Standard disclaimers apply.

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Let me let you in on something. No, wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…now.

People tend to become dumb when love strikes them. (Not that Byakuya would admit to either; being dumb or being in love.) And that's why my life's miserable at the moment. Miserable, miserable, miserable indeed. Sometimes I wonder if the dumbass really is worth all the trouble. Honestly.

Do not question my loyalty to Byakuya, unless you want my foot up your ass. Yeah, Byakuya had ordered that I "keep the girl close", except loyalty ain't just about following orders like God himself personally pissed every word. Besides, how exactly do you keep a servant close? This is a royal House, where the House appears to run itself, the servants near invisible. The best I could do was get her to follow me around, and damned is me if Byakuya hadn't bumped casually into us every couple of days, during the month of her stay, with one petty errand or another to send me off in a different direction. In the depths of night when the girl doses off with his haori on her back he can't even keep his hands to himself, dazed as he is. Fool needs to cool his head a bit, and Hisana, the girl desperately needs a foothold in the higher society.

Not that I give a damn, really. Time's changed, man – the higher society isn't what it used to be anymore. Sacred rites and observances have long been abandoned (the Shiba Clan now makes fireworks solely for play), the Shihouin command has dissipated since the establishment of the Gotei 13, and the privilege of education has been extended to every other brat out there. Nevertheless, the Kuchiki Clan, the observers of law, refuses to let go. Byakuya's attitude can be tricky, especially since (as I mentioned) he's dumbed down with Hisana; but useless Branch House geezers that think otherwise will not let her sit pretty, whatever Byakuya decides to make of her. Life just sucks this way.

So there you have it, why I sent Hisana away. People "from the Shihouin House" are respected almost en masse, mostly because if you don't, chances are you'll get your ass handed back to you one way or another. And even if she can't do that, it'd still be good for her to pick up some reiatsu with one weird toy of Yoruichi's or another. Byakuya's been holding back, but one of these days he won't be able to, and that's exactly when he'll really need her. How many birds is that with one stone? I lost count. This, matey, is loyalty. I am so much better than you.

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In three days the papers are received, as expected. Okane-san also sent an oral message – "I apologize once again for the incompleteness of the previous reports" – and as if to compensate, every single file this time are at least 10 pages long, describing in gruesome detail the girls' entry into the Rukongai, the Chuukai, the Kuchiki House, and everything in between. As such the file concerning Hisana truly is unremarkable. She had abandoned a dependent sister; a smart choice, and one all too common in the Upper Rukongai districts. The sister is miraculously, but inconveniently, alive. An unnumbered page outlines this Rukia's life thus far; the page has subsequently been burned without a trace.

In the House – Yoruichi hasn't yet bothered to retrieve her object-of-flight, so the charred stranger maintains sitting in the middle of the pond, clashing with everything else around it. The servants, myself included, are not to remove gifts (lol gifts) from a royal Princess, and our stuck-up Lord outright refuses to acknowledge its existence. Or mine, so it seems, ever since Hisana left the House. You won't see a trace of it from his face, but Byakuya can get into a stubborn grumpiness that's almost childish sometimes. It's kind of cute, actually. Reminds me of the olden days, when oba-han was still live and kicking, when I still spoke in kansai-ban. Ahhhhh well. Such is life, yes? Nobody said you can live it easy.

Nobody said you can live it clean.