A/N: This will possibly—probably—be updated weekly. I'm not sure yet, as I'm horrible at sticking to my previous plans. But don't despair, I will try my best to update ASAP.
If you want me to update more often, please give me ideas for the captains' and vice-captains' lists. Seriously, I have no idea what's a single item half of the captains and vice-captains would want, much less TEN items. I'm seriously considering shortening the lists to five, but then it would be weird. Ugh.
Also, I understand if you prefer different spellings of the names, such as the more officialized spellings 'Jushiro,' 'Kyoraku,' 'Toushirou,' etc, but I spell it the way I want to spell it. As long as you know who I'm talking about, I don't see how it matters.
I tried my best to keep Ukitake in-character with his good humor and everything. I hope it's to your liking. I tried to improve my writing a bit, and made this chapter slightly longer than the previous.
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite, who I will smack in the head with a frying pan if he doesn't make HitsuMatsu, ByaChiru, and KyourakuNanao canon couples.
Kyouraku shrugged. "Whatever, I'll still send the letter off. Who knows…it might actually be true. I got nothing to lose!"
"Point taken, old friend," Ukitake chuckled. "I'll get going now. See you later."
"Bye," Kyouraku waved and walked off towards the tall First Division barracks building.
Ukitake watched him go. A Santa Claus, huh? Interesting…
12. Juushiro Ukitake
"Hello, Ukitake-taichou," Kiyone beamed affably at Ukitake as he strode towards his garden, koi food in hand and a pouch slung over his shoulders.
"Ukitake-taichou, can I carry that for you?" Sentarou thundered, trying to one-up a fuming Kiyone.
"No, he wants me to carry it!" The younger Kotetsu sister yelled, elbowing past Sentarou and grabbing onto one end of the bag of koi food.
Sentarou glared at his co-third seat and took the other end. "Give it to me!"
"You let go!"
"You let go!"
The bag tore open with a loud riiiiiiiiip, spilling small multi-colored pellets all over the tiled floor. Ukitake sighed and pulled out a second identical bag from the small pouch he was carrying; he'd learned to always purchase extras when it came to dealing with his two competitive third seats.
"I apologize, Ukitake-taichou!" Sentarou cried, bowing.
"I apologize more, Ukitake-taichou!" Kiyone echoed, getting on her knees and bowing.
Ukitake sighed. "Instead of apologizing, why don't you guys start picking up those koi food pellets?"
"Hai!" The two shouted simultaneously, paused to glower murderously at each other, and started cleaning up the wayward koi food flakes. As they concentrated on who could sweep more of the small pellets up, their captain discreetly scooted down the hall and escaped to his garden; or, as he called it, his personal oasis.
He tore open a corner of the new koi food bag and sprinkled the colorful flakes over the lake, smiling as the koi eagerly swam up to the surface to devour some of the food.
Santa Claus…His mind strayed back to his conversation with Kyouraku as he sat and watched the vibrant-colored koi swim around. It was his favorite place to quietly think. Even Kiyone and Sentarou knew not to bother him when he was in his garden.
He gives out gifts, huh? Ukitake pondered, absentmindedly picking up a flower and twirling it under his nose. Its scent was pleasingly sweet. A list of ten items…given to Orihime-san before December 25…Anything you want…
The white haired taichou was still musing over the curious thought of such a person's existence—seriously, who existed to give out gifts?—when someone politely tapped his shoulder, successfully interrupting his reverie.
He laid the white flower down. "Hello, Kuchiki-san."
Rukia grinned at her captain. "Hey, Ukitake-taichou. Something wrong? You seem to be a bit distracted; you didn't even hear me when I called your name from inside."
Ukitake hadn't been aware of someone calling him. "Sorry, I was just thinking about someone."
"A girl?" Rukia's taichou was one of the most respected and liked captains, but she couldn't fathom the thought of him on a date with a girl. "Maybe Soi-Fon…?"
"No, no, of course not," Ukitake chuckled, though was that disappointment that flashed through his eyes? "Rather, I was wondering about a jolly old bearded man."
Rukia almost fainted. Her taichou liked men? There was nothing wrong with men liking men or vice-versa, Rukia amended, but her taichou?
Ukitake correctly read the stricken look on his underling's face and laughed good-naturedly. "Haha, not in that way, Kuchiki-san!"
"Oh," Rukia giggled nervously.
"Rather, it's about this fellow named Santa Cla—"
"No way! You know about Santa?" The petite girl's face lit up like a child's on Christmas morning, though that wasn't so far off. "I'm surprised the news has already gotten to Seireitei!"
"…You also know of this Santa Claus fellow?"
"So it's true?" Ukitake was still a bit skeptical. He trusted her, of course, but it just seemed so fantastical. Then again, he thought wryly, you could say the same of the existence of shinigami and hollows.
Rukia suppressed a laugh at her taichou's conflicted expression. "I should say so, Ukitake-taichou."
"Alright then," Ukitake grinned, somewhat reassured. "I should get started on my letter then…oh!"
"Was there something you needed to ask of me, Kuchiki-san? I remember you said you called me earlier as well…"
"No, no, I was just worried you'd catch cold, taichou. It's already mid-December and you only have your haori on." Rukia pursed her lips. "Really, you should at least don a jacket!"
"Haha, I'm going in anyways, but thanks for your concern."
"Anytime, sir!" She beamed at his gratitude and quickly shunpo'd indoors; there was a fat pile of paperwork on her desk that wasn't going anywhere.
Ukitake stared amusedly after the swiftly retreating figure. She'd make a fine vice-captain, or maybe even a captain one day. But his concentration today was focused on an entirely different matter. He stood up, brushed a few strands of grass from his white haori, and leisurely made his way to the large glass door and stepped into the long hallway.
Sentarou and Kiyone had gone; their best point was that they never neglected their duties (read: paperwork). They even bickered over who could finish their work the fastest and neatest, which led to the Thirteenth Division almost never owing paperwork in contrast to the paperwork-swamped Tenth Division and the Eleventh Division, whose paperwork always managed to conveniently get misplaced.
He stepped into his office and sunk into his heavenly soft leather office chair. Another good point of his third seats were their extravagant, much appreciated presents. Someone had left a still-piping-hot cup of tea on his desk, probably Rukia. He had to thank her the next time her saw her.
Sipping the tea—earl grey, he presumed—he rummaged through his well-stocked drawers and placed an ornate silver-and-gold pen (a gift from Kiyone) and a sheet of thick, expensive, custom-embroidered stationary (a gift from Sentarou) on his desk.
Hello there! My name is Ukitake, Juushiro Ukitake. I'm the taichou of the Thirteenth Division. According to Kuchiki-san, Shunsui, and, probably, others, you will gift me with ten presents on the morning of the twenty-fifth. So I'm presenting you with my ten presents… Get it? 'Presenting you?' 'Presents?' Haha!
First off the top of my head, I'd like a tree trimming set, complete with a set of sharp tree trimmers! My bonsai is getting a bit lopsided.
Secondly, a big, big bag of candy would be dandy. Get it? Dandy, candy? Hahaha! I seem to be rather humorous today! Must be thanks to the koi, which brings me to my third present.
I'd like an extra bag of koi food or two, just in case Kiyone and Sentarou manage to get to my current bags. Better safe than sorry!
What's this? Fourth? Well, good ol' Toshiro's birthday is on December 20, which is in two days, so how about a few lollipops for him? And maybe even a Toshiro doll, hahaha! Because we're like siblings! We both have white hair, you know? We're Whitey-chans! Hahaha!
Fifth, eh? While we're at dolls, let's just get one for every taichou and fukutaichou, including my two third seats. Plush sewn dolls, of course! Haha, that'll be their birthday presents, along with a big, big handful of lollipops!
Sixthly, how about a bit of good earl grey tea mix? That would be great; tea really helps my medicines go down quickly!
Seven…hmm, how difficult. What about this? A two-person, two-day pass to Seireitei's best onsen and spa, for Kiyone and Sentarou! So they can bond! Haha, how nice!
Eightly, maybe miscellaneous medicinal herbs for use in my garden? I'd love to cultivate herbs, it seems fun! And Unohana-taichou does so, so how hard can it be?
We're already at nine? What a surprise. Oh, yes, I need some of the allergy medication from the human world. It's so much effective than the shinigami version. Spring is no fun without cherry blossom viewing sessions! Haha, how nice!
Last but not least! I have nothing more I'd really like, so let's just say that I hope spring will be peaceful and beautiful! Haha!
Juushiro Ukitake :)
Ukitake signed his name with a flourish and added one of his signature smiley-faces. Life was so much more fun when passed through with a smile on one's face.
"Sentarou, Kiyone," he called out, his voice not above a whisper. Even though he was barely audible, the two were in his office within seconds.
"Hai, sir?" They saluted, and Ukitake suppressed a chuckle. Sometimes he wondered if he was a taichou or an army lieutenant. In his third seats' eyes, he was probably a bit of both.
"Please deliver this to Orihime-san. I think she's in Seireitei right now actually, visiting Matsumoto-fukutaichou and Kuchiki-san." Ukitake carefully folded the letter into two. Sentarou beamed when he noticed that it was the paper he gifted his taichou, and Kiyone did the same as soon as she saw the pen he had been using.
"Hai!" After a moment's hesitation, Kiyone spoke up. "Er…what's this for, taichou?"
"For Santa!" He smiled secretively.
"Santa?" Sentarou echoed, confusion spreading across his features.
"Santa." Ukitake affirmed.
Ukitake motioned towards the two chairs on the other side of his desk, and Kiyone took a seat. Sentarou followed her lead, albeit with a scowl. He disliked his co-third seat doing things before him. Kiyone gloated at him before turning her attention back to her precious taichou, who smiled at both of them invitingly.
"Let me explain…"
A/N: Yeah, the koi pond would probably be a bit frozen up in December, and there probably wouldn't be many flowers or greenery around, but oh well. It's a story. Let's just say the garden's surrounded by a kido or something that prevents it from freezing. That's not TOO far-fetched, is it?
Also, what the heck is that 'official' name for tree trimmers? Seriously, I have no idea. Are they called 'pruners' or just 'trimmers' or what? Please tell me, I'm desperate to know and Google's no help…
I implied that Ukitake likes Soi-Fon, but I won't actually elaborate on that, unless you want me to do so. If you do, tell me and I'll consider. Soi-Fon's chapter is yet to come, remember? ;)
Another thing, in the storyline, the whole koi-pond and bonsai are in his Ugendo family estate (apparently, Ukitake has a family estate). But for all intent and purposes, I relocated the pond and bonsai to his division's offices/barracks.
When I go back and read my first few chapters, I can spot SO MANY MISTAKES. Seriously, it kills me, but I don't want to edit and re-upload all the chapters, so oh well… Maybe one day I'll go back and fix my amateur writing skills. Maybe.
Thanks for reading, I'd appreciate a review!