A faintly singed scent lingered in the hallway. Morbidly curious, Rukia followed it. It seemed to be the same direction as breakfast, anyway.
Sneak on tiptoe. Peek through a strategic hole in a screen. Byakuya looking politely formal, check. Renji, disgruntled, but bright red hair neatly pulled back, sunglasses tucked up his sleeve, and mouth set in that way that said he was on his best behavior, check. Breakfast, check – a lot more hearty and a bit less elegant than normal, her brother must have put out extra in a hurry, which argued for more guests than Renji who were also important enough not to worry about the formalities of a Kuchiki clan meal. Captain’s white haori, singed at the edges- “Ukitake-taichou?”
Byakuya raised an eyebrow.
Flushing slightly, Rukia opened the screen and entered the room properly. “Good morning, Brother. Taichou-”
“One might say,” her brother murmured thoughtfully, “that fugitives are not entitled to formalities.”
“Great job, Kuchiki-taichou,” Renji growled, crossing the room in a sweep of long legs to haul her in toward the food. “S’okay, Rukia. Ukitake-taichou’s just kinda lying low here a few hours, ’til Yamamoto-Genryuusai cools down.”
“Literally,” her brother said dryly.
Rukia forced shaking fingers to close around a teacup, and swallowed a subtle gulp of fortifying heat. “What happened?”
Brushing a bit more ash off his sleeves, Ukitake gave her a rueful smile. “I obtained information from a-” he hesitated, obviously picking his words, “-knowledgeable source in Karakura, that the qualities we have seen demonstrated by Aizen’s shikai make it likely he is a Vaizard. The Commander-General was… less than pleased.”
“‘Least he picked part of town that was already wrecked to barbeque,” Renji quipped.