Disclaimer - WE, yes we, do not own Bleach. But we do like to torment the characters on occasion.
A/N 1- Yo, this is Hitsu-taichou. (I'm still broken and hate the hunt and poke typing method) My best friend and I wanted to write a fic together and this is the result. Hope you enjoy.
A/N 2- Hello All! This is lieutenant-taijiya. Hitsu-taichou and I wanted to write a collaboration fic and like she said, this was the result. We talked about it for a while and decided that we would do one for the Byakuya/Hisana pairing as neither one of us has written it before. Please be nice and enjoy.
Chapter One - Fate Unexpected
All of the Captains of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads were assembled in the Squad One conference room, listening to Head Captain Yamamoto discuss the status of each squad in turn, when there came an unexpected knock on the door. Looking completely irate that someone had possessed the nerve to interrupt a captain's meeting, Yamamoto's gaze shifted toward the door and his already narrowed eyes closed still further in annoyance.
"Enter," the old captain barked out in his customary, gruff voice.
The door slid open and a member of Squad One stepped just inside the door and sank to his knees in a low bow. "Please forgive me for the interruption Head Captain Yamamoto but I have news that cannot wait."
"Speak," Head Captain Yamamoto ordered impatiently.
"A fight has broken out in District Sixty-seven of the Rukongai sir," the Squad One member stated. "Two rival bands have started an all out war. I wouldn't have interrupted the Captain's meeting for this however several Shinigami have already been defeated. It seems that some of the rogues possess reiatsu."
Deciding that this matter just might warrant more than mere foot soldiers Head Captain Yamamoto gazed at the assembled Captains for a few seconds before his gaze finally came to rest on the Captain of Squad Six. "Captain Kuchiki, go to District Sixty-seven and suppress this rebellion before things get out of hand."
Now Byakuya was by no means thrilled with this assignment however he had been trained since birth to follow orders without question so he bowed respectfully to his superior and then made his way across the room toward the door.
Terrified of the Squad Six Captain, who had a bit of a reputation for being somewhat hard to get along with, the Squad One member jumped to his feet and quickly stepped out of Byakuya's way. The stoic captain walked by, without sparing the man so much as a passing glance.
"Scary," the man thought to himself as he watched Byakuya's retreating back. "That man seriously gives me the creeps."
Byakuya left the Squad One barracks and made his way toward the wall that separated the Seireitei that the Shinigami called home from the Rukongai where all the normal souls resided. Byakuya traveled quickly and when he arrived in District the Squad Six Captain's gaze fell upon two groups of men, each group determined to utterly destroy the other.
"Cease," Byakuya called out in a commanding tone of voice, his gaze locked on the combatants.
"What the hell?" one of the men exclaimed, his eyes wide in surprise. "Who the hell does this guy think he is?"
"I give you one final warning," Byakuya said in his calm, detached voice. "Stop now or you will die at my hands."
"The Shinigami thinks he's tough," another man said in a smug voice. Regarding Byakuya with hatred evident in his eyes the man turned back to his group of thugs. "Maybe we should show him what we found huh boys?"
"Yea," the men in his group all yelled while the opposing group merely stood by and watched. The Shinigami were universally despised by most of the inhabitants of the Rukongai and they were willing to put their quarrel on hold until the Shinigami had been taken care of.
One of the men reached back and pulled a struggling woman to the front of the group.
"We were going to have some fun with this little wench later," the leader told Byakuya with a sneer. "But now I think we'll just kill her in front of you while you watch helplessly."
This said the leader pulled a small knife from his sash and took a menacing step toward the woman, who was being restrained by two other thugs. In a flash the woman was free and the leader of the gang was gaping at his two unconscious lackies in open mouthed surprise.
The woman stared up at the man who now held her in his surprisingly gentle arms. His facial expression was impossible to read but the woman found herself intrigued by her handsome rescuer.
Byakuya placed the woman on her own two feet a safe distance away and then he turned back to the rebellious mob. He had given them fair warning but now he was finished playing around with them. Grasping the hilt of the zanpaktou that he wore at his side Byakuya focused a cold gaze on the group of men.
"That's it," the leader of the group shouted, once again holding up the small knife that he'd threatened the woman with.
Completely unphased by the man and his poor excuse for a knife Byakuya pulled his zanpaktou from its sheath and held the blade up in front of his face. "Scatter, Senbonzakura."
The group of rebels watched as the blade of Byakuya's zanpaktou exploded in a spray of. . .
"Flower petals?" the leader of the first group exclaimed, his eyes wide as he gazed at the pink petals that were floating in the air around them. "What the hell man?"
The man started to laugh at the absurdity of this situation however his amusement over the attack vanished as he felt the sharp pain of something slicing through his flesh. Gazing down at his arm he saw that a deep gash had appeared there. "What the. . ."
Byakuya remained silent as he watched the remainder of both groups fall to the power of his Shikai. He would have explained the attack to them but they simply weren't worthy of the knowledge. Once the rebels had been taken care of Byakuya turned his gaze back to the young woman who had been caught in the midst of their dispute. The woman had been leaning up against a tree, watching the battle in wide-eyed amazement as her rescuer took out the group of thugs, however once her attackers had been defeated she turned her attention back to the man who had saved her. Taking a deep breath the woman walked over to the spot where Byakuya stood.
Byakuya sheathed his zanpaktou and then gazed down at the small woman who was now standing in front of him.
"My name is Hisana," the woman said in a soft and musical voice. She gazed up into her savior's eyes for the briefest of moments before bowing respectfully. "Thank you for saving me my lord."
"I am Byakuya Kuchiki of the honorable Kuchiki clan," the man said, marveling at the fact that this tiny woman had actually met his gaze. Most of the people he met and dealt with on a daily basis were terrified of him and went out of their way not to look into his eyes. In fact most of them spent the vast majority of their time gazing at the ground but this woman was different. She alone had looked at him and not around him. "Captain of Squad Six of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads."
"Kuchiki-sama," Hisana repeated in a reverent tone, bowing once again. "Thank you once again and farewell."
Byakuya watched as Hisana turned and walked away from him, his gaze lingering on the young woman. Despite himself he found that he was intrigued by her. She possessed courage, there was no doubt of that, and yet seemed to have a gentle nature. She also had such a quiet beauty. The brilliant violet vastness of her eyes was such a startling contrast to the gleaming darkness of her raven locks. Perhaps they could. . .
"Stop!" the stoic Captain of Squad Six snapped to himself, angered by his traitorous thoughts. There was no place for such thoughts and no place in his life for one such as her. Turning on his heel Byakuya walked away from the scene of utter devastation, his face as solemn as always.
As she walked back toward her hut in the nearby village Hisana couldn't get the image of the handsome Shinigami out of her mind. He had wielded his blade with incredible grace and skill, defeating all of his enemies with a single attack.
Hisana sighed, forcing her thoughts away from her rescuer. "It's not possible. He's a nobleman from the Seireitei. Even if it was possible, I'm not good enough for him. He probably won't even remember me tomorrow. I'm nobody" Her thoughts flashed briefly to a raven haired infant with violet eyes so like her own and tears appeared in her large eyes. "I'm less than nobody."
When the young woman arrived back at the small hut where she lived she immediately went to the small garden that she had planted behind her home. Tending the flowers and herbs that she grew there had always brought her comfort and she sought that comfort now with every fiber of her being. She couldn't keep Byakuya from entering into her thoughts, and secretly she didn't want to, yet she knew that it was hopeless. There could never be anything between them. They were from two separate worlds but she knew that a long time would pass before she would be able to forget the expression in his earthen eyes as they shone out of his otherwise expressionless face.
After taking care of the rebellion Byakuya left the Rukongai and made his way toward the Squad Six barracks. The captains' meeting was more than likely long since over and he had work to do. When he arrived at his office Byakuya sat down at his desk and pulled a stack of papers toward him however he found it impossible to concentrate on the words that were written on the pages. All he could think about was that woman from the Rukongai. Hisana.
There had been no fear in her large, doe eyes when she'd addressed him, only gratitude and respect. That fact alone set her apart from ninety-five percent of the people that he knew in the Seireitei.
These thoughts occupied his mind however he was well aware of the fact that there could never be anything between them. He was from the noble house of Kuchiki while she was from the Rukongai. The elders of his clan would never permit the two of them to have a relationship of any kind. All this he knew and yet he couldn't get her face out of his mind. couldn't help the wistful speculation of what might have been.
Several days passed and yet Byakuya still found himself plagued with visions of the raven haired woman from the Rukongai. He didn't know what it would take to banish her from his thoughts but knew that he would have to do so. Constantly thinking about something that he could never hope to possess was threatening to drive him insane.
The Squad Six Captain spent the vast majority of his time in his office, in a futile attempt to keep his thoughts on business. The plan was sound in theory however it wasn't working out so well for him at the moment. He merely sat at his desk with his pen held over a document, staring blankly off into space. This was something that the strict captain had never been guilty of before and yet he was just so compelled by Hisana that his thoughts constantly wandered away from his duties and back to her.
Growing frustrated with his inability to control his thoughts but determined not to show emotion Byakuya calmly placed his pen on the desk beside his papers and took a deep breath. He was about to give himself a lecture on upholding his duties as a member of the honorable Kuchiki clan however this was interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Enter," Byakuya called out in his emotionless monotone, grateful for the distraction but at the same time refusing to admit that fact, either to himself or anyone else.
The door of the office slid open and a group of the Kuchiki elders stepped inside, led by Byakuya's uncle Yoshimitsu who was the leader of the council of elders. Byakuya immediately got to his feet and turned toward the older men, wondering why exactly they had chosen to come to his office.
"Byakuya-sama," Yoshimitsu said, bowing to the young man. "We came to discuss an important matter with you."
Byakuya gazed at the men in expectation.
"We have spoken to you in the past about finding a suitable wife," Yoshimitsu said as he gaze at Byakuya. "The council of elders had a meeting and decided that, due to the clans declining numbers, now is the appropriate time for you to wed. We have reviewed many prospective brides and have decided that the best choice for you is Mina, of the noble house of Shihoin."
Byakuya had met many members of the house of Shihoin however he didn't know this Mina person that his uncle had betrothed him to. His thoughts momentarily flashed back to Hisana however he quickly banished those traitorous thoughts from his mind. He would fulfill his duty to his clan despite any reservations he might have about their decision.
He had been raised to believe that duty and honor came before everything else and he would abide by the council's decision, no matter how much he wanted to fight against it. Some things in life were just hopeless, he'd learned this lesson long ago.
Byakuya nodded ever so slightly, his face as always void of expression.
Determined to fulfill his duty to his clan Byakuya met with Mina Shihoin and despite himself found that he could only compare this frail young woman with Hisana. Where Hisana had been quietly respectful Mina was completely reverent and seemingly without a thought of her own. She seemed quite content to go along with whatever Byakuya said and the young leader of the Kuchiki clan couldn't help but think that Hisana would never be so blindly obedient.
As they strolled around the garden Byakuya attempted to resign himself to the fact that this quiet and unassuming, woman would be his wife, even though his soul screamed out against that very thought. Knowing that it was what he had to do for the honor of his clan and thinking that the easiest way to do this was to get to know her he tried starting a conversation. "Shihoin-san what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?"
"I would enjoy whatever you enjoy milord."
Discouraged, but not ready to abandon this course of action, he continued with what he assumed would be an easier question, Surely she would be able to answer this one honestly. " What is your favorite season?"
"I like them all milord," Even as she said these words to him she couldn't help but think in the back of her mind, that this was the easiest way to answer a question that she couldn't possibly know the correct answer to. "They didn't train me for this."
Byakuya sighed to himself in resignation; this wasn't going at all the way he had anticipated. It appeared that she didn't really want to be there anymore than he did, but for the honor of their respective families, they didn't have much choice.
They continued to walk in silence for nearly half an hour, before it was time for her to leave. Together they made their way to the garden's entrance where they said their goodbyes, agreeing as they did to meet again the following night. Then, once she had disappeared from sight, Byakuya made his way to his room, where he couldn't help but think of Hisana-san.
As he sat and sipped his favorite tea he couldn't help but be struck by the emotion he had seen in her violet eyes. In the brief time that they had spent together he had already seen more emotion from her than he had seen in his betrothed. He had noticed that when she felt scared her eyes would get darker, and when she had realized she was safe, her eyes had seemed to shine. And yet, nothing compared to when he introduced himself and she looked him straight in the eyes with a steady, intelligent gaze and thanked him.
Hisana was smaller than his betrothed, but he could still see that she possessed a gentle grace he had never encountered before. At first glance it appeared that all it would take was a slight gust of wind to knock her over, but he could remember plainly the fire in her as she fought those filthy thugs.
Realizing what he was doing he once again grew angry with himself for dwelling on something that could never be. He had been promised to another and for the honor of his clan he would not break that promise. Honor came before everything else, that was how he had been raised.
Determined to keep her mind far away from Shinigami and their Captains, and one Captain in particular, Hisana left her small hut and proceeded out to her garden. She had spent many hours here and it always seemed to calm her mind which was what she desperately needed now. For some unknown reason she found herself drawn to a small patch of pink flowers, overflowing with petals. Now Hisana had never really paid much attention to these particular flowers before however now she found herself enamored with them, yet she couldn't explain why.
And as she knelt down and began to pull weeds from around the flowers despite her best efforts she found her thoughts once again going to him. Even though she knew that nothing could ever happen between them she couldn't keep her traitorous mind from going through what-ifs. What if he could look at her and see someone worthy of his love. What if he could see her for who she has become, not what she has done in the past. What if by some miracle they could be together.
The young woman imagined the two of them together and that thought brought a small smile to her face, but couldn't diminish the hopelessness in her eyes. She knew that she didn't deserve his love, but couldn't keep herself from wanting it. With him she could at last feel safe.
As a quiet sigh escaped she finished the last of her weeding and decided to take a bouquet of those lovely pink camellias into the house to brighten up the sparse space.
The next day Byakuya once again meet with Mina in the garden outside the Kuchiki Manor. As the young woman walked up to him Byakuya noticed, to his disappointment, that his betrothed was looking at the ground instead of him. Taking a deep breath he attempted to ignore this fact and made a move to greet her.
"Good evening Shihoin-san. It's good to see you again."
"Good evening Kuchiki-sama," Mina murmured in a barely audible voice, her gaze still firmly locked on the ground.
With an audible sigh Byakuya gestured toward the Koi pond, where a small bench had been positioned. Following his lead Mina sat down on the bench beside him, and gazed down at the hands that she held clasped tightly in her lap.
"Shihoin-san, How was your day?" Byakuya attempted to begin a conversation.
A solitary tear slid down Mina's cheek as she thought about the answer to this seemingly innocent question. She had received a visit from the Kuchiki elders to discuss a wedding that she wasn't prepared for.
Byakuya couldn't understand how such a common question could elicit such a dramatic response. He was sure that something must have happened to her today. "Tell me what's wrong." As he said this Byakuya found that it had came across as more of an order than he had planned, but could tell by her reaction that she would answer.
"I received callers today from the Kuchiki Clan. They came today to finalize the plans for our wedding," as she spoke Mina couldn't hold back the tears any longer. Holding her face in her hands she cried for what they were forcing her to do.
At that point Byakuya reached the conclusion that he hadn't even contemplated. She may very well feel the same way he did about their betrothal. "Shihoin-san, tell me truthfully, what are your thoughts on our betrothal?"
"I will do what I must for the honor of my clan." she tearfully stated while her gaze still lingered on the soft grass.
"That is not what I asked, "Byakuya said, determined to get the truth from her this time.
Taking a deep breath Mina decided that she would answer honestly, "Kuchiki-sama, I have the deepest respect for you and your honorable family and consider it flattering that you would even consider me for the position of your wife, but I am not ready to be married. There are many thing I wish to see and do before I am ready for marriage. I also dream for a day when I may choose my husband for myself and not just for my family." This was all said as she looked into his eyes and bared her soul.
As Byakuya listened to her words he finally realized that he had the exact same feeling that she did. And in this moment he knew that he had to make an attempt to live his life for himself and not for others. As he stood and turned toward her he took a deep breath and said, "Shihoin-san, I thank you for your honesty. I understand how you feel. I would also not feel comfortable forcing you to do something you are not ready for. If you are agreeable, I would be happy to absolve you of this betrothal with no consequences to you or your honorable family.
Mina couldn't believe what she was hearing, nor could she hide the shocked and unbelieving expression on her face. A small part of her was still scared of agreeing to this, but Byakuya-sama had offered her a way out. It was like he had offered her hope again. There was just no way that she could bring herself to deny him. "Thank you Kuchiki-sama."
Getting to her feet Mina offered him a smile and one last bow of respect, before she turned and left the garden.
Once he was sure that he was alone Byakuya made a decision that both scared and excited him. He was going to be true to himself for perhaps the first time ever and peruse the woman who had captured his heart.
With his decision made he headed toward the last place he had seen her. Thinking back to the moment he first met her Byakuya recalled her unforgettable aura and decided to use that knowledge to find her. Following her trace amounts of reiatsu Byakuya soon found himself at the edge of a small clearing and his breath caught in his throat as he saw Hisana standing in a small garden with one of the last rays of sunlight beaming down on her. And in her arms she held a bouquet of very familiar flowers.
Author's Note- From both of us to all of you; Hope you enjoyed and please review. We like reviews and it frequently saves our sanity. What little of it we have left......"We have some left," Hitsu-taichou. "Well some of us do," lieutenant-taijiya. Anyway, feel free to give feedback.