Author: Ayla-tan PM
ON HOLD- further information in authors note and in profile. Summary: In the aftermath of Aizen's betrayal, both Byakuya and Toushirou try to cope with their feelings of guilt, finding unexpected help in the other. Byakuya, Toushirou FRIENDSHIP NO YAOI!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Byakuya K. & T. Hitsugaya - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,088 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 12-12-11 - Published: 09-04-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6296882
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hi! This is a story I wanted to write long ago, but had much problems with...
This is a gift to KnowlegdeandImagination! I really hope you like it Knowi-chan, even though it turned out very differently from what I had planned. ^^
I'm very sorry I wasn't able to post this on your birthday...*scratches head in embarrassement*
Summary: In the aftermath of Aizen's betrayal, Byakuya tries to cope with his guilt. He's not the only one though...and he's the only one who can do something against it.
No pairings, ByakuyaHitsugaya FRIENDSHIP
Disclaimer: Nope. I'm not Kubo. Only the plot of this story and any OOC-ness belongs to me ^^
Hope you enjoy!
You can tell yourself 'I don't care'
but you cannot escape the pain of loosing someone.
'So...I'm here again', he thought miserably, staring up at the white ceiling of the infirmary. He hated being there, hated feeling so helpless, so powerless. He sighed, pushing himself into a sitting position, wincing as his chest wound throbbed painfully. 'Stupid Hollow' he cursed in his mind. "That was no Hollow" he heard a voice call out. "Senbonzakura?" He turned to his right, finding the materialized form of his Zanpakutoh sitting with legs crossed on his night stand. He felt stupid for not noticing it before. "You were too rash, Byakuya." It said, reprimanding. "You almost died."
Was Senbonzakura seriously REPRIMANDING him? He ground his teeth, averting his gaze for a moment. When he looked back, he saw the spirit smile. No, he didn't actually see it, for Senbonzakura of course was wearing his Oni mask as usual- sometimes he could not help but wonder what the spirit's face looked like. It was truly ironic, they were supposed to know everything about the other, but he had never seen his Zanpakutoh's face. Well, apparently, there were still things about his own Zanpakutoh he wasn't supposed to know. Not that he needed to anyways. Because of their connection, he could always feel what expression Senbonzakura was having. Long forgotten were the times of his childhood when he had tried snatching that mask off Senbonzakura's face.
"But I'm not angry at you" it continued, fondly. "I wouldn't have expected anything less from you." What was that supposed to mean, he wondered. "But really, was there no other way to save your sister?"
That simple sentence caused everything that had happened to rush back to him.
"Why do you want to kill your own sister?" his opponent, an orange haired boy named Ichigo, yelled at him. "If you emerge victorious out of this fight, I'll tell you" He answered. There was no way he'd loose against a lowly Ryoka.
'Oh, that's right...I wanted to kill Rukia' that thought filled him with sadness and shame. He had PROMISED to protect her, promised. And he had tried to kill her. No, worse. He had sat by and done nothing while she had been forced to walk to that damn scaffold. Alone. Knowing that it would take her life.
"You wanted to know...", he said, "why I would allow Rukia to be executed". He had lost. As ridiculous as it sounded, the boy had defeated him. And he knew better than to further damage his pride by trying to play down his defeat. "Criminals must be brought to justice. Once their punishment has been decided, it must be carried out. That is the law"
'Because of that stupid law, I almost killed my own sister. I am truly despicable.' It was true that Rukia forgave him. But forgiving himself would take some time- if he could ever forgive himself.
"Because of the law, you'd even kill your own sister?"
"Sympathy towards a relative, what could be more pointless?" 'How could I ever think that?'
"How can you say that?" the boy asked, shocked. "Feelings and emotions have no value compared to law. Luckily I've never been burdened by such useless sentiments." He looked back at the boy, as beaten up as he himself was, staring at him with utter shock in his brown eyes. "The Kuchiki clan is one of the four great noble families. We're bound to to serve as examples for all Shinigami. If we do not follow the law, then who WILL?" After a shocked silence, the boy turned. "Sorry, I still can't understand. If I were in your position, I would still fight the law!" Byakuya's eyes widened. It was then that he finally realized the boy's true intention. Ichigo had never wanted to fight him. Nor the other Shinigami he'd come across before. Since the very beginning, the boy had fought against the law of the Soul Society.
'What an idiot I was. I should have realized that. Instead this boy needed to tell me.'
"Kurosaki Ichigo" he said, "my sword has been shattered by the forthrightness and freedom of yours." He started to walk away. "I will no longer pursue Rukia. This duel...is your victory."
He left with a Shunpo.
It did not take long for him to return, though. Soon after he'd left, a message had been sent to all Shinigami using Tentei Kuura: "To the Gotei 13, all Taichôs, Fukotaichôs, and acting Fukotaichôs, and Ryoka lady and gentlemen, this is 4th squad Fukotaichô, Kotetsu Isane. This is urgent. This is an urgent message from 4th squad Taichô Unohana Retsu and myself, Kotetsu Isane. What I am about to tell you, is all true! Sousuke Aizen faked his own death and concealed himself. He then massacred the Central 46. All orders issued, from Kuchiki Rukia's imprisonment and her death sentence up until now, have been faked by Aizen and his accomplices. Hinamori Momo, his Fukotaichô, was run through by his sword. Hitsugaya Taichô from 10th squad, who had realized something off, faced Aizen, but was defeated and is now in critical condition. Aizen and his accomplices are currently on top of the execution grounds, Sougyoku Hill."
'Who would have thought Hitsugaya this attentive?' He asked himself, feeling once again like an idiot. He was feeling that a lot lately, it seemed. 'Seems I really underestimated him. I should thank him when I get the chance. I just hope I'll even get the chance- he was hurt pretty bad...'
At the same time as he heard that, he felt Rukia's Reiatsu emanating from the Sougyoku hill, along with the Reiatsu of Renji and the Ryoka, Ichigo. All of their Reiatsu was almost entirely covered by an enormous Reiatsu he recognized with alarm to be Aizen's. 'No!' he screamed in his mind, immediately spinning off towards the execution grounds. Though it hurt like hell to even move his legs, tired as he was from his previous fight, he outright refused to let Rukia die, refused to not help her. As was his duty. He willed himself to go even faster- he couldn't remember ever being this fast in Shunpo ever before. And he made it just in time: when he arrived, Rukia was about to be run through by Ichimaru's sword, hold aloft by Aizen holding fast onto the collar that prevented her from using her Reiatsu. Seeing this sight, he used one last Shunpo and grabbed Rukia from Aizen's grasp, cradling her against his chest protectively, shielding her away from the offending weapon. He dimly noted the blade piercing his own flesh instead, stopped from stabbing right through his heart only by the hand he'd unconsciously lifted in an attempt to block the weapon. But that didn't matter at the moment. All that mattered to him at that moment was Rukia's safety. Relief cursed through him at hearing his sisters voice then. Though it was nothing more than a shocked whisper, it at least confirmed that he'd succeeded in saving her. "Nii-sama..." No longer able to support himself, he collapsed onto his knees, only prevented from falling face first onto the concrete by Rukia's supporting arms, whose voice had taken on a panicked edge at seeing his wound. "Nii-sama! Nii-sama, why... why did you save me?" His breathing now came out in shallow gasps. The blade had pierced him pretty badly. He wanted to tell her he was alright, that he'd survive, he wanted to apologize, but he couldn't speak. His whole being was now focused on breathing whatever air he could get. 'I'm sorry, Rukia' he thought, closing his eyes in pain. Breathing was becoming harder with every second. Dully, he wondered why Aizen hadn't finished the job, obviously he couldn't fight anymore now, before he belatedly realized that the others had arrived and were holding Aizen, Ichimaru and Kaname at bay. As his vision dimmed and ears pounded, the fact that he was being given first aid by healers of the forth- Rukia being hold off by another Shinigami, preventing her from rushing to his side- he realized that, apparently, the traitors had escaped. A few moments later, he noticed Unohana's Reiatsu approaching. As she sat down beside him, the healers bowed respectfully to her, hurrying away to help the others. He felt her gaze down at him, heard her sigh. "You pushed yourself too far, didn't you, Kuchiki Taichô?" She asked. He didn't answer. With some effort, he managed to request for Rukia. He ignored the pain speaking caused as well as his fuzzy vision, forced himself to stay conscious. 'Just for a little while longer' he chanted. He NEEDED to tell her this. It couldn't wait.
After he confirmed that she was there, he started to tell her why he'd adopted her into the Kuchiki Clan 49 years ago. He told her about Hisana, his late wife, who had died a year previous to Rukia's adoption, after five years of marriage. He told her that Hisana was her sister and had always tried to find her after she had abandoned her in Rukongai. He told her that Hisana asked him to never tell Rukia about her sister (at that he felt a pang of guilt) and about the promise he'd made at her deathbed to always protect her sister and let Rukia call him brother. He told her that like with Hisana, he had to go over the wishes of everyone at the estate in order to adopt her into the clan- adopting someone from the Rukongai into a noble house was thought of as disgracing and against the rules. He told her that in his want to fulfill his wifes last wish, he made a second promise he shouldn't have in front of his parents grave. He promised that, no matter what, he'd never disregard the rules again.
"When your execution was decided, I no longer knew...whether to uphold my oath to my parents to uphold the rules...or keep my promise to Hisana to protect my sister. He looked at where Ichigo was being tended to, remembering what the boy had said after their fight. "Kurosaki Ichigo. I thank you"
Then he turned his head to Rukia again. "Rukia..." he held out his hand, and she took it in both of her own smaller ones. She pulled their hands close to her heart and he felt warmth spread through him at that simply gesture. "I'm sorry" he said softly and from her soft sigh and the tightening of her hands around his, he knew she forgave him. Long since had. Then he surrendered to the darkness looming at his vision.
"Byakuya? … Hey! I'm talking to you!" Senbonzakura's irritated voice sounded. Byakuya looked up, regarding his Zanpakutoh. Did he just space off? "So you're back", Senbonzakura said, "I was afraid I'd be loosing my job for a while..." it couldn't help but add, receiving a glare from his master. Byakuya gave a snort. "Yeah, can't let that happen, can I?" Senbonzakura huffed. Turning his back for a second, the spirit composed himself, before turning around again, facing his master. "As I was saying, did you have to let yourself to be run through?"
Byakuya stared at him "Pardon? It's not like I WANTED to be run through. And besides, I wasn't run through."
"But you still almost died." Another voice piped up. Turning to the door, Byakuya saw Unohana in the door frame, smiling. From the corner of his eyes, he could see his Zanpakutoh re-manifest itself into it's sword form. "May I come in?" she asked and, as Byakuya inclined his head in confirmation, strode into the room and up to his bedside. "Good to see you awake, Kuchiki- Taichô." She took a seat. "You had us worried. Especially your sister". "How's she?" Byakuya asked. "Rukia? Oh, she's fine." Unohana smiled. "She always tried to sneak off to visit you as soon as she had regained enough strength to properly walk. We thought it better not to let her see you in the first days, not with the state she was in. Didn't want to hear a word of rest- all she cared about was you, didn't believe us. Your poor maids and Ichigo had their hands full keeping her in the estate. So we had to...sedate her for the first few days, until you were relieved from the breathing mask four days ago. Since then she's been visiting you day by day." Unohana looked at the window. "Must be about time for her daily visit" she mused. Byakuya let everything she said sink in slowly, feeling a huge weight taken from his chest at hearing that Rukia was indeed alright before he posed a question. "Ichigo. Kurosaki Ichigo?" So the boy was still there. "The Ryoka boy, yes. He and his friends helped a lot with the whole Aizen ordeal. He also wanted to wait till you woke up before he left. Plus, he wanted to take care of Rukia. Really was a lot of help, that boy. They worshiped him like a hero the first few days. Until he lost it and sent about a dozen straight into the infirmary- as if we weren't already stuffed. I think he still avoids me because of that. I got pretty clear." Byakuya unwillingly swallowed. Unohana could get really scary when pissed off. Even the Taichô's tried to stay on her good side- well, those who needed her healing powers at least. "Oh and followed around by Zaraki Taichô. He is hellbent on getting a re-match." Unohana finished, pointedly ignoring Byakuya's sudden unease.
Byakuya cleared his throat. "How long was I out? And what happened after I...erm... got stabbed?" Unohana frowned and from the slight shift in her Reiatsu pressure, he could feel that she was still pretty shaken from the recent events. They all were, he supposed. "One week. Shortly after you got stabbed, we arrived at the scene. Shiba Kuukaku and Jidanbou from the west gate arrived first. They said they came just at the right time to prevent Aizen from … in her words 'finishing his job'" Ignoring her patient's sour expression, she briefly closed her eyes to keep calm as she continued relaying to Byakuya what had happened. "Mere seconds after, Yoruichi Shihoin and Soi Fon Taichô managed to still Aizen's advancement, while Kaname Tousen was hold back by Hisagi Fukotaichô, now acting Taichô of the 9th. Matsumoto Fukotaichô captured Ichimaru Gin." Her expression darkened considerably. "But Aizen and his accomplices had planned ahead. They were helped out by Menos Grande, using Negacion to bring them into Hueco Mundo. No one knows where they're currently located and so far, no interrogation missions have been issued. Everything centers around strengthening our forces and the protection of the Seireitei. Our division has their hands full with tending to the wounded, while at the same time, we're organizing reconstruction works. We expect Aizen to attack us coming winter. We're preparing for war."
Byakuya's mind reeled. 'Menos Grande? No information on Aizen's whereabouts? Aizen working together with Hollows? Seireitei lock-down? And...war the upcoming winter?' Although he was trained for such situations and had expected a war to break out some time- peace was a luxury and always was hard to maintain after all- it was still a lot to absorb. "Did we loose someone else?" "We had a few causalities, yes, but luckily, they were no Taichô's. Or Fukotaichôs...yet" "Yet?" Once again, Unohana sighed. "Hinamori Fukotaichô. Her condition, especially her mental condition, is very unstable. What happened left it's mark on her. Even if she wakes, we can't say whether she'll be stable enough to face her duty again. For the moment, she is stable though, but we have to keep constant watch on her. We also worry about Hitsugaya Taichô. He woke up yesterday, but... he seems to be heavily affected by Hinamori's state- we can't blame him for that, these two were very close. He doesn't watch over himself- if we wouldn't remind him to eat and watch him eating, he'd probably not eat at all. Also, despite his sedatives he often tries to escape to sit on top of the roof where Hinamori's room is located. So far no one has been able to reach him- not even Matsumoto Fukotaichô herself." Even though Byakuya was mystified as to why Unohana would tell him this much in such detail, he was grateful that she did, relieving him of the need to inquire after the young Taichô himself. Though he would have liked to know in which room the boy was situated in, he decided against asking- his pride wouldn't have survived- and instead opted for another question. "When will I be released?"
"If your wounds catch no infection and continue to heal at the same pace, I'd say about a week. But even after you were released, you should lie low for a while. No fighting- neither training nor real fights. You'll be relieved of missions- reconstruction missions included- until I say you're ready for it again. While you're here, I strongly recommend you NOT to take strolls or leave your bed at all for that matter- except for your sanitary needs, of course. You need your rest and besides..." although she was smiling, her eyes darkened, fixing on Byakuya and conveying a silent threat "...we don't want any more causalities, don't we?" Byakuya felt cold sweat running down his spine- she definitely would be winning in a fight now. He gave a short nod. 'One week...'
"Good. Well, I think I've imposed on you long enough now, I'll leave now to let you talk to Rukia."
She walked towards the door, opened it and smiled down at Rukia, who had been about to knock. "He's awake now." Looking back over her shoulder, she winked. Then she left.
Rukia hesitantly stood in the doorway, until Byakuya beckoned her in. She sat down on the chair next to Byakuya's bed, saying. "Nii-sama!...You're awake." Even though she tried not to be too enthusiastic about it, it didn't escape Byakuya's notice that her eyes had watered in joy while her voice had carried an undertone practically screaming 'I'm so glad you survived! I was so worried!' "Yeah." Byakuya replied. An awkward silence followed. "Erm... do you need anything?" Rukia asked in an attempt to strike up a conversation. "No, apart from painkillers that is." Rukia immediately bowed her head, "Ah, I'm sorry, Nii-sama, I should have thought about this before..." Shit, this was really awkward. Why was it so hard to talk to his own sister? Byakuya realized with a sudden surge of sadness, that he'd built an impenetrable emotional barrier around himself, as he watched Rukia pour him a glass of water and put painkillers into it. Well, then it was time to break the dam. He cleared his throat, suddenly the room felt very hot and said tentatively "Rukia?" making her almost jump out of her skin. "Y-yes?" It was true that she doted on every word he said and cared for him really much, but the walls he'd built around himself after Hisana's death seemed to have made him into a very intimidating person even to her. 'Shit. This is hard. I'm just not good with emotions'.
He beckoned her closer still and when she was close enough, he pulled her into an awkward embrace. She stiffened at first, completely surprised, but then she started to hug back. "Nii-sama...are you-?" "Yes, I am alright. Are you? How was your recovery?" Rukia stiffened briefly again, probably due to her remembering her behavior during her first days of recovery. "Hnn...Good. I'm still not back to my old strength, though" "I'm glad. And Rukia..." he paused, how was he going to say this? "Nii-sama?" He swallowed and unconsciously tightened his grip around her small frame. "...thank you for forgiving me...and for caring." In response, Rukia's arms around him tightened as well and she murmured "You're welcome" into his chest. A silence followed, in which both silently hold onto each other, giving support as much as needing it. By the time their embrace loosened, Byakuya had slipped on his stoic mask again, enabling them both to converse on more familiar grounds. "I believe I'd like those painkillers now", Byakuya said, cutting through the uncertain, yet somewhat comfortable silence that had engulfed them. Rukia carefully handed him the glass. "Thanks."
"Gotta go now- Renji..." Rukia trailed off. Byakuya, understanding her need to have some space to herself, relieved her of the need to find an excuse. "You may go."
"Goodbye Nii-sama." Rukia walked towards the door. Opening the door, she looked back over her shoulder. "Thank you for saving my life, Nii-sama and for caring" she said softly. "Goodnight." With that, she left, Byakuya's "You're welcome" never reaching her ears. But Byakuya knew that she knew. And he knew that, even though it had only been a short moment and nothing much had been said she'd gotten his message. As he had gotten hers. And he found that he was able to forgive himself now.
He yawned. 'Huh? Seems like those painkillers also contained sedatives... Unohana doesn't leave anything up to luck...sedating me...that woman...'. "Goodnight to you too, Rukia" he said softly into the empty room, before he let sleep claim him, silently vowing that, from now on, he'd let himself be himself around Rukia- at least occasionally and while they were alone. He never noticed Unohana Taichô standing at his bedside, smiling down at him fondly. "Sleep well, Kuchiki- Taichô." The only response she got was the rustling of bedsheets as Byakuya turned on his back. After checking and re-bandaging his wound, she also left the room, silently closing the door behind her.
The first thing he noticed when he came to, was that he wasn't alone. Turning his head, he saw Renji, sitting lazily on a chair, looking out of the window with a dazed expression. "Renji?" Byakuya said in wonder. The reason for his Fukotaichô's presence was a mystery to the noble at that moment. He wondered what the time was, exactly. Renji startled at the call, almost made him fall off the chair. "K-Kuchiki-Taichô!" He immediately stood at attention. Byakuya almost laughed at Renji's ridiculous behavior. Almost. 'Get a grip' he admonished himself as he noticed that his mouth was opened in surprise. That's why he hated hospitals so much. Laying still doing nothing was cruel in itself, but the medication...he hated having so little control of his own body. If Renji had noticed, he had chosen not to comment, for which Byakuya was grateful for.
A soft rustling of white hospital garments was heard as Byakuya pulled himself into a sitting position, glaring daggers at Renji as he tried to help. 'At least the painkillers do their work.' he thought sarcastically. He just hoped that the side-effects of the medication wouldn't have the rather annoying effect of dulling his feel of Reiatsu. Wrong, dulling almost all feeling he had in his limbs. It made him clumsy and extremely uncoordinated.
"Renji. Why are you here?" "What, don't I have the right to visit my own Taichô?" Renji replied. An awkward silence ensued, as Byakuya stared at Renji. The silence was broken by Renji, who had started to feel uncomfortable at Byakuya's stare. "Rukia survived" he stated. "I know that." Another silence. "I'm glad you survived, too" Renji continued. "How come?" The last time they'd been together, Byakuya could recall, was when they fought. The last time he'd seen Renji, the read-head had been lying on the ground mortally wounded after experiencing Senbonzakura's Bankai. Byakuya was sure that, if the last time he saw someone was while lying on the floor, beat up and bloody because of that person, he'd have no problem with that person dying. He would have wanted to deal the dying blow himself. Either way, he'd not expected Renji to be that cheerful.
"Since I first met you, surpassing you became my goal. I trained everyday, became your Fukotaichô, all to reach one single goal: surpassing you one time. That... fight we had showed me that I've still got a lot to learn...but I'm confident that the day will come where I defeat you. Anyway, all my training would've lost it's meaning if you had died." 'What a simple logic' Byakuya thought. Sometimes he wondered how being normal would feel- never having to disguise yourself, not having to stick to countless of socializing rules and not having to appear emotionless- it sounded wonderful to him. But he was born a noble, he could not change what he was.
He cleared his throat- when had it become so itchy? "How's the squad?" In reply, Renji groaned. "Tons and tons of paper work. And they're all feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable without you."
"..." Byakuya fixed a stern look on his Fukotaichô. "I expect everything the squad to run smoothly during my absence. And I want to get daily reports." "Understood, sir!"
"Good. You're dismissed." Renji did not move. He looked really uncomfortable and apologetic. "I can't." Byakuya's mouth formed into a thin line. "You can't? I'm your superior officer." he said coldly. Renji squirmed. "Unohana Taichô... um, told me to make sure you wouldn't leave your bed..." he replied, seating himself upon the chair once again. "And that's why I'm here." Now it was out. Renji felt strangely relieved. When Unohana told him to watch over Byakuya, he'd spent the whole night tossing and turning, trying to decide whose wrath was the lesser evil at the moment. Since he came to the conclusion, that, at least for now, his Taichô's wrath clearly was the lesser evil, morning had found him sitting in Byakuya's room. To busy himself, he'd brought his paperwork with him. Though it had not taken long for him to finish it. Surprising what you were willing to do to escape boredom if you had nothing else to do. Renji couldn't remember ever having done his paperwork so fast.
Byakuya carefully kept his calm mask in check. Though inside, he was fuming over the fact that his own Fukotaichô had been ordered to ensure he'd stay in bed. 'Seems my talk to the boy has to wait' he thought miserably. He didn't like to wait. He wanted that talk to be over with as soon as possible. He never liked procrastinating.
'At least that stupid medication makes me sleepy' he thought, as he felt his eyelids grow heavy. Tuning out Renji- the read-head had been ranting about something for quite some time now (bragging about his achievements apparently)- he turned onto his side and closed his eyes. He was asleep in a matter of seconds.
He woke up again as his chest wound started to hurt horribly. Unohana was bent over him, examining his wound and applying some liquid- which caused the pain- on it. She had not noticed his return to wakefulness yet. He grunted to make himself known. "Oh, you're awake. I'm sorry if I woke you. Wait, I'm giving you the painkillers in a moment. Oh, by the way, Rukia visited about an hour ago. She said she didn't want to wake you." Byakuya nodded.
"What time is it?" He asked then, while she finished fastening the bandages. "Eight in the evening." She absently replied, gathering her things. "Your wound is healing nicely. Looks like I'll be able to allow you moving around sooner than expected. If it continues this way, then I think you can start taking little walks in the garden by tomorrow."
"Why not send me home?" "I want to have you here for a while longer, just to make sure you didn't catch something and it all healed nicely. The blade missed your vitals by mere millimeters. Even though it may look harmless in your opinion, it still is very serious."
So, how was it? Please give feedback!
I hope it was not (too) OOC ^^
See ya! *waves*