A/N: Spoilers for the Zanpakuto filler arc! Beware.
I am in love with Senbonzakura. And Byakuya has always been my favorite Bleach character since forever. I already love them as a pairing and this fic is based off the first episode (240) in which Senbonzakura's (bishie) face makes an appearance. I kind of riffed on that, and since that arc is ongoing, it's entirely likely Senbonzakura is waaaaay OOC, or will be shown to be OOC as time goes by. Oh well. I couldn't resist, anyway. I'll definitely write more on these two as more is revealed throughout the arc, and when I know more, well, they will be more IC.
Disgrace. He stood, flushed with shame, trembling slightly with battle adrenaline and sheer shock. He touched his exposed skin with gloved fingers, then lowered his hand, schooled his expression to hide the dismay he knew was apparent. Such humiliation, to allow this—this child—to land a blow on him in such a fashion. Senbonzakura vowed to himself that he would make that insolent fool pay a heavy price for the small satisfaction of cracking his mask.
Because he was an insolent fool. Nothing more. The zanpakuto still retained bitter memories of his first hard clash with Kurosaki Ichigo, the way he'd been mocked by the very sight of that rogue zanpakuto, the way Byakuya-sama had counted on him, depended on him to defend the very law of Soul Society. And he had failed. The failure gnawed at him, at his pride, at his very nature. No matter that Kurosaki Ichigo then, as now, had fallen back on his dependence of that abominable mask. Senbonzakura would not tolerate failure. His wielder would not tolerate it in him, either, as he had never tolerated it in himself.
They both understood pride, very well. And Senbonzakura knew, better than anyone, that the pride Byakuya-sama fought for was hardly ever his own. All for her. All for Sode no Shirayuki's wielder (and damn Sode no Shirayuki for being so easily led, for turning on the one who mastered her). Senbonzakura knew this, and so he contented himself to fight for Byakuya-sama's pride, instead. He liked to hope—and indeed, felt so deeply, in the moments when they spoke together in that quiet communion of shinigami and zanpakuto—that to a degree, he was Byakuya-sama's pride, as well.
And that was why, when his master halted his arm—halted him from striking down that insolent impudent self-assured arrogant undeserving bastard—Senbonzakura relented. He would have acquiesced to no other. But Byakuya-sama had earned his submission. Only Byakuya-sama could ever be worthy of it. The rest of them, all of them, they were beneath him. Dust under his feet, nothing more. And as they departed and Kurosaki Ichigo and his stupefied face vanished from view, Senbonzakura lifted his hand to his face once more to touch the exposed skin. The touch nearly burned and he trembled with the indignity of it. "I will avenge this slight to my pride," he breathed, to himself more than anyone else. To your honor. To mine. To ours.
Byakuya turned. Senbonzakura anticipated stern rebuke, or, worse, indifferent disregard, but he received neither. Instead, he was gratified to find that Byakuya's expression had softened, his slate eyes searching the similar steely, half-revealed glance of his zanpakuto. It was an expression the zanpakuto knew well, one his master seldom wore in the presence of anyone else, but Muramasa's back was turned and so maybe—maybe—
"Yes," Byakuya said, quietly, and reached out with one small, elegant hand to trace the barely-exposed cheekbone, the closed delicate eyelid under his thumb. This touch did not burn, but warmed, instead, and when Senbonzakura opened his eyes he found that they were quite close, simply regarding each other, intimately familiar and yet…at the same time, not so. Byakuya's eyes were warm, warm in the way they had been in so many days past—relentless days in his earliest youth of seeking each other out, and then, once having discovered each other, of learning and growing and stretching and blending and fulfilling. That first, glorious moment of release in battle, and the later joy and pride and wonder in Byakuya-sama's eyes as he had mastered hakuteiken. Senbonzakura remembered.
Senbonzakura longed for that communion again. You are beautiful, he thought, and then, we are beautiful together, you and I. The war and events with Aizen and now the zanpakuto rebellion had cut into their time for learning more of each other, for simply growing closer, but he knew that it would come again. Byakuya-sama was devoted to knowing him, and he, devoted to knowing his master in return. Master. Indeed, hardly that. His submission was willing and chosen. A gift, not a power demanded. Senbonzakura lifted his head a little higher, stared with absent disregard at Muramasa's back. That man, the one who walked alone, meant nothing. The one beside him meant….everything. And so for now he would wait and bide his time and obey, until he could return to what he most desired.
Byakuya stepped away, to fulfill the rest of his carefully-laid plans; Senbonzakura, lost in his contemplation, remained still for a moment. Byakuya half-turned his head, gifted his zanpakuto with a heavy-lidded, languid glance (and this gaze made Senbonzakura laugh quietly to himself, for his Byakuya-sama was not always so regal nor so languid, was sometimes competitive and easily-aggravated and amused and mussed and wonderful). "Come," Byakuya said. "Senbonzakura."
And how many times had he heard his name spoken in just those tones?
It still sent a sweet chill through him, made him weak with the anticipation of release in every sense. Senbonzakura came to himself and quickly followed, barely gracing Muramasa with a look as he accompanied the small graceful figure before him. Together. Always together.
It was right.