The Dead Captains' Society
Disclaimer: I do not own Walt Whitman, his writings, Bleach, or The Dead Poet's
AN: Not placed in any time line. Mostly AU, but set in Soul Society.
Oh Captain! My Captain!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
The crisp white of his coat mixed with the newly fallen snow and if not for the darkness of his robes, his pale skin and ashen hair would have blended perfectly with the winter scene. Ukitake held his breath as he slipped through the 6th division courtyard completely unnoticed.
Shunsui stood out.
Byakuya peered out of the darkened window as the two crept silently toward his door. He opened it without a sound and effortlessly landed in the yard below.
"You've decided to come after all." Jyuushirou whispered, breath as white as his complexion. Shunsui was strangely silent beside him.
"I couldn't risk you awakening the elders with your racket."
"I don't make racket, where do you get off saying that about me?"
"I did not mention your name, Kyoraku," Byakuya said, leading them away from his quarters.
"Of course you meant me. We both know you didn't mean Jyuushirou."
"Enough, both of you." Jyuushirou called from several paces ahead. "We're late enough as it is."
"Where is this meeting?" Byakuya asked, falling into pace with Jyuushirou.
"I have a map," Shunsui announced, fumbling around his clothing. "I forgot it."
"I see," Byakuya sighed. "I suppose we are to head back."
"No, no, I know how to get there," Shunsui assured them.
"Well, then, I guess we can continue," Jyuushirou smiled. "Shunsui, lead the way."
"Gladly, my dear, sweet Jyuushirou," Shunsui pranced to the front.
"Enough of that," Byakuya said dully.
"Is something wrong, my sweet, sweet Byakuya?"
They fell into silence as they passed through the remaining divisions, remaining as still as humanly possible with Shunsui by their sides, but even his careless footsteps were muffled by the snow.
They had Hitsugaya to thank for that.
"Stop," Ukitake caught their coats and held them in place.
"What is it?" Shunsui asked warily.
"I'll go first." He carefully stepped into the first division, turning back just past the gate and whispered, "When I make it across, I'll give you a signal if it's clear." With that he disappeared.
"Why did he go first?"
"If he is caught; he will take the blame for us all." Byakuya answered solemnly.
"He's protecting us," Shunsui murmured. "My darling Jyuushirou."
"Look, my lovely Byakuya," Shunsui pointed ahead. "He made it!"
"I'll go next," Byakuya started to take a step, but was interrupted by Shunsui's excited cry of "No, I will!" as he leapt into the clearing, making it across in seconds.
Byakuya stood alone.
"He didn't want to be last," Jyuushirou whispered to Shunsui, watching as Byakuya hesitantly started forward.
"Now we have to go back and get him," Shunsui muttered.
Byakuya held back panicked breaths as he took a slow step forward, his mind racing with the consequences of their escape into the night.
Jyuushirou took a step forward, ready to help him across, but the light in Yamamoto's window flickered across the courtyard, catching Byakuya in its path.
He froze. A shadow neared the window. Byakuya closed his eyes, afraid to move. He'd made a promise not to break the rules and if he was caught now...
Snow and pink and light filled his sight as he fell to coldness of the ground. He couldn't move under the weight and he could see nothing except a sliver of light from the room.
Yamamoto paused in the window.
"Don't move," the weight whispered, forcing Byakuya to stay still as the old man left, no doubt heading for the door. "Let's go, now!" Shunsui pulled Byakuya to his feet and started dragging him across the courtyard.
As they bolted past Jyuushirou, Shunsui grabbed his coat, forcing him into a run beside them.
Byakuya could swear he heard footsteps behind them as they made a break for the woods. A glance back caught the full figure of Yamamoto standing outside, watching as they disappeared into the trees.
After a few minutes Jyuushirou stopped to catch his breath, content that they'd gotten away. Shunsui stumbled to a stop beside him.
"Byakuya," he panted loudly. "You can stop running now."
"He saw us!" Byakuya came to a stop several yards ahead of them, collapsing to the ground. "He saw us."
"I don't see what you're so worried about," Shunsui muttered. "He's going to blame the whole thing on me anyway."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well of course it's not going to you or Jyuushirou," Shunsui frowned, looking around the trees. "Which way, Ukitake?"
"You don't know?" Byakuya stared at him. "You said you didn't need the map."
"Hope Yama-jii didn't find it..." Shunsui said absently, walking forward.
"What?" Byakuya looked behind them, as if making sure the old man wasn't waiting in the shadows. He was earlier, after all.
"I'm joking," Shunsui lied, quickly searching the woods. "There," he pointed at nothing, looking to Ukitake for help.
"Yes, that's it!" Jyuushirou said, pulling him in a different direction.
"I'm going first," Byakuya announced, breaking through the brush and following the well-marked path to where the other captain awaited them.
"You're late," Kenpachi grumbled.
"It's his fault," Shunsui pointed at Gin.
"How?" Hitsugaya asked in disbelief.
"He gave me the map!" Shunsui said, as if it were obvious that Gin was at fault.
"Tousen drew it," Gin pointed out.
"I did draw it, but only because Ichimaru wouldn't do it."
"I don't even see it," Gin grinned.
"I forgot it," Shunsui pouted.
"Then let's get this meeting started," Kenpachi grunted, shoving The Book into Ukitake's arms.
The group fell silent as Ukitake opened the worn cover to the first page and read aloud.
"'Oh Captain! My Captain!'"
Ukitake's voice smoothly recited the words written on the yellowed paper—the same words that had countless times been recited by captains before them. Those captains brave enough to rewrite the rules and defy the traditions of their leaders. They have come for the sake of passion, for the sake of justice, for the sake of war.
Six sets of serious eyes beheld Ukitake as he whispered the words again, softer, stronger.
"'Oh Captain, my Captain.
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.'"
The captains were silent as Ukitake gently closed the book and looked at the captains gathered. In unison they stood, Shunsui motioning for Byakuya to stand with them and gently pushed him to the center.
"Byakuya Kuchiki, tonight, on the first night of your captaincy, you will be initiated into The Dead Captains' Society." Ukitake said, settling his gaze on the sixth division captain.
"What you're about to see here is confidential," Kenpachi said from the side. "You can't tell anyone. If you don't like that, then leave."
"I'm not leaving," Byakuya retorted, holding back the thought Especially not alone.
"Very well," Gin smiled, spreading his hands as he spoke. "As you can see, not all of the captain's are here. Only the elite are invited to join. We've never had anyone turn us down."
"But before you agree," Tousen interjected. "You should know there is a price for your allegiance. One you are sworn in, you are a member for life. Even if you are threatened with death, you will tell no one of our existence."
"Death first," the group murmured around a startled Byakuya.
"If you are certain of your decision, Byakuya Kuchiki, then this meeting will continue." Toushiro met Byakuya's gaze, awaiting his answer.
"I accept," Byakuya nodded, feeling foolish, but wanting nothing more.
"Oh Captain, my Captain," Hitsugaya looked to Ukitake, kneeling before him. "As the newest member, it is my duty to initiate him. With your permission, my Captain?"
"From now on, it is my duty to protect you. I will give my life for yours." Hitsugaya said solemnly.
Byakuya stared at him in surprise. "Why would you do this?"
"As members of The Dead Captain's Society we pledge our lives to those who follow our legacy. As each member initiates the one who follows him, he hands over his life as you will do someday as well."
"Oh captain, my captain," Shunsui knelt in front of Jyuushirou, his head bowed. "As the oldest member, it is all our responsibility to protect you. As you would willingly give your life for mine, I will give mine for yours. I will serve no other."
"Oh captain, my captain!"
Byakuya turned to see Gin kneeling beside Hitsugaya and Shunsui.
"Even if ever I betrayed the Soul Society, I would never betray you."
Watching in wonder, Byakuya observed the three men kneeling in the wet snow.
"Oh captain, my captain," Kenpachi said, surprisingly humble as he too joined the others on the ground. "I will fight for you. If you say for me to draw my sword, I will do so gladly. If you request I sheathe it, I will do so only for you."
"Oh captain, my captain!" Tousen placed a hand on Shunsui's shoulder as he knelt beside him. "This is the order beyond Soul Society. This is the higher justice. I have devoted myself to serving you. I know without doubt that with you as our leader, honor will prevail. I am aware that such things may cost me my life. There are those who would consider these meetings a betrayal. We have all pledged our silence to you and will not hold back from even our own should one of us disclose the secrets of our meetings."
The five men dared not to raise their gaze from the ground, having sworn such great promises and confessed unending obedience to their oaths.
Byakuya looked at each in turn, wondering why each one could be so devoted to just one man. He realized that they would remain kneeling until the end. He turned to look at Ukitake, finally understanding what he must do.
Byakuya fell to his knees.
"Oh captain, my captain."
End of part one.