A light-hearted peek into the Ninth Division. I'll be updating with something a bit meatier soon, don't worry.


"You so owe me." The words make Kensei look up from his budgeting with a slightly puzzled frown. The speaker's sprawled across the couch, cataloging records of the division members' Zanpakutos as she fusses with a scrap of fabric torn from its upholstery.

"Whaddya mean, I owe you?" He grumbles. "You flashed me. That's enough to make us even. Shut up, Mashiro," the white-haired man snaps at his lieutenant, who giggles.

"Yeah, like catchin' a glimpse of a girl's chest is somethin' t'complain about," Ryuu says sarcastically.

"It is when it's your chest that I'm being subjected too," Kensei retorts. "Sheesh, they're all raisin-like and flat from that sarashi."

She squawks indignantly, sitting up and giving her captain a death glare that's nearly a match for his. "Sh-shut up, asshole! Are not! Don't be crude about a woman's body like that!"

He shrugs, inwardly enjoying the chance to make her squirm. "Just calling it like I see it. 'Sides, the way you are, you're hardly a woman."

The Visored's face is promptly introduced to a paperweight, hurled with the uniquely potent fury of an insulted girl. "I said shut up! Ain't a right or wrong way to be a woman the way I see it! Ya don't like my bein' able to kick the ass of any man in this place, I'll put ya in yer place! And I won't do any of yer extra paperwork, so there."

Mashiro had put down her own paperwork to snicker at them. "Well you aren't really a woman, Grey-chan. You don't look old enough for that yet. Isn't that what you mean, Kensei?"

Rubbing the swiftly-forming bruise on his cheek, Kensei glares, restraining himself from throwing his brat of a subordinate through the paper door with a powerful effort of will. From what he's gathered, the wiry boy Matsushima Ryuu is in fact the sort-of princess Shibata Kasumi. That's actually proved to be a blessing, since it means that the recently-promoted third seat has to switch out with someone else when the pale-haired man has to take a bath or do something similar. Getting a break from the Shinigami assigned to be his—and often Mashiro's by extension—constant companion by the Central 46 has become a relief.

Of course, he can't exactly hand out physical discipline any more, given the nobles' intense hostility to the Visoreds. If they got word of him even tapping someone on the shoulder, Kensei's sure that would be something they could turn into anti-hybrid propaganda. Someone's already made an attempt on his life, conveniently unable to be connected to the Kuchiki or their many allies. That time, having a pure Shinigami around turned out to be an unexpected blessing.

Kensei shudders as he thinks of the punishment his now-third seat had given them while her superiors had been incapacitated by what Urahara had identified as a concentrated Hollow repellent. Sure, violence had to be met with violence in some cases, but incinerating their clothes and a good part of the surrounding area was overkill. If the attackers hadn't used a strange suicide Kido—must've had some real good benefits to do that—they would've had burns in some very uncomfortable places.

When the captain and lieutenant of the Ninth had shown up at the Fourth a good hour late for the week's psych exam, they'd received quite the reprimand from Unohana. The remarkable destruction inflicted on their surrounding by Ryuu—or Kasumi, or whoever the hell she was—had just added fuel to the cold, cold fire of her wrath. Next time, he was leaving an hour early.

"Yeah, that's what I meant. Y'ain't tall enough to be a real lady yet," Kensei says hastily, not eager for something more damaging than a paperweight to be rained down upon him next.

She eyes him suspiciously. "Sure you did. Good thing I'm not fixin' to be a lady any time soon."

"Good excuse for never growing, isn't it?" Kensei comments, dodging the second paperweight thrown at him. "Okay, okay, I'll stop mentioning it if you stop insisting I owe you or some ridiculous shit like that."

"You do!" Ryuu insists. "You saw me half-naked without my permission and didn't apologize and you kept a pretty damn big secret from me that nearly got me killed! That's grounds for you to owe me!" She blushes slightly upon mentioning the exposure.

Kensei growls under his breath. "Not my fault," he reminds her. "Law says so. And if you had maybe told me before then, I would've known not to look. Not to mention the fact that it isn't like you don't have access to things sturdier than bandages. That's your own fault. Speaking of which, starting from now on, you're going to stop lying about being a boy. It's giving me a headache how many things I have to keep straight 'cause of that, and you're confusing people."

Ryuu huffs, flopping back onto the couch. "I ain't lyin'. They just thought that and I let 'em think it. 'Sides, Ryuu's a better name than Kasumi. Could they have picked a girlier name? Gods above, it's so boring. An' sarashi's easier and I can bandage up stuff if I get a wound or somethin'."

"But isn't Ryuu a really common name for guys? It's kinda boring too if you think about it," Mashiro comments. "Kensei, this is a budget sheet that got mixed up." She lobs a paper airplane over to him, which the silver-haired man unfolds with a shake of his head, putting it on the stack.

"Hmph. It has a cooler meaning."

"Regardless, you're going by your real name. It makes life easier for the rest of us, and paperwork gets a thousand times easier. I don't want to be double-checking forms when I see a guy's name and the gender listed as female. Makes me think I've slipped up and have to redo it. Whatever family name you want to use is your business," Kensei says exasperatedly, leaning back in his chair. "Kasumi's a fine name anyway. Kinda cute. If you're really hung up on the meaning, think of it this way: my ma used to say that mist was a fragment of sky brought to the earth and if you looked hard enough you could you see bits of the sun's fire still in it from being up so high."

Ryuu rolls over onto her side, back to him. For a second, the Visored captain thinks he sees an uncharacteristic blush stain her cheeks. "Didn't know ya came from a buncha poets, Captain. Fine, fine. I ain't changin' the family name, though. Matsushima Kasumi. That good enough for yer stupid forms?"

The captain of the Ninth shrugs, looking back at his sheets of numbers. "I'm sure the forms are happy not to have to deal with your shitty name anymore. Now get back to work. I don't care what you did last night—no tryin' to catch some shut-eye on the job."

"I'm not!" Kasumi protests, returning to her work again. "Jerk! Stop accusing me of being lazy! I put up with your and Mashiro's freaky asses, don't I? That takes more patience that you'll ever have."

Kensei stiffens briefly, as he always does upon being reminded of his dual nature, then forces himself to relax again and scowl at the third seat. "Oh yeah, you're real patient. That's why there're two paperweights on the floor."

"Your fault!"

From there, the afternoon loses its purpose utterly, descending into light-hearted bickering and jokes faster than you can say 'Bankai.'

It's a comfortable thing, restoring normality faster than mundane routine ever could.

A shame that jokes don't pay the bills.


This is more or less equivalent to filler, but I like to think it's necessary filler. A bit of sunshine's necessary after rain, after all. And it's healing for the characters, too. Repairing a damaged psyche takes time and a healthy application of normality, whatever that is.