After seeing Kisuke off last chapter, I had fallen into an almost disconsolate silence, still clutching onto the infamous confetti/candy cannon.

The atmosphere seemed to have lost much of its zeal after Hat-'n-clogs left, and without his spirited cheerfulness there was a gloomy sense of deprivation hanging in the air. But that didn't stop everyone from looking to the next best thing: Szayel.

Of course he hadn't died in that tidal wave of confetti. He was much too resilient to die his first day on the bidding block.

I feel a touch of anger directed at the Octova, but my attention is drawn by a brawl erupting in the crowd. One of Tesla's fans is bitch-smacking a Szayel worshipper. Szayel fan-girl manages to deliver a glancing blow to the throat, but the Tesla fan retaliates by seizing her with both hands and throwing her into two bystanders. They topple over like bowling pins, crashing to the floor.

I laugh quietly at the spectacle.

Szayel shoots a lethal glance at the Tesla fan, but doesn't reproach her. She's far too busy subjecting his follower to a litany of swearwords I dare not repeat. The biting lash of her voice makes me wince.

Perhaps I should recruit her as one of my security staff...

The cleaning crew, still in the process of sweeping up trash, stops what their doing as a ripple passes along the surface of the confetti lake remaining from last chapter.

"Sakuya likes being here!" Sakuya exclaims, bursting out of the confetti. The cleaning crew screams, scattering like cockroaches as Sakuya digs herself out. She then proceeds to glomp my head.

"I'm a tumor, I'm a tumor, oh I'm a tumor!" she sings. "I'm a tumor, I'm a tumor! Oh, oh, oh, I'm a tumor!"

I crick my neck to try and alleviate some of the pressure building on my spine. One of the bidders sees Sakuya sticking to me and runs away, screaming like a bloody idiot. Poor guy must have thought she was an actual tumor...

Sakuya looks down at my head like she's going to eat it before diving back into the confetti and pulling out the adorable Narunosuke. He smiles as she hugs him. "Chu and Tesla-kun could be adorable as a yaoi couple. Don't ya'll yaoi fangirls think so?"

Some of the fangirls that are keen on yaoi begin squealing in response. Tesla declines to comment. The last thing he wanted to do was feed the fire. But of course he can't ignore the lovely Sakuya, who doesn't waste any time in glomping him. She hugs him close, and whispers in his ear, "But you're a uke."

He sighs heavily. "You're not the first person to have said that..." He looks wearily at his fan crowd, all of whom are dead convinced he's a uke.

"Oh please," Szayel says, irritably waving a hand. "He has no backbone, otherwise he wouldn't have put up with Nnoitora for as long as he did. He is, by definition, a uke." Tesla doesn't rise to the barbed insult. He doesn't get the chance.

"SSSSZZZAAAAAAYYYYEEEEELLLLL!" The ear-piercing scream shatters the electric stare-down between Szyael and Tesla. Bloody rose64 jumps into action, dodging and dashing past the audience, and then flying on stage with a fortune worth of cash in hand. Which I'm still trying to get my head around, because that's a LOT of money to carry on one's person.

"Please accept my offer your sexiness. Your super awesome laboratory is waiting for you where all true geniuses reside." Szayel cocks a brow, sitting back languidly on his throne.

"Oh?" he inquires. She walks over and whispers in his ear. "And I'm willing to devise traps to capture Mayuri for your own use."

"This is interesting." He brushes his knuckles under his chin, seeming to consider the offer.

Bloody rose takes the opportunity to go into detail about his larger than life, totally indestructible laboratory. She even throws in a whole utopia with everything he could possibly desire...and more.

"Clones of that dislikable Soul Reaper, Mayuri, you say. And all the specimens I could ever want..." Szayel reiterates. "I can't say that's not tempting."

"You're my favorite character on Bleach. I'd do anything for you. Please accept. Love you."

She winks, beaming at him. Szayel gives her a lazy, slow smile.

"You sure are resourceful for a human. I will think on your offer," he tells her. He makes a motion with his hand, as if to dismiss her, and then Bloody rose sets her sights on me.

"Dear Kevvy-chan, I'm gonna give you this!" Bloody rose holds out a big bag crammed full with all the finest Kaien memorabilia, including a larger than life Kaien plushy that walks, talks, and does everything you ask it to.

I blink, and take a few wide steps back, feeling intimidated by the plushy and its enormity.

That way if the thing falls over I'll be out of the line of direct impact.

Still...I have to admit Bloody rose's ability to leave me stunned is unparalleled. I can't figure out how she managed to stuff that huge plushy in that big bag, ALONG with all the other Kaien stuff.

Tesla comes up beside the Kaien imitation and pokes it, mildly curious.

"That's...not disturbing at all..." one of the audience members says. Clearly, he's not the only one. Some of my male employees shudder, averting their gaze.

"Trying to bribe the hostess, eh?" I ask, eyebrows waggling. "Well, it's working." I rub my hands together, tackle my presents, and make off with them backstage.

Chad and Aaroniero, who haven't been seen since last chapter, stride into the stadium through the entrance. Though they don't seem friendly with each other, they walk together in perfect silence.

Some of Aaroniero's haters boo him as he passes. Szayel spots the Noveno straight away and goes for his sword. If he could just get a crack at that tank of Aaroniero's...he would be able to run tests on the fluid sloshing around in there. He was halfway across the stage, too, before Moshigami cut in.

Which, he later confessed grudgingly, might have saved him, because seconds later the haters stampede Aaroniero. It isn't hard to see what fuels their rage. There are many pro-Rukia supporters in attendance, and after the Noveno ran her through with Nejibana and desecrated Kaien's memory, pretty much everyone has sufficient reason to want to kill him. Including me.

I'm actually part of Aaroniero's lynch mob. In fact, I'm leading it.

"ATAAAAACK!" I bellow, leaping into the fray. I raise a Nejibana replica over my head, waving it menacingly.

"Szayel, I know you've lost interest in Quincies, but here's a ticket to Quincy Wonderland!" Moshigami displays said ticket.

"Uh...?" Szayel looks at her, dazed and distracted by the battle exploding into action just feet away. "I'll also give you an unlimited change of clothes (because you're fabulous), unlimited supplies, better surveillance bacteria...um...and the secret to keeping Ylfordt away forever!"

Hearing the bit about his reichu, Szayel recomposes himself and picks a piece of lint off his uniform.

"My spirit insects are state of the art. To imply otherwise is an offense to my abilties," he says. "As for Ylfordt...he's dead. I think it's safe to say he's not coming back. Even if he did, he's no threat to me."

Aaroniero's high-pitched voice rips through the air as someone tears a sizeable chunk out of his frilly coat.

Szayel's brow furrows with annoyance, and a vein throbs at his temple when the spotlight turns to Tesla.

"Tesla, I am your number one fangirl. I'll bid unlimited HP (when Nnoitora's gone spazz), my new invention the SOMETHING (aka a mindreader thing), an awesome place in the human world, a forever-behind-you status (because even the underdogs need someone behind them) and um...er...UNLIMITED HUGS!" Tesla's eyes widen at the last outburst.

"Forever-behind-you status?" Szayel remarks sardonically. "Sounds like a skill only a stalker would have."

A hellish screech erupts from Aaroniero's flailing form as I set fire to him. A mosaic covers the gruesome spectacle of the burning Espada and a warning is superimposed over the audience's heads:

*VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

"Aaroniero, you're cool. You might have tentacles but you'll be a fishtank forever. I MIGHT bet on you."

Aaroniero responds with a gut-wrenching howl, which is then strangled into a gurgle.

"Kevvy, you can have this knitted beard with Kaien on it!"

I stare. "O...kay..." I nod my head real slowly, trying to take it in.

"Oh, stop being so nice," Szayel snaps. "It's obviously an abomination of consumer merchandise."

I shoot him a dirty look. "Shut...up," I grit out through clenched teeth. "For all you know, she might have made that herself."

Szayel doesn't look ashamed in the least. "Well she's in poor taste if she did."

"The hell do you know about good taste?" I retort. "You have pink hair."

"I'll have you know that pink is a fashionable color!"

"Well I'm so fly I could make knitted beards look good. So take THAT." I cross my arms in triumph.

"Who are you kidding? You have absolutely no swag," he retaliates, smirking with his holier-than-thou face. I begin visibly shaking with fury. An evil giggle makes us pause.

It's MehLikey. "I just wanna do one thing before I resign myself to the audience." With that, MehLikey stalks over to a certain pink-haired Espada and flicks him on the nose. He rubs the offended area, looking outraged.

"What was that fo-AAAHHH!" Szayel screams as MehLikey proceeds to pick him up and dump him upside down in a waiting rubbish bin. "There." She dusts her hands off and leaves.

I can't say I've ever seen a more graceful exit.

Meanwhile...Aaroniero's charred carcass is throwing off the feng shui of my pad. I'll have to dispose of the body. I wander off to go find a shovel. And then Chad throws a shower of confetti over forever122.

"CONGRATS, FOREVER122, YOU'VE WON CHAD!" the audience announces in unison. They all begin clapping, genuinely happy for one of their own. They aren't even bothered by the smell of cooked Noveno.

To be continued...

forever122: Thanks for the hug! And of course I'd like a cake. Make it chocolate. ;)

Moshigami: I've moved your bid for chap. 24 to the next chapter. Apologies for the delay. -.-'

As for everyone else, virtual cookies to you all for your support. 030

Sadly, I can't actually kill Aaroniero off, so he will in good repair by next chappy, along with Tesla and Szayel. So go ahead and bid as much as you want. :)

Everyone is milling around Chad and patting him on the back for finally settling on an owner. I cackle softly and creep away, wearing the knitted beard and a lumberjack outfit.