A/N: This story contains (minor) spoiler for recent chapters and episode 94.

Byakuya's Dilemma

Ever since the first time he had laid his eyes on one Kurosaki Ichigo, he had loathed him. He never did understand the deep aversion, never really able to explain the way he had reacted upon seeing the rookie shinigami at first sight. Kuchiki Byakuya had always been indifferent toward almost everything. And yet he immediately hated him.

It wasn't because he resembled the eldest Shiba so much—Byakuya had never felt any inclination to get to know Rukia's commanding officer better. He had always thought of him as an infuriatingly liberal man. And apparently here had been another one who shared similar traits with the ill-fated shinigami.

Even when Kurosaki had been the one who had stolen Rukia's power and therefore the reason why she would have to face death penalty, he didn't usually feel such a strong, negative emotion for someone he just met for about several minutes. No, that wasn't the reason either.

It had been the look on his adopted sister's face as she had displayed her concern for the boy so openly.

Byakuya had understood right away what that look had meant. He knew deep affection when he saw one, because once he had loved someone so deeply that it had hurt him so much when he could do nothing but watch her wither away slowly. Against this power greater than anything else in this world and beyond, the mighty Captain of the 6th division was utterly and completely powerless. Fate had ultimately torn them apart.

When Hisana had died, she had left behind a scar. Love became to him a feeble thing, a foolish emotion that would only leave your heart with a gaping wound in the end.

That look on Rukia's face and her actions prior to them leaving the human world could only mean one thing: she had come to care about him more than she should have. When will she ever learn, so he had thought. Shiba's death had almost killed her—yes, Byakuya had known all along how much his sister had cared about her superior—and she was about to make the same mistake…

Correction. She had already made the same mistake twice.


Much, much later, he was grateful to Kurosaki for reminding him about promises that really mattered. And yet he still didn't like him any better all the same.

First of all, the boy was too informal and he had no respect whatsoever for elders.

But most of all, the boy still had her affection. And from the way he saw it, his sister's affection wasn't unreciprocated.

He hated Kurosaki all the more, because he didn't look forward at the day she no longer needed—wanted—his protection. He'd like to assure himself that that boy would do a lousy job in protecting his sister even if his determination was as unmovable as a mountain.

That's why he refrained from associating himself with the ryoka, afraid that if he really got to know him, then he would lose his reason to hate him. He sent him away while he himself went after the person responsible for his sister's serious injuries.

That's why he was more than willing to obey the order of the general commander to escort the Hitsugaya squad back from the human world to Soul Society. From the corner of his eyes, he saw her reluctantly parting with Kurosaki. It certainly didn't help his already-far-from-amicable sentiment toward the substitute shinigami.

The world may see him as a cold and indifferent person, but deep down he really cared for his sister and he found that it was no longer for the sake of a promise to his late wife.

It bothered him a little, though, that she probably cared about Kurosaki more.

Byakuya wished he could have kept them apart, but no one knew what Fate had in store for them. As much as he loathed admitting it, if she thought that Kurosaki was worthy of her affection, than there was nothing he could do but to abide by her wish and respect her choice.

But as long as Fate had not yet revealed its hand, he saw absolutely no harm in making things a little bit difficult for them.

That's what every big brother does anyway.

- The End -