Okay. CRACK fiction. Set 100 years in the future. NOT canon, in any way, shape or form.


Rangiku Matsumoto felt the sunlight disappear as someone stepped in front of her, casting her into the shadows.

"I don't do well out of the spotlight." She murmured, her eyes still closed.

"Huh?" A girlish voice, young.

Rangiku sighed and opened her eyes as she spoke. "You're in my sun."

Wide hazel eyes blinked back at her owlishly. Green hair, curvy figure. It took her a moment, not having seen the other woman for a while.

"Kuno?" Rangiku asked, taking a sip from her sake dish.

"Mashiro Kuna." The visored blinked, then smiled. "And too early for sake, isn't it?" She pulled out the other chair from the table and joined the female shinigami.

"Oh sure join me." The honey-blonde's voice dripped with sarcasm.

"Thank you!" Mashiro seemed genuinely pleased with the fake offer.

Rangiku sighed. "Haven't seen you in nearly a century. Where have you been?"

"Here and there." Came the evasive answer. The visored looked around eagerly, finding all sorts staring back at her. "Lot's changed in the Seireitei, and yet ...it all looks the same."

The assistant-captain of Squad 10 nodded, taking another sip.

Silence fell between the two women, but Mashiro didn't leave. Rangiku let the moment drag on for several minutes, then sighed reluctantly. She leaned back, staring at the green-haired visored. "Something you want."

"Yes." Mashiro waved a hand negligently in the hair, as if pushing aside the question. "But did you know that I've been back three weeks?"

Rangiku stared a moment, then pursed her lips as she shook her head. "So?"

"Coming here every day." Mashiro whispered, as if imparting some great secret.

The honey-blonde shrugged, making the front of her robes do interesting things to her cleavage. Several pairs of male eyes followed the rise and fall of the cloth with great interest. Rangiku ignored them all. It wasn't even clear if she realized they were watching.

"You didn't notice." Mashiro continued, ignoring the fact that Rangiku had not responded to her last comment.

"I didn't care." The shinigami said evenly, and without rancor. It was just a statement of fact, not an insult.

Mashiro sat back, studying the other woman as she refreshed her sake dish. "You drink too much."

"You talk too much."

The green-haired beauty nodded in acknowledgement. "Kensei says so too." She cocked her head over to one side.

Rangiku followed her gaze over to see a white-haired man leaning casually against a nearby building. Looking ostensibly away from them. "Who? Oh, Captain Muguruma." She made a face. "He doesn't like me."

Surprised, Mashiro's eyes widened. "You live, that means he either does like you or doesn't care. Not that he doesn't like you." She leaned forward looking conspiratorial. "Between you and me? He's not mature enough to hold back if he really, really, really doesn't like you."

Rangiku didn't answer, just stared.

Mashiro laughed loudly, drawing attention their way.

The honey-blonde sighed. "What do you want?"

Shockingly, Mashiro leaned in and struck Rangiku on the side of the head with her open palm. Not a slap though, since she didn't touch the face.

Rangiku's eyes widened comically. "What the hell?"

"Get over Gin Ichimaru. Stop drinking too much. Open your eyes and live again."

"Who the hell are you?" Rangiku's mouth clenched, her teeth grinding together unpleasantly.

Mashiro shrugged. "Someone who has seen more in three weeks, than you have in a hundred years."

"I am over Gin." Rangiku prayed she wasn't lying. "I am just having a bad day, I don't over indulge often." Not a lie, although she was aware that she was drinking alone more often. "And I'm not blind."

"Blind?" Mashiro batted her large hazel eyes. "All shinigami are blind." She waved her hand in a wide arc to indicate the street scene just beyond her.

Rangiku, feeling cornered, attacked. "Oh, and all visored see clearly?"

Mashiro shrugged. "It is what it is."

"I'll show you blind." Rangiku put her fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly, drawing every eye in the place toward her. She hooked her fingers in a 'come hither' motion to one particular person.

Every male in the place visibly deflated as she pointed definitively at another visored. Lisa Yadomaru.

"What are you doing?" Mashiro hissed, looking a bit stunned.

"Showing you 'blind'." Rangiku hissed back at her. She looked up at Lisa and smiled. "Don't see you in the Seireitei much."

The bespectacled young woman in the very short skirt and midriff baring top glared at both the women at the table. "Not much here for me." She said evasively.

"Head Captain Kyoraku? Shunsui?" Rangiku drew out the names.

Lisa scowled.

"Flirts with everyone, and takes no one home. Ever. Hasn't in forever."

Lisa's face froze.

Rangiku picked up her sake dish, almost toying with it as she smiled sweetly. "He is in love with his lieutenant."

Lisa's face clouded and her fist clenched. Mashiro's eyes widened in alarm.

"Just not his current lieutenant."

Lisa looked unsure for a long moment, staring. "What are you trying to say?"

Rangiku took a sip of her sake. "Get him. He's yours. He's always been yours. And since you're not his lieutenant anymore, you can take him without court-martial."

"You're lying." Lisa looked murderous.

Rangiku shook her head, putting down her sake bowl to spread her hands innocently. "He is not in love with Nanao. He flirts with everyone, because hell ...that's just who he is. But I've been a drinking buddy for years. He feels guilty for not supporting you when you first were attacked. He ... and most of us thought that you couldn't possibly be shinigami and hollow. We all thought of you all as being impossible."

Mashiro shifted her weight uncomfortably in her chair.

"We were wrong." Rangiku spoke simply. "Absolutely wrong about you all."

Lisa's expression turned almost hopeful, but untrusting.

"Talk to him. Let him know you're interested? You'll find yourself on your back quicker than you can take a breath."

The visored still looked unsure.

Rangiku smiled. "Talk to Nanao instead of glaring at her and shutting her out. She'd tell you the same. Girl, he wasted a century thinking you dead or worse, some sort of monster-hollow. You wasted one because of jealousy. Get over it."

"I'll kill you if you're lying." Lisa's eyes narrowed dangerously.

Rangiku nodded, reaching for her sake bottle. "Yeah, yeah. Obligatory threats. I'm not lying."

Mashiro pushed the bottle out of easy reach, even as she stared off at the backside of the departing visored. She whistled low and tunelessly. "You like to live dangerous."

"Wasn't lying, though." Rangiku pointed at the bottle. "What were you saying about visored seeing clearly?"

Reluctantly, Mashiro pushed the sake towards her. "So? We have some blind spots too." She admitted with a soft smile. "Shinigami are worse."

"Hardly." Rangiku took a sip of sake.

Mashiro smiled beatifically as she spied a certain someone standing at the bar, ordering hot tea. "Just how long has your Head-Captain's best friend been in love with his current lieutenant?" She whispered.

At the soft question, Rangiku's eyes widened in complete shock and she sprayed sake over the table. Mashiro looked smugly pleased.

"His lieutenant? Captain Ukitake? In love? With wait ...did you mean Shunsui's Nanao or Rukia?" Rangiku looked intrigued in spite of herself, she too looked over to see the captain in question smiling nicely at the wait staff. "Because Captain Abarai would have a cow if you're talking about his wife, Rukia."

"Nanao. Who seems blind to him, and he won't make a move towards her." Mashiro made a face. "Probably thinks he's being all noble and shit."

Rangiku sat back, smiling crazily. "Captain Ukitake? And Nanao?" Suddenly she frowned and shook her head. "You're playing with me."

Mashiro smiled brightly, leaning back in her chair. She raised her voice, pitching it so that the white-haired captain could hear. "Wow. She sure took off fast. Wonder what Nanao will think to find Lisa with the Head-Captain."

Rangiku held her breath as she saw Captain Ukitake's hand still. He'd heard the visored. Just as Mashiro had intended. "It's hard to think of her alone, crying, and hurt."

The honey-blonde crossed her eyes at the visored, trying to hint to not over-play the hand. Nanao wasn't the type to cry.

But it seemed it wasn't too much after all, as Captain Ukitake canceled his order for tea and took off quickly.

Rangiku watched the long-haired captain leave almost wistfully. "Nanao and him? Really? Didn't see that one coming at all."

Mashiro shrugged. "It's not a given. He's still too honorable. Probably thinks it's bad form for a captain to be with a lieutenant, even if she isn't his personal lieutenant."

Rangiku nodded sagely. "Sometimes you can put two people crazy about each other in close proximity ...and still, nothing happens."


The honey-blonde's eyes snapped with temper. "Shut up." She bit out the words as a warning.

"Time to move on." Mashiro said in an almost gentle manner.

Rangiku sighed and nodded reluctantly. "I know. But there's no one that I ...it's just ..."

"You could have any male here." Mashiro sighed.

"Why do you care?" Rangiku looked up, her eyes shuttering the pain. She reached for the sake bottle, then stopped. Instead she closed the bottle and pushed it away. "Besides, I'm not looking for a one-night thing. Or someone just interested in how I look."

Mashiro steepled her fingers together, looking thoughtful. "So, a guy who ... doesn't like what he sees?"

Rangiku made a sour face. "Oh shut up. I just mean someone who ..."

"Sees your bad moods, knows your faults, and not only doesn't care ...but has his own bad moods, tempers, and faults?"

Rangiku slowly sat up, her eyes going wide. "Mashiro ..."

"I'm not in love, and don't look at me that way." The visored smiled. "I'm not talking about me. Besides. I have no faults."

"The fact that you can sit there and say that with a straight face." Rangiku genuinely laughed, drawing every male eye in the establishment over to their table. "You're not going to tell me, are you? Who you want to set me up with?"

Mashiro looked out the window and smiled at the passersby. "All blind, in one way or another."

Rangiku looked over and saw that Captain Muguruma was watching the green-haired vixen intently. She smiled. "Everyone's blind." She agreed caustically.

"Now there is a lost cause."

Her attention caught, Rangiku turned to look at where the other girl was staring. She smiled as she saw Captain Byakuya Kuchiki being approached, as usual, by an over-eager young Yachiru.

She sighed as she saw Byakuya not even turn to look at the bright young woman chattering at him. As he had for years untold, the captain of Squad Six reached into a pouch and pulled out a sweet, putting it in Yachiru's mouth. To shut her up.

Rangiku's smile dimmed. That had been cute. A hundred years ago. Now, it seemed ...wrong. Captain Kuchiki hadn't changed. Her eyes turned to the dejected young lieutenant of the Eleventh Division.

While Byakuya hadn't changed in a century. Yachiru had. "Damn." Breathed out a perturbed Rangiku.

Mashiro nodded. "He's completely blind to the fact that somewhere along the way, she grew up."

Yachiru was slender and strong, lithe. Her candy-pink hair hid a mind that Rangiku knew to be lethal and sharp. Her curves were modest, but no longer that of a little girl. And since she'd known Yachiru for almost two centuries, why hadn't SHE noticed when the young child had become a young woman?

Mashiro got up and went to the door of the building, she waited until Yachiru came close, then beckoned her inside.

Rangiku chuckled, wondering just what the visored had planned. And when had this afternoon gone from dull, drink-away-the-melancholy to ...this? Perhaps she was 'blind' and needed to get out of her rut.

"I guess you saw." Yachiru pulled a chair away from another table to join the duo. Unfortunately, the chair was already occupied. The 'occupant', a large male shinigami from the seven division protested loudly.

Yachiru gave him an arch look and a small spike in her spiritual pressure. One look, and the entire table of males retreated ...to about a mile away. The pink-haired lieutenant smiled sadly and took her prize, sitting down in it.

Mashiro whistled, her hazel eyes wide. "Impressive."

Yachiru shrugged and reached for the sake bottle.

Rangiku frowned. "Since when do you drink?" She asked.

The pink-haired young woman shook her head, making a face at the smell of the sake. "I don't much. Kenny let me have some when I was ten, got sick and hated it ever since."

The honey-blonde watched as Yachiru took a sip, making a face at the taste. "Then why are you drinking? And straight from the bottle?" She asked disapprovingly.

"Felt like the thing I should do in my current mood." Yachiru shrugged, then scowled as Rangiku swiped the bottle.

"The fact that I know exactly what you mean by that statement? Bad idea." The honey-blonde smiled sadly.

Mashiro leaned forward on the table, her arms propping up on her elbows, with her chin resting in her cupped palms. She looked intrigued. "Why him?"

Yachiru shrugged. The other two women prepared themselves to hear about how pretty and hot Byakuya was, especially since the young lieutenant had been chasing him with a crush for nearly a century.

"He's strong. And honorable. Not weak-natured like most."

Shocked, Mashiro and Rangiku shared a look.

"Don't you think he's pretty?" Rangiku asked almost hesitantly.

"You're pretty. I don't chase you." Yachiru sneered. "Captain Ukitake is pretty. That visored Rose is pretty. I like strength."

Mashiro's eyes widened as she listened. "Wow. You sound ..."

"More mature than me." Rangiku sighed, closing her eyes. "Who knew?"

"Mayuri Kurotsuchi is strong." Mashiro mentioned, looking anywhere but at the other women.

Rangiku gagged while Yachiru made a horrid face. "Okay, okay." The younger shinigami sputtered. "Byakki is pretty cute too." She flushed slightly, using an old nick-name she often used for the Squad Six leader.

Mashiro nodded quietly, then grinned. Rankigu stilled. "What are you planning?" She sounded uneasy.

"Byakuya is blind. Blind to the fact that you have grown up. All you need to do is show him how wrong he is. We're going SHOPPING!"

Rangiku put her head down on the table and wondered if she was sober enough to use shunpo and get away.


"This isn't going to work." Rangiku pulled out a dress from the closet and sighed. "Shopping? From your apartment?"

"We needed clothing from the land of the living." Mashiro laid back on her bed, casually tossing a stuffed animal up in the air and catching it over and over again. "The stuff here is boring, we can't use boring for this."

Rangiku nodded reluctantly, then held up a purple ball gown. "I never see you in other clothing. Where do you wear these?"

Mashiro shrugged, and refused to answer.

"Uhm. I don't think this fits quite right." Yachiru walked out of the bathroom, wearing a skin tight pantsuit ...now died a dusky, dark purple. It set off her hair without clashing or matching too much.

Rangiku's eyes widened. "You look like candy."

"She looks delicious!" Mashiro cooed even as she reached out and yanked open two buttons, letting Yachiru's modest curves peek out more.

Yachiru made a face, even as she turned to look in the mirror. She did look pretty steaming hot. "I don't know. Just because Byakki sees me in this ... doesn't mean that he'll want to ..." Her voice trailed off.

Rangiku sat back, her mind racing.

Mashiro caught sight of her thoughtful expression. "What?"

"Shhh ..." Rangiku smiled evilly as she thought about Byakuya Kuchiki, and all she knew about him. "I'm ...being inspired."

The visored female nodded, then sighed. "Captain Zaraki won't object to this, will he?"

Yachiru shrugged casually. "Doubt it. Besides he's away with Re-chan for the weekend."

Mashiro's mouth dropped open wide, even as Rangiku nearly fell under the shock.

The honey-blonde shook her head. "Captain Kenpachi ...and Captain Unohana? Together?"

Yachiru looked puzzled as she glanced back at the two women. "You didn't know? They've been together ever since that big fight they had."

"But that was nearly a century ago!" Mashiro protested.

Yachiru smiled and shrugged. "They have sex a lot, I guess trying to catch up for lost time."

Rangiku coughed and looked away, her mind in pieces under the shock of the information.

"He's loud too, so I banished them to her place most of the time." Yachiru grinned widely. "You really didn't know?"

Mashiro and Rangiku both shook their heads, unable to form coherent thoughts on the subject.

"Now look who's blind." Yachiru cackled happily.


Rangiku looked around at the reception crowd in the upscale restaurant. Captain Kuchiki had just accepted the wine the steward had poured for him. No common sake for the nobleman.

The gathering of shinigami here was eclectic. A celebration of someone's wedding. They didn't really know whose, since they'd all three crashed the party. Still, they knew most of the people here.

She looked over at the rather nervous looking Yachiru. "This will work."

The pink-haired lieutenant looked unsure.

"Trust me." Rangiku stressed.

Yachiru looked even more unsettled at that thought.

Rangiku sighed and motioned at Mashiro. The visored moved up to join her. The honey-blonde pointed over at where Captain Muguruma was watching them. He looked masculine and strong in his black robe and the haori that signfied his rank. Still, she could visualize how fine he'd looked in casual clothing back when he'd shown up to fight against Aizen all those years ago. She glanced over at Mashiro and smiled, even as Kensei raised a glass in their direction. "He's following you." She winked at the green-haired girl.

"I was his lieutenant. I do know him pretty well." Mashiro smiled, looking quite smug. "Blind. So blind."

"He is? Why?" Rangiku asked, but missed any answer as Nanao and Genshiro Okikiba entered the large reception room. The two co-lieutenants of Division One looked rushed. Nanao appeared annoyed, although Genshiro seemed a bit amused.

Whispers started right away, racing through the crowd.

Rangiku had to know what was going on. She looked around, then smiled grimly as she snaked out an arm and dragged a near by Shuhei over to them. "What gives?"

The male lieutenant shrugged, straightening his robes where she'd grabbed him. "The Head-Captain's not coming, or else is running really late. Tied up with something."

"Or someone." Mashiro almost sang the words, her eyes sparkling as she ran up to the two of them, grinning.

Shuhei blushed, his eyes following the green-haired visored as just as quickly left them to hurry back over toward Yachiru.

Rangiku was intrigued as she saw his eyes were glued to her new friend's assets. "An ass man, are you?"

Shuhei blushed furiously, and denied all charges as he hurried back into the crowd with Rangiku's laughter burning in his ears.

Mashiro ran back over towards her. "We're about ready."

"Shuhei thinks you're hot." Rangiku spilled the beans without fanfare.

The green-haired girl blinked, smiled, then shrugged. "I hope so. I've been sleeping with him for nearly the whole three weeks I've been back in the Seireitei. Now, are you ready?"

"What? Wait? WHAT?" Rangiku had to hurry to keep up with the fast paced visored as they all ducked into a small side room. "Does Captain Muguruma know about you two?"

"Doubtful, he's preoccupied." Mashiro frowned. "Does it matter?"

"Preoccupied? And yes it matters! He's only been following you around all day!" Rangiku felt sorry for the poor visored captain. "Here he is, all muscular and strong and hot and the woman he's interested in is completely blind to him!"

Mashiro blinked very slowly, then smiled enigmatically. "Exactly." She purred, then turned to tweak Yachiru's outfit. "You're ready."

"No I'm not." Yachiru actually sounded nervous, something that Rangiku had never seen in the young woman before. She'd seen her friend face eminent death with more aplomb than she was showing right now.

Rangiku looked over at Byakuya, then grinned at his calm demeanor. "It's time to shake him up."

Yachiru raised one eyebrow and the honey-blonde grinned. She leaned in and whispered in the younger woman's ear. Yachiru choked, then stared. Rangiku nodded.

"I can't say that!" Yachiru moaned.

"Yes you can, then when he asks you where you heard such a thing. Point him to me." Rangiku grinned. "Then just follow my lead."

The pink-haired young woman sighed. "I don't see how this will make him want to see me romantically."

"It won't." Rangiku said with a small sigh. "This is just the opening shot. The blow to his ego to make him drop the sight-shields. In other words, this is just to make him see you for how you are, and not as a little girl anymore. Whether it goes any farther? Who knows."

"Oh." Yachiru nodded, then rolled her shoulders in preparation.

"More important. Not only will Byakuya see you as a hot young thing, so will ever other male in the room. Yachiru. You may have to give up on the Squad Six captain, that might not ever work out. He is a stick in the mud, you know that."

Yachiru looked mutinous. "So why am I doing this?"

Mashiro made a kissy face then grinned. "To announce to him and all the other stick-in-the-mud males in the Seireitei that you are not a kid anymore. And you are someone to be chased. After that? Let the games begin!"

The two females watched Yachiru as the pink-haired lieutenant walked across the room toward an unsuspecting nobleman.

"What in the world are you two planning?"

The male voice behind them, had Rangiku's heart rate speeding up. She turned and caught her breath she accepted a cup of punch from Captain Muguruma.

Mashiro sipped the punch that her former-captain had handed her. She made a sour face. "You spiked it?"

"Doesn't taste spiked." Rangiku countered, sipping her own.

Kensei frowned and took each of their cups away, switching them. "Sorry, wrong hand-offs. Meant it this way."

Rangiku grinned, taking the spiked cup with pleasure as Mashiro took the non-alcoholic one. "Nice call." She murmured, then she grinned. "How strong is yours?"

Kensei held out his own cup without a word, though he didn't relinquish it. Rangiku put her hand over his and took a sip. Her eyes widened as she coughed. "That's not sake."

"Bourbon." Captain Muguruma twitched his mouth in amusement. "Something I learned to enjoy in the land of the living." He nodded over at where Yachiru was sitting down next to Byakuya Kuchiki, who was patently ignoring her. "What's this?"

"Fun." Mashiro grinned. "And educational."

"For whom?" Kensei asked, even as all three turned to watch the byplay.

"Everyone." Came Mashiro's enigmatic answer.

And indeed, quite a few eyes had followed Yachiru across the reception floor. Most had looked at the attractive and smoking hot female body, then had frozen when they'd realized who they were looking at. A few had even fled the area.

"Where's Kenpachi?" Kensei asked quietly.

"Having sex, apparently." Rangiku answered with a sigh.

"Ah, off with Captain Unohana." Kensei nodded, making both women frown sharply.

"You knew about them?" Mashiro asked, looking hurt.

Captain Muguruma shrugged. "Who didn't?"

Neither woman answered. Instead they all watched as Captain Kuchiki slipped something sweet into Yachiru's mouth, as usual. Not even bothering to look at her, as usual.

What happened next was the stuff of Seireitei legend.

Yachiru caught the captain's hand and licked off the sugar left over from the sweet. Sucking on his fingers.

Byakuya's eyes widened and he turned to stare.

She said something to him.

Rangiku grinned as the noble's face went pasty white and she could almost swear that he swayed in his seat. Then his face went beet red.

Kensei's eyes went wide. "What the hell did she say to him?"

"That his fingers tasted good, but that she'd prefer another of his body parts in her mouth." Rangiku said without a hint of embarrassment.

Mashiro's mouth dropped open in shock. Kensei just whistled and looked stunned.

They all turned to watch with morbid curiosity as Byakuya looked up and down at Yachiro's outfit, then spoke quietly.

Rangiku smiled as the pink-haired young woman did exactly as she was told and pointed ...right at Rangiku. Byakuya looked up, staring daggers at her. The honey-blonde gave him a little wave and a smug smile.

Captain Muguruma laughed without humor. "You do like to live dangerously."

Rangiku didn't answer as Byakuya Kuchiki pulled a grinning Yachiru over toward them. People scattered, but surrounded them. Eager for whatever was going to happen.

Byakuya stopped right in front of her, then glared. He didn't say a word.

Rangiku cocked her head to one side and shrugged. "Can't bring yourself to repeat what she told you?"

"No!" Byakuya roared. "How dare you! I should have known that someone of your low common blood would think in such terms, but to put them in the mouths of children?"

"There are no children here." Rangiku stated calmly. "That's sort of the point."

Byakuya snarled. "Of course she's a child!" He turned and looked at Yachiru, and for the first time in nearly two centuries ...he actually saw. His face flamed again as he took in the ripe, if modest curves, and the smooth lines of her hips and buttocks outlined spectacularly in the skin-tight pantsuit she was wearing.

"Not a child." Rangiku stated.

Byakuya sneered. "Maybe she's grown, but she is still innocent!"

"She was raised by a killer to be a killer. She has fought in every campaign that you have for the past two centuries. She is a lieutenant in the Gotei 13's elite fighting division."

"Shut up!" Byakaya said, gaining control of his temper. His tone quieting down to a commanding voice. "What did you hope to gain from this?"

Rangiku looked around at the male eyes looking appreciatively at Yachiru. "This." She said simply. "Just this."

The noble appeared affronted as he fought to keep his temper in check. "And you couldn't just dress her up? You had to send her after me? Why?"

Mashiro stepped up at that moment. "Because as long as you, a captain, looked at her as nothing more than an irritating child. So would everyone else."

"You give me too much credit." Snarled the nobleman.

"Actually, I give you no credit." Rangiku made a face at him. "You paid no attention to her whatsoever, for years. So you should go away now. Your attention is no longer needed."

Yachiru watched, unsure. But at least she seemed to give the older shinigami female her way. "Bye." She said sweetly, following Rangiku's lead.

Byakuya glanced at Yachiru from the corner of his eyes, then over at Mashiro. He then focused back on Rangiku. "This won't work. I am not enthralled and won't fall at the feet of your young siren."

"Good." The honey-blonde smiled with what looked like genuine relief. "I was hoping you'd be that stupid. I mean ...that pragmatic."

Byakuya stared at her, the vein next to his left temple twitched.

"Look. I get that we used you. But you were necessary. Once you saw that Yachiru isn't a child anymore, then no one else would look at her that way ever again." Rangiku smiled softly. "And let's be honest. A relationship between the two of you would be utterly impossible."

Yachiru stiffened, but didn't say a word.

Byakuya stared at Rangiku, then looked over at the pink-haired young woman next to him. His eyes went down to her exposed cleavage and then down her shapely legs. "Impossible." He agreed.

"Because you're not good enough for her." Rangiku set the bait.

Captain Kuchiki ignored the crowd around him as his eyes narrowed. "I'm ...not good enough?" He knew it to be a trap. He saw the bait. And yet, he couldn't avoid it. He couldn't not ask.

Knowing that about him, Rangiku smiled gently. "She needs a man with real blood in his veins. Someone strong on the inside, not just the outside. Someone who knows that life needs to be lived, not just endured. Someone who when he holds her at night, or even in the middle of the day, will heat her up. Not freeze the world around them."

Silence. Absolute silence. The gauntlet had been thrown.

"Like Gin?" And just like that, the gauntlet was thrown back into her face.

The retort was unexpectedly cruel. But then, it was Byakuya. Rangiku should have known he wouldn't just tuck his tail between his legs and slink off.

"Gin? How do you think I know enough about broken men to warn Yachiru off of them?" Rangiku blinked, surprised that his name on her lips wasn't bringing forth the usual overwhelming sense of sorrow and loss.

Silence fell between the two, a test of wills.

Only the late arrival of the Head-Captain interrupted the moment. He wasn't alone. And the appearance of Lisa Yadomaru at his side was causing an even bigger stir than a mere staring contest.

Mashiro looked over at the new arrivals, her eyes widening. "You won't believe this, but I think Captain Ukitake just asked Nanao to dance."

"He's wanted her for years." Byakuya surprised them all when he spoke.

"Did you know that Kenpachi and Captain Unohana are a hot item?" Mashiro asked, suspicious.

Byakuya actually looked surprised as he shook his head. "You're making that up."

"Well, I feel better about not knowing. But Kensei, really ...interesting gossip like that should NOT be kept to yourself." Mashiro said, then patted her former captain on his well-toned ass and sauntered away towards a waiting Shuhei.


Yachiru looked up into the broad face of a Fifth Division member. She turned wide eyes toward Rangiku. Who nodded.

"Sure, why not?" Yachiru asked. "I've never been asked to dance before."

Rangiku waited until the pink-haired girl was on the dance floor, then grimaced. "Never been asked to dance before? Damn. Really, you screwed up treating her like a child for so long."

Byakuya frowned. "She is a child. Was a child. And I'm still not going to chase after her."

"Good, she could do a lot better." Rangiku smiled.

Byakuya shook his head. "That won't work on me." He turned and left without further fanfare. Yet, as he left the party, Rangiku saw his eyes glance over at where Yachiru was dancing with happy abandon.

Kensei sighed. "What was that all about?"

"Letting Yachiru grow up and letting Byakuya knew it's okay to live again. He may not ever court her, but he's aware now. Oh, he's definitely aware now." She smiled sadly. "It may take two hundred more years, but he's either going to win her, or he'll realize too late what he could have had."

"So all's well that ends well." Kensei put down his empty cup and stretched his arms. Beneath the black robes, Rangiku got the sense of power from his musculature. It made her sad somehow. He was all strong and hot ...and alone.

"Mashiro." She started, then stopped. Maybe she should quit while she was ahead.

"Dancing." Kensei laughed. "With her latest flame. He's lasted more than a week. That may be a new record."

He sounded so ...easy. Not hurt. Intrigued, Rangiku looked over at Mashiro with Shuhei. "He's a good guy." She said, testing the waters.

"Yeah." Captain Muguruma didn't sound upset or jealous at all.

Rangiku chuckled as reality intruded on her consciousness. "Blind. Blind she said."


"You haven't been following Mashiro around at all, have you?" She looked up to find his gaze warm on her. He shook his head in denial.

Rangiku nodded. "I thought you didn't like me."

"You do have a temper. And can be quite immature and shallow." He pointed out casually.

Rangiku chuckled. "Look who's calling whom immature? And temper? Want to compare?"

"Desperately." He stared at her.

Rangiku looked back over at the dance floor, and saw Mashiro waving at her with a big grin. She looked back at Captain Muguruma.

And then she did what she always did. She thought about Gin Ichimaru.

But this time, his image wasn't as sharp. The pain wasn't as deep. Is this what healing felt like? "Kensei." She tried his personal name on her lips.

His gaze sharpened on her lips.

She smiled softly.

"Yes?" He prodded her verbally.

Rangiku shrugged deliberately, letting her robe shift slightly. His eyes never left her face. She smiled. "And I thought everyone else were the ones being blind." With that, she held out her hand to him, and it didn't take long for his large palm to take hers.


Complete and utter nonsense as far as cannon goes. But then again, that's how my mind works sometimes! LOL!