Chapter Sixteen

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. Sad but true *sigh*

*Hisana's dreamstate*

"Her illness has gotten worse, Lord Kuchiki," Kyousuke stated, briskly walking alongside Byakuya. "I've requested for a member of Squad 4 to come look at her."

Byakuya nodded. "Change the request for Captain Unohana."

"Yes, my lord."

Kyousuke immediately continued on as Byakuya stopped in front of Hisana's room. She had been ill since almost the beginning of their marriage. Byakuya barely got seven months before she contracted the illness. He suspected it came from her visits into the Rukon District, and while he tried to keep her from going, she wouldn't listen to him. Sometimes he became angry with her. He never revealed it to her, not wanting to upset her and possibly increase her sickness. But he couldn't deny that he hated what she was doing. Did she not care for him at all?

He entered the room and saw that Hisana was no longer in bed. She was sitting by the opposite doors leading to the garden. She looked up as he entered.

"You should be resting," he said, closing the doors behind him.

"I am," she replied.

He gave her a look. "I mean in bed."

She smiled. "Of course. I just wanted some fresh air. It's beautiful outside."

He had made his way across the room and stooped to pick her up. She didn't protest and let him return her to the futon in the center of the room.

"I'll leave the door open, but you must rest."

"Okay. Will you stay with me?"

He nodded. "Captain Unohana should be here shortly."

She laid her head down, curling on her side. She had one of his hands in her grasp and seemed to almost be cuddling it. Her eyes were closed, and Byakuya watched her fall asleep. Although she had been going out everyday for the past five years, she couldn't muster enough energy to move for the past month. Not ever since that last day she went into the Rukon District and returned sicker than ever. Byakuya had thought he would lose her, her fever was so high. And she had not fully recovered from that night.

Her face held no pigmentation, it seemed, and despite Byakuya's attentiveness to feed her, she had grown even more frail and desolate. Her beautiful violet eyes were now ringed with dark bruises.

"Captain Kuchiki?"

Byakuya was not surprised at Unohana's approach and motioned for her come in. She did so and came to kneel opposite Byakuya at Hisana's side.

"If I could have a moment, please," she said.

Byakuya nodded and rose. He left out the open door, closing it. He would have argued his right to know what was going on with his wife, but a previous encounter had warned him against getting on Unohana's bad side.

Unohana gently shook Hisana awake. "Wake up, Hisana."

It didn't take much to wake her. Her brief nap had been dreamless, but she had yet to fall into truly deep slumber before Unohana was waking her.

"Hisana, I have news, and while I would choose for this to be happy news, in your condition it is not."

Hisana struggled to sit up, gladly taking Unohana's help. Their eyes met.

"So it's true?"

"Yes, you're about three months along."

Hisana looked down, placing her hands on her abdomen. "Have you told Byakuya?"

"No. Hisana, there is no likelihood that even should you abort this child, you will live."

"I wouldn't anyways."

"And still, you both will not survive. You're too weak to carry the child to full term, and I fear you will not last much longer. You don't have enough nutrients for yourself, let alone this child."

Hisana nodded. She rubbed the barely visible bump. "I figured this sickness was a retribution, a just punishment for my sins. But I could never wish for my child to be punished as well." Tears welled in her eyes as she gazed desperately to Unohana. "Byakuya can't know. It will already be hard for him to lose me. I don't want him to mourn a child we'll never have. Please, Retsu."

Unohana met Hisana's pleading gaze sadly. "I understand and agree to an extent. I will keep your secret."

"I know I shouldn't ask, but I need you to find my sister," Hisana said, gazing up at Byakuya. It had been getting harder to breathe all day, and she was so tired. "And protect her, please."

Byakuya looked at her solemnly. "I promise."

"But don't tell her about me. I'm so ashamed of what I did. I'd rather her not know me than hate me." She squeezed his hand the best she could and smiled. "It would be wonderful for her to have you as a brother. And she might ease my passing for you."

"I promised to find her, but you shouldn't give up. I'm sure Unohana will figure out what this is and a cure in a matter of time," Byakuya said.

"I don't have time, Byakuya, and you know this. I'm sorry. I really wish we could have had more time." And raise our child, she added inwardly. She closed her eyes, they were so heavy.

"Hisana?"

A darkness, promising comfort and release, met her on her descent and swept her away.

"Hisana!"

Hisana awoke in a field, surrounded by sakura trees just blossuming and a mix of scarlet flowers in the branches. An even stranger mix to the scene was the snow falling. It wasn't cold and glided on an invisible breeze. She sat up, gazing around and catching the snowflakes as they drifted towards her.

"It's nice, isn't it?"

The crystal voice startled Hisana, and she turned to see a woman with pale pink hair sitting beside her. She was gazing up at the scenery, away from Hisana. She had on some type of warrior outfit, similar to the Secret Corps uniform but white instead of black. There were red accents on her belt and ties. Another striking feature of the woman other than her hair was her red eyes.

She turned to look at Hisana, smiling.

"It's lovely," Hisana replied, her eyes fixated on the woman. "Who are you?"

The woman shook her head. "Even if I say it, you're not ready. You wouldn't be able to hear it."

"Oh."

"Let's just say I'm a friend, and I'm here to tell you why Raiden's spell will no longer work on you."

Hisana blinked. "What do you mean?"

"The induced sleep you're in was meant to end your life, Hisana."

"Right, I forgot."

"The difference between this and the previous reincarnations is my awakening, along with another unborn soul tied to your fate. Do you remember your dreams?"

Hisana nodded.

"They weren't dreams, but memories of your life in Soul Society. You must come to terms with the fact that you are not to blame for what Raiden has done. You were a mere pawn on his board, and he manipulated you and tried to hurt your family. It's time to fight back."

"How am I supposed to do that? I know I have my little energy balls, but there's no way I can go up against Raiden and win."

"It'll be a team effort, Hisana, but you must find a way."

Hisana continued to look at her in disbelief and worry. The woman placed her hand on Hisana's shoulder and squeezed it. "Don't worry. I'll be with you every step of the way."

Hisana covered the woman's hand on her shoulder and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was laying on a futon in a tent. A zanpakuto was gripped in her hand, but she wasn't surprised for some odd reason. It felt like she was still holding the red-eyed woman's hand.

"Hisana, you're awake!"

A/N: Sorry if this feels like a cliff hanger. We're not too far off from the end. Sorry again for the late updates. Right now, I have to figure out how to end this. I'm a little worried things are becoming too predictable (anyone else notice how in Bleach just as the bad guy's about to win one of the characters magically appears to save the day? yeah, I noticed, and I don't want my writing to be predictable so I'm looking to surprise, hehe). Thanks again to all my readers for sticking with me. I'm going to say I have about three more chapters including an epilogue. d^.^b