By: Twilight's Blade
Summary:When Byakuya suffers once Hinamori declares revenge, one knows danger lurks. But only with the puppet strings of lunacy, lust, and lies can one achieve the true evils wrought by manipulation—and not even Renji could know how well.
Some OOC, I'm sure.
Chapter one: Chocolate
Looms of papers stood stacked in feet high piles on Byakuya's desk when Renji entered the room. If he didn't know any better, he would have guessed it was backlogged. But the untouched, and therefore organized piles of equal amount set aside for him alerted him to the fact that this was not the case. A fresh load of paperwork had been dumped onto the Sixth Division for the fourth time that week.
"G' mornin', taichou," said Renji as he took a bow. He was unable to suppress the yawn that followed.
Byakuya only briefly looked up from his work. "You're late again," he stated, tone uncharacteristically bitter. The vice-captain rolled his eyes, sensing a stirring up of the tension that had infiltrated the division since the beginning of the week. Their "silent arguments" with each other were becoming more frequent, complete with annoyed glares here, burning scowls there—at least on Renji's part, and nothing short of subtle eye rolls, shrugs, and sighs.
He turned his attention to the small white box in his hands with his name neatly handwritten on it. Maybe I should just tell the truth this time. It's not all that good of an excuse, though. But hell, if I give him anymore stories, he'll start trying to snap my neck with his reiatsu—
"Renji," Byakuya announced coolly. "I do not have all day to sit here and listen to the ludicrous story you are no doubt creating to excuse yourself. Tell me why you were late and then proceed with your work." Renji frowned. One time was all he wanted to have Byakuya follow his command.
And if things went well, he could even hope for a short wait.
"Unohana-taichou and Hinamori-fukutaichou have been baking and selling cookies in the morning," he responded. "I went to buy some before they ran out." Byakuya was silent for a bit before his gaze returned to the papers on his desk.
"Is that all?"
Renji crossed his arms and murmured, "They've stopped selling for today, in case you got your hopes up." Byakuya glared at him, but Renji was already making his way towards his desk, back turned and snickering. Deciding that it was too early for any form of bickering, he returned his attention to his paperwork.
Minutes later, a loud crunch sounded, disturbing the aching silence of the room. Soon after, the aroma of melted chocolate wafted beneath Byakuya's nose. He blinked swiftly and took short gulps, stealing glances at the stack of all chocolate cookies sitting calmly in the box on Renji's desk. He gaped as Renji took yet another bite, and if it wasn't for the brush beginning to slip from his grasp, he would not have regained focus. Now slightly perturbed, he straightened up, tightened his grip, and stared back down to his paperwork, only to notice it covered with various wet spots.
The captain nearly choked in surprise. Grabbing for the tissues that sat atop his desk, he hastily dried his mouth, and then tried for the paper, which proved futile. Glancing at Renji, who failed to take any notice of Byakuya's mishap, he was more than reassured. But concentrating on the work became increasingly difficult. Tightening his fists, reading and rereading the documents, or when that failed, forcing his mind to wander over issues completely unrelated to the sixth division or the cookies—all methods failed in diverting his attention. And he was running out of options.
Byakuya stiffened. The aroma took his nose hostage as he forced down gulps and fought to ignore his hunger. Perhaps this was how Kenpachi felt before a battle: heart racing, fingers twitching, his entire body itching with anticipation. Yet being compared to that brash fool annoyed him to no end, and he shook the comparison from his mind. Another sporadic crunch occurred, causing Byakuya to lick his lips, his eyes briefly and unconsciously fluttering.
It wasn't until Renji decided to take his eyes off of the monotony of the paper's script that Byakuya was able to control himself, writing again and using all of his might to force away a blush. He raised an eyebrow, sensing that something with his captain was off, and noting the shift in reiatsu from the moment he glanced up. Urgently needing fresh air and aware that Renji's inquisitive gaze hadn't yet disappeared, Byakuya stood abruptly and excused himself from the office.
Byakuya made his way to a nearby lounge room to gather his thoughts. No one else was around, so he busied himself with the task of making tea, releasing a breath of tension he hadn't realized he was holding. He poured hot water into a mug, jumping as his jumbled thoughts jumbled his movements, hot water splattering onto his hand. He closed his eyes and sighed. I could just barely contain myself…What exactly is going on?
For a split second, an image came to mind of the younger Yoruichi triumphantly standing beside him while he held his stomach and leaned against the wall, sickened.
When had this taken place? He racked his mind for similar images, but could not find any, nor a possible context. Frustrated, he sipped the last of his tea and turned back to the door. Taking a confident breath, he strode back into the office, flinching subtly once inhaling. Ignoring Renji's staring, he sat down and began writing.
Maybe he could do this. There would be a break, though it was a long time from now. But all he had to do was focus on the paperwork and ignore anything cookie-related. He had control over himself. He was sane. He could do this.
His stomach rumbled and Byakuya panicked.
He couldn't do this.
Luckily for him, Renji seemed not to have noticed, and the captain quickly regained his composure, despite his shivering at the crunch of yet another cookie. Byakuya decided to ignore the fact that it would be another three hours before lunch break. Another crunch, and he bit his lip, shifting uncomfortably. No, he decided. There was no way possible that he would even be able to survive.
"Hinamori-san, I don't believe you should do that," Unohana said, cleaning up the fourth division's kitchen. She grabbed a paper towel and wiped the counter clean. "I'm sure there's an understandable reason for his rather rude behavior toward you recently."
"Really?" the young girl asked, leaning against a wall with her arms folded. "And do you have a better idea? He hates me, and he made it clear."
Unohana stopped her cleaning to give her a chastising glare. "You and I both know very well that Hitsugaya Toushirou does not hate you. He cares about you very much."
"And that explains why he ignored my birthday, alright. It's not like he forgot. We've know each other for decades! I bet it's because he doesn't care about me anymore." She pouted, closely resembling a six year old on the verge of a temper tantrum. "It's always 'Hinamori, I'm busy, so let me work in peace' or 'Hinamori, you idiot! Do you know how long it took me to file those? And now you've knocked them all over the place! Go the hell away!" And that's only if he is forced to talk to me at all!"
Unohana said nothing. Bountiful were the rumors spreading around the Soul Society about Hitsugaya's sudden flash of rage towards his childhood friend. Now that some of those comments had left Hinamori's own lips, she was a bit hesitant as to what to say to comfort her. Hopefully, the boy wasn't taking things too far. She glanced away from Hinamori, finding herself caring about the rumors a bit more than necessary. As long as she or her beloved was not involved, she could care less.
"Hitsugaya-kun hates me," Hinamori continued. "That's why he's constantly shooed me away for the past two weeks, that's why he runs in the other direction every time he sees me, that's why he didn't recognize my birthday yesterday, and that's why I want my revenge." She stood and began to pack her things.
"Hinamori-san, you're being quite irrational, don't you think? There must be a reason to justify this behavior. Why don't you talk to him?" Hinamori stuck up her nose with a slight 'hmph'.
"I would," she began, crossing her arms, "but he wouldn't want to listen. Besides, I'm sick of being known as the innocent 'Bed Wetter Momo'." She then reached for a plastic bag from the shelf, along with scissors. "Now would you be so kind, Unohana-taichou, as to lend me some of your precious hair?"
Unohana recoiled. "I won't. I refuse to help you with revenge. If you need me to bake more cookies for you, though, I'll be happy to." Hinamori sighed.
"If you say so, Unohana-taichou," she mimicked playfully, waving the scissors in the air as she spoke. She bowed, taking her leave from the fourth division headquarters to find a willing participant. It doesn't matter. There are plenty others that will contribute, she thought with a wry smirk. I swear I will make him pay!
Two and a half hours had passed, but to Byakuya, it was a lifetime.
Was fresh air too much to ask for?
Byakuya was not sure how much longer he could last if he didn't leave the office. He'd been fidgeting in his seat, gulping in anticipation, and sweating persistently since he'd walked back into the room. It was a miracle that Renji hadn't noticed, or at least pretended as if he hadn't. He just needed a taste, just one tiny sample of that chocolate to calm his jittery nerves. But how? There were no more to be sold for the day. And if he questioned his ability to go another half hour without those god-forsaken cookies, then he'd be nearly suicidal if he had to wait another twenty four hours.
Byakuya anxiously glanced at the clock. Twenty four minutes until his senses were granted their long overdue freedom.
Suddenly, an idea popped into his head, but he immediately cursed it. An act like that was savage, and he wasn't born a noble to have such thoughts. But it was the only scheme he had, and desperation urged him on more and more by the second. He would probably regret it later, but it was a chance he had to take save any more…dangerous outcomes occurred. Coincidentally, Renji had excused himself to use the bathroom. Once he was sure he was out of earshot, Byakuya virtually dashed over to his desk, eying the white box longingly. Unable to stop from licking his lips, he opened the box—only to be met with a nasty surprise.
They were gone. Renji had eaten every last cookie in the box. Even the crumbs had disappeared. And now the hunger was becoming extreme, and his stomach responded with a loud growl. All he wanted was a small taste, just to satisfy his craving. Oh, how badly he wanted it…
The door opened and Byakuya froze. Renji stared curiously. "Hm? What are you doing, taichou? Did you want—"
"Do not get the wrong idea," he interrupted. "I was merely disposing of your trash. Garbage lying around is unsightly." He closed the box, threw it away, and left for lunch break early.
Renji stared at him as he left, snickering softly. Don't think I'll let you get away that easily, taichou.
The nippy mid-March breeze calmed him. He had actually made it three hours without any chocolate and everyone's limbs were still intact. Despite Renji's comment, Byakuya decided to head for the fourth division, in hopes that maybe there were some left behind cookies that had yet to be sold. It couldn't hurt to try, and at this point, he was ready for anything. He just prayed his red headed vice captain hadn't guessed his true motive for opening that box, or he would never hear the end of it. Sensing familiar reiatsu, he stopped walking. Seconds later, Hinamori appeared before him, quickly bowing.
"Good afternoon, Kuchiki-taichou," she greeted. "I apologize for the disturbance, but I was requested by Kurotsuchi-taichou to retrieve a hair sample from each of the captains. Is it possible that I snip a bit of your hair for the purpose of his experiment?" Hinamori kept her face as straight as possible, knowing her story sounded ridiculous and that the sixth division captain would question anything he thought to be foul play.
Byakuya raised an eyebrow. "What, exactly, is he planning on doing with my hair in this experiment?" He would never admit it aloud, but he treasured his hair dearly. He hated wearing that kenseikan; it left rather hideous imprints that would not come out unless washed and thoroughly combed. He wasn't about to let just anyone take and manipulate his hair, and truthfully, few people were ever fond of the outcomes of Mayuri's experiments.
Hinamori shrugged lightly. "He didn't give me the details."
"And why are you taking orders from him if he is not your captain?" Hinamori paused for a moment. She had been expecting further questioning, especially from him, but that part of her story had yet to be formed.
"W-Well…it's more like a favor, really I…promised to pay him back for something he did for me awhile back, and this is…how I…am." She looked away when she spoke, too afraid that any other movements would throw her plan off. Byakuya, however, wasn't going to take any chances. He did not want to admit later on that he inadvertently played a role in blowing up half of the Seireitei.
"I refuse." He stated simply, beginning to leave. Hinamori stumbled after him.
"Please, Kuchiki-taichou? Just a little bit?" she pleaded, but Byakuya ignored her. "I'll give you my special chocolate chip cookies if you do!" she said, pulling a small plastic bag out of her hakama. Byakuya stopped short when he heard this. His mouth began to savor again, and before he knew it, he had turned around and let a `Very well' escape his lips.
Hinamori smiled as she cut a small bit off the ends. "Thank you, Kuchiki-taichou," she said, placing the hair in a plastic bag before bowing and leaving. Though he didn't trust her intentions in the slightest, Byakuya suddenly lost interest. Instead, he eagerly stared at the bag, saliva trailing from a corner of his mouth. He glanced around quickly, then flash stepped back up to the balcony and leaned on the wall that was out of view from the main entrance, ripping the bag open.
Never had he tasted anything so delicious in his life.
His body shivered when the chocolate met his tongue, its sweet flavor making his eyes flutter. After swallowing the first cookie, Byakuya licked his lips and pulled out another cookie…and another, and another, until soon he ripped the bag to shreds just to get to the crumbs. He gulped to prevent himself from drooling, only to realize he had been already. Seconds later, he blissfully leaned his head back on the wall. He could have never imagined the waves of pleasure shooting through his nerves with every bite. Why hadn't he tasted chocolate in all these years? He reached into the bag for another one and frowned when he realized that he'd eaten them all. He wanted more—no, he needed more…they were so good. But he forced himself to ignore his yearning and suffice for what he had, as it was pure chance he'd gotten cookies in the first place.
There was another split second flashback, this time of an annoyed younger Byakuya standing with his arms folded as Yoruichi danced around him in a circle, taunting him and eating something that he couldn't quite make out. The younger Kuchiki heir was staring intently at it, biting his lip in restraint and frustration. He sighed, confused as to why he was having flashbacks of old memories that he couldn't recall of his own free will. But before Byakuya could ponder the matter much longer, his eyes flitted apprehensively. He turned, scanning the area quickly enough to sizzle the air. But unlike he had detected, there was no one around.
Was that Renji's reiatsu just now? Byakuya panicked. If he had seen his little display of primitive behavior…No, I'm imagining things. If Renji had been here, I would have sensed it long ago. Reassuring himself and calming down, he wiped the crumbs off of his face and headed for his favorite spicy food restaurant, hoping to take his mind off of chocolate. Unfortunately for Byakuya, Renji had been there. But his chocolate high prevented him from sensing Renji until he finished, at which point Renji fled.
Meanwhile, about two miles away, Renji had stopped his flash step and caught his breath, collapsing into an outrageous fit of laughter. Others stared at him as he rolled around on the ground in hysterical mania. He wiped a few tears from his eyes, gathering himself after a few minutes. It didn't take long to realize that if the rest of the Seireitei found out about this, they would be laughing just as hard. This was exactly what he needed to mortify the always-held-in-high-perfection Kuchiki Byakuya, his chance to gain the power and respect from him he felt he deserved. Now all he had to get was proof.
With the exception of Kurotsuchi and Unohana, Hinamori had managed to get a hair clipping from each of the captains, as well as toe nail clippings from the vice-captains. The perfect accessories, she thought, for an evil Hitsugaya-kun's mouth. Feet away, she spotted him speaking with Matsumoto. Her eyes narrowed, but she remembered what Unohana had said to her. Maybe it was worth a try. "Oi! Shirou-chan!" Hitsugaya and Matsumoto looked up. He shuddered in disgust.
"Go away, Hinamori," he spat, turning his back to her. "Don't you see I'm in the middle of an important conversation?"
"Then leave!" Tears began to well up in her eyes and she gave Matsumoto a pleading glance, wondering why she was standing by and allowing him to treat her like this. Remembering his previous insults, Hinamori quickly looked away and pouted
"Fine then, Hitsugaya Toushirou! You'll be lucky if you ever hear from me again!" It was Hitsugaya's turn to be surprised. He tried to call out for her, but she stomped away before he could utter her name.
"I think you went too far this time, taichou," said Matsumoto, casting a worried gaze in the direction Hinamori had disappeared.
He sighed, folding his arms. "That's what I'm worried about. I thought maybe if I mistreated her just enough, the birthday party I'm throwing her would be more of an effective surprise. But now…I think she might do something completely irrational."
"…And you want the best for her," Matsumoto added.
Hitsugaya blinked. "Hold on! That's not what I—"
"Taichou, you're so cute when you're in denial!" Matsumoto suddenly exclaimed.
The woman pouted, folding her arms. "Oh, don't get so angry. It's quite obvious that you're in love with her, despite all of your outrageous denials. Besides, everyone knows-"
"I'm what?" he repeated, eyes widening. But before the buxom woman could respond, the captain's attention shifted. There was still the problem of where exactly he was going to have this party, and one of his options was walking on the block nearby. "We'll finish this later, Matsumoto," he ended abruptly, making his way towards the Sixth Division captain.
A half block away, Byakuya thought silently. He wasn't quite sure he was fond of having a party thrown on his estate that hadn't anything to do with him in the slightest, but he allowed the younger captain to elaborate.
"I know it's short notice, but Matsumoto," Hitsugaya shot her an antagonizing glance, in which she mouth an annoyed 'what?', "is extremely unreliable when it comes to doing her work sometimes, and I had so much catching up to do myself that I forgot to find a place for the party."
Normally, Byakuya would have declined, but this case was entirely different. This was HinamoriMomo, that god-send of a shinigami that gave him those irresistible cookies. Sure it was a pretty irrational hope to believe that maybe she would do something for him when the party came to pass, but if there was a chance he got chocolate, Byakuya could care less how exactly he got it.
"Very well," he said finally.
"R-Really?" Hitsugaya asked, surprised he'd agreed so easily. Byakuya nodded. Maybe she would make him a special batch of cookies, oozing with chocolate and with enough sugar to cause even Yachiru to faint. He could nearly taste it, but he quickly refocused on the conversation before his thoughts got the best of him.
"I assume three days is enough time to organize the party?" Byakuya nodded once more. "I'm sure this is the last thing she is expecting…or anyone else for that matter."
"No one else knows?"
Hitsugaya shook his head. "Matsumoto and Retsu only. I couldn't risk the surprise to be ruined. I just want Hinamori to have a good time…" His voice was low and juvenile when he said this, and if the elder captain hadn't known better, he would have sworn he saw a small blush appear on the younger's face. "Besides," he continued, straightening up, "I couldn't say anything if I didn't have a location. Well, thank you." He waited shortly for a response, and when he received none, he guessed it was safe to leave. He and Matsumoto walked away, temporarily forgetting about their prior argument.
The image of freshly baked cookies replayed in his mind over and over again, invoking a quick lick of his lips.
Hinamori barged into her division's main office, slamming doors hard enough to produce fault lines within themselves. That damn Hitsugaya…I swear he'll pay! I will not let him make me look like a blubbering idiot! She snatched a note pad off her desk and began writing.
Additional Ingredients for Hitsugaya Toushirou-style Chocolate Chip Cookies
-shredded bits of hair from nearly all captains in the Seireitei
-minced toenail clippings from all vice captains
-ground glass bits
-broken crayon bits
-five three month old tomatoes
-some rotten eggs
-a concoction from Kurotsuchi's lab
-mucus from Ukitake-taichou's cold
-the refresher ink for Renji's tattoos
Hinamori sighed and stopped writing. She couldn't think of anything else to add to make him suffer. That would have to be enough. She smiled to herself.
For now, that is.
End of chapter one
A/N: Thank you for reading.