Broken Smile.

She smiles constantly at him, but he doesn't like her smile, because it's lying. He knows she smiles at him because she feels that, as his wife, she ought to smile, even if he's not looking at her. He doesn't like it because he knows that even if she smiles, her eyes will be sad, so very sad; and that there'll be nothing he can do.

He often wonders why she doesn't tell him her secrets; why she'd rather watch over the garden and bestow her sighs and tears upon flowers and sunsets that will never answer back, but he doesn't force her to answer.

Hisana is a mystery wrapped in everyday usual things; the pouring of a cup of tea, tying his obi, bowing her head carefully at his words.

At night, she does search his embrace. Carefully, hesitantly, her rough and scarred hands move over his face and neck and shoulders and he opens his eyes to look at her and then she smiles as she whispers an apology for waking him up.

He does like that smile because even if it's an achingly raw one that kind of breaks her (sometimes he thinks it might even cut him, if he's not careful around its sharp broken edges) it's a real one, an honest one, so he sits down and embraces her, feeling her tears against his skin, and finds comfort on the way her imperfect hands wound themselves over his nemaki and, even if it's only for a small moment, he's able to comfort her in a way nothing and no one else does.

Byakuya never held Ryuka's hands and he didn't let her touch him. At times, when she was sitting over the garden and he was watching her, he wondered if she was whispering her sorrows to a flower or the sunset or to something or someone that he wouldn't be able to know once again.

He never turned to look at her smile, just so he could be certain that he wouldn't be finding an endless blue sadness inside them and if watching her growing up ached, he paid it no notice.

"Nii-sama!" Rukia cries, worry clear over her face as she kneels by his side. It's strange to think that it's the very first time since he adopted her into the Kuchiki family that they're actually this close.

He's surprised to find out that her hands and Hisana's are the same: warm, small and comforting in their non-softness.

Byakuya looks towards the girl that calls him brother, to the girl his wife had entrusted to him and as he feels her holding his hand tightly, he finally closes his eyes and allows himself to rest.