The veranda overlooking the little pond on the Kuchiki estate has had furniture added to it in the last few years. Two western-style chairs now overlook the still water. The lord of the manor put them there as a lure for his intrepid sister. But tonight they are being used for other things. Next to him, his fukutaichou is sitting with his wild red head in his hands.

Byakuya frowns at him. "Perhaps you should start at the beginning, Renji. I cannot counsel you without knowing all the facts."

The boy—yes, boy, his face reminds Byakuya of a five-year old who's just lost his dog—looks at him with bloodshot eyes. "Things are completely out of control here, taichou."

"I am aware of that. You still have yet to explain why."

"Your sister made a choice," Renji says, and Byakuya cringes at the pain in his voice. "I can accept that. I have accepted that. I just don't know why I'm reacting this way."

"She chose the boy."

"Was there ever any doubt she would?"

"No, but I am certain you held out a certain hope until now." Byakuya shifts in his chair. "But there's something else, isn't there."

"I've been going down to Karakura with her, you know. She likes the company. I like the company. For a while I felt like a third wheel, but lately there's been someone else with them."

Byakuya coughs. "I know you've been going because I never rescinded the original order, Renji."

"Ah." Renji clears his throat.

"Who else has been spending time with you?"

"A high school friend of Kurosaki's," Renji sighs.

"A high school friend who unsettles you, clearly. What is he like?"

Renji blinks at him. "Not 'he,' sir."

"She? Have you developed feelings for Inoue Orihime? You told me she has formed an attachment to that Quincy."

"Not her, sir. Her friend. Ichigo's friend."

Byakuya gazes at the boy. He cannot recall any other females among the ranks of Kurosaki's seemingly endless list of comrades. Renji shakes his head; he knows his captain isn't understanding.

"Her name is Arisawa." He clears his throat again. "She's a complete bitch, almost as bad as Rukia can be. And I think"—he pauses, clearly unsure of how to say what he wants to say next—"I'm completely hot for her."

Byakuya sighs and takes a sip of his tea. "Start from the beginning, Renji," he says.

He knows it's going to be a long night.


A/N: Hee hee, this is gonna be fun.