A/N:

Spoilers for the SS arc on, and a light warning for implied sex (nothing remotely explicit, which is why it's still rated T).

This is a fluffy, lighthearted (quite possibly crackish) little one-shot that actually stemmed from my multi-chapter fic Scar Tissue. Originally this piece was going to serve as sort of an omake/interlude, but the tone didn't match with the rest of the fic and so I abandoned it and ended up turning it into what it is now. Since I usually write darker, angstier stuff, this is a bit of a departure for me, but it was a lot of fun to write.

I just imagine Byakuya as the sort of person who can't stand the gurgly sound a straw makes when there's not much liquid left in a drink. And I also imagine him, like Rukia, being sort of adorably clueless about the nature of things in the Living World.

This fic does assume an ongoing relationship between Byakuya and Renji.

Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite; I just take the characters and use them for writing funtimes.

Hope you enjoy it! (and to those of you who are wondering: ch. 4 of Chaos Theory will be on the way in the next few days).

- Rii


Kuchiki Byakuya gazed with no little consternation at the puzzling object on his desk.

Paperwork waited for his signature, and this evening was as busy as always, but he found himself curious about this…box. He pushed at it curiously, listened to the slosh of liquid inside. Picking it up in graceful fingers, he brought it closer in an attempt to read the writing, and then gave it a vigorous shake.

More sloshing.

Graceful brows knit together in confusion. The staff had recovered the item from Rukia's room during a regular round of housecleaning, and brought it to him for inspection. Rather than admit his own ignorance of the strange object, he'd taken it with him in hopes that a thorough examination might satisfy his growing curiosity.

A small, hollow tube was attached to the box; he found the entire thing mystifying. This was undoubtedly a drink of some sort, but he had to admit that he was entirely confounded as to how one might use such a device, and—

"Oi, taichou."

Graceful, clever fingers hid the item away as his fukutaichou came into the room and unceremoniously dumped another load of paperwork on his desk. "Here you go," Renji said affably. "I'm done with it for th'night."

Byakuya glanced over the papers. "Thank you," he murmured absently, "Abarai-fukutaichou." Renji headed for the door, and the captain paused. "…Renji."

The redhead turned. "Yeah?"

Reaching into his desk with a slender pale hand, the captain produced the object of his attention only moments before and set it down carefully. "Have you encountered one of these before?"

Renji grinned. "Yeah," he said. "'s a juice box.. Usually tastes like some kinda fruit. You use that straw on the side t'drink from it." He mimed the action.

"A juice box," Byakuya repeated flatly.

The redhead tried to hide a grin. "It's from the Living World," he explained. "Have you ever tried one?"

"No," Byakuya responded, eyeing it. "I only wondered about its nature. I thought perhaps you might know."

His fukutaichou chuckled. "Here, y'want me to open it for you?"

Byakuya pulled it away from him. "I do not wish to consume such a thing."

Renji gave an amiable shrug. "Never know," he said easily, "y'might like it. Rukia loves 'em."

"You are dimissed, Abarai-fukutaichou."

With a small, barely-audible sigh, Renji left. Once assured that his broad-shouldered fukutaichou had departed, Byakuya returned his eyes to the juice box and perused it. Rukia enjoys these? He knew so little of her travels to the Living World, so little of her likes and dislikes. I hardly know her at all.

Dismissing the thought, he plucked the straw up delicately and applied it to the box as Renji had indicated. After a moment of hesitation, and a thorough sweep of the premises for any stray reiatsu nearby, he leaned forward and permitted himself a tentative sip.

Disgusting.

The sickeningly sugar liquid in the box overwhelmed his palate. The temperature was decidedly lukewarm, and despite the many colorful sketches of fruit on the box he found that it resembled no fruit he had ever eaten. Irritated, he glared at the tiny package. She enjoys these?

Mildly disappointed for reasons he couldn't understand, Byakuya nevertheless persevered through over half the drink before he resigned himself to the fact that it was going to taste no better no matter how much he consumed.

We are nothing alike.

"Oi, taichou."

Byakuya had grown so accustomed to Renji's reiatsu he sometimes now failed to notice it; he glanced up, startled, at the sound of Renji's voice. "Abarai-fukutaichou. I thought you left for the evening."

Renji scratched the back of his head. "I decided t'come by and say goodnight." His dark eyes fell on the juice box, and he grinned. "Decided to give it a try after all, huh?"

Slender fingers shoved the box across the desk to him. "Take it for yourself, if you wish."

Renji picked it up, shook it, and listened for the slosh of remaining liquid. "You sure? These are pretty good; y'should finish the rest of it."

"I did not enjoy it." Byakuya's tone was stiff, and he bent his head to his paperwork again. Go away.

He felt Renji's appraising dark eyes on him. The redhead leaned against the wall, arms folded. "They make other flavors, y'know. You might enjoy 'em more." He thought for a moment, and then offered helpfully, "They make banana."

"Abarai-fukutaichou," Byakuya returned coolly, "this item is hardly worth such a debate. You may take it and go."

Silence. But Renji, as was his wont, didn't listen to the command, and walked a few steps over to perch irreverently on the edge of his captain's desk. Byakuya glared as his fukutaichou, disregarding his displeasure entirely, played absently with the bright yellow straw. "Y'know," Renji said softly, "it's okay not to like it."

Byakuya favored him with a condescending look. "I hardly need your permission for such a thing, Renji." But what he could not say was that he wanted to like it, or to at least find it bearable. Anything, really, to find common ground with his adopted sister. Anything to assure him that they were not, and would not always be, strangers to one another instead of family.

A gurgling drew him from his thoughts: the sound of Renji finishing the drink. Byakuya glanced up, annoyed, at the sound. "Abarai."

Unperturbed by the sharp tone, Renji reached out to cradle his face and tilt it up to his own with large, sword-calloused hands. Before Byakuya could object, or issue a reprimand, that warm demanding mouth was on his, that possessive tongue parting his lips. For a moment the Sixth Division captain stiffened; Renji tasted of that same cloying, saccharine sweetness he'd found so unbearable in the juice box.

But after a moment the lingering sugar-sweet faded beneath the more familiar taste of Renji and Byakuya found himself melting into the kiss, his fingers tightening in the fabric of his fukutaichou's shihakusho as he sucked on Renji's tongue. When the kiss finally broke, he was breathless.

Renji grinned. "See?" he asked in amusement. "I bet y'could be damn fond of those drinks in the right situation."

Amused, Byakuya regarded the colorful little item. "Perhaps," he admitted, "though I still do not like them." Nothing had changed, really, but he found that he felt less melancholy than before. Renji. How do you always know the best way to ease the burdens on my heart?

His fukutaichou didn't reply, seemingly more interested in coaxing him into a series of soft endless kisses. And—though paperwork waited for him, though they were in the office and it was entirely inappropriate, though Renji certainly should not have been taking such liberties—Byakuya found himself willing to forget the rest of his troubled thoughts about his relationship with Rukia in the wake of a sudden wave of desire.

As he succumbed to the insistent hands that roved over his body and to the mouth that left hot, wanting kisses down his slender neck and collarbone, Byakuya's final coherent thought was that at least the juice box had not been an utter waste after all.

*****

Some time later, deliciously exhausted and spent as he half-dozed against Renji's broad frame, Byakuya stirred at a faint pain against his back. His fukutaichou's sleepy dark eyes opened. "Y'okay?" The office floor was far from a comfortable bed.

"Mm," Byakuya answered in reply, and pulled out the offending object from beneath his body: the half-crumpled juice box, straw askew. He glanced at it in bemusement as Renji chuckled, then set it aside and returned to the warmth of familiar strong arms and those deliciously capable hands that lazily caressed his skin in the afterglow of pleasure and satiation.

After a moment, Renji shifted and propped himself up on an elbow so that he could look down into slate gray eyes. "Y'know," he said gently, tracing his thumb over Byakuya's high cheekbones, graceful brow, and soft lips. "Even if y'don't like everything she likes, you do have somethin' in common with Rukia."

Surprised at his fukutaichou's uncanny perceptiveness, Byakuya simply arched an eyebrow. "Do I?"

Renji grinned. "Me."

Gray eyes widened slightly, and then warmed at the thought. "Yes," Byakuya said, simply. "I suppose I do." He hadn't really thought of such a thing before, but Renji had been one of Rukia's closest friends since their time together in Rukongai, and Byakuya imagined that both he and his adopted sister found much to admire in the Sixth Division fukutaichou.

He did concede, as he glanced at the lithe lines of the redhead's frame, at the way that those tattoos zigzagged wickedly down naked flesh, that perhaps they did not admire quite the same things, but still…

…it was something.

And all he needed was something, after all.