Disclaimer ~ I don't own Bleach. This one-shot is written for YamiHigushi's prompt list over on Quizilla. This one is for the Classic Romance/Love prompt, "When I was little, I always wondered about these kind of things..."
Watching With Laughter
A butterfly fluttered through the air and landed on the tip of Kyoraku Taicho's hat brim. The butterfly's wings flapped lightly while it waited for the taicho to take the message that had been sent. The sudden sharp voice of his fukutaicho jarred him from his nap, causing the butterfly to flutter up for a few seconds before landing again. "Taicho..."
"What is it Nanao-chan?"
"Could you at least answer the messages when they come? Better yet, there is a stack of paperwork that needs to be taken care of. Why don't you take care of it?"
The taicho of the eighth division reached a finger up so that the butterfly would land on his finger and listened to the relayed message. He sat up with a smirk on his face. "Sorry Nanao-chan, but Ukitake sent me a message saying that he wishes for me to come and visit."
"Excuse me?" The corner of the woman's mouth deepened. "If this is a drinking visit you can just send a message that you are busy. I'm quite sure he would understand as he's heard me complain about you shirking your duties. I'm actually surprised he asked you to go drinking with him."
"Well..." Kyoraku let out a short, light laugh. "Actually... he does know. This is informal business, but I can guarantee you it simply isn't about me going and drinking. Hitsugaya Taicho had a bad time during his last visit to the living world and Ukitake asked that I come over and be there when he speaks with the boy."
"How come I haven't heard about this? Matsumoto Rangiku surely would have told me if something was bothering her taicho as well as what was bothering him. She's really good at getting him to open up about things... always has been. Not to mention she would notice as well."
"Oh... she's noticed. That fact she can't get him to speak about it told her it had to do with a certain subject he hates talking to her about. She figures that Ukitake and I are the best people to talk to him about this about."
"So... what is it about?"
"Honestly... I don't know. That's the information I got from Ukitake about the matter." The man stood up and left the room, glad that she wasn't able to hassle him anymore about not doing his work. When he arrived at the thirteenth division he slipped into the tea room and sat on the floor. "So... I see Hitsugaya Taicho isn't here yet. Mind telling me a little more about what is going on before he gets here."
"Actually... I think I'll leave your finding out to what he tells you of the matter as I don't want you jumping to conclusions like Matsumoto has. The one thing you do need to know is that beyond telling Nanao-chan about this the conversation that occurs in this room needs to stay between the five of us. Though truth be told I suspect a few of the captains already have an inkling."
Kyoraku took a deep breath. "So... Hitsugaya Taicho may be doing something that would cause heads to turn and later come back to bite him."
"Whether it is what Rangiku thinks it is or not it could come back to bite him simply because some people can get the wrong impression. By the way... you may find this conversation amusing due to who we suspect Ichigo's father to be. Or you personally could take the exact opposite reaction and have a negative response. I wish to remind you that we don't know if Shiro-chan suspects what we do."
"That Ichigo's father is my inane nephew who went and got himself declared dead because he disappeared?" The man shook his head. "I'll refrain from saying anything."
The two then relaxed until the sound of two third seats competing to see who could deliver the message that Hitsugaya Taicho was there first. After they retreated the small taicho peeked in, their behavior causing him to fill slightly uncomfortable. His eyes widened upon seeing Kyoraku. "So... this is just a friendly invitation for me to drink tea with two other captains? Or is the reason there are two captains here because you're for some reason more worried about me then usual Ukitake?"
"Where would you get that idea?" Ukitake gave the child taicho a weak smile.
"You never invite me over for tea unless there is something you wish to discuss with me."
"I guess I need to invite you over more often."
"You won't. Maybe if I was still a third seat rather then a captain. Thing is you know that I'm busy running the division and your to polite to push for a visit unless something important comes up. That's just... the way you are."
Ukitake motioned for the boy to come and sit on the third cushion. When Toshiro sat down he spoke up. "Truth be told Rangiku's a little worried about you. When you came back from your recent trip to the living world... well, you've been off since you got back."
The boy flinched, his body movements revealing that he was a bit upset that the subject was being brought up. "Nothing..." There came a pause. The child taicho looked at the ground. "Exactly how much has Matsumoto told you and how much has she already assumed?"
An eyebrow raised up on Kyoraku's face. "From what you've said I infer that you already know what Rangiku is assuming. I personally only know that something occurred while you were in the living world to upset you. My assumption is that it has something to do with Kurosaki."
"It does." Toshiro's words caused Kyoraku to nod his head, only to have the man suddenly flinch. "But no that Kurosaki."
"Which Kurosaki?" The man took a deep sigh. "Please tell me he hasn't figured out that Isshin is Ichigo's father... or even discovered that he is and is wondering whether to turn him in."
The boy swallowed. "Back when Ichigo still had his powers I had a run in with one of his sisters. We ended up becoming friends and when I go to the living world I play soccer with her and her other friends."
Kyoraku's eyebrows raised up. He then looked at Ukitake wondering why the man was still frowning. "Well, that is a good thing isn't it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you're actually making friends with someone and actually getting to spend time with those who are your physical age for once. I know they're going to likely age faster then you, but this has been something Ukitake and I... and even your former taicho worried about."
Toshiro's eyes suddenly widened and it seemed he was delighted about something. "I'm glad you're saying that because Matsumoto is under the assumption I like Kurosaki in that manner." This caused Kyoraku to flinch, realizing suddenly why Ukitake brought up the fact he might be amused or he might be upset. As he let the idea sink in the boy continued. "It's nice for it to come from you of all people because you're the person most likely to jump to that conclusion."
"Well... I may not have jumped to that conclusion because she's likely my grand-niece. Or because I see Hitsugaya as a grand-nephew." The man shook his head. "Now why would Rangiku think something like that?"
"Because I followed her a bit after we met to observe her."
Ukitake closed his eyes. "Hitsugaya Taicho, you do realize that constitutes stalking?"
"I was only trying to figure out why she could sense Hollows as well as to what degree. It perked my interest. Not to mention the fact she played the soccer game despite having an injury so that the older kids who were bullying her and her friends wouldn't be able to bully them into never using the soccer field again."
"For most people this would be a sign that you admired the person. With Hitsugaya Taicho... for him to take an interest in anyone to that kind of degree... well, saying he has a crush on her isn't a far stretch. He is attracted to this girl but isn't able to admit it." The man let out a sigh and then a chuckle before leaning back while Ukitake began to serve tea. "So... Ichigo's sister is pretty amazing. What is her name?"
"Ku..." The boy caught himself. "Karin. She is pretty amazing. She can see ghosts as well as Hollows. She also is protective like her older brother and despite the fact she isn't anywhere near Kurosaki's level she is still pretty strong. She's also stubborn."
Ukitake caught the change in tone. "For some reason I'm getting that while that is something that you admire about her that is also what is bothering you right now. Why?"
"Yes..." The small taicho looked at the ground, his cheeks suddenly turning red. "She... she called me a pervert."
Kyoraku took a deep breath while the other older taicho's eyes widened. "She called you a what? Why?"
Toshiro muttered something that wasn't audible causing Ukitake to shake his head. "I can't understand what you were saying."
"Her dumb friends decided to share those with me."
"Those..." Kyoraku's eyes widened upon realizing what Toshiro meant. A smile spread across his face and he let out a laugh. "I was very interested in those when I was younger. Mind you, old man Yama tanned my hide every time he caught me with one, but it was so worth it. The woman's body is..."
The man paused as Toshiro looked up at him, his mouth creased in a deep frown and his eye's watering at the corners. It wasn't one of those times the boy was fighting back actually crying, but he was holding back yelling at the top of his lungs. The boy opened his mouth, his voice strained as he held back. "I didn't want to see those things. I don't like her stupid, perverted friends. I don't like the fact they got me in trouble with her."
"I'm not like you are taicho. Seeing those things was embarrassing. I couldn't tell her that though. Couldn't even tell them it bothered me. I couldn't speak at all. It was just... you might of. Taicho might of..."
"Actually... Isshin believe it or not..." Kyoraku let out a deep sigh. "Never could get him to look at that kind of thing."
"Taicho acts like a pervert just like you..."
"Yes... well... you should know from Aizen that an act is just an act and not necessarily the real way that people are. Are you sure she said you are a pervert?"
"She said specifically, 'you guys are perverts for looking at that' before getting this look... kind of like yours right now. Anyways..."
Kyoraku let out a deep sigh. "Hitsugaya... I think she was calling her friends perverts."
"Then why get that look."
"Because you reacted." Kyoraku shook his head. "Yeah.. she likely is my niece." He took a deep breath then. "She now knows that you are sensitive to be calling a pervert and is likely going to call you that just to see you react. I think that simply because that's what I would do in the situation. I think."
Toshiro's eyes widened. He then glanced at the ground. "I think I'll be going now. I do feel better having talked about this. Please don't tell Rangiku though. I mean... don't tell her I was stupid enough to think that... never mind."
The two other captain's watched as the boy left. Kyoraku let out a deep sigh. Ukitake spoke up. "So... what do you think?'
"I think he has a crush on her."
The other man frowned. "That bothers you that he has a crush on your niece."
"No. Not really. From the sounds of it the girl can take care of herself. I'm more bothered by the fact he's in denial, he's obviously finally hit puberty, how he's going to react at finding out who her father is... that is if we're right about that... as well as the fact this is so above his head. And then there is the fact I'm sorely tempted to play matchmaker but can't under the current circumstances."
"Well... let's just hope for the best."