A/N: Alright – so it's the end. You can never have too much of a good thing, but I'm afraid it's time for Dark to come to an ending. Please tell me what you think!

Suggested Listening: "I'll Follow You into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie (it's full circle, first chapter and second chapter)

Chapter 23: I'll Follow You into the Dark

Love of mine,

Someday you will die

But I'll follow close behind

I'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light, no tunnels or gates of white

Just our hands clasped so tight

Waiting for the hint of a spark

Hisana walked beside Byakuya, a giggle on her lips as she held her rounding belly in front of her, the next heir of the Kuchiki household inside. Her heart pounded happily in her chest as Byakuya turned to blindfold her, his large body fitting into her small one as he pushed her and directed her down the hallway, before tugging the band of fabric from her face and letting her open her eyes.

"Oh…" Hisana whispered, a single tear running down her face as Byakuya looked at her for approval.

Her old room had been transformed into something out of a storybook. Beautiful dragons soared across the ceiling and one side was full of toys, plush furniture and books, all of it in shades of soft pastels. Hisana said nothing, just walked towards him and laid her head on his chest, her fingers curling in his robes as she pushed her tiny body towards his own, her happiness almost tangible, like an aura that surrounded them both. Its warmth held them closer, and Byakuya tried not to blush when he felt soft tears of happiness soaking through the fabric of his robes.

If heaven and hell decided that they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no's on their vacany signs

If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks

I'll follow you into the dark

Byakuya had known the moment when Unohana came into the room that the news wasn't good. Hisana had fallen earlier that day, with intense labor pains – but they were far too early.

Even the research department had no ideas on how to preserve the unborn soul…Byakuya could already tell from the sound of Hisana sobbing in the next room that she was heartbroken.

He had walked in and just reached for her, curled up and hysterical, and had pulled her into his arms and held her, trying to make her stop. It killed him to see her cry, and every soft sob pulled on his soul until he would have done anything to make it stop, anything.

It had taken a sedative to eventually calm her down, and that was when Unohana had come to him again, her normally calm face pensive.

"Kuchiki-sama…" she whispered, placing a hand on his own. "I need to speak to you about something."

"What is it?" Byakuya had asked, a feeling in the pit of his stomach making him almost nauseous.

"Lady Hisana…will never be able to carry another child."

In Catholic School as vicious as Roman Rule

I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black

I held my tongue, as she told me "Son fear is the heart of love."

So I never went back

Byakuya had followed Hisana into the Rukongai, a silent guardian to his already weak spouse. She had withdrawn from him since the death of their unborn child.

The news of her inability to have another baby was a cruel blow. She considered it a curse for having abandoned the sister of barely two years to the harsh life awaiting her in the Rukongai.

This was the sixth time in two weeks Hisana had left the house, her cough was worse, and she had a fever. But she had to find her sister. She had to.

If she did, then somehow, he knew, that she thought, that everything would be alright.

After giving the sister she had never known the chance she deserved, the gods would give her another child. She would be able to give Byakuya what she knew he desperately wanted inside.

But Byakuya only cared about one thing. Even he pained for the lost baby, but his heart hurt even more for Hisana. She was stretching herself too thin.

He didn't want to lose her. Ever.

If heaven and hell decide

That they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks

I'll follow you into the dark

Byakuya stared from around the corner, his eyes watching Hisana as she soaked in the steaming hot bath, her body frail, her cough worse.

He entered the room, his body quivering in anger at seeing her in such a state. Nothing the doctors did would keep her healthy for long. For two weeks she had been her shining self, and then, she had relapsed again, the cough returning, her aches and pains.

She turned to look at him, the bubbles covering her body, and whispered one thing.

"Byakuya…I'm cold."

Byakuya's eyes shot open, his eyes glaring at the steaming water as he dipped his hand into it, almost scalding his skin. "What?" he whispered, his eyes watching her, voice wavering slightly.

"I can't feel it." she murmured, a hint of terror in her voice.

Byakuya's face was expressionless as he tried to control the small amount of panic that entered his body, and turned to leave, intent on finding someone who could set Hisana to rights.

"Wait!" she called, as he turned to leave. "Don't go. I'm afraid."

Byakuya turned, to stare at her, her body so frail in the water her eyes almost overflowing with unshed tears, and turned back to the tub, where she grabbed him around the shoulders and pulled him in on top of her, pulling his robes off as he kissed her, his body warm against hers that was so very cold.

Her hands ran down his back as she slid his pants off, her legs sliding up to wrap around is waist as Byakuya kissed her neck, hiding his eyes from her and trying to keep his breathing slow as he let out a ragged sob into the water, her legs wrapped around his waist as he claimed her again, feeling her soul melding with his as his tears flowed unchecked from his eyes, her body writhing against his as he tried to keep her with him, even if it was for just a little while longer.

You and me have seen every thing to see

From Bangkok to Calgary on the souls of your shoes

We're all worn down, the time for sleep is now

It's nothing to cry about, because we'll hold each other soon

In the blackest of rooms

Byakuya ran his hands through her hair as she slept next to him, her breathing easy after another one of her hard nights, when her attacks and coughs were enough to make the entire staff wonder about her condition, which was kept guarded by a secret handful of people.

Even Grandfather had been barred from seeing her, they tended to argue quite a bit and Hisana could hardly feed herself, let alone fight with the venerable soul reaper, but she would try nonetheless, giving him a tiny bit of enjoyment in his day.

He could hardly function on his duties. His squad had noticed his absence – even the Captain Commander knew that he was neglecting his post. But none questioned him, not one.

Her soft voice made him pause, made his heart clench painfully.

"Byakuya…does it hurt to die?"

"Don't say things like that…" he almost whimpered, his eyes shutting painfully tight.

He couldn't let her die. He wouldn't.

If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks

Then I'll follow you into the dark

Byakuya stared blankly as he lit another funeral pyre, the flames erupting to heaven again, the light shattering the sky as the blackened marble table claimed yet another of his family to death, his mind devoid of emotion, his heart silent. For the first time in five years…he was lost.

She had left him, almost as suddenly as she had come into his life. Her soul taken back to a place he could not follow. He was alone.

He had held her in his arms when she died, held her as she murmured her last words of encouragement, the last words he would ever hear pass through her lips, blurred due to the fact that he was trying to hold in his scream of agony as her heart tore from his own and stopped beating.

He had wished then, that everything could have ended. That he could have followed her into the dark, away from this world, to stay with her for all eternity.

But he was cursed. Cursed with power, cursed with the fact that he was a Kuchiki, an emotionless, powerful entity that stood, a statue of status, rotting in a house of riches, rotting in a den of antiquated ideals and structure, all of it, broken around him and in ruins.

There was nothing left for him. Nothing left to live for, nothing left for him to hold at night next to his chest, nothing soft in his hard and lonely court to hold. It was gone.


He let out a howl from the very core of his soul, startling the guests around him as he dropped to his knees, his cry falling hoarse and deaf on Hisana's ears, long gone to somewhere that was completely out of earshot.

But he had promised her, he thought, when he became aware of the fact that he had no tears left to cry. Every day he sought nothing else. He would defeat the demon that had devoured his wife and unborn son.

He would find her, he would find this 'Rukia', be she ghost or living soul, and give her what Hisana had wanted her to have. What she had died trying to give her.

Then I'll follow you into the dark

He saw her, standing at a window in the academy, her dark hair the same length Hisana's had been when she had first found out that she was expecting. Her eyes were the same, her body was small and petite, although a little taller than the Hisana he remembered so well.

It took all he had not to run up and grab her.

He had passed by her, his white robes flowing, and had gone to the Captain Commander immediately. They were shocked when he asked for permission to remove the girl from the academy and take her into his family.


He had gone to her, entourage in tow, and asked her to formally become of his blood, to become a Kuchiki. The impulse was so strong to reach down and take her in his arms like Hisana, to lift her up to a place where she could see no harm. And yet another part of him ached because of the fact that this girl was alive and healthy, and his Hisana was dead.

And much to his happiness, and at the same time, heartache – she had accepted.

He would never be as happy as he had been with Hisana there. But he still had her picture, and the next best thing running down his hallways – and, in case of his death, someone to carry on his family's name.

I'll Follow You into the Dark

Kuchiki Byakuya was older, and wiser, but had not dwindled in strength or handsome looks, although the lines around his eyes were deeper, and his inner soul was more at peace with the rules and regulations of soul society.

Today, he had woken up, sixty years to the day that she had left him, to feel his heart beating normally again.

He had left his pavilion, his robes hanging about him limply, scars from battles long past on his body, Senbonzakura at his waist. Rukia was gone again, gone to that boy in the Living World, gone off on more adventures battling Arrancar and other things unworthy of Byakuya's attentions.

This however, was.

A messenger had come for him, saying that there was a guest waiting for him in the foyer. Placing his ornaments in his hair, and having his robes draped about him, Byakuya had turned and walked from his rooms, to where the messenger had indicated his guest awaited.

Opening the doors, he sat down, his head glancing at the bowed head of a woman in front of him, her face hidden by the hood of her robes.

"Who or what is it that so desperately requires an audience with me?" Byakuya asked, his face drawn taught as his heart jumped painfully in his chest.

"Are you Kuchiki Byakuya?" she asked.

"Yes" he replied. "Now answer my question."

She said nothing, only holding out her hand, in which a silver ring with a blood red stone in its setting glittered, charred slightly, as if it had been in a fire.

"Where did you get that?" Byakuya asked, his eyes narrowed and serious.

"I have had it since I was born. It was in my mouth, the nurses pulled it out of me, and gave it to my mother."

Byakuya sat, silenced. "I am twenty-five years old" she replied, "And my entire life, I have felt that I was not long for the world. Even my grandmother said that I seemed to have some other purpose."

"Continue." Byakuya replied.

"I have never not known your name, Kuchiki Byakuya" she murmured, pulling her hood back. "And I left the world I lived in knowing that I was coming to find you, knowing that I never, ever, stopped loving you."

Byakuya stood up suddenly, staring intently at the girl before him. She held her hand out to him, and he took the ring from her and slid it on her fourth finger, where it fit as perfectly as if it had been made for her.

"Never," he said, his hands lifting to her face, his eyes staring into those same dark eyes, that same black hair trailing down her back, "Leave me again…"


And that voice, that voice he had thought he would never hear again whispered back a quiet, "I won't."

I'll Follow you into the Dark

A/N: The End!

Thank you all for staying so long and reading this story! I hope the last chapter was everything you wanted and hoped for! I'm getting ready to head home for Fall Break, so this is my celebratory gift to you! Actually, I just wanted to get it up before my book review, historiography paper, and research endeavors bite me in the grits. (Can you tell I'm from the south? LOL) PS -- the bathtub love scene thingy was inspired by the movie "The Fountain" go watch it!!

I get to see my horse this weekend!!! R/R – it'll make me super happy to know what you think!!