* * *
* * *
The Shiba House sent a black-edged letter of condolence on the occasion, followed by a loose-limbed scion.
Byakuya watched his approach, refusing to give way to wonder. This was easier than usual. All things were grey, blurred, in the twilight of her going.
"This is an honour I did not expect," he said. Kaien's hail died on his lips; for once his eyes were grave.
"Don't joke," he said. "I've come to pay my respects."
"The wake is tomorrow," said Byakuya finally. "I will see you then."
Kaien did not offer pity: insincerity was not one of his many faults.