Byakuya practiced his swordsmanship in the hottest part of the day as he had since the time he was given his first sword. It was the only time he allowed any emotions to pass upon his face without checking them at the door. In this case the practice form wore a spiked orange mop of hair. Ichigo-Ichigo! No! No! No! The form exploded into a flurry of old clothes and straw. He could feel Rukia slipping away with every moment she was with that disrespectful orange haired freak of a substitute soul reaper. He yelled his frustration, it had been bad enough to have been beaten not once but twice by a mere living boy. Bad enough that the soul society-him had been so wrong in laying the blame on Rukia. Bad enough that it had taken a boy and his rag-tag group of friends not only to defeat them but find the truth of the matter. He swiped the air and nearly cut his zanpakuto' s ghost. "The boy cares for her, he does not control her. Have you forgotten he wanted her to stay here, with you. She only went back when she was ordered. You could have gone or sent Renji, but you did not put either forward. You are no coward. What stopped you?" Byakuya's naked shoulder's twitched. " I do not see why that should matter to you. She was the most likely choice. " The form's lips twitched into a smile then broadened. " You don't like the living. A soul reaper-Captain that doesn't like the living. I suppose they are uncouth, uncivilized, ungrateful creatures that should be left to the will of the hollows. Marvelous, problem solved." He finished folding his arms. "Go away leave me to my exercise's. " His zanpakuto sighed heavily and with a shake of his head disappeared in a non-existent breeze. Byakuya struck his sword into the ground in disgust when an uncomfortable idea came to him. He grit his teeth, but the alternative was worse. Rukia was still a member of his house. With a nod he went to wash up and calm his mind. Renji knelt to his captain waiting for him to release him from his kneel. "Rise Renji." The familiarity caught the Lt. off guard. "Rise my Lt. I have good news for you." Renji rose and was offered a cup of...of his captain's favorite tea. One that could not find on this side. Rukia had brought a sample pack home on one of her visits to the living realm,for her brother to try. She'd had to substitute his usual tea with one she thought he'd enjoy. Risky but it had worked. Renji blinked at the cup and then at the captain and saw his small smile. Which made his stomach tighten in uneasiness. "Sir this is a great kindness, but this is unlike you." With that he set down his tea. Byakuya let go of his false smile and nodded. Yes,he could live with Renji as his brother-in-law. Setting down his own cup, he nodded. " I am sorry for making you feel uncomfortable, it was not my intention. I asked you here to get your agreement on the marriage proposal to Rukia. I have known for quite some time how you have felt about Rukia. I am in full agreement of your intentions." Renji for a moment took in all the words as if he was drowning and then grew angry. " How can you?You know we can ill afford even one sword out of the fight." Byakuya narrowed his eyes. He could see threw his Lt.'s strategy. He replied calmly. " My house must survive. You are my Lt. I trust you the most outside of my house hold. I am entrusting the survival of my family to you." Renji almost believed him, he was sounding so sincere. But Rukia? "Does Rukia agree to all this?" The captain frowned. "This is a house matter. What I say she will obey." Renji nearly drew his sword. "No. Never. How can you even think of doing that to her? After your own wife. How could you make her marry someone she doesn't love." Byakuya raised an eye brow. "How do you know she doesn't love you? Have you asked her? Have you ever told her how you felt?" Renji stiffened. "You know I haven't. I also know that it doesn't take an idiot to see how Rukia and Ichigo feel about each other." He snickered sadly. "Yeah, I know he's as thick headed as any tree trunk and damn near as blind as a bat with pressures. But his loyalty is steadfast beyond all reason, especially in the darkest of times. Besides next to Rukia he's my best friend. No, If you want someone to protect your house you could do no better then Ichigo." The captain's eyes blazed with a fire only reserved for the worst of enemies. " Rukia will marry you or none." Renji narrowed his eyes and witnessed a rare event. Byakuya Kuchiki showing an emotion. Hatred. "You hate him and his friends after all they've done for us....You hate him because you know how they feel." He snickered. " In fact I think everyone can see it except them. Damn it, it hurts. But its my own fault. I wasted all that time thinking I wasn't man enough to even talk to her. No I could never come between them and live with myself. I love her too much to do something like that to her. To them." Renji softly said. Wiping a tear away, he raised his eyes to his captain. With the acceptance in them, that shamed Byakuya. Continuing on Renji laid a hand on his captain's shoulder. "Think about her happiness, think about your own. If someone had ordered you to marry someone else could you have? Would you have forgotten your own heart? As things stand they may never get to realize how they feel." Without permission he turned and left the Kuchiki family gardens.