Author's Note:

My stories are set in one universe that often intertwine, so let me begin with a little context. In the first story, "Till Death Do Us Part", we see the beginnings of Shuuhei and Renji, then in "Pride", we find out that Byakuya has unrequited feelings for his lieutenant.

Then we have "A Test of Faith", which is unrelated to Byakuya, but does have this scene in Chapter 3 where Shuuhei goes to the 6th division to look for Renji, but finds only Byakuya in the office:


An awkward silence followed. Byakuya continued to gaze at Shuuhei with a serene expression, and Shuuhei wondered what was going on in the man's mind. He had always wondered, and always will, what Byakuya thinks when the captain sees him. Byakuya had said that he never had any intention to pursue his feelings for Renji, but Shuuhei felt that it must be odd for Byakuya to face the person who was with the redhead, especially when that person knew what Byakuya felt for Renji.

Indeed, how does Byakuya feel when he sees Shuuhei, the person who is given the love he couldn't have himself?

Here, I explore that angle a little, basically retelling a shortened version of "A Test of Faith" from Byakuya's point of view. It's a little angtsy, a little sad, but gives a little glimpse of Byakuya post "Pride".

/end Author's Note

He felt the reiatsu before the footsteps were within earshot; that familiar, steady pulse of energy that belonged to no one else but the quiet, modest vice captain of the 9th division. His grip on the brush in his hand tightened slightly, subconsciously, but his face remained indifferent. Hisagi Shuuhei was just another colleague, a fellow officer in the Gotei 13, he told himself. Ignore everything else.

Then, the man arrived at his door. The short raven-colored hair was disheveled, damp even, with what Byakuya suspected was sweat. The man's trademark sleeveless shihakusho clung to his chest, which was heaving as he struggled to even his breathing, to make himself more presentable to the nobleman sitting in front of him.

Hisagi Shuuhei, what have you done?

Byakuya had noticed the signs of trouble the second he set eyes on his vice captain this morning. Abarai Renji was not someone accustomed to hiding his emotions; the usual sparkle in his eyes were dull, his smile a little less wide, and most telling of all, he did not protest when Byakuya presented him the day's stack of paperwork.

Naturally, Byakuya being Byakuya, he did not probe, did not even raise an eyebrow. If it were work-related, sooner or later Renji would voice out his frustration whether Byakuya asked or not, and if he didn't, well...all the more reason for Byakuya to not ask. He had once let himself slip into the gray area where the line separating his professional relationship with the redhead blurred, and he was determined never to venture there again. Renji had, in his typical generous way, let go of incident, but that did not mean Byakuya could do the same so easily.

"I'm sorry, but Abarai-fukutaicho just left a few minutes ago," he replied calmly when Hisagi-fukutaicho asked to see his vice captain.

The way the man's face fell, the faltering of the gleam in those slate-grey eyes, did not escape Byakuya's attention. He hadn't the faintest clue about the reason for the urgency in the man's body language, but clearly it was no small matter. He could guess, easily, that this was related to his vice captain's sombre mood.

"Is there a message you'd like me to pass to him, Hisagi-fukutaicho?" he found himself asking. He was mildly surprised at himself, but somewhere in the back of his mind, in the deep, hidden place where he keeps his most cherished, most secret thoughts, he wanted to see the sparkle return to the pair of scarlet eyes.

He saw Hisagi's eyes widen in surprise, then the man said, "Yes please. Please...umm, please tell him that I'm looking for him."

Am I perceived as so cold a man, that even this small, well-meaning question comes across as a surprise? Byakuya mused.

"I will," he said with a curt nod.

Silence stretched, the air around the two men hung heavily as they regarded each other wordlessly. Byakuya looked into the tattooed face of the vice captain and saw unspoken questions in the man's eyes. To his own chagrin, he, too, just for a fleeting moment, found himself wondering what was going on in Hisagi's mind. And to his dismay and shame, he wondered—not for the first time—what this man had that he did not. Abarai Renji, what do you see in this man that makes you offer him your heart?

As the dark-haired man bowed deeply and turned to leave, Byakuya finally realized that his fingers ached from clutching his brush so tightly. Am I so weak that I cannot withstand his presence? He placed the brush down and held up his hand in front of his eyes. Partially covered by a white tekkou, his hand was graceful, his fingers pale and long, his palm smooth, skin unblemished.

The memory of where this hand had been haunted him till this day. Clear as crystal—unfortunately for him, he remembered the heat in his palm when he had pressed it roughly against his vice captain's most private body part. He had violated his vice captain in a way that made him nauseous; the shock, disbelief, and pain in Renji's eyes was forever seared into Byakuya's mind. He had never been able to look at his hand the same way since that day.

How I wish I could touch you in a way that makes you whimper my name. I want to see you come undone for me, I want you—Byakuya shook himself. It was disgusting that he still entertained such forbidden thoughts.

During the day, his sheer power of will usually kept such thoughts at bay. It was the nights, when he was alone in his big, cold bed, that tortured him endlessly. For over fifty years, his bed had been empty, the space that previously belonged to Hisana remained unoccupied. And will remain so.

More than once, he had nightmares; nightmares only because they reminded him of what he would never have.

In those nightmares, his vice captain's vibrant crimson hair decorated this very bed. Those bright eyes would be heavy lidded from desire, desire for Byakuya. Fingers strengthened by battles would tangle in his raven hair while he claimed the man, over and over again, until his vice captain cried out his name at the peak of pleasure.

Except, it would never be. Some nights he would jolt awake, his vice captain's hoarse cries ringing in his ears as if they were real, and other times he would wake up to find himself tangled amongst his sheets, the heat of arousal evident against his stomach, heart thumping in his chest, face flushed and breath ragged. It was those times that he hated the most, the shame and pain almost unbearable.

A few days after he left that message from Hisagi on his vice captain's desk, he found the man in despair once again. Renji had reported to work looking horribly unkempt; stray strands of hair hung limply around his face without the bandana that usually held them in place, his shihakusho rumpled and ill-fitted, eyes tired and dull.

Much as he wanted to comfort his vice captain, Byakuya needed to honor his promise to the man. He had sworn not to pursue his feelings, and he would stay away from the man's private life. And so he had done the only thing he could, in the hopes of sparing the man from duties that he clearly was not fit for; he booted Renji out of the office.

Over the next few days he watched the redhead wilt before his eyes; he ached to provide comfort, but he forced himself to look the other way. By then, he had heard of rumors of trouble between his vice captain and Hisagi. He found himself stealing glances at the haggard-looking man across from his own desk throughout the day; his heart aching at the sight of those swollen, tired eyes, clear signs of sleepless nights, and sallow, dull skin. Rumors had it that Renji had cheated on Hisagi, but Byakuya knew, believed with fierce conviction, that Renji would never do such a thing.

So it came as no surprise that the storm passed several days later. The familiar sparkle in the redhead's eyes returned, his smile once again lit up his open, honest face. Ah, and he began to hum that annoying tune again in the office.

But Byakuya did not silence him. He simply smiled inwardly and took comfort in the fact that his vice captain was back. As long as Renji—the man whom he could only love from a distance—was happy, he was content.

I hope I kept Byakuya somewhat in character while portraying his loneliness and heartache. If you're interested to read more about what Byakuya did to Renji, do check out "Pride".