…uh.."
"Uh, what Soifon?"
"Uh…would you like to go get a drink later? You know, we could, like, sit around and, uh, talk?"
"Yeah, sure I guess."
"GREAT! HERE'S A CARD WITH THE PLACE AND TIME I'LL MEET YOU THERE BYE!"
She couldn't help but grin over her great victory. It had taken all of her courage to ask Yoruichi out, but she had done it! She held the two dresses she had selected against her body one after the other to see what would look best. Should she go with the blue yukata with the rose pattern, or the form fitting red cheongsam with the high side slit? Looking at first one, then the other, she decided to go with neither. After all, this was a meeting between equals. Two professionals, relaxing and unwinding after a hard day's work. Two old war buddies sharing camaraderie and mutual respect. No, she would go just as she was and enjoy spending quality bonding time with her fellow special forces veteran. She could hardly wait!
Leaving her personal quarters, she made her way across the second division's compound. Passing her office, she noticed the light was on. That was as it should be. She had tasked Omaeda to work overtime and cover the evening shift. He'd better not be slacking off. As she walked past, an idea occurred to her. She stepped into the office. Sure enough, the bumbling idiot had his feet up on the desk and was reading a magazine.
"Hey, fatso!" She yelled, chucking her cell phone at his head.
Omaeda barely had time to put his feet down and drop his magazine. He made a desperate lunge to get under the flying cell phone, fumbling it once, then twice before finally getting a good grip on it. He gave a heaving sigh of relief. He knew there would be hell to pay if he dropped it.
"Put that on my desk." She commanded. "I am off line tonight."
Omaeda's eyes bugged out in surprise. The captain had never done anything like this before.
"Off line?" He said. "Why? What're you doing?"
"None of your business." She snapped. "Let's just say I'm having a special night out and I don't want to be interrupted. Especially by you. Got me!"
"Oh, sure. I read you loud and clear captain." Omaeda burbled, bowing and scraping as Soifon made her exit. A "Special Night Out", huh? That really got his curiosity going. Especially since she had the biggest smile he could ever remember seeing on her face as she left.
Soifon stood outside of the bar taking deep breaths. She didn't want to be early. That might make her look anxious. On the other hand, she didn't want to be late either. What if Youruichi-sama thought she wasn't coming and left? At precisely the time she had put on her invitation card, she took several more deep breaths and strode into the bar with her head held high. Trying to appear casual, she nonchalantly scanned the room. If Yourichi-sama was there, she would be easy to spot in a place like this. All you had to do was look for a large cluster of men and she would be right in the middle, playing them like an orchestra of fiddles as they all bought her drinks and desperately tried to get her attention. Seeing no such gathering, she made her way to the bar and ordered a cup of tea. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes passed. Her tea grew cold in her hands. She turned to the bartender.
"Excuse me." She said. "Have you seen a woman in here recently?"
"We get a lot of women in here ma'am." He said as he polished the bar with a clean white rag. "Can you be more specific?"
'Oh, you would certainly remember her if you saw her."Soifon replied. "She is tall and has beautiful dark skin and tilted eyes that glow like the sun and are absolutely beautiful."
"Hmm." The bartender mused. "I think I know who you're…"
"And she has long muscular limbs that are also absolutely beautiful." Soifon continued. "And thick dark hair that shines and bounces and is incredibly beautiful."
"Yeah, like I said, I…"
"And a graceful, curvy body with the ideal proportions that is absolutely…"
"I get it, I get it!" The bartender cried. "She's absolutely beautiful, I get it. She left a note for you half an hour ago!"
"Yes. She said to give this to the person who asked about her. Please, take it." He said handing her a folded piece of paper.
Puzzled, Soifon took the note from his hand. Shaking his head, the man went back to his work. Once he moved away, she opened the folded paper to see what Youriuchi-sama had left for her. She read through the entire thing once. Not believing what she was seeing, she read it again. Finally, just to make sure she wasn't misunderstanding anything, she read it again slowly, word for word. No matter what she did, the note read exactly the same.
"Hey little bee! Something came up. I'll have to take a rain check on our girl's night out, 'kay? Later! XXXOOO"
She had signed it with a little catpaw print.
"I don't believe this!" She gasped.
Something came up? Oh she just bet something came up. Something with blonde hair and a stupid green striped hat no doubt!
"Bartender!" She barked.
"Yes ma'am?" he asked as he approached her.
"Saké." She demanded. "Now."
Acting quickly, he set a drinking cup before her and filled it to the rim. Soifon grabbed his hand.
"Leave the bottle." She growled.
Intimidated by her fierce expression, the man did as he was told, gingerly setting the bottle down and backing away quickly when she let go of his hand. Soifon drained the cup in one shot, then filled it again.
Why does she always do crap like this to me? She thought, downing another cup. She filled it again.
And why do I put up with it? Another cup gone.
Note to self: Stop putting up with Yoruichi's crap!
Refilling her cup once again, she paused for a moment. Her shoulders slumped and she sighed. She put the bottle down on the bar. Who was she kidding? Yoruichi-sama was going to keep doing stuff like this to her and she was going to keep on putting up with it. She was so pathetic when it came to Yoruichi-sama. She worked so hard to be a strong woman. Why did Yoruichi-sama have such a hold on her?
"Damn that demon cat!" She shouted as she slammed her fist on the bar. In her anger, she hit her cup, launching the saké into the air. Most of it splashed on a passerby who got his sleeve up in front of his face just in time.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir." She apologized. "I didn't mean to do that."
Her eyes widened in surprise as the stranger lowered his sleeve, revealing his identity.
"It's all right." Byakuya assured her. "There is no harm done."
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"It is part of a commander's duties to know where his subordinates spend their off duty time and ensure those businesses are not detrimental to good order and discipline." He replied. "I try to get to know all the establishments my division members patronize. And you?"
Soifon frowned. "I was going to meet someone. It looks like I got stood up."
"Would that have been the scion of the house of Shihōin?" he asked.
She gave a rueful grin. "I guess it's pretty obvious." She admitted.
"I am not surprised." Byakuya said wiping his sleeve with a handkerchief. "That woman usually provokes strong reactions in people. She was often a thorn in my side in my youth."
"That's right." Soifon said. "I had forgotten about that."
Suddenly, she had an idea. "Tell you what? Let me make this up to you. I'll buy you a drink and you can tell me one of your Yoruichi stories. Then you can buy me a drink and I can tell you one."
Byakuya's mouth set into a thin line. It looked like he was about to say no.
"What I really want to hear are stories where she messed up and fell on her face." She continued. "Do you have any stories like that?"
Byakuya's mouth seemed to relax just a hair.
"Perfect! Let's grab that booth in the back."
Byakuya thought Captain Soifon was laughing way too much at his last story.
"HA, HA,HAAA! Thas, that's so like her! Exactly like her!" Soifon shrieked, tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks. "You are funny Kuchiki-san! I don't care what anybody says about you, you are fuh-nee!
She picked up the bottle sitting between them and tried to fill Byakuya' cup.
"Hey, hey, it, it's sill full." She slurred.
"It's been like that for a while." He pointed out.
"Well why rnrt, why aren't ya drinking with me?" She asked querulously.
He declined to answer. "Please allow me to accompany you back to your quarters Captain Soifon."
"What?" She said waking up a bit. "No! We're having too much fun! The night is all young and stuff. Come on."
"Nonetheless, I believe any further carousing would only be anticlimactic at this point." He said. "We should probably be going home."
She gave him a sly, sidelong glance. "One more for the road?" she suggested.
Byakuya was amused. He had never seen the special forces commander so unguarded before.
"Very well." He said picking up his cup. "One last drink."
"Banzai!" Soifon yelled. She downed her drink and slammed the cup on the table. Byakuya finished his more sedately.
"Ah! OK, we're out of here." She said. She got out of the booth and jumped to her feet. Almost at once, she lost her balance and had to grab the table.
"Are you all right? " Byakuya asked as he got to his feet.
"Yeah, yeah." She said swaying back and forth. "I just got a little dizzy that's all."
Slowly, she sat back down. Her face was beginning to look pale.
"Are you sure you're all right? " Byakuya asked
She didn't reply this time. She looked up at him with a face that was quickly turning green. Her shoulders began to convulse as she put her hands over her mouth. He flash-stepped behind the bar and found a wastebasket, bringing it to her just in time. He turned his back to afford her some semblance of privacy as her stomach voided its contents. When it seemed like she was finished, he offered her his handkerchief.
"Thanks." She said as she meekly accepted it. She wiped her mouth and chin. "I'm really sor-hic-sorry about that."
"Do you feel better now?" He asked.
"Sure." She said. "Much, hic, much betterrrrrrrr…"
Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she passed out. He grabbed her before she fell head first on the floor and gently laid her back on the booth's padded bench seat. She was so small, only her feet dangled outside the booth.
This was a dilemma indeed. If it was an ordinary shinigami, he would order someone from their division to carry that person home and put them to bed. With a Captain it was different. Seeing her brought home incapacitated by drink was sure to affect her unit's morale and discipline. He would have to act to protect both her reputation and the image she presented to her division. Fortunately the location of their booth kept her hidden from the public's view. He simply had to get her out unseen. He strode over to the bar.
"Bartender." He asked. "What time does this establishment close?"
"Not for a while, sir." The man replied. "It'll be another four hours or so."
Byakuya held his fist over the bar and slowly opened it. A shower of gold coins fell from his hand. The bartender's eyes bugged out of their sockets at the pile they made.
Byakuya asked "And now?"
"Closing time, everybody!" The man called out. "Yes, I know it's early. We have a problem in the back, OK? Closing time! Everybody out! Out now!"
Byakuya returned to the booth, standing in front of Soifon's unconscious form. He waited patiently as the bartender shooed everyone outside.
"Will that be all, sir?" He asked as he closed the door on the last customer.
"Leave for one hour, then return to lock up." Byakuya directed. "Also, we were never here. Do you understand?"
Between the promise of gold and Byakuya's regal intimidation, the man had no problem understanding at all. In a split second, Byakuya had the bar all to himself. He took out his cell phone. His retainer picked it up on the first ring.
"Yes my lord?" He said.
"Bring a sedan chair and a few maids to my location." He directed. "Ensure that you are discreet."
Why was an elephant standing on her head? Soifon wondered. She could feel that she was lying on her stomach. Someone seemed to have turned the gravity up a hundredfold and besides the elephant, there also seemed to be a thousand malignant pixies trying to take her scalp using hundreds of tiny hatchets. Opening her eyes was an accomplishment. Her eyelids seemed to have been replaced with sandpaper. She could see she was lying on a futon. Trying to focus, she could just about make out the floor. As she watched, the tatami mats began to sway and heave, back and forth, up and down. It was making her seasick. Closing her eyes didn't help. In fact it made it worse. The room now seemed to be spinning, faster and faster and faster!
She rolled onto her back and sat upright, looking wildly around the room. Seeing a wooden bucket next to the futon, she seized it and shoved her face in the opening. She thought she was going to heave and retch forever. At last, she felt she could sit up again without getting sick. She noticed a clean cloth neatly folded next to the bucket and used it to wipe her face. Feeling a little better, she began to scan her surroundings. On the other side of the futon was a tray. It held a small plate with two aspirins on it, a glass and a tall pitcher of water. Someone must have brought it by recently as the water was still cold with condensation running down the sides of the pitcher. She carefully poured herself a drink, alarmed at how weak she felt and how much her hand shook. She popped the two aspirins into her dry, gummy mouth and gratefully drank them down with the water. She poured herself another glass and drank that as well. She knew she was badly dehydrated. When had she ever been this hung over? Answer: Never. She had never drunk that much alcohol in her life.
Note to self: Never drink that much again.
So what had happened after she had passed out? This was clearly not her room. She was dressed properly for bed in a plain white sleeping robe. Looking over the bedding, it only showed the indent of her body. It looked like she had spent the night alone. That was a good thing. While she was no blushing virgin, having experimented discreetly in her youth, neither was she one to casually bestow her favors. If someone had taken advantage of her when she was unconscious, there wouldn't be enough left of them to feed a cat by the time she got through with them.
With the aspirin taking the edge off, she was able to concentrate better. While neat and tastefully decorated, the room had a sterile, unlived-in feeling. She was in someone's guest room. Vague memories began to filter back. Someone carrying her. Someone washing her face. Someone changing her clothes. Taking another drink of water, she noticed the pattern on the tray. The Kuchiki family crest. That made sense. She had been drinking with Captain Kuchiki. This must be his house.
She got out of bed and stood up, wincing from the pain in her head. She saw her uniform was hanging next to the door, freshly cleaned and pressed. As she got dressed, she was tempted to try and slink away without being noticed. It would be bad manners, but she had made such a fool of herself! The thought of facing Captain Kuchiki now made her want to crawl under a rock with embarrassment. Still, leaving without thanking him would not only be rude, but cowardly. Soifon would be even more embarrassed to give in to such weakness no matter how uncomfortable seeing Byakuya would make her feel. She slid open the door revealing a porch facing a pleasantly well landscaped courtyard. Although the morning sun was gentle and reduced by the shade of several trees, Soifon still covered her eyes. The light still seemed too bright and was painful in her over sensitive state. Two maids in purple Kuchiki livery knelt in front of her, hands folded, waiting patiently. The bowed with their hands on the floor as Soifon stepped out.
"Good morning, Captain." They chorused.
"Have you two been here all night?" Soifon asked.
"No, ma'am." One said. "The maid staff has been rotating every two hours since we brought you in and prepared you for bed. Lord Byakuya wanted to make sure there was always someone here to help you if necessary and to be sure to provide you with prompt, alert service when you awoke. "
"What time is it?"
"You are just in time for breakfast, ma'am." The other one said. "Lord Byakuya requested you join him in the rear garden to dine with him. He also felt you would want these."
She held up a pair of sunglasses. Although embarrassed that Byakuya anticipated her discomfort, Soifon put them on immediately. The protection they gave noticeably helped with her headache. Following the maids, they wandered in through hallways and out past koi ponds until they finally came to the rear garden. Byakuya was already seated at the table, patiently waiting.
Soifon exchanged polite greetings with him as the maids showed her to her seat. Once seated, they brought out covered trays and began to set out breakfast. Everything was fresh and piping hot.
"I had the chef prepare rice porridge for you." Byakuya said. "I felt it would be best for your condition."
Soifon winced inside at being reminded of her overindulgence. The porridge did look and smell delicious though.
The maids finished setting out the food and utensils then quietly withdrew. After the usual polite morning rituals, they began to eat. The porridge tasted better than it looked and went a long way towards easing her stomach. Peering over her borrowed sunglasses, she watched Byakuya gracefully cut and eat his omelet.
"Captain Kuchiki," She said. "I want to thank you for taking care of me last night."
Byakuya made small noise of acknowledgement, saying nothing more.
"I'm not usually reckless like that you know." She continued. "I allowed myself to get upset and used poor judgment. I'm usually more in control than that."
"Perhaps that is the problem." Byakuya said. "You maintain such tight control, you have forgotten how to relax safely. I have often thought to myself that you are, at least in my opinion, too uptight."
Soifon leaned back in shock at his words.
"You are telling me I don't know how to relax? You, of all people, are calling me uptight?"
She stared at his cool, impassive face in disbelief. Cold as ice Byakuya was telling her she needed to loosen up. How dare he? Byakuya did not react to her words at all, gazing back at her with his face as still and placid as a mill pond. Or maybe not so still.
"Wait a minute." Soifon said leaning forward. "Is that a joke?"
Sure enough, the right corner of his mouth was turned up just a teeny tiny bit.
She pretended she was going to throw her chopsticks at him.
"You are joking." She declared as she began to weakly laugh. It made her head hurt, but she couldn't help it. Byakuya allowed himself to smile in return.
"You're funny Kuchiki-san." Soifon said taking a big scoop of porridge in her mouth.
Soifon left the Kuchiki compound in good spirits despite her lingering hangover. Byakuya had been a surprisingly good host. She realized she really didn't know him well at all. He had shown himself to be elegant and refined, which she expected, but also educated and knowledgeable about many subjects. They had a fascinating talk over breakfast on art and music and literature. He knew many of the works Soifon enjoyed and spoke expertly on their background, history and meaning. He opened her eyes to a lot of things she hadn't noticed before. Yes, she was pleasantly surprised indeed by the charming, gracious man behind the cold aristocrat she had previously seen only while at work. It had made for a very pleasant morning. She shook her head at the thought of going back to work. After last night, she was going to feel lousy all day. Oh well, she could always take it out on Omaeda.
Suddenly, she stopped. Something felt wrong. She hadn't heard anything unusual. She didn't see anything. Reaching outward with her senses, she thought she might be detecting someone's reiatsu, but wasn't able to get a lock on it. After a few seconds, she lost it, if it was even there to begin with. What had caused her to feel uneasy? Trying to figure it out made her headache worse. She blamed it on the hangover and continued towards her compound.
Hisagi Shūhei was sure he was a goner when Captain Soifon stopped walking. The modern digital cameras he used didn't make a sound when you took a picture like an old shutter camera. Did she hear him pushing the button? Had he allowed any reiatsu to leak? He breathed a sigh of relief as she walked away. She hadn't spotted him hiding in the tree. He checked the display on the back of the camera to see the results of his long stakeout. It was perfect! Captain Soifon was framed in the gateway of the Kuchiki manor's entrance centered right below the family crest. She was wearing sunglasses and had a dreamy, distracted smile on her face. His source had been right! Something was going on between Soifon and Byakuya. It must be something pretty good to make the normally dour Captain smile like that. He grinned widely as he carefully saved the image to a memory card. The next edition of the Seireitei Bulletin was going to sell like hotcakes!