The Final Page
(This story is lovingly dedicated to geecee, who inspired it with her lovely Tsuki/Bya picture titled "The Bookmark." You can find it on Deviantart, under the name Vitamine. Check it out and leave her feedback. She's got plenty of other awesome pictures there too. )
Chapter 1: Cut to the Heart
Tsukishima knew immediately upon witnessing the arrival of the captains and vice captains, which one he would take as his opponent. Though he rather liked the red-haired vice captain that stood at his target's side, Captain Byakuya Kuchiki was the obvious choice. Tall and slender, deceptively fragile looking (though Tsuki knew better than to ever judge by surface appearances), Byakuya was beautiful and powerful, as well as seeming fascinatingly complex. And Tsukishima could not wait to use his powers to sink beneath that lovely, pale surface and fuck relentlessly with the mind beneath it.
And unlike the others he had fought to this point, Byakuya was no lamb being led to slaughter. Rather, Tsukishima thought, he was the fabled 'white stag,' the prize of the hunt…proud, brutal and faultlessly precise. He was one who was truly worthy of falling to Tsukishima's fullbring ability. But not to die…no, that would not be this man's fate. Already, he was smitten with the sixth division captain. And already he was making plans…
"Looks like we got them separated just fine," said Yukio, looking back at the rest of them.
Sensing that the moment had come, Tsukishima positioned himself carefully. Byakuya's head turned, and one stern, gray eye fixed on Tsukishima.
"Well then, let's all go into our chat rooms."
There was a moment of disorientation as Yukio's power swept over them. Tsukishima frowned as the huge, scarred barbaric nightmare of a captain near Byakuya, called out to his colleague.
"Hey wait, Kuchiki! That guy looks stronger. Trade with me," he demanded loudly.
Tsukishima felt a soft, predatory jolt inside as Byakuya gave the other captain a dismissive stare, and the wall closed between them.
Yes, you sensed it too, ne? You know we were meant to come to this place. Pretty and powerful, but I sense an emptiness in you, Byakuya Kuchiki…an emptiness I can't wait to fill…
Tsukishima studied the noble captain curiously. He stood with his back arrogantly turned to his enemy, and Tsukishima could feel the intensity of the dark, gray eyes that stared up at the crescent moon above them. He moved forward, and was somewhat surprised when the captain's back remained exposed, and he acted as though he hadn't noticed his opponent was even there.
Ah, but you'll notice me soon enough.
"What's wrong?" Tsukishima asked quietly, "Do you really think you've got enough time to be moon-gazing?"
Byakuya's elegant head turned and a dark eye found Tsukishima's and set the fullbringer's heart beating faster.
I was right to choose you. I feel that space inside you, even more strongly now.
"I was entertaining the thought that it is fortunate that I am your opponent," Byakuya said sedately.
His voice, too, it seemed, was beautiful…beautiful and maddeningly condescending.
It will be so satisfying cutting through your defenses and becoming a part of you…
"Why?" Tsukishima asked in a soft, well-controlled voice.
"Ichigo Kurosaki is too lenient a young man," Byakuya answered, "Despite the anger driving him, I cannot see him bearing his blade to the sole purpose of striking you down."
He looked away again, dismissing Tsukishima, as he might one of his subordinates, and slow shimmer of anger through the fullbringer.
"Kenpachi Zaraki is even less suited to the task," Byakuya went on, blithely, "His only wish is the thrill and sting of battle. And because your ability allows you to win with a single strike, it is unfavorable for him to face you."
"I see," Tsukishima responded, taking a step forward, "But the way you say it makes it seem like I won't even touch you?"
He swung his blade, knowing full well not to expect a quick finish, not from this man. And true to his expectation, as his sword closed in on Byakuya, the sixth division captain's blade dissolved into a wave of lovely and deadly pink petal blades.
He doesn't even have to give the release command. Lovely…
"I despise the way you fight," said the noble, disrupting Tsukishima's thoughts and making him frown, "Without ever lifting your own hand, to steal the bonds of camaraderie and torture opponents is the height of cowardice. It is a lack of shame that is deserving of death."
Tsukishima's eyes darkened and narrowed dangerously.
"I am here," he said tauntingly, "Strike me down."
"I shall kill you and cast you aside, before you finish swinging your blade!" Byakuya exclaimed, his reiatsu sending out a powerful shock wave that forced Tsukishima back.
The fullbringer settled at a distance, watching Byakuya closely, and thinking carefully.
"What's the matter," Byakuya's dulcet voice asked, "Surely your blade will not reach me at this distance."
Tsukishima's lips curved into a smile.
"The fact that you're standing there, suggests that if I take but one step closer, I will be within your range," he answered, "I am thinking of a plan."
"I see," said Byakuya, fixing his eyes on Tsukishima, "You are a cautious man."
He watched in silence, his steel gray eyes suspicious as Tsukishima swung his blade and sliced a falling leaf neatly in half.
"Did that seem like a meaningful action?" asked the fullbringer.
He ran his blade along the ground.
"How about this?"
"I will not mistake any action my enemy takes to be meaningless," Byakuya said, narrowing his eyes.
You have no idea just how quickly you are about to be undone. Captain or no, you are no match for this power. Maybe you should have taken that trade with the barbarian captain…but then, what am I thinking? If you had done that, I would never know what lies beneath those pretty eyes.
"Scatter, Senbonzakura," Byakuya said, forcing him back with a harsher wave of petal blades.
"Have you understood?" Byakuya asked calmly, "You cannot approach me, let alone kill me."
"Oh, I see," he said softly, "That's the spot."
Byakuya froze for a moment, his eyes widening as a section of the stone beneath his foot sank down. Instinctively, he flash stepped clear as an explosion ripped through the area where he had been standing.
"What on earth…?" Byakuya began.
"I set a trap there," Tsukishima said, still smiling.
"When did you…?"
"A long time ago."
There it is. That flash of comprehension. Yes, he is everything I hoped for.
"So you have come here before, many times."
"You've heard about my abilities, right?" Tsukishima asked calmly.
Byakuya's eyes widened.
That's right. You have it, now.
"Good, you noticed," he went on, "'Book of the End' slips my presence into my target's past. In that instant, I made it so that I visited this place before."
"So your ability applies to non-living objects," mused Byakuya, frowning.
"I never said that it wouldn't," Tsukishima said, stepping away as Byakuya attacked again.
His blade slashed and connected with several of the spinning petals.
"And now I've even cut your blade," he added, closing in from behind and taking hold of Byakuya's wrist.
He hadn't expected their first physical contact to be so arousing, but the feel of the cloth and soft skin beneath his hand instantly resonated.
Yes…it is about to happen!
"I'll never be struck once more by your blade," he announced, looking deeply into Byakuya's shocked eyes, "Your sword and your techniques…I've seen them so many times, it's downright boring!"
His sword slashed across the noble's unprotected chest and blood exploded outward as Tsukishima's blade sliced through skin and bone, cutting to the very heart of the stunned sixth division captain.
Tsukishima smiled and gazed into Byakuya's eyes, falling down into them and searching for the perfect place to begin. He made it so that he had been present, and a part of the Kuchiki family…a capable trainer, who had trained others before Byakuya, and had been chosen to see to the perfection of the young heir's physical and kido training. He glossed over the years of Byakuya's childhood, honing in on the time and place where he would be most vulnerable. As his sword pierced Byakuya's heart, he found the place he had been looking for. He forced his way in and began the rewriting…
"These past five years have been like a wonderful, beautiful dream…Byakuya…" Hisana said softly with her last breath.
Her eyes closed and her body went still. Byakuya's numb mind registered the decline of the last of her already weak reiatsu. He felt a tightness in his chest like he was dying with her, and he found he couldn't take a breath.
A warm hand touched his shoulder, making him inhale sharply and turn.
"Ts-tsukishima," he said in a choked voice, "I didn't realize that you were here."
"I didn't mean to intrude," the fullbringer said quietly, his hand tightening on Byakuya's shoulder, "but I sensed your distress and could not bear to know you were hurting so badly. Let me help you."
Byakuya looked away to where Hisana laid motionless on the bed.
"No," he said almost breathlessly, "She is my…responsibility. I owe her…at least the simple favor of seeing to her…"
He broke off, unable to finish as grief struck him in sweeping, relentless waves. He held on to his composure and forced himself to take a shuddering breath. Tsukishima watched in silence as Byakuya made himself stand, then he stepped forward and caught him as he fell again. A word from Tsukishima set the servants in motion to see to the preparation of Hisana's body for burial, the notifications and all of the other details that had been laid out well in advance. As the servants scattered, he knelt, holding Byakuya against him and talking softly into the noble's ear.
"You were good to her, always. You did your best to make her comfortable and happy. And even when you began to experience the change in your feelings towards me, you used your discipline to remain faithful to her."
Byakuya shook his head, his eyes closing against the words.
"Perhaps in body, but my heart left her a long time ago…and maybe that's why," he sighed into Tsukishima's shoulder, forcing away the threatening tears, "I knew it was wrong, and now…"
"Stop," Tsukishima breathed into his ear, freezing him in place as the fullbringer's fingers threaded gently through his hair, "You cannot blame yourself for what you feel for me. I have been here for all of your life, always here, Byakuya. It is like not seeing the forest for the trees. Through the deaths of your mother and father, friends, and now Hisana, we have long walked side by side. We were always so connected, but we just didn't know. What began to grow between us could not be helped. And you shouldn't blame yourself so much. After all, I was the one who weakened and kissed you while you were married to her. Had I known it would cause you to feel so much guilt, so much pain…"
"But you said, yourself, that it was plain to you. You could see the desire, even when I forced it away. I think she saw it too…and I…"
He broke off, overcome by emotion, but too proud to allow himself to shed tears.
"Leave this for now," said Tsukishima, kissing his earlobe gently, "We must see to the proper rituals. But…once they are done, and a proper period of mourning has ended…"
He leaned forward and captured Byakuya's lips in a powerful kiss. The noble's pale hands took hold of the fullbringer's shirt, and he pushed against the taller man's chest, trying to free himself. Tsukishima ran his tongue lightly along Byakuya's lips, then released him.
The noble frowned, and made a pained face.
"What's wrong?" Tsukishima asked, watching him closely, "Did I hurt you?"
Byakuya felt a momentary sensation like ice had entered his veins, and shivered softly. Tsukishima waited until he was sure that the noble had settled.
I have to be more careful. Too much intricate detail is not good…
He took a warm wrap down from a peg on the wall and set it around Byakuya's shoulders. The noble looked up at him questioningly, then accepted the gesture quietly and settled against his mentor's side, watching with dull, lifeless eyes as Hisana was gently lifted and removed from the room.
"Would you like to take a walk?" he asked, when they were alone again, "I think some fresh air would be good for you."
Byakuya didn't answer, but moved with him wordlessly as he stood and led the noble out onto the wooden walkway, then into the gardens. They went out the far gate and started down the forest trail, saying nothing.
You deserve every ounce of the pain and guilt that afflict you, Tsukishima thought, peeking at Byakuya out of the corner of one brown eye, And I plan to enjoy increasing that pain as much as I can. It is the ultimate story of irony, my dear, sweet captain. You wanted to kill me, but you will fail. And in return, I will destroy your mind. Your mind will be a sea of broken shards, once I am finished with you.
He was surprised, however, at the oddly warm feeling that passed through him as Byakuya leaned against him, letting his head fall against the taller man's shoulder and closing his eyes, trusting Tsukishima completely to lead him correctly. Byakuya Kuchiki was not typically a vulnerable man, which made him irresistible when his defenses were breached.
And that was something that Tsukishima had not anticipated…
Well, certainly, I need not hold back with him. It will still take a lot to completely shatter his mind. I look forward to the challenge.
He tightened his arm around Byakuya and led him to the top of the waterfall, above the lake, where they sat down next to each other and looked quietly out over the water. Tsukishima closed his eyes for a moment, thinking carefully, then slowly laced their fingers together beneath the wrap he had placed around the noble's shoulders. Byakuya trembled softly, but allowed their fingers to remain entwined. He focused on the rippling water beneath them and tried to make his mind go blank.
But all he could feel was the guilt…
I did love Hisana. I know I did. Why did I react that way to Tsukishima's kiss? Why did I kiss him back? It has been a torment ever since…
"Don't do this to yourself," Tsukishima gently chided him, "You will only go mad, going over the past and hurting yourself with it. Hisana does not know anything about what happened. You gave her a good ending to her life story, a romantic, picture book ending. That is a gift that should make you more willing to forgive yourself. You are a passionate man. You have always been, and will always be ruled by your passions. Even now, I feel them roiling beneath the surface. And I feel that, even though you do feel guilt, what you feel for me is growing stronger, and becoming formidable. If you do not believe me, then perhaps you will believe this…"
He turned and pushed the surprised noble down onto his back, grabbing his wrists and locking them to the ground on either side of his head, as he fastened his mouth on the noble's and kissed him heatedly. Byakuya struggled to free himself, but Tsukishima had trained with him so long that there was no move that he could make that was enough to free him, and as the man's tongue slipped into his mouth and began to explore him, the memories of all they had been through together tore at him until his mind threatened to collapse beneath them. He shuddered as Tsukishima's voice sounded in his ear and the man's hands released his limp wrists and began to tear their clothing away.
"You see," the fullbringer panted heavily, his eyes feasting on the lovely, pale spectacle that rested underneath him, "Your reiatsu is harassing mine to the extent that I cannot resist you! I am sorry…I can't…can't stop myself!"
He moved their clothing out of the way, and entered the shocked noble without preparation, panting out an apology as Byakuya's body reeled at the impact, and he gasped in pain. Tsukishima's fingers laced together with his, and the fullbringer's lips crashed together with his, silencing any possible response.
Byakuya felt the wrongness of what was happening, and tried to pull away, but his mind went into another hard spin as Tsukishima's words reached into him and tore at his heart.
"You see, it is too strong now. We can't resist anymore. As much as we try, this has been building over all of these years we have known each other. Do not feel bad. You could not help it. It is only truth that refuses to be hidden anymore. It's all right. There is no one here to see. Give in to it, and we will feed this insatiable hunger inside us! No one needs to know. We will tide ourselves over with this for now, and not tell anyone. It is a guilty pleasure, yes…but it threatens to overwhelm us if we try to lie to ourselves and hold it back anymore."
Byakuya's hands clenched the other man's painfully, and Tsukishima smiled a secret smile The noble's dark eyes were glazed over and senseless, and his body moved of its own accord, shaking with rising pleasure.
His mouth closed over Byakuya's just in time for him to devour the noble's cry of completion. Byakuya's body shuddered fitfully and his features darkened with guilt. His eyes fixed on Byakuya's tormented face, Tsukishima climaxed, kissing him and mumbling repeated apologies for losing control.
"I am sorry…s-so sorry," he whispered, "I could not stop myself. I tried, but…"
This time, when Byakuya tried to pull away, the fullbringer let him go, and sat quietly watching him as he swiftly set his clothes back in place and climbed to his feet.
"Where are you going?" Tsukishima asked, "Byakuya?"
The noble flashed stepped away, leaving the fullbringer staring after him. Tsukishima's lips curled into a self-satisfied smirk.
Running won't help you.
You can't escape.
I live inside you now…