Mercy's Eyes Are Blue
Epilogue: A Whole Mess of Roads
'It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
That let us bet when we know we should fold.
On rocks, I dreamt of where we'd stepped
And of the whole mess of roads we're now on.'
--The Shins, 'Caring is Creepy'
--In Which Byakuya is Rudely Awakened
Pain, Byakuya was in pain. His pain varied in intensity depending on its location, but, as he unwillingly drifted up from unconsciousness, he decided that the repetitive sharp jabbing pain in the right side of his face was the worst. He pried his eye open just in time to see a finger coming straight towards him and then reflexively close it. The pain in his face spiked.
"You awake? Good. Your face was starting to bruise." Burei said as Byakuya opened his eyes.
Byakuya managed some sort of mumbled response.
"That would be the sedatives." Burei commented as he held up a syringe he'd seemingly taken from nowhere and tapped it lightly.
"And this would be the counteragent." Burei said as he administered the injection.
Byakuya attempted to speak again but his words came out garbled.
"Fortunately for me, it doesn't work instantly." Burei said ominously. "For the next five minutes, I can pretty much do whatever I want, and all you'll be able to do is twitch and gargle."
"Sorry, that doesn't work on me." Burei said, and then leaned over Byakuya, conspiratorially. "A word of warning, Unohana-taichou is like a mother to almost everyone in this division. If you upset her, we will get you."
Burei left, whistling.
--In Which Byakuya Overhears the Results of a Bet
The wheelchair was one of many things that Byakuya would not miss about his stay at the fourth division.
At least, he thought as he rolled down the hallway, he could move under his own power now. Isane had done a wonderful job of healing his arm, even if she had given him a very strange scar. But for some inane reason Shinsetsu still insisted he travel the division in a wheelchair, despite being perfectly capable of walking.
But he had managed to find one good thing that the wheelchair allowed him to do: it allowed him to go beneath people's lines of sight. So long as no one pushed him and he didn't wear any marks of his rank, people only saw a man in a wheelchair and not Kuchiki Byakuya in a wheelchair. It also introduced him to fourth division gossip, specifically the betting pool.
"Did you hear that Burei got Shinsetsu to get into a bet with him again?" One gossip asked another.
"I did! I heard it was about Kuchiki-sama…" The second trailed off, she had the attention of the first gossip as well as Byakuya, though he didn't show it, but the gossips paid him no attention.
"It was! Burei bet her that Byakuya would keep going around in a wheelchair it Shinsetsu told him he had to…" The first trailed off now, signaling the second to start jabbering about how gullible Shinsetsu was and how much of a ne'er-do-well Burei was.
Byakuya had stood up and was walking back to his room, wondering which of the two he should make miserable.
--In Which Byakuya Visits His Sister
Rukia was asleep when Byakuya visited her. He thought this was for the best; she would sleep through the bad news he bore and be happy for at least a short while longer.
"I'm sure you would not be surprised," He began without preamble, "But we won. More specifically, Kurosaki won."
That was true, though the forces of the Gotei 13 had played a role in bringing down many of Aizen's Arrancar; it was Ichigo who had toppled the man himself.
"There were almost no casualties among the upper-level Shinigami."
Another good thing he knew, foot soldiers were more easily replaced than officers.
"However, we have so far been unable to locate Kurosaki."
--In Which Byakuya Has a Conversation That Could Lead to Other Things
Kuchiki Byakuya was happy as he slipped into his captain's coat for the first time in months. He'd finally been declared well enough to leave the fourth division's care and was wasting no time in leaving. Senbonzakura was back at his side again and gently scolding him as he dressed himself.
He hesitated on the cool, bone white kenseikan before deciding that they could wait until after he'd bathed in his own bath and not the strange showers that the fourth division used for their speed and efficiency. Next was the scarf, and, as he carefully wound the fabric over his shoulders and around his neck, Unohana Retsu entered his room.
"I imagine you're happy to be leaving?" She asked as Byakuya finished.
"Most are." Retsu said. "I wanted to wish you well before you left, Byakuya-sama."
"Thank you, but, Unohana-san; it isn't as if you won't see me when I return to my duties."
"I know." Retsu was quiet for a few moments before continuing. "I think that if I can call you by your first name, then you can do the same for me."
"Retsu-san." Byakuya said, as if trying it out.
They were quiet for some time before Byakuya spoke again.
"If we can both call each other by name, then I believe I wouldn't be too forward in inviting you to tea."
Retsu's small smile was enough oh an answer for both of them.
--In Which Byakuya Relaxes by the Waterside, Sort Of
Byakuya had one week remaining until he would officially be put back on active duty.
One more week of relaxation, of being himself instead of the sixth division captain. Not that, he admitted, there was a large difference between the two.
Byakuya breathed peacefully as he sat by one of the many large koi ponds located in and around the gardens of the Kuchiki manor. A steaming cup of tea rested at his right and in front of him brilliantly colored koi-fish drifted through the still water. He believed that it wasn't possible for a more relaxing setting to exist.
He had almost dozed off when he heard footsteps approaching. He didn't sigh, that wasn't something the head of the Kuchiki did, but he would have if he'd been someone else.
"I know you don't go back on duty for another week, sir, but these papers need your signature specifically." At least Renji had the decency to sound apologetic, even if it was very awkward.
"Give them to me, then."
Again, were he anyone else, Byakuya would have sighed.
Renji did, and as Byakuya read over the documents he realized that they were the kind of thing that needed him to sign off, not something that could be handled by the acting captain. He finished after a few minutes and handed the papers back to his vice-captain.
"Thank you, sir."
"It was necessary."
"Yeah." A slight pause. "We'll be glad to have you back, Kuchiki-taichou."
Byakuya nodded, he would be glad to be back as well. He could only relax for so long before he became bored.
Author's Note: And finally we have the epilogue for Mercy's Eyes, I don't have too much to say about it. However, I'd like you to keep a lookout for Arwen Dark Sorceress of Fate's soon-to-be-posted fic "Hourglass", which is a sequel to Mercy's Eyes are Blue.
Thank you for reading, I hope you review.