Title: His Pride
Pairing: Kuchiki Byakuya/ Kurosaki Ichigo
Genre: Drama, Comedy and Romance.
Warnings: Ichigo and Byakuya smut (eventually)*grins*
Summary: Byakuya saves Ichigo from a near fatal attack and later finds himself on a mission to protect his pride. It all starts with a dream... Along the way they quickly discover they share a mutual predilection.
A/N:This is my first Bleach fanfic and I'm VERY nervous about posting this. I write for fun and for my own shits and giggles, but I want to share it with you. Like most of fics I LOVE humor and there is plenty goofiness in this fic along with drama. Sorry for any ooc'ness, I tried to keep everyone in character the best I could. I just wanted to give Byakuya and Ichigo an adventure with some fluff and smut along the way *evil grin* I adore Byakuya and Ichigo! And I never write a fic I'm not passionate about and I don't post it if I won't finish it. To me they are the ultimate Bleach pair in my mind. I have to say this was the most challenging fic I ever wrote. I plotted so hard sometimes I wanted to rip out my hair lol! Byakuya and Ichigo are such hard heads, but I like to think they could break out of their shells once they discover mutual affections.
NOTE: In this fic I followed the time thing that for every 10 Human years 1 Soul Society year passes. So I had Ichigo age a few years while Byakuya would have barely aged at all. Keep note that in this fic I believe that if Ichigo were to stay in his soul reaper form in Soul Society that he would age just like the rest of them… I also made Isshin's big secret not so much a secret in this fic. I know in the manga he recently reveals it…I'm sure you all have your own theories, I do too! I'm not stressing about that very much in this fic, so it's briefly mentioned. I'm mostly following the anime for this and have continued a few ongoing jokes—like Senbonzakura and his mask XD! I couldn't resist that…I get such a chuckle out of the funny stuff in Bleach.
I'll shut up now. I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1 - Nightmare
It could not be ignored, his instinct.
Byakuya stealthily raced towards the private Kuchiki senkaimon in flits of shunpo, while Soul Society was still covered by a blanket of darkness and shadows created by the faint glow of a crescent moon. Even though the night seemed serene, it was anything but. Behind determined steel-grey eyes was the look of urgency, his heart pounded fiercely like that of battle drums. The black cloth of his hakama, minus the sixth division haori and his kenseikan and his infamous windflower scarf, was the only thing that gave the slightest hint that something tore through the darkness with soft shuffling.
There's no time to waste.
Impulsive, yes, Byakuya acted on such weaknesses when his pride was on the line.
Upon arrival at the gate, he directly ordered for the Kuchiki manor guards to open it post haste. The purple-garbed guards, faces hidden behind half masks, did not hesitate in obeying the heir's command. The sixth-division captain was gone before they caught their next breath, leaving them in complete bafflement and gaping into the open maw of the portal that lead to the living world.
It was a familiar voice, Byakuya groaned.
Racing across the blue sky of the real world, high above Karakura Town, Byakuya glanced sidelong across his right shoulder at Senbonzakura, his zanpakuto in his materialized form. It came to him in the appearance of a mighty samurai in full regalia. He wore royal purple clothing and donned a fearsome black and red mask frozen with the impression of a fierce snarl; crude teeth displayed menacingly—face completely hidden. The golden half-cherry blossom that crowned its forehead, followed by the long, dark, tied-up plumage of hair that trailed behind him, gave indication to the power that was Byakuya.
"Now is not the time, Senbonzakura," Byakuya insisted flatly, directing his eyes in front once more, searching for familiar reiatsu—spirit pressure.
"Your dream changed, Master. I'm alarmed…the talisman was activated," hesitantly spoke the soul of Byakuya's sword.
"Indeed, it was. I just can't ignore it," Byakuya answered gravely. The Kuchiki noble scowled then, "I do not wish to discuss this with you further right now, Senbonzakura."
"Very well then, be careful." Senbonzakura dissipated reluctantly.
A mother hen, Byakuya thought when a wall of reiatsu, like that of a tsunami, washed over him from his left. His frown deepened and the Gotei 13 Captain headed for that unquestionable, unstable spiritual energy. I knew it!
Something is going on and Byakuya was not surprised, in fact he expected it. Furthermore, he wasn't surprise to feel another trace of spiritual energy as well, his sister Rukia's. His face hardened even more. He could only hope that he was wrong about this. He really wanted to be wrong, because he feared he might not make it in time!
The dream Senbonzakura mentioned, it had nothing to do with his sister Rukia. It was a recurring dream that, as of late, had become his errant, blissful escape, his therapy…but tonight it had turned into a bloody nightmare. A dream that had gripped him so, had garbled things up inside his mind—taught his heart how to love again. He didn't know how to explain it, but he just knew he had to go to Rukia and Ichigo.
The dream, it always started…
…in a vast garden, the sky was the bluest shade and the sun warm and encouraging. The air was filled with the sweet, fresh fragrance of sakura blossom, which floated and swirled down in an endless dance from the surrounding forest of cherry trees.
My inner world…
I held out a bare hand to capture one tiny pink petal in my palm—a fallen warrior. I believed that every petal falling to the ground is that of a fallen warrior's soul, that each petal exemplifies their honorable death. An honour displayed vibrantly in the spring for all eternity.
Gently, I would admire the soft, silkiness of the petal with the pad of my thumb before letting it continue its devoted journey.
A soft smile danced across my lips. At first I could only see a silhouette of the man speaking my name so daringly, sitting with his back against one of the trees. Inside I felt capricious, content…liberated! Still, my position would haunt me; nag at the back of my mind, reminding me that I was the representation of nobility, the head of the Kuchiki family. I had to act like it.
My smile would fade.
"Byakuya, why do you always look so unhappy…?" The image of the man materialized into Kurosaki Ichigo in his shinigami shihakusho. And he was just that now, a man, grown a few human years and was no longer boyish. I found him easy on the eyes.
I narrowed the space between us, my bare feet pressing into moist green grass leaving dewy imprints in my wake. I would take a hushed moment to gaze down at the young man, who was looking up at me with such a curious, carefree expression. Wordless exchanges passed between us before I would take my place at the other side of the tree.
It was as if we'd known each other for many millennia. Together, we would sit in this garden on opposite sides of this cherry tree silently, peacefully, until Ichigo broke it. He always was the first to break it…
"Byakuya, you're always so damn silent—it freaks me out. You don't fool me. I know there's a whole lot of shit going on inside that head of yours."
I would smile slyly again and give a small chuff.
In this freedom, my lips moved, my thoughts pouring from me in soundless waves, my fears and desires…the deepest troubles of my soul. It would go from the present and tumble backwards into the past, the images going from vibrant to dull. I would speak of my duty as head of Kuchiki, the broken heart I harbored over my late wife, how I felt destined to never love again, the disgrace I continually felt I brought my family, and my adoptive sister, Rukia.
"Why can't I hear you?"
For some reason Ichigo never heard this. It didn't matter if he could hear me or not. The lexis I gave freed me from the chains of my own restraint. I rest my head back against the trunk, looking up into the canopy of branches that was bursting with fresh blossoms.
After many moments of quiet, easy reflection, Ichigo would come around to face me. This time it was my turn to look up at the tall, agile figure and his head of wild ginger hair in contrast to the brilliant pinks above. Ichigo's soft amber eyes brimmed with life and I stared at them enviously.
Right here right now, I care about Ichigo more than anything. In this world I don't give a damn, I don't fear anything.
"Don't look at me that way," the human shinigami chided and knelt down in front of me, "the only person at fault here is you. You've closed off your heart…you push people away so you won't get hurt again, but you only hurt others around you and yourself. I'll never hurt you, Byakuya. I know…this isn't easy for you and your position is important, I understand. If you want me to walk away…I will."
My face would become serious and I would appeal, "No…I don't want that."
Ichigo waved his hand flippantly, stared at me openly with tenderness, "Sometimes, I don't get all this noble shit or you."
I would give a small chuckle. "I admire your honesty."
"Honesty, eh? Then…let me kiss you," challenged Ichigo, a defiant smirk lifting one corner of his lips.
I never gave a verbal retort and instead rose to his challenge, bringing my lips to his tenderly, willingly, as if kissing him gave meaning to my very existence. His lips, so soft and ripe, my body ached for his touch. It was always this slight edge that would cause Ichigo break away for a moment and gaze at me in the way my dear Hisana would, yet, his affections were more intense, raw. It felt so good I never wanted to wake up. Ichigo's hand came to rest at the side of my face, warming my cheek, his fingertips would trail along my jaw line, lifting my chin up so I would look at him.
"Tell me the truth, Byakuya. Tell me what you want."
"I'm lonely," I would admit pathetically, loathing myself for allowing him to pry that from me and leaving my dignity in the dust.
"There's that sad face again." Ichigo would lean over, his lips brushing against my ear and he would murmur affectionately to me, "You don't have to be alone anymore..."
When Byakuya woke up, the strong noble, in the privacy of his bedroom would blush fiercely. He felt overwhelmingly embarrassed, mortified, like he had committed a colossal faux pas. When he first began having this dream he nearly heaved each time, his stomach twisting with the impossibility of it all, the very idea that he'd sunk so low. The very thought of loving someone like Ichigo Kurosaki was indeed, intimidating. Even for him. But he also came to realize he'd been fighting a losing battle, because over the past four years the dream repeated, more often lately, and each time growing more passionate and arousing…eventually he welcomed, yearned for the torrid escape. Byakuya knew as long as he kept it to himself it wasn't like anyone else could affirm his absolute insanity…except Senbonzakura...
No matter how often Byakuya reminded his zanpakuto to stop invading his thoughts while he slept, the soul of his sword claimed he could not help himself…that his dreams were so interesting and beautiful. Senbonzakura delightfully offered Byakuya the freedom to peek into his dreams if he wished, claiming he had nothing to hide, but the noble insisted he would rather die.
For the first while the zanpakuto chuckled serenely at him about the dream with Ichigo, with aphorisms like, 'If you persist on having dreams like that master, I might begin to grow fond of Ichigo myself'. Then it changed to, 'I believe you're holding back…there is no shame in two men sharing each other's strength. We need one another', or even worse using absurd terms like, 'adorable' or 'romantic'.
The smitten fool…
Byakuya would sniff with distain, sometimes even in the middle of a captain's meeting. Once the Kuchiki noble even told the samurai to shut up, only realizing afterwards he'd hissed it out loud and caught the eye of every single captain of the Gotei 13, including Yamamoto-Genryusai, his captain commander, staring at him. He shut them out, closing his eyes but he could still feel their stares prickling on his skin.
He didn't think it was so 'adorable' back then, but things happened. Slowly he came to see just what kind of man Ichigo was over time…powerful in every single respect—powerful in strength, yes, but even more powerful in heart.
It's just as his grandfather said to him once, 'Along with great power, one must have an even stronger heart.' Inadvertently, Ichigo helped him escape his disillusioned confine, awakened his senses once more, and warmed his heart. A heart that had been buried beneath ice, a heart he protected from ever feeling anything ever again.
Such an impossible task…who was he fooling?
However, he tried. He fought it without heart and got beat down. It was a humbling experience and a lesson he'd never forget. Ideals began to change after that battle, his purpose in life—a reminder of the kind of man he used to be and what his power really stood for.
One of those purposes was his sister, his pride. He could not hinder the adoring feeling of being Rukia's brother, how fierce he felt in protecting her. And how he'd let her down in so many ways... Guilt ate at him sometimes like the Hollow corrosion to a severed chain of fate. He'd become so blind by erroneous promises that he had nearly killed his own sister! Her direct resemblance to her sister, Hisana, reminded him each day of the love he lost. The hole in his chest, it was incredibly hard to bear at times. But time, as it were, began to numb and mend those wounds. And the melancholy, carried like the weight of Wabisuke, didn't weigh him down so much anymore, because there was Ichigo…
Storming into Soul Society like some kind of hero, all in order to save Rukia!
An admirable opponent indeed…
The Sixth Division Captain could hear Abarai Renji, his vice-captain, 'I think he beat some sense into you, Taicho! Err…I mean you really gave that punk an ass whoopin'!' *Thumbs up!*
Even though Renji never actually said that, it's how Byakuya would imagine him saying so.
There was just something about Ichigo that Byakuya could not hate. He wanted to. Everything would be easier then dwelling on things that could never, not even remotely be. Never. Could it…? He knew Rukia was not amorously involved with Ichigo—let's just say he had his perceptive way of knowing. Besides, Byakuya always figured that Renji was the one sweet on his sister, although the man was sure taking his sweet time. No, Ichigo and Rukia were friends, good friends, perhaps best even…he was her other Kaien. He understood that. And it made him happy to see them together, also comforted knowing that Ichigo was there for Rukia when she got sent to the real world. At first though, he'd been unexplainably jealous, green with envy that he could not have what his sister did—a close friendship, an unbreakable bond with Ichigo. And he lashed out at Ichigo in undermining ways, making him feel like he didn't belong. Though now, his position made it so hard to act on his desires, daunting to step away from his shell and venture into new territory. It frustrated him endlessly.
The younger man was still a bit rough around the edges, kind of how he, himself used to be a century ago. It was a simple matter of growing up and realizing immaturity wasn't going to get him far. He cringed at the thought of what Ichigo really, truly thought of him sometimes. Byakuya had not made things easy for him and up to this day he kept his emergent feelings a secret. What gain could come of this? Ichigo would probably laugh hysterically at him for one. Him worried about rejection when so many eligible people were just dying to bestow their affections on him? Laughable indeed, but he could not be bothered with something so, so…nondescript.
Of course he had to want the one thing that seemed so impossible!
Sometimes, he positively had to resist the urge to corner Ichigo and simply have his way with him. That perhaps if he sated this lust that plagued him that he'd be free of Ichigo's spell. He imagined he could use a kido spell to tie up the human, rendering him helpless to achieve his goals—that haughty, possessive side of him rearing its ugly head in his mind. He had nothing against male adoration, not like he'd practiced any such affection with a man. His body yearned for Ichigo and Ichigo only. It made no sense.
However, he restrained.
He would honor his noble duties, try to lead by example, yes, but by no means would he dishonor his heart no matter who in the Kuchiki clan dared to bitch. On this matter he would not budge. Even if it meant he were to be alone for the rest of his days, so be it. Byakuya continued to regard Ichigo in his imperial way, trying to keep check of his emotions and distracting himself with his duties, but it proved difficult at times. Together, they'd managed to build a semblance of a friendship over the years, but it was hard to nurture when they were worlds apart. Still, he couldn't stop the way his heart became so alive each time Ichigo graced Soul Society with his presence, would it ever stop? Just another form of torment he had brought upon himself and had only himself to blame, yet again.
Once he had admitted to himself that he truly cared for the human shinigami, there was no going back. Ichigo had reaped his soul. He'd unknowingly become a part of his pride, too.
"It is not such an impossible aspiration, Master. No one would judge you or your leadership, I believe you have already set those solid foundations," infiltrated Senbonzakura's voice within Byakuya's mind.
Hrmph, what a comforting notion the noble thought sarcastically. "As you have mentioned many times before, Senbonzakura! But all that won't even matter if we don't hasten," the raven-haired shinigami reminded the sword hotly.
Usually, Byakuya kept his distance and admired from afar, but his instinct raged at him to go to Ichigo and Rukia now. The trigger of his instinct tonight was that transcendent dream opening a new chapter tonight, one that shook him to the core. It was the effect of the enchanted talisman, he was sure of it, which meant he really needed to listen to it and hurry! It meant he couldn't stand idly by and do nothing and nobody was going to get in his way!
Byakuya could still see the horrendous nightmare he escaped replaying behind his narrowed eyes…
…the garden started out the same…my inner world. Ichigo was there.
"You don't have to be alone anymore." I heard Ichigo say for the hundredth time.
Even as I dreamed I expected to feel myself ripped from this place, like usual, awaiting my eyes to flash open, expecting to feel the pang of my empty heart like I always did. Though, within a blink the surroundings changed. I was still in a dream state, but I wasn't in my inner world anymore. Instead I'm sitting on a window panel on the side of a tall dark building, a skyscraper. All around us are these phlegmatic buildings and the sky is cerulean and big puffy clouds are moving in a direction that suggested I was defying gravity!
It gave me the sense of vertigo, it was startling...the place barren, soundless.
I gazed upon Ichigo's handsome face which suddenly changed into that vizard Hollow mask, bone-white with those red trails emblazoned on it, skeletal bared teeth, two long, wicked forward-pointing horns, his crazed eyes piercing and yellow kind of like a reptiles'. The rest of him remained normal and hadn't taken on complete Hollow transformation. He began to breathe as if his lungs were full of water, and he pulled away from me and told me get away from him.
But even in my dream I did no such thing. I will fully admit, Ichigo's Hollow is daunting, his power much greater than mine in this state, but Byakuya Kuchiki does not run with his tail between his legs.
"Why have you transformed? What's the matter? Where am I?" I demanded.
From under Ichigo's Hollow mask, blood trickled down his lean neck. I look on in horror, my hands plastered against the slick, hard glass beneath me, trying to find an unattainable grip suddenly. I watched the blood trail down his chest and disappear inside the V of his kosode.
Then Ichigo released a horrible, Hollow-like scream, tearing his fingers along his throat as if he were being eaten alive.
I sat there in shock, I reached for my sword but it wasn't there. Shit!
Then, I heard another voice…
"There's no escape, Ichigo," it drawled menacingly, ricocheting off the surrounding buildings, "It is time you left this world and let the course of existence naturally take its course. You are a thorn! I'm your ultimate opponent, your replacement, Ichigo. I've been waiting. Not even this prince here can save you now."
Just like that Ichigo's hollow mask cracked and crumbled, falling from his face in bits and leaving him looking perfectly normal. There was no more blood. Though, the substitute shinigami's eyes were anything but peaceful. Those eyes regarded me with a plea.
A/N: I have most of this fic all written so I will post an update soon! I hope you enjoy.