Hey you guys… well I'm really sorry about the wait, it's just I have to work 12 hour shifts now and the days I don't work 12 hour shifts I had spent dealing with a car that was dying, dying, dead. But luckily I'm working on the lonesome at my place of employment now with only three hour worth of work and a 12 hour shift and nothing but a computer in front of me for entertainment. So guess how I plan to fill up that spare time? Ya so hopefully the next chapter won't take more than two weeks.
Oh and BTW. Thanks for the reviews! I honestly appreciated each and every one of them.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Warning: Once again if you somehow haven't figured it out by now this is yaoi meaning 1 man + 1 man = sex (sometimes multiple men but not in this story) oh and both of whom are under aged.
Oh and this is still not betaed so please forgive the errors and please feel free to let me know if there's any part of this that doesn't make sense and I'll fix it as soon as I can. I didn't really like this chapter though. Oh well please tell me what you think.
Chapter 4: With a Change of Scenery
Rukia sat in class gazing out the window, silently willing the glass to show a different picture than the pristine gated entrance to their school. There were a few cars that would pass by at odd intervals but none of which were the particular Rolls-Royce she was looking.
Sighing in aggravation Rukia craned her neck to try and get a better view of the road leading towards the school house hoping to catch a glimpse of the black limo and sate her curiosity but the view from the traitorous glass didn't change.
A thump on the back of her head tore Rukia's eyes from the window for the first time since entering the class.
Not even having to guess at whoever threw the projectile she turned her head and shot a heated gaze in Renji's direction letting him know that retribution would come later. It seemed though that Renji was becoming immune, if not expectant, of Rukia's threatening looks and just gave her an innocent smile before pointing to a wad of paper on the ground which was what distracted her from her window watching in the first place.
Giving a resigned sigh Rukia picked up the paper and uncrumpled it quietly enough as to not get the teachers attention before reading the message inside.
What's up Rukia? Too distracted with thoughts of me to pay attention?
Looking back at Renji Rukia sent his a small eye roll in response before jerking her head in the direction of the window.
At Renji's persistent confused expression Rukia sighed and wrote on the note he had thrown at her, I saw Byakuya leaving in the limo with Hanataro half an hour ago. I'm worried and waiting for them to come back.
Then she folded the note and, much more discreetly than Renji had, passed it back.
As Renji read she saw a grin spread across his face, a genuinely happy smile, not the amused one she had expected.
When he looked up Rukia shrugged her shoulders in confusion asking none verbally what he was thinking about. But Renji, being as difficult as ever, just changed his happy smile to a cocky one and turned his attention back to the teacher droning on at the front of the class.
'What was that about? Oh well I'll ask him later. Better start paying attention.'
Rukia was able to concentrate on the teacher's ramblings for all of thirty seconds before the attention vortex window drew her notice once again.
Seeing the still empty road Rukia internally groaned in exasperation but refused to give up her search for her brother and friend.
'Come back soon Hanataro, and I hope that wherever you and Byakuya are up to he isn't being too hard on you.'
Hours had passed. Or was it minutes? Seconds? Hanataro didn't know anymore, this moment just seemed to stretch on for eternity. And Byakuya, he never moved. His molten steel gaze never wavered from Hanataro's face. The angry aura that felt as if was crushing Hana never relented, and the deafening silence was more painful to the small teens ears than the sharpest of noises.
Hanataro wanted nothing more than to break the maddening silence as it was clear that Byakuya was in no mood to take the initiative, but he didn't know what to say, 'It seems there are things that we must discuss' were his last words and after that the eternity of silence began as Byakuya simply waited.
"What… I don't… please…can…"
"Speak clearly or have you lost all sense?" Byakuya asked his voice menacingly low and his hand tightening painfully on Hanataro's arm.
"I'm sorry." Hanataro said in a shuttering voice. "I just… I don't… I don't know what you want me to say."
"What I want you to say?" The noble's voice suddenly became impossibly colder, the timber of which made the boy visibly shiver. "How about let's start out with an easy one Mr. Yamada? How long have you been living here." He made a swift gesture to Hanataro's room.
"Or if that one's too much to think about how about where your guardian is? Or better yet how about you let me know what would possess a fourteen year old boy to attempt to hide the fact that he is living on his own for any amount of time?"
At the young boys continual silence Byakuya felt his anger rise. He wanted to shake him for being so dense, for willfully putting himself in danger, he didn't stop to question himself as to why he was so livid at this situation he just wanted answers. "Are you truly that dim-witted?" He asked in a harsh whisper. "Do you truthfully not know the perils that could befall a minor that is out on their own? Or do you simply believe yourself immune to such things? That people will ignore you just because you appear small and weak? Well I will tell you Mr. Yamada that is exactly why they will not."
Though he wanted to tell off the boy for the remainder of the hour Byakuya forced himself to stop. He wouldn't get any answers if he talked over him.
After a few seconds of familiar silence Byakuya caught the tail end of a murmur coming from the down turned head in front of him. "-most 16."
"Look up child." Byakuya snapped. "I cannot hear you when you are speaking to the floor."
Slowly the head with the mass of midnight black hair lifted and Byakuya was greeted by a look of defeat in those midnight blue eyes. At the sight Byakuya felt his anger abate somewhat. He was letting his anger control him and he didn't yet know the circumstances. Obviously no one would willfully choose this life.
"I said I almost 16, 'm not 14, 'm not a child."
Byakuya raised an eyebrow at the unexpected comment. "Child I believe your exact age is the least of your worries right now. It wouldn't matter if you were my age; you still should not be out on your own."
At the healers put out expression Byakuya felt the last of his anger beginning to fade away leaving behind concern, he admitted it to himself he was concerned. "I promise to stop calling you child from now on, so how about you tell me what is going on?"
When the teen still didn't seem to be able to answer Byakuya prompted, "As I recall, not ten minutes ago you promised to answer a question of mine if I answer one of yours. I fulfilled my end of the bargain."
Hanataro tensed, he had promised that, and Byakuya had been honest with him even to the point of complementing him, something he had never seen the third year noble do, something he never expected the noble to do. It never even crossed Hana's mind to go back on his promise, after all what else did he really have other than his word?
"…I don't- I don't know where to start." He looked pleadingly to the noble. "What do you want me to say?" He almost begged.
"Why don't we start at what seems to be the root of the problem?" Byakuya said glad that he was finally affectively communicating with the first year. "Where are your guardian's?"Byakuya asked, the business man he had been educated to be since he said his first words slipping easily into place and immediately noting the best course of action to take. He wouldn't get anything from the skittish boy with intimidation. Well he might be able to get the answer but he would lose the first year's trust, something he was not willing to do.
Hana wrapped his arms protectively around himself, but as much as he wished it would the gesture wouldn't protect him from a barrage of memories as he reluctantly answered Byakuya's question. "My mom, she passed on when I was young. I don't remember too much about her."He said getting lost briefly in the memories of lilacs and long raven hair.
"And my dad… well he can't support me anymore." Blue eyes dropped away from grey at the guilt the half truth caused him. "I can take of myself anyway." He said to the ground. "I'm saving up and I even almost have enough to get a small place for myself to rent, so it's really no big deal."
Byakuya began to regret his anger from a moment ago, maybe this was more serious than he had realized. "Did he hurt you? Is that why you can't go back?" He asked softly.
At the furiously shaking head Byakuya felt some of the tension leave his shoulders. "No, he never hurt me, he never even yelled at me. But I can't go back." He looked at Byakuya pleadingly, "Please don't make me go back."
"I can't promise that unless you tell me why." Byakuya said.
"I'm sorry Captain," Hana responded after a moment's hesitation, "I just… I can't tell you. Ask me anything else; just know that I never want to go back. Please forgive me."
Byakuya felt his frustration spike, but he easily took control of it and held it at bay. "Fine then. If you can't answer that than tell me, how long exactly have you been living in this hovel of a home?"
"About a month or two." Came the quiet reply.
For a moment Byakuya relaxed, that wasn't too long of a time, sure he shouldn't be living on his own in the first place but it could be worse. Or so he believed until he thought of something else. "And how long exactly Mr. Yamada have you been living on your own in total?"
Hanataro blushed. "About five months, give or take a few days."
"Five months? How exactly is it that that you have kept this secret from the school since before the school year started?" Byakuya asked now unable to confine his spiking anger much longer.
"Well this actually happened around the beginning of the school year, so all the paperwork was signed already." Now that there was a crack in the dam of his secrets Hanataro found he couldn't stop everything from pouring out, he had to make Byakuya understand before the third year came to his own conclusions.
"I stop by my dad's apartment everyday to pick up mail that might be from school so I never fall behind. I also have a job working with some friends of mine. I might only make minimum wage but I'm saving up a lot so that maybe next year I'll have enough starting money to be able to rent a place of my own." He informed the older teen, desperate for him to understand. "So you don't have to worry I'll be fine. I'm even in the top spot for most of my classes so it's not like I'm falling behind or anything. So please don't tell anyone, please just forget about this. Please Captain I'm- I'm begging you, I'll do whatever you want please just don't tell anyone." He finished as tears began clouding his vision.
"You'll do whatever I want?" Byakuya asked.
A sob tore from Hanataro's throat but he nodded none the less. He couldn't leave Karakura, not when he was so close to achieving his dream.
"You'll do whatever I want." Byakuya said again this time simply repeating the words to himself. "Well it seems you lied to me Mr. Yamada apparently you are a child."
Hanataro's mouth dropped open as he searched for a defense for himself but he could find no words to do so, though Byakuya had no trouble filling the empty air.
"Let me ask you something child," he said emphasizing the word to make it an insult as he felt his caged anger at the situation breaking free, "what exactly does 'anything' entail? What if it were someone else that had found out your secret, would you offer them the same thing? What if they had asked for you to do all their homework for the rest of the school year? Would you do that? What if they had asked for all that hard earned money you are so proud of? What if they had asked for more intimate favors?" He asked catching Hanataro's chin and tilting his head upwards before taking a step closer, clearly indicating what he had been implying.
"Would you degrade yourself that low?" He asked only inches away from tearful sapphire eyes, his voice rising. "Do you have any idea what someone can do with an offer like that? Do you?"
Hanataro felt himself visibly shaking but he couldn't stop the tremors. He had never heard the Captain yell before, raise his voice sure but that was only to get people attention. But he had never caught a glimpse of Byakuya truly losing his temper, well maybe when had struck Renji a few days back, but even then he had never yelled. But now that Hanataro was experiencing firsthand the future head of the Kuchiki's in all his raging glory he finally understood why there was not a single student or even teacher at school that didn't fear him.
The young noble who stood over a head taller than Hana now seemed, in the first year's eyes, to grow larger and more foreboding with each passing second. Ore colored eyes captured Hanataro's midnight blues and didn't let go, and every second their gaze held Hana felt as if the noble was judging his very right to exist and with each passing second found him increasingly lacking.
He wanted to explain how he truly didn't believe that he could make that offer to anyone else, that even though he was scared beyond tears to the point of being unable to speak he still trusted Byakuya even as his body threateningly crowded his own. Hana just prayed that he hadn't misplaced that trust.
Byakuya knew the way he was acting was counterproductive to getting the answers he needed, but just he couldn't stop how furious the boy's blatant disregard for his own safety made him.
He calmed himself though and lightly pushed the first year away knowing he now had to fix the damage his outburst had created.
"Never mind that then. But what about foster care?" He asked trying to make his voice soothing. "I'm sure if you would have went to the authorities you wouldn't be in this mess. Regardless of a few scattered horror stories I'm sure foster care is better, if nothing else safer, than this."
Head down the first year muttered something and Byakuya had to stop himself from snapping at the first year to speak clearly. "What was that I couldn't understand you?"
Hanataro looked up at the noble eye's begging him to understand. "I said that's the whole problem." Came the clear but shaking voice. "For as long as I can remember I've wanted to help people, heal them, give them more time with their families."
"I've always wanted to be a doctor, but my family has never had any money so I never really thought it was possible. But when I heard about Seretai Academy and how it has the best high school medical program in Japan, and that they were taking in students on a scholarship program I knew that this was my only chance."
"That's why I can't tell anyone." He said begging the other to understand. "If I tell them than they'll send me to go live with my grandmother in Tokyo. I'd lose everything I worked so hard for."
He felt another sob catch in his throat but was proud that he had yet to shed a tear. No matter what happened Hanataro told himself he would remain strong, like he had promised himself. "Please Captain Kuchiki, I have always wanted to dedicate my life to stopping as many people as I could from experiencing the pain of a loved one's life cut short and if that means living in squalor I'll do it gladly, so please just don't tell anyone."
Silence filled the air once again as Byakuya considered the situation. As much as his mind was telling him he should his instincts would not let him tear the boy away from his dream, especially one that he was so passionate about. Not only that but he could not forget that he owed this boy for bringing his sister back to him, and he would not let a debt go unpaid, so his decision was made.
"Pack your things."
Hanataro opened his mouth to argue but one look at Byakuya and he knew there was no budging him. So biting a trembling lip he got his bag out of the closet and mechanically started putting things away, a mantra repeating over and over in his head reminding himself that he wouldn't cry.
Within no time everything was packed and Byakuya turned and exited the room clearly expecting Hanataro to follow, which he did, but not before he sent a final wistful glance back to his now bare room. Lightly he caressed the door frame as if to say goodbye.
When they got back to the limo Noba made no comment on how long it had take them, he simply took the bag and the bed roll from Hana's hands held the door open for them than went to the driver's seat to await further instructions.
Byakuya watched as the young teen in front of him hugged his school bag to himself protectively and though briefly once more of the offer he was going to make, weighing the pros and cons and even the morality. In the end he decided it was best for the aspiring doctor to have the final say.
"Mr. Yamada I need you to look at me and seriously consider what I am going to offer you." He waited until overwhelmed sapphire eyes raised before continuing. "As I am sure you have gathered by now I will not be letting you stay in your previous accommodations, the risk to your person was too great when it can easily be overcome."
"Of course what this would mean for you is, as you said that you will more than likely be sent to live with your grandmother. There is however a problem with that. You see you have done me a favor in… let's call it leading me in the right direction in regards to my sister and a Kuchiki will not back down when a favor is owed. So what I propose is this, you will come work for me at my estate." Blue eye's widened and a small mouth attempted to form words but cutting him off before he could even get started Byakuya continued.
"My personal assistant had retired sometime back and I have not had the opportunity nor the inclination to hire another, in this case though I will make an exception. You will be required to help me in my work as well as assist in any other matter I require you to. The specifics we can discuss later. And while this all may not seem like much work it will be difficult, but I can assure you you will be well compensated. You will be provided with food, shelter, a bi-monthly pay check well above minimum wage, not to mention security, and of course you will still be able to attend the Academy. But if you prefer you can always still go live with your grandmother, it is after all your choice."
Hanataro stared wide eyed at Byakuya in wonder not daring to allow himself to believe what Byakuya was offering him was possible. That he would get to keep his dream while finally having a steady life.
'It can never happen, you know it. There are too many obstacles. It can never happen.'
Slowly Hanataro's excitement vanished. "I'm sorry Captain but I can't, it's not possible."
"For what reason is it impossible?" Byakuya asked with a raised brow.
"A lot of reasons." Hana said. "First there are the legal reasons in hiring a minor, not to mention one without a guardian. A small shop like the one I work in could get away with it but you probably can't since you're so well known. Then I still have my job at the shop, I can't abandon them after all they've done for me. And then of course there's me." He added realizing more and more how hopeless the Captain's proposal was. "I'm clumsy, I always forget thing, I probably won't know the first thing about how to be a good assistant. Can't you see it just… it can never happen." He finished quietly.
"I do not think you have yet to fully comprehend what I am capable of Mr. Yamada." Byakuya scoffed, amused at how little someone that went to their school actually knew about him.
"Wha-what?" Hana asked, shocked by the amusement in Byakuya's voice.
"Do you honestly think I wouldn't be able to work legal channels most other could never even dream of? I'm pretty sure if necessary I could get away with murder." He said seriously. "Trust me, the hiring of a single guardianless minor will not even be a bump in the road. As for the shop that is not even a factor, you work for me or you are sent away, there is no third option. And as for your clumsiness do not presume that I have not already factored that in, and a have decided that the benefits outweigh the risks." He said matter-of-factly.
"Now that that's cleared up I will ask one last time. Will you come with me or shall we go inform the principal?"
Hanataro knew there was really no option, he had worked too hard to get where he was, and really would it be so bad? He would have all of the things that Byakuya mentioned food, shelter, safety, and Byakuya didn't seem like a bad guy. He could get use to working for a noble. Heck people would probably drop their whole lives for this job. Not only that but… but… 'Rukia will be there!' And like that his decision was made.
"Ok Byakuya deal." He said sticking out his hand.
Byakuya looked down at the out stretched hand in mild amusement than back at Hanataro who immediately felt embarrassed for his impulsive action. But before he could pull his hand back it was grasped by Byakuya.
Giving the small hand a firm shake the noble said, "Welcome than Mr. Yamada, to the employment to the Kuchiki family, I trust you will try your best?"
"Yes, of course Byakuya, er I mean Mr. Kuchiki."
"I prefer Byakuya." Said man said off handedly while lowering the limos partition. "Noba, take us to the Kuchiki estate."
"Wait shouldn't we go back to school? Captain Unohana said I have to be at the soccer practice, and don't you have to also since, well, you know, you're the Captain and all."
"Do not worry Mr. Yamada I am just dropping you off. You had a very stressful day and I think you will need some time to adjust. In addition I will need time to get your employment paperwork in order, so I will speak with Unohana and the principal, there will be no problem."
Hanataro couldn't help but admire Byakuya's confidence. To him there was no question that he would be able to get the principal and Unohana to accept Hanataro's absence.
Turning his attention to his lap as the limo glided into traffic Hanataro began letting his mind wander.
'Did this really just happen? Did I really just get a job working for the Kuchiki family? …Oh no... what have I just agreed to? I got a job working for the Kuchiki noble family! What in the world was I thinking? What happens if I screw this up?'
'Than you go to your grandmothers of course. And it's not really an if scenario it more a when, and in this case when you mess up it won't just be a couple pickle jars that'll be ruining, it's dollars and it's in the millions.'
'No. No I won't mess up. I won't allow myself to. I'll try really hard, day and night; I won't make Byakuya regret this. Please don't let him regret this.'
Hanataro looked up in surprise to meet Byakuya's confident focus, it was then Hanataro realized that he had been panicking again before Byakuya's words pulled him back to reality.
"While I will not have you sitting idle I also will not have you do anything I don't think you are ready for." Byakuya's then took on his superior look once again. "Beside's the Kuchiki family has been part of the noble branch for centuries, I severely doubt one high school student can change that."
Though Hanataro blushed at Byakuya's words and his dismissive ability to understand his thoughts he did feel better from the older teen's off handed reassurance and didn't let his negative mocking old self bother him for the rest of the drive.
After some time Hana felt the limo roll to a gentle stop and he looked out the window to see large elegant gate wrought iron gates gliding open. Realizing they were entering the Kuchiki estate Hana resembled a kid in a candy store when he nearly smashed his nose into the glass to get a better look at his new home.
To most aristocrats the Kuchiki mansion often appeared modest but tasteful. Its' design was somehow elegant, simple, and complex all at the same time, in a way resembling the Kuchiki personality, which made sense since Byakuya's great-great-grandfather Kenzo Kuchiki had helped design it.
Kenzo was always a firm believer that extravagances was unnecessary and superfluous, believing that subtlety was the key to beauty. But if anyone had told Hanataro that the place was built to be simple he would have thought them mad.
Hanataro sat in awe of the massive stone and wood building, scarcely able to believe that was really going to stay in such a beautiful place.
The main building was at least three stories and had an almost gothic design to it that consisted mainly of a structure made of arches and pillars. The color of the building was a soft white paint joining in several places with grey stone architecture which instead of clashing gave the building an eye pleasing controversy in design.
Hanataro had plenty of time to admire this all as they drove along the half mile long driveway.
As soon as they reached the end of the rode a servant appeared out of thin air to open the door for them, bowing to Byakuya as he exited with Hanataro close on his heels still trying to see as much of the outside of the building as he could at one time as they walked up the stair to the entrance.
Once they reached the door though Hana realized that there was one more thing left unanswered. "Hey Byakuya?"
The older teen sent him a questioning look.
"Ummm, well- I just wanted to know, that time you said you would get to ask a question if I did. I was just wondering what that question originally was?"
"Oh yes." Byakuya said. "I was going to ask what your name was. You have never told me and the only reason I know your last name is because the Yamamoto said it."
Hanataro blushed when he realized the man who knew more about his life than almost anyone else, the man who had just hired him, didn't even know his name.
'Not a great start.'
"Hanataro," he replied, "my name is Hanataro Yamada."
Byakuya gave a quick nod and swung the door open. "Well than Hanataro Yamada let me welcome you to your new home."
Byakuya was questioning himself, something he was unfortunately becoming familiar with.
He would be bending and even breaking quite a few laws soon and even though it was the truth when he said he could likely get away with murder that didn't mean he liked abusing his position, he knew himself to be above that. So than what was he doing sitting in the office of the head of his school holding back information he knew was important?
"So than Byakuya what you're telling me is the reason for Mr. Yamada's odd behavior this morning has been dealt with?"
Byakuya nodded, his face giving nothing away. "It seems Hanataro was living in- shall we say, less than desirable conditions. As such I have taken it upon myself to give the child a job which he has accepted. I will take care of the legal side of things but as he will likely spend many hours assisting me in my work and likely spend more time sleeping there than not. As such I would like to request that his school mail now be forwarded to my place of residence."
The scarlet eyes of the wizened school principal bore into Byakuya as if he telling him that he knew there was more to the story, but he didn't mention that. He knew that this teen was mature beyond his years, and he trusted him to make the right decision.
That didn't mean however that he would ignore the situation all together. He would keep a close eye on both Byakuya and Hanataro and if he saw anything that would be a cause of concern between the two nothing would stop him from checking into Byakuya's story, but for now he would relent.
"Very well young Kuchiki. Feel free to let Mr. Jakka know of the change to Mr. Yamada's home address."
Byakuya stood and nodded, preparing to leave but not before Yamamoto got in his final say. "One more thing Young Kuchiki, please let Mr. Yamada know that I will be keeping an eye on him. Can't let his grades and health slip from working too hard, yes?"
"You won't have to worry sir I will be looking out for his health and activities as well, I will not have one of my employees fail at their job and in my opinion doing well in school will be part of his job. Now if you'll excuse me I have many calls to make regarding this situation that cannot wait."
At the principals nod Byakuya strode out of the office giving the secretary the necessary information before taking out his phone and making the first of multiple calls. As he listened to the shrill rings from his lawyers line he sent up a silent prayer.
'Please, please just let me doing the right thing here.'
His only answer being the somber voice of his lawyer.
Hanataro's neck was sore from the constant twisting and his jaw ached from the almost permanent hanging position it was stuck in since his tour of the Kuchiki mansion began, but he couldn't help himself. He was sure not even his school was as big as this place.
His current object of admiration was what had been called the Grand Ballroom.
'If anything deserves to be called grand it is defiantly this place.' He thought as he stared at the domed glass ceiling in the middle of the room.
'Why does anyone even need a three story high ceiling anyway? What is the purpose?
"And if we go this way you will find the Events Kitchen. So called because it's used only for large gathering's that the Kuchikis' are occasionally obligated to host. Though if you ask me every one of our employers would probably rather stick a fork through their eye while streaking through a field than host one of these things, at least that's want I'd prefer to do rather than try to collaborate with them on the decorations and the guest list."
Hanataro's turned his attention to his eccentric guide in wonder, amazed that he could talk so casually about the Kuchiki family.
Kurodo had been introduced to him as the butler but he had soon learned that the older man took on many forms in the Kuchiki mansion. Not only was he the butler he was also the Kuchiki's personal cook, the events planner, even the manager of a great amount of the Kuchiki families stock investments, and now apparently he was a tour guide.
"How often do they host parties?" Hanataro asked.
"Humm well, not too often by nobility standards. They host one fairly large annual gathering usually around Christmas or New Years with usually about four hundred to five hundred people than there is the birthday celebrations for the children both of whom fight tooth and nail to have as little people attending as possible which is quite a waste if anyone were to ask me. But do they ever ask?"
Hanataro opened his mouth to answer but the man with the black and blond hair answered his own question before he could.
"Of course they don't ask me! It's not like this is my job or anything, oh wait, I do believe that it in fact is my job. And do you believe that that silver tongued heir of the Kuchikis actually convinced me last time that he was trying to cut down on the number of people for my benefit? Of course I believed him, at least up until all the passive aggressive letters started coming in demanding to know why this heiress or that heiress weren't invited! And just what did Young Master Byakuya say to that? That I should have thought of that before I sent out the invitations! Can you believe-"
"Kurodo will you just shut up all ready?" Came a childish female voice. "Can't you see you're making the kid uncomfortable?"
Looking up to the top of the giant stairwell leading into the ballroom Hanataro saw the blond girl… no the blond women he had seen briefly before when Byakuya had given her clipped instructions to prepare his room for him. At first he thought the maid looked to be about fourteen but when he asked Kurodo about it he had informed him she was in fact twenty-three, though she frequently had the mentality of an eight year old.
"Ah Ririn! Are you already done getting our new young friends room ready?"
The blond women hopped merrily down the stairs. "Of course I'm done. The Velvet Room has been completely transformed back to its former glory thanks to me, but I see you aren't even half way done with giving our little flower here the tour. Got caught up in his stories again did he?" She asked Hanataro.
The young teen blushed hotly giving her his answer. "Well I did enjoy them." He said truthfully and was glad when he saw the eccentric mans genuine smile.
The blond girl- no women, just rolled her eyes, "You'll regret saying that kid, now you'll never hear the end of um."
Before either man could respond Ririn bounced down from the last step and grabbed her new workmates hand and started dragging him back up from where she had come from. "You'll just have to finish the tour later Kurodo." She called to the man jogging to catch up to them. "I put all that work into getting that room ready as quick as I could and I am not going to wait for him to see it."
As the two estate employees bantered back and forth Hanataro tried desperately to memorize the route by picking out land marks but at the fourth 'priceless looking panting of a lady I had better never touch' Hanataro gave up and just let himself be dragged along.
Finally after a dizzying trip through the winding corridors Ririn came to a door and swung it open, shoving Hanataro inside.
Once Hanataro caught himself in from the stumble he stood to regard his surroundings and immediately feel in love.
In wonderment the youth observed the large yet elegant room becoming enamored with the Victorian style dark wood furniture and the dark brown and violet colors it was decorated in. Unable to stop himself he went to the king sized bed and with great trepidation caressed the deep violet spread and he ran his hands along the softest velvet he had ever felt.
He then walked over to a door made of the same dark wood as the rest of the room and swung it open to reveal a closet half the size of his old room at the abandoned house. He quickly shut it from embarrassment though when he saw his sparse clothes that didn't seem worthy to exist in the same world as this elegant room, let alone reside inside it.
But out of everything in the room what he loved the most about it was the window. It was an elegant gothic creation, taller and longer than Hanataro. At its base was a velvet settee the same color as the bed spread. The window itself showed a beautiful view of the outside rose garden and in the distance he could see what appeared to be a small lake.
He turned to see both Ririn and Kurodo observing him with large smiles obviously enjoying the wonder of his new room. "Is… is this really all for me?"
Kurodo nodded. "It certainly is child."
A shrill squeak came from Ririn. "Do you really like it then?"
"Like it? No. I love it!"
The blond maid squealed in happiness and threw herself at Hana giving her new friend a hug. "Yay! I'm so glad you like it!"
Chuckling at the youngster's antics from the doorway Kurodo added his two cents. "This room is in a fairly easy location to all that you will need. There is a bathroom three doors down, and the residents kitchen is only two corridors away. Byakuya's study, where you will be spending most of your time working, is two doors down to your right, right next to Byakuya's room."
Hanataro's eyes went wide as he looked around the blond head of the girl hugging him. "You mean Byakuya lives right next door to me?"
"Well yes of course, you will be working directly with the young master after all, so it's only appropriate." The dual color haired man answered. "Well never you mind that for now. Instead let us continue on with the tour, and don't you worry about finding your way here later it isn't as hard to find this room as Ririn made it out to be, she simply enjoys confusing people."
Said blond girl turned and humphed at the older man. "Come on Kurodo don't say it like that, you know I was just playing."
"Well be that as it may young Hanataro here will probably be lost as soon as he turns a corner now so I may as well start over." He said with look that showed he was not at all unpleased with restarting the tour, than turned indicating Hana should follow him. "Come along than Hanataro we shall start from the beginning. As I told you before this mansion was designed in 1874 by Young Kuchiki's great-great-grandfather…"
Hanataro trotted to follow the man as his voice faded down the hallway but he could not help stopping in the doorway and throwing one last astonished look over his shoulder at his new room. His new room! Then he turned back and ran to catch up with his enthusiastic guide with a blissful grin stretched across his face.
"What did you do with him?"
"What did I do with whom?" Byakuya asked knowing exactly what Rukia was talking about but being as close to childishly difficult as he ever got. Of course Rukia had known something was going on with her brother and one of her best friends, she was a Kuchiki after all, he had expected no less from her.
"Don't be difficult brother you know exactly who I am talking about. I know you spent at least half the day with him."
"I spend my time associating with a lot of people Rukia."
"Fine then, let me be more specific. Short first year, painfully shy, blue eyes, black hair, future greatest MD of our generation, goes by the name of Hanataro Yamada. Any of these ringing a bell?" She asked her infamous temper spiking.
"Hmm, I do seem to recall spending time with a boy of that description today. But you needn't worry Rukia, he is fine." He said, his persistence silence indicating he expected the subject to be dropped.
"'He's fine.' My best friend goes missing for an entire school day after taking a mysterious trip with my older brother and all you can tell me is 'he's fine'? You will tell me what happened to him Byakuya and you will tell me right now."
"Patience Rukia," Byakuya said walking onto the soccer field as the last of the players came out of the locker room. "All the questions you have will be answered soon enough."
Rukia turned flaming violet eyes to the bleachers where a MSS member that wasn't her MSS member cowered away from her then turned furiously back to her brother yelling, "Soon enough isn't soon enough!"
The noble sibling walked gracefully up the stairs to their home, neither of them speaking, Rukia because she was angry at her brother for multiple reasons, all of which dealing with a certain healer, Byakuya simply because he didn't have a reason for speaking, and possibly somewhat from a deeply buried fear of his sisters temper.
As the siblings reached the door the portal was opened to reveal an unusually frazzled looking Kurodo.
"Ah! Young Kuchiki's I'm so glad you are finally home." He said taking their school bags. "Is there anything you need of me?"
"Where is your young charge?" Byakuya asked ignoring the butler's question.
"Well you see, so much was going on and there were so many places to see and so many things to do that he has sort of been… misplaced."
"…He is lost? For how long?" Byakuya asked.
"No longer than an hour." After all 50 minutes truthfully wasn't an hour. "And I wouldn't say 'lost' exactly; after all we know he's in the house. It's just his precise location that we are unsure of." Kurodo said as if that was something to be proud of.
"Brother what's going on?" Rukia asked.
Byakuya looked from one person to the other, uncomfortably unsure of what to do only to be saved by an obnoxiously loud high pitched voice coming from the waiting room to his left.
"Don't worry Kurodo I found him!" Ririn made her appearance tugging an embarrassed looking first year high school student behind her. "He was roaming around the halls of the east wing; luckily I stopped him before he could go into the master's bedroom."
"I'm so sorry for worrying you both." Hanataro said to the floor. "I'll try harder next time to not get distracted."
Before either of his new friends could reassure him that it wasn't that big of a deal Rukia finally found her voice as she came out of the state of shock she found herself in at her friend's unexpected appearance.
"Hanataro?" Byakuya looked in amusement at his sisters' baffled expression and his newest employees blush at the realization of who exactly witnessed his moment of embarrassment.
"Oh… um hi Rukia welcome home."
Rukia looked at her brother in open mouthed surprise that has Byakuya fighting a losing battle with a smug smile. "I told you all of your questions will be answered soon enough Rukia. You should listen to me more often."
"But I- but he- and, and you!"
"How very articulate of you sister." Byakuya said while giving up and letting a hint of a smile show.
Rukia huffed in frustration. "Will anyone please find the decency to tell me what's going on here?"
"Why don't you take Hanataro up to his new room and you can ask him all the questions you have there. I trust you put him in the Velvet Room Kurodo?" The elder Kuchiki inquired.
"Yes indeed Young Master. Please allow me to show them the way as Rukia seems incapable at the present moment." He said indicating the youngest Kuchiki who at the words 'his room' let out out an indiscernible keening noise.
"Do as you see fit." Byakuya said.
Than as he watched the older man drag two shocked silent teens down the hall Byakuya finally let his withheld smile show fully. 'Hisana I think you would have been proud of me.'
Hanataro waved and said a goodnight to Rukia as she walked down the hall. They had spent nearly two hours in his new room just talking.
At first of course the topic of conversation had been how it was that Hanataro had come to live at their estate.
That particular conversation had made Hanataro fell guilty as he had only told his friend half truths saying only that after seeing where he lived Byakuya had taken it upon himself to give his a more fruitful job than working at the store, but he refused to say just exactly in what state her brother had found his living conditions.
After the initial shock Rukia was nothing if not excited about the prospect of her friend living there and they had spent the remainder of the time enthusiastically discussing anything and everything they could think of.
It didn't feel like long though before Hana started yawning which had Rukia declaring that it had been a long day and it was probably time to get some rest.
Hanataro smiled as he gently closed the door behind him and started preparing for bed. The smile only growing wider as he slid into his comfortable cloud like bed and began drifting off to sleep. His day had went from what he had thought would turn out to be the worst of his life to one of the best he could remember.
'Who knew things could turn out this well?'
His smile slipped though as the voice that had made itself scarce for most of the day added in his final say. 'Ya, but what happens when you screw this up?"
So it was that with a distressed whine Hanataro fell into a fitful sleep.
Sorry for the kind of awkward chapter, this one was literally the hardest so far to write. Please let me know if you see any distracting problems and I will fix it ASAP. Please review!
Oh, and apologies to Brittany01 for not getting this out when I said I would. I thought I'd have time to work on it at SAC Anime but ended up having more fun then I thought.
Any requests for ideas for this story please let me know!