my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled

"I don't get it," Ichigo said privately to Renji. "Yeah, I can feel sorry for those three because their Captains were traitors, but shouldn't they have noticed something? They were with them all the time. They did what they were told. You didn't do what Byakuya told you."

Renji bit back something he'd been going to say, and paused to pick through his words. "Kuchiki-taichou was wrong in letting them go ahead and try to execute Rukia. But he never betrayed Seireitai. Or me."

"So he did something wrong and you tried to stop him. How's that different from the way they were?"

Renji ran a hand through his hair. Finally he said, "Kuchiki-taichou never lied to me. He never gave me shit and told me it was jade. He never said that he trusted me and then sent me out to kill innocents. He would never let me get myself killed because he thought it was tidier that way and that I couldn't manage without him."

Ichigo sighed. "Fine. But I still don't get it."

"Moron." Renji punched him in the shoulder. "Kuchiki-taichou would never make me so that I couldn't manage without him."

"But you don't want to manage without him."

"That's different."

"And nor did she." Ichigo's nod towards Fourth Division was identification enough.

"And that," Renji said with cold venom that was all the more vicious than his usual flaming temper, "is one more thing that I am going to take out of Aizen's skin when we catch up with the bastard. She was my friend, moron. She was like your Tatsuki."

Ichigo blinked.

"She isn't now," Renji said, turning away. "I know. That's the point."

---