Hi! My apologies for dropping off the face of the Earth for... um, ages, but I had an awful lot going on, including finishing my uni degree. I suddenly got some inspiration for this (Christmas-themed, of course!), but I won't be going back to regular updates. It's just too much hassle. I do have another one mostly done though, so expect an update fairly soon.
Title: Secret Santa
Featuring: Renji, Rukia, Byakuya, Matsumoto
"What the hell happened to you?" Renji asked, blinking at the sight before him. "And what's that doing in here?"
Rukia spun a little circle. "Do you like it?" she asked. "Inoue made it for me. She said it's a…" She frowned. "A Christmas present. It's an elf costume!"
"With rabbit ears on it?" he asked. "And that doesn't explain why there's a tree with things all over it in Taichou's office."
"Elves can have rabbit ears!" she said defensively. "And the tree is for celebrating Christmas."
"What's Christmas?" Renji asked.
"Inoue said it's the best time of year. Everybody gets together and has parties, and they decorate by getting trees and hanging nice glittery things on it."
Renji looked at the tree. Rukia's idea of 'glittery things' included his stapler, a glass paperweight from Byakuya's desk, something that looked suspiciously like Matsumoto's pink scarf and Kon dressed as a gaudy angel on the top. "What are you looking at?" he demanded, glaring at Renji. "Neesan promised me a hug for this!"
"And the best part is the presents!" Rukia proclaimed, waving towards the base of the tree. Renji crouched and found several neatly wrapped parcels scattered around the trunk. "You get to open them on Christmas Day. I need to check with Inoue exactly when that is…"
"So Rukia has presents for us under the tree," Renji explained. "I think she's expecting us to celebrate too."
"And what do you expect me to do about it?" Byakuya asked coolly, surveying the tree taking up a corner of his office.
"Well… I'm going to buy her a present," Renji said, shuffling his feet. "It wouldn't feel right if she gave me one but I didn't have anything to give her."
"Do as you will," Byakuya replied. "I will have no part in something so frivolous."
Renji went to the door, but paused on the threshold. "If you change your mind, it's in two days' time," he said quietly.
"Merry Christmas, Renji!" Rukia shouted, holding out a package with a big smile.
"Um, Merry Christmas, Rukia," he answered, taking it. "I have something for you, too." He produced a poorly-wrapped box and thrust it at her, embarrassed.
She squealed with delight and ripped the paper off as he tried to work out how to open hers. "Oh, Renji! Thank you!" She leaned over and kissed his cheek, then returned to admiring the Chappy gikongan dispenser as he went bright red.
A bright flash at the doorway signalled a grinning Matsumoto's entrance. "Why, Renji! Your face matched your hair!" she exclaimed, swinging her camera from a finger. "You owe me a really nice Christmas present now."
"Who put this one here?" Rukia asked, holding up a beautifully wrapped present. "The label says 'To Rukia, from Santa.' Who's that?"
"Open it!" Matsumoto urged, thoughts of blackmail temporarily forgotten. "Let's see what it is!"
Rukia carefully unwrapped it, and gasped. A silver necklace with a piece of amethyst half the size of her thumb lay inside, with her name and a tiny snowflake inlaid in it in silver.
"Oh, it's gorgeous!" Matsumoto exclaimed. "Who's it from?"
"I don't know," Rukia said helplessly. "I don't know anyone called Santa!"
Outside the door, Byakuya watched the other female shinigami come forward to exclaim over Rukia's present and wonder about the giver. "If you don't know who Santa is, then it is obvious there is still more for you to learn about Christmas," he said quietly. "Perhaps I'll teach you one day." His mouth curved into what on anyone else would be considered a smile, and he left.
I'm just glad no one saw me sneaking around in that ridiculous red get-up last night, he thought guiltily.
I loved the idea of Byakuya dressed up as Father Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone! Or at the very least, happy holidays!