Kazuki's Diary - The Dance
(Thanks to unsigned reader DMK (Ooh, that is a tempting idea for after I whittle away at that monstrous stack of unfinished stories! Thanks for the suggestion!))
There are some times when I simply do not know what to feel. As much as I was aware that I was being eyed for a position amongst the Royal Guard, to receive word of my choosing as the youngest Royal Guard Captain in the history of the group took me very much by surprise. Even as we approached the palace, everything about my return to the spirit dimension seemed hazy and unreal. It is not to say that I am not proud of the distinction or that I am unappreciative. Indeed, this is a great honor. It is just that until my entourage had arrived at the palace and I was settled into my room overlooking the king's garden, I just couldn't feel the reality of what was happening.
It has been a long time since my last visit to this place. It was almost enough time for me to set aside the questions that burned in my mind after Akabuke stole me from death's hands. But as we approached, the questions returned to work at my mind, and I wondered, of course, what it would be like to see him again. In all of this time, he has not made contact with me, and has made no move to ever acknowledge what he did for me, or to ask anything of me in return. I had begun to think the questions futile, but now I am of a different mind.
He looked the same as he stood at the king's side, his eyes distant and respectful as the king greeted me and sent me on my way to settle in. And I saw no more of him until my induction ceremony, where again, he stood at the king's side, seeming to not remember at all what he had done for me, or to realize how he was affecting me, making my heart race with memory and my mind dizzy with questions. It is a mystery to me how he can seem so unaffected after something like that...as though he would have done it for anyone.
It didn't feel so inconsequential at the time.
As the ceremony ended, our eyes met for a moment, almost as though by mistake, and he smiled at me.
No one has ever made me blush just by smiling at me. But there is something in Akabuke's smile...and he seems very aware of that.
As the induction ceremony gave way to the festivities afterward, and the lively music and pleasant food and conversation relaxed me slightly, I began to make peace with thinking that what happened before must simply have been one of those impulsive things that had just made sense in that moment, to the spirited and enigmatic creature that is the King's Samurai.
But I had no sooner come to that conclusion, than he shattered it.
"Welcome back to the spirit realm, Kazuki Kuchiki," he said, bringing me out of my reverie.
I didn't know what to feel at seeing him up close like that again. Gratitude, of course…and surprise…and something that made me feel as though the floor had dropped away beneath my feet.
"Would you care to dance?" he asked.
"What?" I gasped.
He laughed at my expression.
"I asked if you would like to dance, Kazuki Kuchiki."
He had his arms around me and had drawn me in before I could stop him. I had no choice but to move with him, as his body was locked tightly with mine.
"Why are you doing this?" I asked as he turned us and pulled me closer.
"You are beautiful, Kazuki Kuchiki," he said, as though it should have been obvious, "I desire you."
My feet stopped and he stopped with me. I gazed at him and he at me as hundreds of eyes stared at us and my humiliation grew.
"How could you be so bold…to do this in front of everyone!" I snapped at him.
The room went silent around us and his smile faded. He nodded at me and I wondered why.
"You are not ready," he said quietly, and let me go.
I stood, unmoving, on the dance floor, the music playing and the people moving around me again…feeling both relief that he was gone and a dark, sad aching inside at being without him again.
Although I went through the motions of socializing and tried to minimize the moment in my head, my heart still beats faster and my heart seems heavier when I think of it...as much because of my own overly powerful reaction as because of what he did. It is not as though he meant to offend me by asking me to dance...or even in indicating a desire for me.
Akabuke desires me.
Is this what made him save me, then?
And now, I have insulted him in a very public manner. Yet in my own defense, he did take me by surprise, approaching me so boldly, and in front of everyone, springing his interest in me upon me very suddenly that way.
Although, to be completely honest, it did seem to me also as though no time had passed since that day in the forest some years ago. Was it like that for him as well then? And if so, was I wrong to reject him so resoundingly? At the moment, I was only reacting to the seeming impropriety of what he did. But...what if he was merely unaccustomed to sharing that kind of desire with someone? He is a creature who is bound to the king's service and protection. Always, that must come first. And leading a noble clan, I know what kind of solitude can come with such positions of responsibility.
Feeling keenly that very solitude, I fled the comfort of my bed and walked out onto the balcony that overlooked the gardens. I peered up into the stars, oddly frustrated that although I could command them easily with my zanpakutou, what seemed to be refusing to cooperate with me was my own beating heart. Again and again, as I stood on the balcony, my mind replayed the dance...the way he looked as I turned and realized he was there, the way the floor fell away beneath my feet as he asked me to dance, how I couldn't breathe for a moment as he swept me into the first steps, and how although my mind screamed for it all to stop, my heart was made his slave from that first moment.
It beat too quickly, even as I stood in the cold night air, shivering and remembering, breaking out in a sweat and feeling that quivering feeling inside repeatedly.
"Begging your pardon, Lord Kuchiki," Akabuke's voice said softly, startling me out of my reverie.
He dropped down from a balcony above mine and stood a respectful distance from me. But even so, I couldn't help but feeling as though my already somewhat revealing yukata had abandoned me, and the man was looking at me completely bared.
"My apologies. I will not take much of your time," he said in a soft, serious tone, "I only wanted to once more offer you my congratulations on your appointment to the Royal Guard. And...to say that I hope that there are no hard feelings over my behavior earlier. It seems that I insulted you somehow, and I would rather not leave it at that."
"Thank you, Master Samurai," I managed, keeping the tremor out of my voice, "I am...very pleased with my appointment. And...I am quite willing to let what happened be forgotten."
His smile somehow left me feeling even more than naked.
"Oh...I would try to forget," he said, his eyes twinkling and his lips smirking in a way that I found instantly infuriating, "but...as beautiful as you are, Kazuki Kuchiki, I could never forget holding you, even for a moment in these poor, unworthy arms."
And suddenly, I was speechless again. Enraged and feverish with gripping passions, but unable to make a sound.
And blushing again.
How does he do this to me?
"I see you are speechless," he went on, "I hope it is that I have made an impression upon you."
He flash stepped off into the night before I could untie my tongue to loose my wrath on him.
I berated him well enough once I had retired to my room and laid in my bed, tossing and turning, trying to drop off to sleep. But every time I closed my eyes, I saw his rugged, handsome face and twinkling mischievous eyes, and when I tried to breathe, I scented him. I heard his voice in my mind and even though it had never happened, and I vowed it never would, I froze like a deer in his arms in my dreams...and lost my resistance the moment his rough and yet oddly gentle and reverent lips warmly enslaved mine.
And when he asked me to dance in my dreams, I took his proffered hand readily, and we danced together, not in a ballroom, but under the stars brought to life by my sword's power...and we did not stop until we were both breathless.