title : I'm Crossing the River
fandom : Bleach
characters : Kuchiki Byakuya, Kurosaki Masaki
medium : ficlet
challenge : mythic on spankpalace
A/N : Okay, now to make things clearer. I am about three quarters into what has been published in France as far as the manga is concerned. I've seen a few scenes of the anime, and I have done my research on Byakuya, because let's face it, I'm infatuated with him. In this occasion, I have broken my self-imposed rule of not writing a fic when you haven't seen or read the entirety of the material. I do not know if such a thing as I describe here ever happened either in the manga or in the anime. I'm just trying my hand on a character who had the misfortune to cross my path and who looks too much like Fujimiya Ran for his own good. This fic gets the dubious honor of being my first one in this fandom.
That being said, this will contain : angst, character death, AU-ness, and maybe spoilers for chapter 19 of the manga. I have a very personal theory about what happened in chapter 19.
There are raindrops in the red hair, and blood on the little hands. Way too much blood.
"Mom … Mom !"
Five liters of blood in a human body. That's what you learn in school. You always think that it's not enough at first, when the teacher tells you. There's always too much of it when it leaves a body. A real flood.
It was a fact of life that Kuchiki Byakuya, Captain of the Sixth Division and head of the Kuchiki Clan, did not storm out of rooms, ever. Nor did he stomp. There was something undignified in letting your feet express feelings that you were not supposed to show.
It was another fact of life that the members of the Sixth Division valued their life, and so they inadvertently neglected to tell their Captain that he was storming out of the Division's headquarters and that he was stomping while doing so.
"Renji. With me."
Abarai Renji did his best to keep up with his Captain without stomping.
"I have a mission in the human world. A soul burial."
Renji frowned and stopped dead in his tracks, which in turn stopped his Captain's furiously restrained strides.
"What ? Why are they sending you ? They don't need a Captain for that !"
Captain Kuchiki didn't turn around.
"It is a direct order from General Yamamoto, Renji. The victim was not the hollow's intended target."
/Don't cry, Ichigo./
"He cannot hear you," Captain Kuchiki said.
The dead woman's soul gave a start and raised her eyes from the sobbing little boy.
/Who are you ?/
She was a fresh soul. Her appearance was identical to that of the body on the ground, down to every single drop of blood splattered on her back. Her arms were around the boy's neck, holding his head against her chest as he cradled her dead body on his knees.
"You are dead," Captain Kuchiki said matter-of-factly. "We are here to escort you to your resting place."
It was usually quite difficult to get this point across to souls. They tended not to believe you, even when presented with material evidence. The woman looked down, and held the boy closer.
/I know. But .../
"Renji," Captain Kuchiki said, "open a portal. We're going."
/I can't leave him alone. He is in danger, isn't he ? The thing that killed me …/
"Was aiming for him," Captain Kuchiki confirmed, demonstrating more patience that Renji had ever seen him do with anyone. "You have protected him with your life. There is nothing left for you to do here."
She sighed, and the sound she emitted reduced all else to a near silence, startling even the little boy.
"Mom ? Mom, are you still here ?"
/I'm coming with you if you promise me that my son will come to no harm./
"I cannot promise you that."
She detached herself from her son, and the little boy began to cry again.
/I suppose I don't have a choice./
"Not really," Renji said. "But once we get you across the river, you'll be safe."
/Across the river ?/
She looked back at the gray stream, and Renji shook his head.
"Not that river. This one," he said, pointing at the portal.
It had opened to reveal a rocky landscape. There was a small wooden boat waiting in black waters. The bark of a dog tore through the mist that hid the other shore from view.
The woman looked back again, once, and took a step toward the portal. It took her longer than it should have to reach it. Captain Kuchiki watched her as she clumsily stepped inside.
"Renji, you will escort her to the other side and perform the burial."
"It is an order, Renji."
Renji nodded once.
"Yes, sir," he said, but he didn't move from where he was, waiting for his Captain to pass the gate before he did.
"And one last thing before we go …" Captain Kuchiki turned to the boy. "Heart of the South, Eye of the North, Finger of the West, Foot of the East, arrive with the wind and depart with the rain. Bakudô, fifty-eigth spell : kakushitsuijaku !"
"Captain Kuchiki !" Renji yelled, horrified.
His superior glared at him.
"He is powerful enough to attract the likes of Grand Fisher, Renji. He needs to be watched. You are not allowed to speak of what you have witnessed here."
Renji nodded again, weakly.