"Speaking Japanese" "Speaking English"

'Thinking' 'Zanpaktou'

"Hell Butterfly" "Radio"

'Hichigo' "Hollows"

"How long since Mercer has reported, Wakaba?" Toshiro looked up from where he rested his head on his desk.

"Exactly a month, Captain. He should be reporting in tonight, if his record stays the same." Replied Natsuko Wakaba, the newly appointed Lieutenant of Squad Ten. She pushed a strand of her dirty blonde hair from in front of dark hazel eyes. She reached up to redo the tiny ponytail, it kept falling out of it since she had cut it short several months ago.

"He better." The head of white hair dropped back to his desk.

Ever since he'd appointed Natsuko as his Lieutenant two months ago, the piles of paperwork seemed to lessen. Possibly because Natsuko actually did her work, and did it well. However, that seemed all she did. Unlike his former Lieutenant, Natsuko was practically…boring. He never would tell her, but at times he missed having the chance to yell at Matsumoto as she lazed around. The upside was there was less paperwork and more free time.

Still, sometimes he would find himself searching for hidden bottles of sake or stacks of paperwork, expecting a drunken Rangiku on the couch or begging for another chance. Despite the chaos she caused him, Toshiro missed the strawberry blonde Lieutenant.

"Sir, are you okay, you seem a little out of it?" Natsuko blinked, confused.

"If Mercer sends his usual message, I'm letting you take care of it."

The first time Alex had sent in his monthly report, it was a little frayed as he was still practicing it. In fact, they'd gotten one every week for the first month until he learned how to use them properly. The three times after that, he'd sent more normal messages. Now, since there seemed to be nothing to do, Mercer took it upon himself to mess with both Toshiro and the Head Captain. More than once they'd felt the heat rise as Alex's particular message that month managed to infuriate him. Twice in the past three years he'd sent Hitsugaya to bring some sense to the virus.

He still sent them, but only to Toshiro now. They kept getting weirder and weirder, and on some they could almost hear him laughing as they listened. He probably was.

Natsuko's usually calm face contorted into disbelief.

"Captain, you're really going to make me deal with him?"

"Yes, I'm tired of his antics." Still the small Captain didn't lift his head. "I think he reports for the sole purpose of making me irritated."

"He's had nothing to do, sir. In a way, I can kind of understand why he does it."

"I don't want him understood, I want him to stop! Ugh!" In a childish act, he hit his head against the wood after yelling. He hardly ever yelled at her, there was hardly ever anything to yell at her about.

"I'll finish up this last bit of paperwork, Captain. You should blow off some steam."

"I think I'll take you up on that offer." Standing quickly, Toshiro whisked out of the office and outside.

It was winter again, and he breathed in the sharp, cold air. The cold settled his nerves, even Hyorinmaru hummed quietly in the cold, he'd had his own nerves frayed when Alex once spoke about him.

The sound of a bell and Toshiro quickly went back to a frustrated face, it had to be Alex's new message for this month. Sure enough the Hell Butterfly fluttered next to his head, waiting to relay whatever mischief Alex had for this month.

"I really don't want to hear it, Mercer." Toshiro sighed, but was about to reach up to accept the bug.

It latched onto his shoulder, which should have been the first warning flag.

"Yo, Toshiro." Alex's mocking voice sounded in his head.

'A telepathic butterfly? But how…' Toshiro looked stunned.

"I sense you know the answer." The smirk was so obvious in his voice.

"Urahara." Fists clenched together as he realized the eccentric shop keeper was also keeping in touch with the virus. Or rather, Alex was keeping in touch with him. 'Fine, report.'

"Come on, I ask the weird blonde for this butterfly specifically to talk to you and you shrug me off."

'As a Captain I don't have time to chat.' Toshiro growled.

"Then I'll be quick."

Only barely listening, Toshiro heard Alex's report for the month. Basically, Hollows were deathly afraid of him and he was now a terror to them, humans still hated him and Blackwatch was on the search, as usual. In fact, nothing sounded different from the usual report. No strange Hollows, he still didn't need to consume people, and he seemed happy with his life of fighting.

"Hey, Captain." Alex's voice became somber.

The change in tone caught him off guard.


"Why do you protect humans?"

The question was so surprising, he nearly choked on his breath and fumbled for an answer.

'It…It's my duty as a Soul Reaper, and as Captain-'

"I get the whole job thing, but why? What's so special about humans that they need to be protected?"

'Humans can't defend themselves from Hollows.'

"Yeah, so. Who says we should stop the Hollows? Humans are selfish and cruel."

'Everyone is in some way. Even in the Soul Society there is no 'knight in shining armor', we just protect the balance of souls. Hollows disrupt that balance, so we exterminate them and free the souls they consumed back into the cycle. If we didn't, this world would die.'

"…I guess. Maybe I'm too used to the bastards I consumed on the island three years ago and I have yet to see humans prove their worth."

'If you want that, hang out with Kurosaki. He's proved himself time after time and has dramatically changed the way we run things because of his actions. Even if he's only a Substitute, our debt to him keeps getting bigger.'

"That so? Maybe I will look him up. Well, that's my report. Guess I'll leave you alone for another month."

'Out of curiosity, what did you send the Head Captain?'


"Hehe, you'll see." The cocky tone was back and Toshiro felt the dread rise in his chest. Hyorinmaru rumbled dangerously across the link at the virus.

"Mercer, I made you promise not to send him any more of your little pranks!" Toshiro shouted, accidently out loud.

On the other end, the virus laughed at his misfortune and broke the link.

"MERCER!" The temperature dropped.

At the same time, the heat around the Squad One barracks rose dramatically and the poor Lieutenant was sent to fetch Hitsugaya. It seemed Alex would need to reform his promise.

Other than this occasional event with Mercer, it seemed the Soul Society had settled down. Yet, the conversation about whether humans were worth protecting put Toshiro at unease. He needed to reign him in again. He could do that today, knowing the Head Captain would send him out again.

"He has to be so unpredictable."


So? What did ya'll think? Good? I'm wondering if i should do the sequel and center around Prototype 2, which is why i left it open for a sequel with Alex's questions about human worth. If you think i could, or should, lemme know, please?

Please Review!