Chapter 8

Byakuya saw the water stains on the floor that lead to Kaname's room and he inwardly frowned at them. His cousin still had no appreciation of the history in the archaic Kuchiki building. Shaking his head, he shut his shoji door and lay in bed.

"Sesshou-sotaicho has sent with me a formal invitation for you to join Ozokutokumo with Rukia-chan."

Her voice ran in his head as he lounged on his four-poster bed. Unlike several people assumed, he too had a Western-style bed in his private quarters. It was a gift from Kaname during her travels in the real world. Its light Japanese wood was reflective of his inner sanctum.

The thunder storm raged outside. The thunder was a welcome rhythm to the erratic thoughts in his head. At some point in the storm, Byakuya was lulled to sleep by the sound of the torrents of rain.

On the other side of the wing Kaname was lying in bed listening to the rain and contemplating. She could vouch for Gin, but, she did not know how this was possible. Her hair hung loose around her as she leaned against the wall in her plush king-sized bed.

"Sesshou, what can I do?" she asked aloud, hoping he might answer her today.

The slap-slap of the rain against the house was her only answer. A bitter smile uplifted the edges of her mouth, but her eyes mirrored the image outside.

Split-splat was the sound of tears against the tightly made sheets.

Somewhere else, Rukia lay in her bed, wondering if the howling was Byakuya's pain of losing or if the rain was really Kaname's tears for her lost love. Rukia herself was leaving all she had known behind – including her rock in the sea of events – Renji.

Renji had been sparring with Rukia as of late. Her swordsmanship had improved greatly and her highly advanced kido allowed her to spar on an equal level as he. As the rain continued its splitter-splat outside against the roof she couldn't help but sigh.

Rukia put on her black shinigami outfit on for the last time and walked out into the rain. This house was maddening to be in. The sorrow was palpable and she was struggling with her own feelings, never mind others.

She shook her head lightly and pushed the shoji door aside. Rukia was going to get soaking wet out there, but, if she was going to immortalize her Kuchiki name in Ozokutokumo, then she ought to go out and live just one more night in Rukongai. Her black hair was short and her kimono was a dark blue; it was time to find Renji and Matsumoto. Sometimes, a shinigami just needs to let loose; fortunately, they need very little excuse to.

Gin looked confused. Somehow, he had assumed he would live. He really had. Somehow, he thought that the punishment was fitting, although, where they were going to find more taicho caliber shinigami in such a short time befuddled him.

His azure eyes looked to the west, the darkness on that side of the room was comforting. The blazing sun in the east simply bothered his eyes. Few people understood that Gin found the world ugly and repulsive. Somehow he had assumed people understood him. Oh, how he was wrong.

Yamamoto-sotaicho was a piece of work, believed in rules and nothing more. Sotaicho did not believe in compassion or sensitivity. Gin knew that first hand and wondered who else knew it.

His eyes opened to take in the surroundings quietly and he blinked in surprise, "Kana-chan, what a marvelous surprise."

Her slender form sat crossed legged on a dresser to his right. Kaname was a master of stealth when she wanted to be. A grim look had settled on her face; her usually collected reiatsu seemed like it was ready to spring.

"Mm, you've gone and done it now, Ichimaru Gin," she said blandly.

He giggled, "I see, you are not going to save me."

Kaname's azure eyes looked straight into his own and she responded quite simply, "no."

Gin was taken aback, but he knew that the blood through her veins was directing her to this choice of actions. He also knew that Ozokutokumo did not save anybody who wasn't worthy. Obviously, if he had not been taken into the forces, he was not worthy.

"Kana-chan, why did none of you take Aizen into Ozokutokumo?" he said, his head turning, eyes shut once again.

He heard a delicate snort as she hopped off the dresser, "forget it, Aizen was scum, besides, he's not good looking enough."

Gin whined, "am I not good looking enough?"

Kaname didn't answer and he didn't say anything. He waited, and waited, and waited. Gin opened his eyes and no one was there. He smiled that fake smile and waited. He was alone again, she had left him. Gin was not the most patient person, but he respected that she needed time.

His laugh echoed through out the house. It was bitter, nail biting, and haunting. He waited and waited, hours and minutes, or maybe just days; the silence was deafening.

"Come back."

Silence was his friend and every time the dust blew one way or the other, he hoped and prayed and wished it was her - his best friend, his lover, his world. Footsteps hit the floor in a quick beat and he wondered who, who could it be?

The beat seemed to just whisper around his thoughts. His heart leapt into his throat and he opened his eyes to greet her.

A strawberry blonde vision greeted him. His heart must have fallen through the layers of the earth and he closed his eyes in distaste. While not an unwelcome surprise, she was not the one Gin had been looking for.

She opened her mouth, "how the hell do you get in here? It took me ages to get access for a pass key into this dump."

Every word hurt his head and pounded on his heart. Gin had saved her, taken care of her, and coddled her in the past. No more, was he ever going to do that.

"Ozokutokumo guards have been coming in. Their skill exceeds yours."

Her upbeat demeanor seemed to fall slightly before she smiled and continued, "What is this building, anyways? It still looks clean, albeit a little dusty…"

Gin bristled and sighed, "these are the old 10th Division headquarters back when it was the Interrogation and Torture Squad. You haven't seen the inside of the cells in the lower levels. They haven't been cleaned since the last time they were used."

His blue eyes watched her revulsion and fear, "When Kanashii Kaname headed the old 10th Division headquarters it was more violent and controlled. They were an organized militant group within the Goteijuusentai. I was in this squad for a time being."

"Ah, so someone has been coming to feed you?" her head tilted to one side and she stood up straight.

To anyone who knew the past of this house, it was frightening. To anyone who lived the past of this house, it was comfort and home. To anyone who had known the torture here – it was hell.

He shook his head, "no."

Gin could feel reiatsu piercing through the gates below. It was needle thin and very concentrated. "Nani? What was that?"

Matsumoto stood and turned to open the door. Her hand touched it and then flinched away. Gin could feel Kaname permeate the room even before she appeared. The strawberry blonde turned around and looked at the dresser.


There was a feminine shriek and Kaname and Gin shared a momentary silent laugh. Kaname's influence flooded his being as she looked into his eyes before he blinked and it was over.

Keikokukeisei was glimmering before simply turning back into its naturally over-polished state.

"I see, Gin has told you about the former 10th Division use?" Kaname's hardened eyes focused on Matsumoto's.

There was a contest of wills going on.

Matsumoto put up a strong front and nodded, "Torture and Interrogation? Isn't that barbaric?"

Keikokukeisei shimmered in the dull room, "had we still been mobilized, you would have known about Aizen for a long time before this."

Gin had to admit that it was amusing to watch this. His eyes traced the slender, petite, form of his former taicho with appreciation. She wore the typical outfit that she had when she was Head Interrogator. He found it odd that their uniform consisted of pristine white.

"Ah, Ran-chan, perhaps you should, y'enno, be more polite to Kuchiki-taicho," Gin interjected before she pushed Kaname too far. By the way her zanpak'to was glowing; it was a good idea to stop Kaname before she showed Matsumoto just how barbaric she could be.

Matsumoto glared, "I don't see Byakuya Kuchiki anywhere."

Kaname's lips furled into a smile, "and Byakuya Kuchiki is my first cousin." The malicious intent seemed to roll off her in droves, but it was delighted at the prospect of something to toy with.

"Kaname, please leave," his eyes were sharp as he tried to convey his message.

The strawberry blonde seemed to crow as Kaname stood and walked out. The petite woman held her head high and Gin glared at Matsumoto in reprimand.

"Ran-chan, please do not provoke Kuchiki-taicho-no-Ozokutokumo," his blue eyes bored into her own, "it would be fool'sh of you."

He turned away in dismissal.

A/N: Whew, school's been rough. I hope you like it!