Title: State Of Mind
Summary: He can't fathom why. Her disposition, entirely, is different. Smiles, laughs, and temperament all distinct. They are not alike yet so the same, and when he looks upon her there is only hatred.
Note: A ByakuyaxHisana with hints of ByakuyaxRukia. Inspired by the following music. Hope you all enjoy! And a special thanks to the following people for reviews on my last fic "Expressions of Gratitude."
Song: People Just Ain't No Good - Nick CaveTo our love send a dozen white lilies
To our love send a coffin of wood
To our love let all the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people they just ain't no good
The dining hall was surprisingly dark, even with the addition of a few dimly lit candles littered upon various tables and stands.
To our love send back all the letters
To our love a valentine of blood
To our love let all the jilted lovers cry
That people they just ain't no good
Curtains were wide open, allowing the moonlight to seep in, and one or maybe two windows as well.
He wasn't sure exactly but the occasional breeze rustled the heavy fabric and the thick green leaves of the inside house plants, all arranged elegantly upon hand-carved stands set below each sill.
It ghosted its way across the room, chilling his skin and winding into down kept hair all the while saturating the air with the heavy distinct scent of cherry blossoms. Black silken strands tickle his cheek quite simply without the kenseikan to restrict movement.
A candle's wick flickers, casting shadows upon the floor as the fire dances on its journey back into an upright position while the wind subsides once more.
There are few sounds within the room.
He could count them on one hand if he so desired.
His breath is one. The rustle of curtains, the scraping of leaves, the crackle of nearby candles, that's four.
And last is the slosh and guzzling noise as he tilts the bottle once more, pouring sake into the small cup clasped between three fingers.
He can be sure he looks less than dignified at this very moment; hunched over the dining table half drunk, a bottle in one hand, a glass in another.
All his self-loathing and depression palpable in the air around him.
That and the newfound animosity he currently harbors for the newest addition to his household.
"Rukia." It rolls over his tongue in the same emotionless way he says everything else.
There is not anger, nor hate evident in the simple word.
Years of practice have made sure of it with everything else, there is no shock to him it's transferred over to this situation as well.
His emotions have never been prevalent in his words, certainly not on his face, or hidden in slate gray eyes.
At least he longs to believe this.
His emotionless façade crumbled during his marriage to his beloved Hisana, especially during their last year together. He made it a point to show just how deep his love for her was during that year, determined to make sure she knew before she left forever.
One year and three months later he's still trying to rebuild it back to its previous state. Gain the composer he knows is needed to successfully live with the young girl. Though even if it were to be accomplished at that very moment, Byakuya Kuchiki, despite all praise, admiration and belief, is not perfect.
Emotions slip, his composure slips, his judgment slips. It happens, it has happened, because he is not perfect, contrary to what fellow onlookers and comrades would swear to, and he accepts it.
The girl that bore his wife's face, her hair, her eyes. The girl that looked upon him with those familiar violet hues in nervous fear instead of admiring devotion. The girl that deemed him "nii-sama" and spoke shaky words from familiar supple lips.
Not her fault.
He tells himself this very thing on a surprisingly regular basis.
He had given her, what must have seemed, the offer of a lifetime. To be regarded a noble, stripped of the title 'district 78 trash' and live within the household of a very powerful clan leader. To be rich and lavished with the best of everything, not to mention placed into a squad immediately.
All that was expected of her in return was to accept the lie that he wanted her as a sister due to her resemblance of his late wife, to refer to him as brother, and look upon him with respect at all times.
It was an amazing offer to say the least. One that even people considered higher class would kill to have, so it came as a slight shock just how long it took to receive her favorable acceptance.
She hadn't exactly jumped at the opportunity, at least not as quickly as he would have anticipated, but she did eventually nonetheless and now he was stuck with her.
He brought the cup to his lips and drank down all it had to offer before he set it back on the table with a clank.
The bottom of the glass chipped from unnecessary force and though it didn't go unnoticed it simply didn't matter as he poured another shot and swirled the alcohol around the white glass.
Still, what right did she have to look so much like her, so much like Hisana? Siblings ought not resemble one another to such an extent. Why was it that Hisana had died and she did not? They were family, either one could have easily died of that horrid illness. Why Hisana? Karma? Punishment perhaps?
The questions were endless, useless really, and Byakuya had no use for such things. There were no answers and even if there were nothing would change. Hisana was gone and her sister was within his care upon her last request.
He had accomplished a lifelong goal on her part, the last thing ever asked of him, that of itself should have provided some peace of mind.
It was a reminder.
A reminder that she was gone forever and he had broken the rules of Soul Society yet again, and that did not bring peace. It didn't conjure anything close to peace.
His eyes drift closed and he tilts back his head, raising his glass once more he tosses back his drink.
No, this was not his most dignified moment. But even in his alcohol induced mind he could find the appreciation in the fact that either no one was around to witness it or they simply feared his wrath enough not to utter even the slightest whisper.
It's general knowledge that Byakuya doesn't care much for the company of people.
He does not laugh and find them amusing in their stupidity or recklessness as others would, just as he doesn't find himself staring in awe, impressed at their exceptional intellect or fighting abilities. He doesn't smile and embrace them because of kind words, admiration, or respectful gestures either.
No. The fact of the matter is he finds them rather annoying most of the time.
So he couldn't exactly blame his family the day he came home with a declaration of love and they erupted in mass hysteria. When he finally brought her home as well and it came out where she was from, hysteria abruptly turned to outrage.
This as well could not be found surprising or be considered a peculiar reaction on their part. It made sense enough to him. After all they were one of the four noble families, anyone less was looked down upon as unworthy.
That's the way it's always been, but for once in his life he didn't care. Rules meant nothing for he was truly in love and his determination brought upon a marriage not soon after. It was difficult, but worth it.
Hisana never looked more beautiful to him then in that moment. Standing beneath the cherry trees, vibrant pink petals swirling in a descent towards the ground as few landed gently upon her hair, their hands joined together as he stared lovingly into her eyes.
Her petite form draped in a simple but elegant pink kimono, her hair done up in a bun held together by chopsticks. He smiled as that one strand hung down in her face over the bridge of her nose as it always had and when it had come time he recalled cupping her beautiful face and kissing her with a passion he didn't think possible.
They're wedding was extravagant and he was never happier, and though she seemed quite content with him there was always a bombardment of guilt in her mind.
It shone in her eyes consistently, making them appear dull and tired.
It was that guilt that led her back to that part of town each day. Hopeful dull eyes scanning the surroundings with deliberate concentration, searching desperately for a wisp of black hair, a petite female form, a flash of violet. Anything familiar, anything hereditary that would give away the identity of her sister.
Every day she would leave with that hopeful determined gaze and a smile upon her lips. After all today could be the day, today would be the day. Yet every afternoon she would return exhausted and disappointed. Her smile replaced with a frown and noticeable tears slipping down her cheeks.
It was heart wrenching to watch. Every day, over and over, like some kind of bad movie. So secretly he prayed each time she left that Hisana would find her sister. If it would ensure that that smile stayed and her eyes held that hopeful light he would graciously accept the girl into his home, even if deep down he was a bit jealous of her.
He hated to admit it but the very thought of Rukia had always sent a pang of jealously coursing through him and somehow it still did. Hisana's thoughts were constantly fixated on her, no matter what was going on, what she was doing, Rukia was in the forefront of her mind. Even in her last moments it was Rukia she was most concerned for, not him.
With her dying breath she had entrusted him with her life's goal and the life of her sister, her flesh and blood, so jealousy aside he obliged her.
It had taken a year, which in their reality wasn't very long and in all honesty he had lucked out. Had she not joined the academy it would have taken years.
So in a way he was rather thankful. It seemed as though he was finally catching a break, at least that's what he figured until the moment he laid those cold grey eyes on her.
Byakuya was a man rarely taken by surprise. He was observant, vigilant to every detail in battle or otherwise. It was something he prided himself on, but the instant he came face to face with his sister-in-law it was quickly becoming regarded as something akin to a curse.
Every detail his eyes took in reminded him of Hisana. Naturally he had expected a resemblance of sorts, but this, this was uncanny.
Every second that ticked by was like a shard of glass in his heart. It quickly became much too painful to so much as glance in her general direction and so he allowed his eyes to flutter shut, willing his features to appear regal and impassive.
A lesser man may have gaped at the young girl or succumbed to the intense emotions he found himself subjected too at that moment there on the spot, but he was a Kuchiki.
He would not allow himself to be degraded by showing any sign of weakness, especially in front of his soon to be sister. He was an example to his clan and the people of Soul Society. He would become her brother, a figure to look up to in admiration.
In which case he must be strong and stoic at all times, besides showing that he would have any sort of emotional problems when it concerned the girl would only end up delaying the adoption.
And that was completely unacceptable.
He had found her, that was half the battle, and before she was placed into a squad it was ideal he pull some strings in order to make certain she wouldn't be placed into any dangerous situations.
In the end everything had gone as desired, at least for the most part and he made certain to pay Hisana's grave a visit in order to inform her of the good news.
Elegant fingers laying a bundle of white lilies upon the grey stone, his figure bowing in respect to his late wife as he spoke the words she had longed to hear for so many years.
It made him curious, curious and distressed all at once.
He longed to see her face light up with splendor. He wondered just how she would react. Would she abandon her proper graces, ignore the scrutinizing looks of the family and servants to throw her dainty arms around him in an embrace?
He could only hope.
Byakuya frowns and pushes the glass away; making room on the table's surface he places his hands firmly and pushes himself up. The sudden straightening makes his head hurt and he rubs the base of his nose a few times.
A moment later and he's walking down the nearby hallway, a slight stagger in his steps though nothing extremely noticeable. The darkness helps conceal this as he passes a bedroom, the door wide open revealing one of the servants tidying up a few things before the end of her shift.
She turns away from her work upon the soft noise of footsteps near the doorway. Green eyes staring at him she releases an audible gasp, beginning to panic as she attempts to regain her bearings.
Clearly she's new.
He can tell with the way she fumbles with proper etiquette.
She finally manages a bow as she stutters a few different variations of 'good evening' before asking if there was anything particular that he required.
He says nothing. Simply shakes his head and moves on leaving her to berate herself for her foolishness, for staring rudely and freezing up in his presence.
Other people may tell her it's not a big deal. It happens to everyone, especially if they are new. But he doesn't turn around or offer comforting words.
After all, it doesn't concern him.
His only interest for the time being is to slip into the comforts of his bed and have a nice rest before his work requirements in the morning.
He was on his way there too, all set to open the door and hunker under the blankets.
So why had he stopped? And why at the wrong door, her door?
Some subconscious thought driving him there was the most likely reason. Some subconscious thought that caused his hand to gingerly glide the door open and make him saunter over the threshold.
Sleeping peacefully at the far end of the room was his sister. Her tiny form curled up, her arms hugging one of many pillows to her chest as one would imagine a small child would with a stuffed toy of sorts.
Her blanket apparently had slipped most of the way off the bed. A small corner of the lilac comforter draped over her waist and legs leaving her entire upper body exposed to the chill of the room.
So many thoughts began buzzing around within his head and most contradicted one another. It made his head ache all over again and his chest constrict.
He allows his eyes to shut for a brief instant, taking a few short breathes before he opens them regarding her once more.
There it is again. That bitter hostility, and for what reason?
Yes, what was the reason anyway?
She had done nothing to incur such reactions. She didn't ask to live with him just like she didn't ask to resemble her sister to such an extent.
He sighs, pushing those emotions away as he takes a few more labored steps forward. He hadn't truly looked at her in the three months time she'd been there but now that he was actually taking the time he was beginning to spot the differences.
Her hair wasn't quite as feathered or frayed as Hisana's had been and her face held a stern sort of look, despite being asleep, contrary to Hisana's soft pleasant looking one.
Pleasant, Hisana had been pleasant, perhaps too much really. Sweet and kind at all times she lacked her sisters vigor and self-reliance.
Hisana was fragile, almost to the point of being weak while Rukia appeared to be quite the contrary. He had noticed the way a peculiar red haired boy brought out a wildly independent strength in her, occasionally to a point of violence.
Remembrance of this makes him wonder if she acquired such a spirited temperament based on where she had grown up.
It was very likely. He'd ventured there quite a few times. Safe to say it was a deplorable place, a place were weak and kind-hearted people like Hisana couldn't hope to belong, let alone live.
Because of this Hisana had fled while on the other hand Rukia had adapted. She had grown accustomed to the ways of life in that district and in response formed a rather firm self-sufficient personality.
It was admirable enough he supposed.
A sudden noise of distress rose in the back of her throat and her body shifted, a small shiver making her body tremble as he loomed over her. Hey eyebrows knitting in displeasure was enough to almost make him chuckle.
He caught himself and found grey orbs staring down intently. It was disturbing. He had almost laughed because of some unintentional reactions on her part, unintentional reactions that made her appear… cute.
He growled, whipping his head aside to look away briefly. Quickly regaining some kind of composure he sighed. He refused to get worked up yet again over nothing and bent down to clutch the lilac fabric in his hands.
It was lighter in weight than he expected as he straightened, thumbing the blanket. At least the material was soft and gave off a comfortable feel.
Carefully he raised the fallen ends off the floor and draped them over her. Adjusting the blanket around her shoulders in order to make sure it was tucked securely his fingers brushed the silkiness of her hair and the smoothness of her jaw.
She made a whimpering sound and snuggled her head into the burrow he had created, it in turn made him draw back.
Frozen to his spot he blinked a few times, eyes a bit wider than normal.
What had she said?
"What?" It was out of his mouth before he could stop it. Was she awake and aware of his presence, or was she simply dreaming of him? He wasn't sure, but he wanted to know.
"Nii-sama." Her voice was subtle, mellow. Her eyes were moving rapidly beneath closed lids and the fingers of her hand sticking out from beneath the pillow began to twitch a few times. "I'll make you proud."
His eyes softened. His hand taking it upon itself to reach out and rest upon her head, his thumb rubbing her forehead. "You will," he whispers withdrawing his hand and turning away.
He maneuvers his way out the door and shuts it quietly behind him. Standing just outside the door he comes to a sudden realization. He had never truly been enraged with her. Never been bitter with her over such a petty reason such as resemblance or death of her sister.
He had hated the emotions that came with her. Because when it all came down to it he could grow to care about her, to love her, to cherish and protect her like some kind of treasured sentimental memory he'd die to keep, and that was terrifying.
What if something happened? What if he lost her, lost her like her sister?
He slumps against the door, his breath hitching. His chest hurts.
It would destroy him, shatter what little bit of himself that remains. The bit of him not influenced and taken over by the family, the Soul Society, his work. The part of him that enabled him to love a commoner, to marry her, to adopt her sister and take her in as his own family.
He's not ready.
Not ready to love and adore her as his precious sister.
So he pushes off the door and walks down the hall, vowing to never look back, to never enter that room again.
Forgive me, Rukia.
Because he just isn't ready, but it would come, it has to and he will patiently await that day.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading. I hope it was alright. I'm working on a couple different things at the moment, most IchigoxRukia things so if you like keep an eye out for those. Again thanks for reading, review if you'd like. It inspires me :)