Problem

Renji had a problem.

Actually, his problem was either minor, or big depending on how one looked at it.

It started this morning, and reached its climax this afternoon, when he'd walked into the 6th Division.

Everything was quiet in the office. Peaceful, serene, much like the captain who was sitting at his desk calmly doing paperwork. Renji tried not to show how nervous he was as he steadily made his way to his desk, but it was hard not to, considering his very life was about to end within the next ten minutes or so.

"Something wrong, Renji?" Byakuya questioned, not looking up from the report he was filling in. That was a habit of Byakuya's. He had a knack for telling when people were nervous, scared, or in mortal peril of standing in his presence, and then asking about it as one asks about the weather.

"So how are you today?"

"Oh, you know, dying of fear because you're right next to me."

"That's nice. So what's your favorite blend of tea?"

Renji silently cursed him in his head.

"No, Captain Kuchiki, everything's fine," he responded, as he went to sit down at his own desk. He wasn't sure Byakuya completely believed him, but the silent captain didn't give any indication of continuing the conversation, as the redhead pulled a stack of the day's paperwork towards him, before going back to brooding about his problem.

And he had a problem.

A big one.

Or two problems, to be more precise.

He had lost Zabimaru.

Well, not in the literal sense, of course. The sword was safely strapped to his side, but its spiritual manifestation was gone.

They had been there that morning, but now they seemed to have wandered off somewhere.

And so Renji had a problem.

But it wouldn't be quite so bad, if the only thing that happened was Zabimaru had wandered off. No, no, he could say good riddance to 'Chimpette' and 'Snakey' for a good few hours, at least he wouldn't have to deal with them hanging around in his mind.

No, the problem was that he just found out where they went.

In fact, he'd felt their reiatsu even before he'd walked into the office, and the realization of what it all meant was absolutely terrifying.

Renji had a problem.

Zabimaru had decided to go visiting in Byakuya's soul.

And if the captain found out about this, he was as good as a dead man, if not more.

"Oooohhhh! Look at all these Sakura trees. This explains a lot."

Renji visibly cringed.

"Yeah, you'd think he'd try to make his soul a little more interesting, but it's boring as hell!"

Wincing at the comment, the 6th lieutenant stole a quick glance at his taicho. Byakuya was as calm as could be, serenely filling out his report. A little spark of hope flared up in him. Could it be that his captain hadn't heard the comments, nor noticed the intruders to his inner-world?

Deciding to grasp at this faint lifeline, he wasted no time in ordering his Zanpakuto to leave his captain's soul at once.

"Oh, come now Renji, this place needs some sprucing up. It's too feminine for a male!"

"NO! Get the hell out of there before he notices you!"

"Listen to Chimpette! She's right! This place is full of sakura petals, and flowers, and pink...it's all just so girly-girly!"

"You said it Snakey. You'd think Senbonzakura was a girl, to live in such a place like this."

"Maybe he IS a girl!"

"..."

"Let's check!"

"NO!"

Renji just held himself back from actually shouting out the word in horror, as he blanched. This was bad. If his Zanpakuto...no...they wouldn't dar--no wait, they would dare. He, Abarai Renji, was a dead man. Nevermind that he was dead already, but by the time Byakuya was through with him, there probably wouldn't even be a tiny sliver of him left to send through the reincarnation cycle.

So he was dead.

Very, very dead.

And this was a very big problem.

It was at this point that Renji felt a pair of eyes on him, and he slowly brought his gaze up to meet those of his murderer. Byakuya was looking at him evenly, and Renji wasn't sure if this was the face Byakuya generally made before he killed someone, or if it was just the face he made before killing him.

"Something wrong, Renji?"

"Ah--ahaha---I-I can explain, taicho!"

"You appear to be rather distracted today."

"It's just--I mean--I don't--" Renji stopped mid-sentence as he registered Byakuya's words. It sounded like his captain hadn't heard a thing.

"Oh, ehehehe, I'm just--" he cleared his throat. "Sorry, taicho."

"Don't let it happen again," Byakuya responded, going back to his report.

Renji breathed a sigh of relief. There was still hope for him yet.

The seconds ticked by, as all seemed quiet on the homefront. Renji silently prayed that Zabimaru had given up their plot and decided to annoy someone else's Zanpakuto. Preferrably Zangetsu. He wondered why his captain hadn't been able to hear the conversation going on inside his very own soul, but chalked it up to the fact that his captain probably regularly tuned out other people, including his Zanpakuto. Or maybe it was just a strange, unexplained phenomenon needed for this fanfic plot to work.

Renji decided not to think too deeply about it, as he pulled a sheaf of papers towards him. Just as he was about to begin reading the report, he heard a shout.

"WHAT THE HELL?!"

"Hahahahahahahahahaha!"

"YOU SONS OF--"

There was a tap, and Renji slowly looked up to see Byakuya, shock plastered on his features, the brush having fallen from his grip to land on the desk. There was an extremely thick silence, as Renji tried to determine just how fast he could outrun Byakuya's petals, while Zabimaru's cackles rang in his ears.