Chapter Seven

The first time the doctors had told him she was sick, Byakuya Kuchiki had thought somebody was playing a sick joke on him. But the realisation kept telling him that this simply couldn't be the case. If it was a joke then Hisana had to be in on it as well. And there was no way she'd do something so incredibly cruel to him…

He didn't understand how was it possible for a seemingly perfectly healthy sixteen year old could cough up blood and collapse for no good reason? But to be told that his precious girlfriend had a few months more to live… that she had a serious heart problem… It just didn't seem like it could be true.

Back in those days he was young and foolish, he got angry when he was confused. He had done then, he seized the doctor by the front of his shirt and shook him harshly, screaming at him and calling him a liar.

But no amount of screaming could make it no longer the truth.

**

"Byakuya," she looked up at him with swollen eyes, red from crying. As she looked back at him, he stared at her, realizing properly for the first time how frail she was in comparison with others. The beefy nurse at her side seemed so strong in comparison it was unfair. Hisana, who was small and unbearably thin; her hand looked so small in his. It would be shaking if he wasn't holding it still.

"Hisana," he whispered in a gentle voice, raising another hand and wrapping it around her, pulling her close, and pressing his face against the crook of her neck. He breathed in her scent, and tried not to let go of any tears, "what is it?" he murmured, knowing if he was looking into his eyes, he'd burst into tears.

"Byakuya," she reached up to try and pull his shoulders back so he was facing her, "I want you to leave me," she whispered, "I want you to go… I want you to never see my face again." She was crying as she spoke, and Byakuya didn't understand why she was saying something like that to him.

He pulled away from her and held onto her slim shoulders, "What are you saying?" he was no longer whispering, his voice full of confused passion, "Why are you saying that, Hisana?"

"I don't want you to see me d-die…" she tried to cover her eyes, but he wouldn't let her. "Stop it," Hisana protested, "Please? It isn't fair to ask you to stay with me – you've given me enough!"

Byakuya shook his head, "I love you – how do you expect me to leave you? How can you expect that?"

"Byakuya, we're sixteen years old. We're young, don't talk like that. I want you to find someone else, don't waste your life just thinking about me – I want you to go – Get out of here!" She shoved him, and when he wouldn't let go, she burst into tears, slapping his cheek, "GO!"

He stepped back in shock, watching her pretty face as she broke down in tears, her hands over her face, "Just go," she gasped through sobs, "Just go, don't look at me…"

And his eyes filled with tears, he never cried infront of anyone. But right now, he couldn't help it; she was the one person who could see right through him. Byakuya got down on the ground beside her; he raised his hands and took one of hers in them. Hisana's eyes widened, she stared back at him, as he layed a soft kiss upon the top of it. The boy's eyes raised and locked on hers, and he said in a soft voice, "I won't go, Hisana. I want to stay here and hold your hand. I won't forget you, and…" he felt his hands shaking as he spoke, "and even after you die, I'll think of you everyday. You can tell me to leave, you can hit me, and you can even hate me, if you want… but I'm not going."

She cried a lot, but she held onto his hand. And he wrapped his pale arms around her trembling form holding her tightly to him.

"I'll be right here, Hisana," he murmured, "I'll be here."

*

Had he really been so young once? Byakuya Kuchiki glanced across his desk at the photograph gazing back at him. He could see her face, looking back at him as though nothing had changed from those innocent summer days.

He looked more carefree in this photo, his arms wrapped around her. They were both laughing… it hardly seemed like himself anymore. With a sigh Byakuya rose to his feet, he closed down the files on his laptop and walked to the mirror. He winced a little as he saw his reflection. He looked over-worked, his skin a drawn out shade of white, his soft black hair needed a wash, tied into a ponytail which hung limply from the back of his head. The young man raised a hand and rubbed the bridge of his nose in exhaustion. Yoruichi was hosting a party tonight, it was a formal thing, but seeing as she'd insisted he had to be there, she was probably going to try and set him up with a variety of different women. Now that was scary…

She probably needed something to entertain herself. As head of her family, she had to host these things, but Byakuya knew Yoruichi much preferred casual drinking parties to these slow formal things. The woman was nine years older than him, but Byakuya remembered his mother talking about how rebellious a young Yoruichi had been. When he was a teenager he'd been rebellious too. His parents dead before he'd reached his fourteenth birthday, his servants and his family assumed that his temper and his relationship with a girl from the slums was all because he couldn't cope with his parents' death.

As Byakuya stepped into the shower, letting the water cleanse his aching over-worked body, he contemplated what a load of rubbish that had been. The slums and nobility had nothing to do with something like that; he ran his hands through his hair. The shower was one of those rare places he could feel at peace, the Kuchiki heir closed his eyes, leaning his head against the cold wall. What would life be like if Hisana was here now?

"Urm, hello – hello, is anyone… like… around?"

Byakuya groaned, curse his good hearing; and turning off the water, he stepped out, wrapping a towel around his slim hips, he opened the door and headed to the front of his apartment. He peeked through the eye-hole, and caught sight of Renji Abarai. He gave a little sigh and opened the door.

"What is it, Renji?"

He went as red as his hair and looked down, "Urm… Tousen-sensei let me into the building… urm… I was asked by Matsumoto-sensei to deliver this to you…" he mumbled, unable to look at his face.

There was something amusing about that. Byakuya chuckled, and he crossed his arms, shooting him a look, "Well, don't you think you should give it to me then, hmm, Renji?"

Renji blushed as he realized he was still holding the file tightly to his side, he jerked it up into the air, holding it out for Byakuya, "Y-Yes, of course. My mistake, sir," he mumbled.

"You always seem to catch me without much on," the dark haired man sighed, "I apologize for this. Thank-you for the file," Byakuya took it, and looked up at him, "Have a nice day, Renji Abarai."

"Urm, yeah, you too," he mumbled, as he began to walk away, giving him a nervous wave, and then feeling like an idiot for doing so.

Byakuya shut the door, and found he was smirking to himself. This Renji thing was beginning to be a problem.

**

Yumichika sighed as he sank back against the chair. He was sat in the canteen with Izuru, Ikkaku and Renji. The beautiful man drummed his fingers on the desk, tucking his hair behind his ear.

"Is something wrong?" Renji asked, glancing at him over his shoulder.

He'd had a short-lived happiness of being the centre of Ikkaku's attentions, but after a few parties Ikkaku was about as much his, as the Sanaira girl he kept hooking up with. It was just plain embarrassing.

"Not at all," he smiled at Renji, "Apart from this repulsive food, I'm good," he cast a glance at the lumpy texture on his dinner plate. Trying to charm the lunch lady had not improved his situation at all; it just made her give him this uncomfortable grimace (or smile) whenever he came up here.

Renji laughed, glancing down, "It is horrible, isn't it?"

"It didn't stop you from eating all of yours… and mine," Izuru muttered bitterly, glancing up at him. Everyone laughed, including Renji, his cheeks had tinged pink.

"Hey, I'm hungry," he admitted, "Where's Hisagi-senpai? He'd stick up for me."

"Because he's a pig too," Iba rolled his eyes, "He said he had somewhere to be today. He wasn't in class either… with Matsumoto-Sensei, which he never ever misses. One time he went to that class an hour after he was hospitalized."

They all laughed, remembering how Shuuhei fawned over the busty English professor. It was just like a little boy with a crush; adorable and creepy.

"Wait," Renji clicked his fingers, "What's today?"

"The 23rd?" Yumichika looked up, wondering why the date was relevant… Shuuhei had never mentioned something like that to him.

"Today is the day," Izuru mumbled at Renji, who instantly looked solemn.

**

Shuuhei Hisagi was stood ontop of the hill; his hands in the pockets of his long black jacket, his eyes were like stone as he stared at the small memorial stone placed there. It had been nearly six years, six years since the man he'd idolized had disappeared. He brushed his hand across his face, and found his fingers falling across the 69 tattoo on his cheek: a tribute to that man.

"Hisagi-kun," called a voice.

He turned around to see Kaname Tousen making his way up the hill to him. After six years, Kaname Tousen didn't look too different. His hair had changed, now he wore it in rough braids down his back, his blind eyed hidden behind thick glasses. He didn't carry a cane; and for a blind man, Tousen-Sensei was one of the most capable men Shuuhei knew. But because of his blindness, his height, his body… he looked fragile.

"Hello, Tousen-Sensei," he bowed politely, making room for him to stand beside him infront of the grave.

"I knew I'd find you here today. You always come here on the anniversary without fail, don't you?"

"Yes," he admitted with a little nervous laugh, "Without fail, I'll always be here today… Hey, Tousen-Sensei… do you think we'll ever see Muguruma-san again?"

The blind-man's unseeing eyes were on the ground, "I don't know if I can answer you, Hisagi-kun."

He was wearing all black, his suit, his shirt, his waist-coat, his pants… with the exception of a red tie. It looked so much like the colour of blood that it almost made Shuuhei uncomfortable.

"Your friends must be missing you," the older man looked up at him suddenly after a few moments of silence had passed, "I hear you're quite popular these days?"

"They can wait," he said in a soft voice, "I just want to stay here a little longer."

**

Gin glanced across the court-yard as he sat avoiding work in his office. Izuru was sitting opposite him. The boy had a real flare for organisation and he'd offered to help him sort through his files. When the boy was working he forgot to be embarrassed about being watched… it was a little adorable really.

"Izuru, don't forget this one," he teased, pushing a heavy file underneath his nose.

The blond laughed nervously, "Sensei, you never said I'd be doing all of the work," his tone softened and softened until he finished and it was quite clear he'd lost his nerve.

"What was that?" Gin challenged him.

"Nothing… Yes I'll have a look in a moment."

"Liar," he laughed, taking the folder back, "You're too obedient," he opened it carelessly and glanced out of the window again. He could see a blue bird in its nest, and smiled softly at it. Birds were such free creatures, it was almost criminal to cage them, but he had. Or rather Aizen had, he gave them to Gin as pets when he was fifteen years old. Gin had been envious of them, not long after they were given to him, he'd set them free. They could fly away, and he, the human, could only stay in his cage.

"Sir, there's someone at the door," Izuru rose up to get it, but Gin laid a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

"It's quite alright, Izuru, I'll get it."

There were three people who knocked on his door. Kaname would knock once and wait. If Gin didn't want to talk to him, he'd pretend to be asleep. Rangiku would knock repeatedly on the door until it was opened, this would often be accompanied with her calling for him. And thirdly, there was Sosuke's knock… and that was most definetly Sosuke's knock.

The last thing he needed was Sosuke seeing him getting close to a student. One of the best things about Izuru was that Sosuke hadn't tried to set claim to him, or even see him. Although his smiling face didn't show it, he was panicing. He was terrified Aizen was going to see the boy he felt so much affection for.

"Whose there with you, Gin?"

Sosuke was smiling sweetly, his hair adorabley scruffy, his glasses on… which normally meant he had someone with him. He wondered who… maybe a sweet boy with an angel face, or an innocent young girl.

"A student is helping me with my organization", he opened the door and gestured to Izuru, who glanced nervously at the ground.

"Ah yes, hello, Kira-kun, isn't it?" Sosuke stepped inside, and offered Izuru a hand, "I'm Aizen-Sensei, it's a pleasure to meet you."

Gin was shaking a little, calming when he spotted the girl stood a few feet behind Sosuke. She was a pretty little thing, soft brown hair tied up into a bun at the back of her head. Her features gave her the appearance of a sweet china doll.

"It's n-nice to meet you too, sir," Izuru murmured, before glancing at the girl. His eyes lit up, "Momo, hello there!"

"Hi, Izuru," she smiled brightly at him.

"Ah, I see you two know each other," Sosuke glanced back at the girl, "You've mentioned an 'Izuru' to me before, I believe, Momo?"

They were a few months in, and he was already on first name terms with this precious girl. Gin almost frowned, but didn't want to let go of his flawless grin.

"Gin, this is Hinamori Momo, she's my best student. I actually was hoping you would lend me your copy of 'Lolita', I promised her she could read it."

What a book… Gin nodded, "Why I'd be happy to oblidge," he turned towards his bookshelf and picked it out. Lolita… it was beautifully written. It seemed almost cruel that he was having a young girl read the book Sosuke had always said was about himself and Gin. Of course after reading it, Gin had decided it was nothing like them at all. But then again, he'd never been one to put many of his real opinions forward.

"Here it is," he bent down a little to hand it to Momo, "May it… enlighten you."

She looked afraid of his smile, but smiled back, "T-Thankyou, sir."

"Well then, Momo, shall we leave Gin and Kira-kun to their session?"

"Yes, Aizen-Sensei," she looked at him so adoringly. That was the look of a deluded woman… maybe even a woman in love. Sosuke was an attractive man, he was thirty-eight years old, yet he carried off a young father figure type of mannerism… or at least he did when he was at the university.

He was so fake.

"Well then, Gin, I'll see you later."

"Good-bye, Sosuke," he laughed, closing the door behind them. Although the idea of Aizen coming back later made shivers go down his spine. And he turned, glancing back at Izuru, who was staring nervously at the floor.

"He seems nice… I didn't take English, but Momo was very keen to do so."

"Yes," Gin laughed, "But I bet it wasn't the promise of 19th century literature which put her to English," he teased, taking his seat at his side, "Am I correct?"
Izuru went red and looked down at his book, "Well… I wouldn't say you were wrong, sir…"

**

Yumichika had properly lost it today. One of Ikkaku's kendo dummies had stepped over the line… actually he'd properly parachuted a mile over the line. So technically it was his own fault if he didn't like what happened to him.

"Are you a girl?"

That was what the guy had asked him. He'd been asked that one before, but it should have been fairly obvious he was a man… Most girls had… well breasts for example?

"No," he'd said sourly. It hadn't really been a good afternoon, he'd finished classes and dashed by the gym hoping to catch Ikkaku. Instead (and the bald man would hopefully never find out he'd even bothered come down…) he'd found Ikkaku giving soccer scoring lessons to one of the girls. He was such a perv… such a bastard… he didn't even know anything about soccer, he was using pretending he did so he got to grind against some girl's ass… Stupid Ikkaku…

"Are you sure you ain't a girl?" the guy asked, he smacked Yumichika's backside with his kendo sword. "You've got a nice ass."

He yelped and spun around his azure eyes blazing, "Yes, I'm sure I'm a boy. You revolting insect!"

"Easy easy," he laughed, taking a nervous step back, "I was just asking… So you're a fruit then?"

"It's none of your Goddamn business anyway, I don't waste time with ugly people such as yourself," he went to leave, when he heard the guy snickering at him behind his back.

"Fag. I bet you were waiting for Ikkaku again."

It had been a while since he'd used any of his athletic power. Yumichika had spun around and in seconds he'd snatched the wooden sword from him and jerked the hilt into his stomach with one swift movement. It was completley winded the poor stupid boy who fell backwards, yelling out in pain. Yumichika walked to him and stepped down hard on his chest, "Now listen to me, you ugly little man," he lowered the sword down to his neck, "If you ever open that repulsive mouth and address me, Yumichika Ayasegawa, I'll make you regrett the day you were born."

The guy looked like he might wet himself. That wouldn't smell beautiful at all; he smirked sadistically, and reached down, slapping his cheek mockingly, "Don't mess yourself, it won't help your grotesque appearance," laughing he tossed the sword aside and headed out of the gym doors.

He was now walking home, silently fuming. How dare that man speak to him in such a way… Ikkaku was the worst…

"Has anyone ever told you you're a scary guy?"

Glancing up he spotted Renji walking alongside him. "Why would you say that?"

"Soyo is a tough guy," he admitted, "I guess you haven't lost your touch?"

"No, I haven't," he laughed, brushing his hair out of his face, "But don't tell Ikkaku, he likes to believe he's tougher than me."

Renji laughed, then glanced up, raising an eyebrow, "He told me you stopped training… I think you lied to him."

"You're accusing me of decite?"

"No, I'm just curious."

"Maybe I do train," Yumichika smirked, "Afterall, a healthy body is very beautiful."

**

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