|Killed the Cat
Author: Kuroeia PM
[Byakuya x Ichigo] I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Angst - Byakuya K. & Ichigo K. - Words: 1,615 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 85 - Follows: 14 - Published: 12-05-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3931000
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Written for the November round of Bleach flashfics on LiveJournal. Quote at the beginning is from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Yes, I realize how awesome it is to start a Byakuya x Ichigo fic with some good ol' Alice.
POV is second person... or is it? XD
Killed the Cat
I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see.
You've wondered what it would be like to fight like this, many times.
Your backs slam together, spines interlocking vertebra by vertebra, and your swords trail fire through the air all around. You revolve around each other like binary stars... just barely touching but unable to move away. Through your uniform you can feel the muscles of his shoulders working, the heat of his back, the powerful confidence he radiates even when hopelessly outmatched.
And he is hopelessly outmatched here. As are you. Your pride is matchless, Kuchiki Byakuya, but pride alone cannot draw blood in battle.
You know this... better than anyone. And yet, somehow you are not afraid. Instead of fear there is a nameless anticipation. You do not think you will lose, despite overwhelming odds to the contrary. You continue to fight, steel petals coruscating in lethal patterns at the slightest motion of your hands, and wonder why.
The answer comes a moment later in a sick bulging of power behind you, a roaring flare of black flame and then a sudden lessening of the pressure against your spirit.
This is why you were not afraid. This is what you came to see.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but in this case it is keeping you alive. You had to come anyway, first because of your orders to rescue Inoue Orihime, and secondly because of your vow to protect Rukia, but the choice to walk the same path as Kurosaki Ichigo was your own. You are torn between regret and gladness for that choice-- gladness for the things you have learned, and regret for the things you have learned, because learning them has weakened your resolve.
Some while ago, you decided that you loathe this boy, and decided further that you would loathe him for as long as you have breath. For his belligerent intrusions into your life and your mind and your heart, for doing what you should have done, for being right, you chose not to forgive him.
The third reason you came to Huece Mundo is this: you wanted to prove the immensity of the gap between you and him beyond any shadow of a doubt.
This you have certainly done, though not as you expected to-- he is stronger than you have ever dreamed of being, so far in the lead you can hardly make out the shadow of his running back. In his conviction, in his perseverance, in his ability to adapt and reinvent his strength on the spot as the need arises, in the sheer intensity of his focus on his mission, you lose to him completely. Against the driving power of the love he has for your sister, you lose. You are strong, but you were stagnating until he came, content in the level of power you had reached. He has thrown you off a cliff without looking back to see if you could learn to fly, and worst of all, has no idea he has done it. For that most of all you will not forgive him.
This is the third time he has saved your life in the four days since you came here. You have no more room in your memory to list the things you will not forgive him for.
So why is it, Kuchiki Byakuya, that you are not angry? Why is it that all you want to do is keep fighting like this, back to back and wordless, waiting for a sunrise that you know will never come?
Behind you, you hear him drop to his knees, sucking in one harsh breath after another. Every miracle he births tears him apart from the inside, you know. He cannot stand, can hardly muster up the strength to keep halfway upright.
Before you know it you are on your knees next to him, lending him your shoulder, letting him lean on you. You look anywhere but at his face, and your expression betrays nothing. He is of course not clever enough to keep his mouth shut and accept the gift as it is, and fires questions at you ceaselessly. You silence him with a terse sentence, but you can still hear the questions beating about your ears like irritating insects. As long as you travel with him there will be questions.
He is surprisingly small against your side. When he is fighting his presence is so massive that it is hard for you to reconcile it with this whipcord-thin body that hardly reaches your chin. Your shoulders are easily broader than his by a third again and your chest is deeper. Why is it that when he pulls his sword you feel so much smaller than him?
How is it that he makes you, who have been at the top since the beginning of your memory, feel inferior just by breathing?
Those are the questions you followed him to find the answers to. To put it simply, you were curious, and rather than having that curiosity assuaged, it grows with every step you take at his side. He perplexes you and does not offer any solution.
You want to crawl inside his brain and read what mysteries are written there.
Of course, you cannot do this... but I can.
Or, I should say, I can speak to someone who knows him better than anyone else living or dead, from the inside. Zangetsu is a lonely being and has little better to do during the long hours of walking than tell me about the soul which has mastered him. I keep him company, and he answers my questions... your questions.
I know everything of value there is to know about Kurosaki Ichigo... but you have never once thought to ask me. And I, as you know me, have never told you anything you have not asked for.
So the truth remainds locked within me, presumably forever barring a miracle.
But then, Ichigo is good at those. I do not lose hope.
What amazes me is that despite the fact that you have no answers, despite the fact that you cannot for the life of you understand what gives Ichigo his hardly-credible strength and surety, despite the fact that he confuses you to the point of anger... you are falling in love with him anyway.
The realization of this has not yet sunk in. You still tell yourself over and over again that you hate this child, that you wish him gone as far from you as the world will allow, but it is you who is not turning and walking away. It is you whose steps are still perfectly aligned with his as you track across the cold crystal sands of this silent hell. It is you who has to fight your own hand from tightening on his waist, and resist your own desire to fall atop him and breathe him in until you are satisfied.
If you will not admit it, I will make you admit it. I have waited a long time for you to love again.
You do not realize how the inner landscape of your soul changes depending on how you feel. Zangetsu was wise-- and yet somewhat cruel-- to show Ichigo what happens when his soul is in turmoil. I spared you that pressure, but I will tell you this now-- when Rukia was imprisoned, within you became a nearly unbearable place to be. It was dark and full of sharp edges and confused whirlings. I could hardly hold on to the borders of myself.
This storm is hardly easier to live in, but vastly preferable for this reason-- when you reach outside yourself, the borders of your soul expand into infinity. I can stand freely and breathe the smell of lightning on the air.
This is how it is when you love. There is great turmoil, but also great growth.
Therefore, I will push you until you shatter if I must to make you see the truth. I cannot return Hisana to you, but I can help you accept this second chance at happiness.
An alien word to you, I know, but it is my eternal goal to let you experience it as much as possible in order to balance out the volumes of suffering you have foolishly put yourself through.
As the blade you wield I will protect your body, and as myself I will protect your soul.
You will be happy.
Ichigo stumbles and falls. You turn gracefully to catch him, knowing as he slumps in your arms that he has at last lost his fierce fingernail-grip on consciousness.
Alone in the middle of nowhere, you lay him down in the sand and sit at his head. For the next untellable number of minutes you will struggle to forgive yourself for wanting to touch him, count his breaths and ponder your questions until he wakes.
You look out across the desolate and strangely peaceful moonscape of Hueco Mundo and resign yourself to an endless battle with yourself against this perceived weakness.
You will lose... and you will be glad of it.
A/N: I have yet to decide whether I like this fic or not. I'll leave it up to you to decide. :)