Author's Notes: I really can't believe I haven't posted this here before. Written a very long time ago for Arashi. A delicate Hisana and Byakuya in ten movements.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one.
He searches without seeming to look, watches without seeming to see. The crowds of Rukongai part for him. He doesn't meet any of their eyes. It's not worth the effort.
She isn't there.
Hisana bows her head to him when he returns home. When he doesn't say anything, she looks up and smiles slightly, the edge of regret.
"It's alright," she says, her voice like a bird's. A strong breeze will whip it away. "Thank you for trying."
Out in the city, a small dark-haired child steals a loaf of bread, unaware that she is lost.
Hisana dies without peace, he thinks. She's holding his hand and speaking to him but all he can think is that she's burdened with sorrow. Her soul cannot be free and that's a dangerous notion to a God of Death. So, he does the only thing he can do.
He takes her pain as his own, throws it around his shoulders like a mantle.
It's his, and a part of her still remains.
He finds the child at the Academy. There's a moment of painful recognition that makes his heart turn brittle and his chest feel tight.
Nothing shows on his face.
He makes all the necessary arrangements and hears no arguments, overriding complaints from his househould with a cold, flat stare that makes words die, turns anger to stone. His will is unshakeable and allows for no other outcome besides the one he wishes for.
"It's decided," he says and thinks that's the end of it.
"I vow never to break the law again. From now on, I will be the hand of Justice."
He's not as strong as he appears to be.
An oath leads him into the world, watching impassively as Rukia agrees to return without really agreeing. She's a prisoner and he's turning the key to her cell. There's a coldness in his bones that has nothing to do with the rain but he ignores it.
He's become good at being purposely oblivious with himself.
The day of execution dawns clear and bright. He doesn't glance at Rukia as she's lifted into the air. He's feeling stretched to the point of tension, his soul pulled tight between two promises.
He can't breathe lest he make the wrong decision.
His solution is to not decide at all.
The pain is excruiating and very welcome. He's still alive.
He has to paint the ground with his blood before he realizes what he wants. In his mind, tinged with death, he understands he's been walking twin roads that divided a long time ago.
And he does.
He wakes in a hospital bed. Everything's white and clean and fresh except for the weariness in his body. He wants nothing more than to shut his eyes but Renji appears from nowhere like a loyal hound, properly chastised for reaching above his place.
Byakuya simply turns to look out the window as his Vice-Captain draws up a chair. They say nothing and they don't have to.
He's not a falling star anymore.
He returns home with Rukia at his elbow. The doors are open, awaiting the lord's return. For once, it doesn't hurt to think that Hisana is no longer there.
Rukia smiles and looks up at him. "We're back."
He exhales fifty years of regrets and, somewhere, his wife is free.
"Ah," he says, "We're back."
I'll leave my heart with you, Byakuya-sama, the safest place of all.