For the annual Christmas ball, everyone was required to bring a date. However, Renji wasn't quite sure what to do about
that one. He and Rukia, despite everyone's beliefs, were just friends, and while Orihime was nice, there was the whole 'in
love with the strawberry' issue. And Matsumoto... Well, anyone who went with Matsumoto was insane. Which would probably be
why she and her captain 'went' together every year. Che, and she called them 'cute'.
Of course, he could always ask Isane fukutaicho, who was rather nice, but then, her sister had jealousy issues that he
wasn't all that sure he was willing to deal with. At least, not right now. And that was pretty much it. None of the other
women were even worth considering. They were either too low station, or creepy beyond compare. Like Unohana taicho.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, pulling Renji from his thoughts. After a quick questioning glance at Kuchiki taicho,
Renji spoke up. "Um, come in!" he called.
Kira fukutaicho stepped inside, bowing to them and seemingly ignorant of the fact that Kuchiki taicho was successfully
ignored them both, no doubt thinking about the paperwork he was currently attending to. The blond smiled nervously at Renji
and shifted from one foot to the other, quietly thoughtful for a moment. Then he spoke, sounding as nervous as he looked.
"So, Abarai-kun, do you have a date for the ball yet?" he asked, curious. For some reason, Byakuya's quill halted in its
soft scritch, scritch on the paper before him.
Renji didn't appear to notice. "Uh, no. Why?" He got excited as a thought suddenly occurred to him. "Did you find me a
date?! What's 'er name? Do I know 'er?"
Izuru blushed slightly, though it was barely noticeable with his head down like that. "Um, something like that," he murmured,
fidgeting with the edge of his sleeve.
"Well?" Renji urged. The blond muttered something under his breath and Renji strained to hear it, with little success.
"What? Kira, speak up!"
Izuru sighed heavily and peeked up through his bangs. "Well... Me," he admitted, his voice barely loud enough for Renji
The redhead was confused for a moment, before finally getting it. "Oh, you don't have ta do that, Kira. We'll find ourselves
some women, just you watch." He sent his friend a reassuring grin, only to frown when there was a soft snort from his captain's
direction. "What's so funny, taicho?" he demanded, barely refraining from going off on the other man - though his restraint
mostly stemmed from the fact that Kuchiki could kick his ass with his eyes closed.
Byakuya looked up from his paperwork, raising a brow. "Nothing, Renji," he replied, amusement twinkling in his eyes. "Nothing
at all. You just have to figure it out for yourself."
Renji scowled at the noble. "Oh, yeah! At least it didn't take Rukia literally spelling it out!" As if realizing his words,
Renji paused, and then slowly took another look at Kira. The blond was fidgeting again. "Um, Kira?"
Izuru jumped, looking up from his study of the floor. "Y-yes?"
"Did you mean... Did you mean 'you' as in for the actual date?" he asked, something fluttering slightly in his chest.
Renji wasn't sure if it was uncertainty, or actual anticipation, though he didn't know if he could actually call it that.
They were both men, after all, and according to Hime, that was unnatural.
The blond nodded, looking slightly guilty. "Um, yes, Abarai-kun, I did," he answered, looking at Renji hopefully, his fingers
still fumbling with the hem of his sleeve.
Renji didn't know what to say to that. Izuru liked him? When had that happened? Did it... no, Izuru had always acted the
same around him, so... when? Was he just that good at hiding it? What the hell? Renji's head began to hurt. "Uh... So... For
real? You like me?" he asked, rather than leave all of the questions swimming around in his head.
Izuru nodded again. "Yes, Abarai-kun. For a while, actually," he admitted. "Matsumoto-san's been trying to get me to 'fess
up' since she found out last week."
That made sense. Rangiku was nosy like that, and it also meant that she was probably listening in somewhere. "Okay, then,"
he agreed with a nod. "I want to know if you'd go to the ball with me, Kira."
Izuru smiled brightly, and Renji had to admit that it was a rather pretty smile. "Of course!" he agreed, beaming.
Byakuya rolled his eyes. Kids.