Secrets are the invisible glue that holds the very fabric of our reality together. If you knew what your boyfriend really thought of the pants you're wearing, or what really happened that night when you were told "it was nothing"; it's a safe bet that you will flip.

In a nutshell, secrets are good, they're important and they're everywhere.

Seireitei is no different.

One would expect a place filled with dead fighters to be a bit more evolved. One would also expect said fighters to be better able to handle the truth, but one would be sourly mistaken.

So, as it stands, Seireitei was filled with secrets.

Some were small and pointless to keep –mainly because everyone already knew them- like the fact that Soifon had a cat fetish. Others, however, were huge and well-guarded, for example the eighth division captain might never tell anyone about that one night back in the academy days when he was so eager to have his first experience with a woman, and he ended up following this gorgeous lady into a bar, and drinking his weight in alcohol. Granted he was much lighter back then, but so was his capacity for holding his liquor. To make a long story short, Shunsui did in fact get the beautiful woman that night. He brought her back home, and had a marvelous first time with a foxy cougar. However, come morning he realized that his dream lady had one fatal flaw. It was tiny; really, but it was still a penis, and she was still a man: a "transvestite", to be more politically correct.

What a sad day for young Shunsui, a sad day that he would never speak of to anyone. He made the mistake of telling his best friend and then watched as the constantly considerate and forever supportive Ukitake Juushiro broke into a fit of laughter that almost put him into a coma. Ukitake, of course, apologized for hours after that, it was, after all, against everything that he was to laugh at his best friend, especially when he was at his most miserable. It didn't help however, that he couldn't stop himself from chuckling as he attempted to soothe his friend.

"Well, it's fine Shun, it could happen to anyone."

"No it couldn't, name one straight guy in this entire world who lost his virginity to a man."

At that Ukitake stared back unblinkingly at his friend, a second later Shunsui noticed that his friend's eyes were watering and that he wasn't breathing. He almost panicked and thought that Ukitake was about to pass out. But of course, it only took one more instant for Ukitake to launch once more into a laughing fit punctuated by periods of profound apology.

It was at that day that Shunsui understood the importance of keeping his mouth shut. Yup, secrets are the best.

On the other hand, there is a certain type of secret that is kept because no one has the audacity to speak of it, and even those with the needed courage don't have enough physical evidence to support their claims.

Such secrets are the best kept ones. Mainly because there is some sort of an unspoken agreement to keep them.

A prime example of this kind of secret exists in Seireitei.

Everyone knows it. Well, at least the captains know it. However, none of them did, or will ever discuss it with the others, and no one will ever dare speak of it. And that secret was that the Sotaicho of the Gotei 13th was a very vindictive man. And I mean very vindictive.

It isn't that he's evil or anything, because he wasn't. Nope, it was actually that he enjoyed toying with his underlings more than he should. More than anyone should, actually.

Byakuya always believed that this was precisely why Ichimaru Gin and Zaraki Kenpachi were allowed into the Gotei 13th in the first place. The Captain Commander just wanted to mess with the rest of the captains and make their lives unnecessarily more tiresome by inflicting such abominations on their lives.

This is why the Kuchiki clan's head wasn't at all surprised when Yammamoto allowed Hirako Shinji to resume his position as a captain. After all, what better way to annoy everyone than to invite that man back on board. The captain commander could have just given him a formal apology for everything that has happened, and maybe a handsome sum of money for his troubles, but Noooo, he had to bring him back.

But, still, Byakuya completely saw that one coming, and swallowed his qualms like a pro, as he proceeded on his impassive way. Every day he would return that man's greetings, and he was even gracious enough not to impale the blonde when he made to have small talk with him. His force of will was never more evident than when he completely ignored Shinji as he stated, "Oh my, Bya-Taicho, your new hairdo is simply fabulous." Hand gestures and all.

Yup, Byakuya just walked away.

And if that man knew anything, he should count himself very lucky that Byakuya hadn't torn him asunder yet for the whole "Bya-Taicho" thing.

But who cares. Once a nuisance, always a nuisance. And the squad six captain made it a habit to never sink to the level of such blazing morons.

It became evidently harder for Byakuya to ignore Hirako, however, when the Sotaicho decided to make him -out of all people- responsible for assessing the current state of the captains of the Gotei 13th.

Yup, Hirako Shinji was put in charge of assessing all the other captains in terms of performance capacity. Why? you ask, well, apparently he has taken some sort of psychology course during his stay on earth, which made him some sort of expert on morale and human resources. Oh, yah, and Sotaicho is a spiteful and vindictive man who was probably off somewhere having a good laugh at his underlings' expense.

"You're here, Bya-Taicho." The laidback captain greeted, as he waltzed through the door. "Sorry I'm late, but it's such an early time for a meeting." Shinji declared.

"You called this meeting." Byakuya stated coldly.

Shinji froze on his way around the desk, looking clueless-ly back at the Kuchiki, "What do you mean?"

Byakuya eyed him impassively, "The meeting time was your choice."

The new fifth squad captain blinked. "Huh?"

Byakuya remained unmoved, even though he had every right to strangle the man for being late after setting the time for the meeting and then having the audacity to act a fool.

"Hirako-Taicho," Byakuya started, but got interrupted by the man who has by now assumed his seat behind his desk, and was beaming at Byakuya who was sitting opposite from him.

"You can call me Shinji, if you wish." He offered with a smile.

"Hirako-Taicho," Byakuya started once again as if Shinji has never spoken. "I am not inclined to allow you to waste any more of my time on banalities." Came the monotonous statement.

Shinji blinked, the man in front of him was obviously not in a mood for chatter, and he was seemingly about to get up and leave, he felt the need to do something about that.

Grinning, the fifth squad captain tilted his head.

"I have no intention of wasting Bya-Taicho's precious time on banalities. In fact, I have something of great importance to discuss with you."

Byakuya eyed him appraisingly for a moment, obviously not interested enough to ask him what that important thing was.

Shinji pouted, before sighing, "What is it, you ask…" He stated, humoring himself. "Well, I think you've been working too hard."

Byakuya just looked at him, steely gaze and all. Paired with the silence, it was quite unnerving; yet Shinji pushed on like it was nothing.

"I know, I know, you might be thinking that this is not a big deal. But you know what? It is. Back in the day, when I studied Psychology and Human Resources in the human world, they used to tell us that a well-rested employee is a productive employee. They also said that the happier one is, the more efficient he gets, especially when this person is placed in a leadership position. Now, are you happy Bya-Taicho?" The blonde finished, leaning forwards and cradling his chin in the palms of his hands, affecting deep interest.

For his part, Byakuya just looked at him. Still uninterested, and obviously not amused with all the babbling.

Shinji sighed again.

"You haven't taken a single day off since you got into the Gotei 13th. The only time-off you allow yourself is when you get injured and you always return before you are fully healed. Do you know how many centuries it has been since you've had some time to yourself? Sheesh, how do you do that?" The fifth squad captain said, pointing a finger at the impassive man. "You have almost a hundred years' worth of vacations that you could invoke, yet you haven't used a single day." He accused.

"As, I said, I have no time for trite chatter." Byakuya finally stated.

Shinji raised an eyebrow.

"But….." He started but trailed off as Byakuya got to his feet.

"Bya-Taicho," he resumed, getting to his feet as well. Byakuya stopped out of respect and lent his attention to his fellow captain. "I don't think you're happy." He accused.

"Hirako taicho, I do not believe this concerns you."

"Actually, it does." The man said, a hint of pride flashing behind his eyes. "I knew you when you were younger, remember. And after this meeting, I am quite certain that you are not as happy as you used to be. Which could only be because you have been overworking yourself and not taking your due vacations. This is why; I have come to a decision." At that, he paused for a dramatic effect.

Still not entertained, Byakuya eyed him emotionlessly.

"Ahem," The man cleared his throat. "What is this decision, you ask…."

"I did not ask."

"Well, thank you for asking…." Pause, "My decision is to give you two months of forced vacation."

Now this got Byakuya's attention.

"This is not part of your jurisdiction."

"Which is exactly why I had to acquire Sotaicho's agreement to do it. We both feel that this would be for the best, Bya-Taicho."

Yup, this definitely got his attention, as suddenly the tension level in the room escalated, and Shinji felt an intense need to cover his face.

Better finish this before he needs stitches.

"Even for a short period, this is quite a dangerous endeavor." The Kuchiki Prince intoned.

Depriving a squad of its powerful captain sure is a rash thing to do.

"Well, things have been relatively peaceful now that Aizen is gone. I don't think we have anything to worry about. Not to mention that you could return at any time if need be."

Yup, he sure was about to be attacked.

"They're just two months, and don't you worry, Bya-taicho, I have the perfect person to take over for you."

"Take over?" Byakuya repeated, a deadly tenor.

Shinji cleared his throat again, before nodding and smiling.

"You know, just a temporary person to help run the day to day operations till you're back."

"And who might that be?" The impassive man questioned, stepping closer to Shinji's desk.

"Someone I'm sure you'd be happy with, Yoruichi Shihoin."

Shinji stepped back, Byakuya stepped forwards, and it suddenly seemed like the room has gotten smaller.

"You're gonna have to give her a few pointers before you leave for your vacation." The blonde declared, slamming the window behind his desk open. Who knew that the escape route he always kept in place in case he needed to avoid Hiyori would come in handy against Byakuya. "Oh, and she starts tomorrow." He finished, before ducking out of the window and flash stepping to God knows where.

Behind him, and in the midst of the fifth division captain's office stood an immobile Kuchiki Byakuya, glaring murderously at the spot where his fellow captain disappeared, as his Reiatsu almost suffocated everyone within a six mile radius.

Sotaicho is a vindictive, vindictive man…

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Please let me know what you think, and whether you'd like me to continue with this.