They had made love twice more before dawn. In the middle of the night, Renji rolled over to find Miyako on her side with her back to him. He had begun to kiss her back and caress her arms and thighs, and she was awakened by the sensation of goosebumps forming from his touch. He had gently gripped her thigh and pulled it backwards over his hip, holding onto her tightly with the other arm. Miyako had initiated the third time by slipping on top of him and kissing his chest. They were both groggy and their bodies were spent, but they were still intoxicated with each other and acted as if they would never get another opportunity to spend so much intimate time alone again. They probably wouldn't.

Shinigami performing this type of behavior was strictly looked down upon. It was simply not done. They both knew that they had broken a very delicate and tacit rule. Engaging in such behavior in Seireitei was not only dishonorable, as they were the guardians of Soul Society, but it was also considered shameful since they were technically not married. Soldiers of the Gotei Thirteen were Death Gods charged with an enormous responsibility to preserve and protect every living soul, train subordinates with this responsibility, and eventually move up in rank with honor. If Death Gods were running around with each other, sneaking in and out of barracks and fornicating like animals all the time, it was a reflection of lack of discipline and Seireitei would be a complete disgrace.

This wasn't to say that it never happened, however. It was rumored that Matsumoto got around with a few residents, mostly when she had too much sake. A resident of 4th squad was recently disciplined after she was found with a member from 13th. Most of the male residents from 8th squad were philanderers, just like their Captain, and chased the women around. Some even got lucky. Even Captain Kyoraku himself bedded a few ranking officers, although nobody would admit it. Tons of young girls had crushes on Izuru, Shuhei, Renji, and Ikkaku, and some even followed around Captains Hitsugaya and Kuchiki like lovesick puppies (without them noticing, of course). For the most part, however, this type of problem wasn't very persistent because of the discipline both the Captains and Lieutenants harbored towards their squad; especially in 6th and 11th.

Both Renji and Miyako knew this. They knew that after this night, they would have to simply resume their duty and act as if nothing had happened. They would not be able to see each other every day. They would not be able to talk to each other alone. They would probably only be able to spar once in awhile. Visiting each other in their separate quarters was out of the question. It would be too obvious to others and they wouldn't want to risk a scandal. They would merely have to continue their life in Seireitei; carrying with them only the memory of this night.

Renji rolled over and his eyes slowly opened. It wasn't yet dawn, but he had to get up before other residents did. If anyone noticed him leaving her quarters, it would be over. They'd both be demoted – if they weren't kicked out of Seireitei, that is.

Rubbing his eyes, he grabbed a tie for his hair and put it back up, then grabbed his trousers, pulling them back up and tied them around his waist in a messy knot. He looked around the room for his robe, and his eyes darted to Miyako. She was lying on her belly, arms curled under her…and his robe was tangled around her waist.


He slid on his sandals and tied them quickly, then picked up Miyako's robe. He didn't want to wake her; instead, he was going to try to slip his robe out from under her and replace it with her own. As he was searching for his lieutenant badge, however, Miyako woke up and rolled over.

"What time is it?"

Renji turned around to answer, but the words got stuck in his throat. He cocked his head and stared at her bare chest, rising up and down peacefully as she was breathing. She hadn't noticed him looking at her. She was rubbing her eyes and sighing groggily as she slowly awoke. Renji grinned darkly.


"Eh? Aahh…it's barely dawn."

There was a slight pause before she answered, "Oh."

They both knew, but they didn't want to admit it. Renji had to leave. They both dreaded it and welcomed it at the same time. The situation was a little awkward, and neither of them really knew how to approach it. Last night they didn't exactly talk to each other…in fact, they never really talked to each other. With Renji and Miyako, it was always physical.

He knelt over to pick up his lieutenant badge and Miyako sat up, looking around for her trousers. Renji was standing in front of them, so he picked them up and walked over to her. She looked up at him and took the trousers shyly, her face suddenly turning pink.

"Uh…I need my…" Renji mumbled to her, pointing at her waist and rubbing the back of his neck.

She glanced down and nodded. "Oh…yes…"

She threw the trousers onto her legs and shimmied into them, not wanting to remove his robe away from her lower naked half without covering it up first. It was a silly notion, really, but for some reason she felt slightly embarrassed. She had slept with a lieutenant…an officer three ranks higher than her…someone who she would have to obey if he had given her an order. The feeling was strange…and she felt a little ashamed. She started to wonder if Renji felt the same way. What if this was just a random occurrence for him? What if last night was just another night? Was he going to try to leave without my knowing? Just exactly how much do I mean to him?

She shrugged the thoughts away. After all, she had conceded, so it was just as much her fault as it was his. There was no more room for regret. They had to focus on more important things.

She stood up and handed him his robe, consciously covering up her breasts with the other arm and avoiding eye contact. He traded robes with her and she turned her back to him, putting her arms into her robe. Renji bowed his head and looked at his own robe clenched in his fist. It was still warm and it still had the slight scent of Miyako's skin. Orchids.

Fuck, Renji thought. I've gotta get out of here. The longer he lingered, the more he didn't want to leave. He wanted to feel her against him one more time. He looked up and watched Miyako pick up a white sash, tie it around her robe…and then she gasped. Her head bowed and she gripped her left chest. Renji was behind her in an instant, putting a hand on her shoulder.


He had felt the twinge of spirit force. It was the same ominous, sour feeling he felt earlier on Soukyoku, but it was fleeting and had vanished before he even rushed to her side. Miyako exhaled slowly and shook her head.

"I'm fine."

"You're sure?"

Miyako didn't answer. Instead, her posture stiffened. She was getting stubborn again.

"It's your chest, isn't it?" Renji sighed. "Miyako, your reiatsu - "

"It's nothing. I said I'm fine," Miyako snapped.

Renji didn't believe her, but he wasn't going to push the issue. She had accused him of being an overbearing mother, and perhaps she was right. She was from 11th squad. He wasn't going to try to send her to 4th squad again, because it was the last place a member of 11th squad wanted to be. They would prefer to be near death before going to the hospital. He knew that it was out of his hands; he had helped her enough already. He had interrupted battles to protect her, he had carried her because she was injured more than once, and he had chided her and nagged her enough about safety and protection. It was now her responsibility to take care of herself, and he would respect her by not getting in the way.

There was another issue, however, that he wanted to address. Her back was to him and she hadn't yet turned around.

"So…" Miyako sighed.

She was either trying to start conversation or she was trying to get him to leave her quarters. Renji guessed the latter. It wasn't easy on either of them…but he had to at least tell her the truth.

"Miyako…" Renji placed his hands on both of her arms. She turned her head slightly. "I just want you to know…last night wasn't an accident. I wasn't trying to take advantage of you."

Miyako slowly closed her eyes and tried not to smile. She felt the weight lift from her. He did care.

"Baka," she replied sofly. "As if I would let you take advantage of me."

Renji let out a small grin and gave her arms a squeeze. He wanted to hold her so badly, but if he did, he was in danger of not leaving. Instead, he forced himself to tear away from her and he slid on his robe, tied it quickly after snatching up the belt off the floor, and pulled his lieutenant patch up. He picked up Zabimaru and slid it near his side, then turned towards Miyako again. She hadn't moved from her spot. She was turned towards the doorway. Birds were starting to chirp and they were running out of time. It was getting lighter outside.

Renji walked past her to the door and gripped the frame, hesitating before stepping outside. He wanted to say something to her, but there was no way he was going to attempt some sort of goofy-ass, pathetic, friendly remark. After all, it wasn't goodbye.


Renji turned around to look at her. She looked the same; she didn't look sad or upset – instead, her eyes still had that 11th squad sparkle and she even looked slightly pissed off. God, it aroused him.


"You're being sent to the human world, aren't you?"

Renji sighed and looked at the floor. So the rumors had already started. He had been in constant secret meetings for the past two days about what to do with Aizen's recruited Hollows. It was speculated that the human world was a plausible target, and reconnaissance squads were to be assembled and placed among every major city. Renji's squad was the most important of all; consisting of one Captain, two lieutenants, and three high-ranking seats. The 12th division projected that Karakura Town would be the prime target for Aizen's first move. None of them knew why. It didn't seem to have anything to do with Ichigo Kurosaki…but they wanted to be sure.

After a long pause, he nodded. "We're leaving in three weeks."

Miyako crossed her arms. "Who?"

Renji hesitated. The information was supposed to be kept secret, at least for now…but Miyako wasn't a gossip, either. Besides, Ikkaku or Yumichika would blab to her about the mission anyway. It was inevitable.

"Captain Hitsugaya is leading the task force," Renji replied. "Matsumoto is going with him, along with Ikkaku, Yumichika, Rukia, and me."

"Why is Rukia going?"

"Rukia knows Karakura Town the best, and she knows how to contact Ichigo."

"And why is that flamboyant bastard Yumichika going?" Miyako snorted. "He always follows Ikkaku around."

Renji shrugged and grinned. He knew Miyako was complaining because she probably wanted to go along. Hell, any member of 11th squad would want a chance at the Hollows. "They needed an extra hand and Yumichika volunteered."

There was a long pause.

"It's good that you're staying behind," Renji added sofly.

Miyako shrugged. "I'd rather not go," she replied. "I heard the human world is boring."

"It is," Renji nodded. "Unless there's a Hollow to kill, there's nothing else to do."

"Why is it good that I stay behind?" Miyako put her hands on her hips. Her tone grew accusing.

Renji scratched the back of his head. "I'm just sayin' …with Ikkaku and Yumichika gone, you'll be in charge of 11th squad."

Miyako didn't reply. She hadn't thought about that. There was no doubt that Captain Zaraki would be the one giving orders, but when he was gone, Yachiru almost never took control of the squad and it was up to Ikkaku instead. If Ikkaku and Yumichika left for Karakura Town…Miyako would ultimately be responsible for the entire squad. Responsible for preparing them for Aizen's attack.

"How long will you be gone?"

Renji shook his head. "I don't know."

There was another long pause. Renji didn't want to leave, but he couldn't stall any longer.

"All right…well…I've got to get back. No doubt the General will want to meet with us again."

Miyako nodded and swallowed. The words caught in her throat and she couldn't think of anything else to say to him. There was really nothing else to add.

As he turned and slid the door open, Miyako took a step forward.


Renji glanced back at her.

"If I don't see you before you leave…then…be careful," she murmured. She was standing with her arms crossed, trying to act nonchalant, but when she met his eyes, she knew that he felt the exact same way as she did.

Renji nodded. "You too," he replied gruffly.

They stared at each other for a moment, not saying a word but still understanding each other completely. After Renji set his jaw and nodded to her curtly one last time, he slid the door open and stepped out. He disappeared in front of the doorway as he used shunpo to get back to the 6th squad barracks, and she slowly stepped up to the door and stared outside. Nobody was awake yet. The air was damp with the morning dew and the chirping crickets were starting to die down as the birds were awakening. The sun was not yet up, but a pink light crept along the horizon.

They did not say 'I love you.' They did not say anything affectionate to one another. They did not display feelings of warmth, nor did they embrace one last time and remind each other that it was going to be all right. A war would start soon. Renji had a duty as Lieutenant, and he would soon be leaving Soul Society for the human world. Miyako had a duty to her squad, and she needed to prepare them for the worst. Both of them did not have room for sappy comments or remorse. In a time like this, they both had a responsibility, and they both had to be strong. Because they were both from 11th squad, they did not need to tell each other how they felt. They already knew. They were given an entire night to spend with each other, and they managed to use most of the time they had. There wouldn't be another opportunity like this one, so they savored what they managed to share together. Because of that, there was no need for words.

Miyako breathed in the morning air and sighed. She slowly slid her door shut and prepared to wash and dress. Today would be the harsh beginning of the squad's ultimate training…for war.