Zetsumei no Odori
(Written by reader request, this is a rewrite of Stained Blossom as a Bya/Ren story.)
I knew what I was doing…and you shouldn't have looked. As you watched me writhe beneath the hands of the devil, your own eyes were burned. Your heart went out to me, and you offered me a kind hand. And unknowingly, unwittingly, and against the wishes of my shattered heart, I placed your hand in his. I won't say that I am sorry, because it will never be enough.
Chapter 1: You Shouldn't Have Looked
Byakuya sighed softly and slipped away from the sounds of revelry. Although the guests were gathered in his honor, and in truth, he was pleased at having reached his eighteenth year and been named heir, the day was viciously empty without his father. He tried, as he walked, to remember the last time they had come here together, to walk the forest path, to stand under the sweet sakura trees and gaze up at the full moon together.
"So Yoruichi taichou tells me that you are very swift with your flash step," Soujun said, smiling down at Byakuya as the mention of the Shihoin heir made him wince and narrow his eyes.
Soujun chuckled softly.
"What is it, musuko? You do not enjoy her company?" he asked softly.
"I can't stand her!" Byakuya exclaimed, "All she ever does is make me angry! Why must I train with her? I want to train with you and grandfather."
"And you will," his father promised, "but there is much that you need to learn that Yoruichi taichou specializes in. Byakuya, you must realize that…being heir is a dangerous thing. There are many who will seek your death, both among your enemies and even among those who are supposed to be your allies. My father assures me that this training is necessary and I think that we should trust him."
They reached the top of the hill and dropped down onto their knees beneath a sakura tree. The waterfall rushed swiftly over the cliff in front of them and the sound lulled Byakuya until he leaned softly against Soujun, resting his head on his father's shoulder and starting to drift off. He could hear the soft words in his ear and he knew then that his father understood.
"Byakuya, I know what we ask of you is sometimes very difficult, but you were made strong…stronger than I will ever be…and with that strength comes responsibility. As they ask more and more of you, give them what they ask for, but always keep your true self there inside, where it can't be taken. That way, though you must know the weight of responsibility, you will also know how to free yourself. Though you must face the rigors of training and battle, you will also know the peace of resting under the full moon, just like this. And though many things in your life will be chosen for you, you will always be sure in the choices that are yours. I love you. You remind me so much of your mother. I wish she could see you, Byakuya. She would be so proud."
He opened his eyes and let them meet his father's.
"What was she like?" he asked softly.
He had always been afraid to ask…because he knew she had died when he was born and he saw the way his father's eyes changed whenever he talked about her. So he had never openly asked before. He only dared speak of her when his father did first. But Soujun only smiled at his question.
"I was wondering when your curiosity would overcome your desire not to make me feel pain speaking of her. But know this. I like to speak of her…and I will tell you anything you want to know."
And suddenly freed of the worry of hurting his father, he found that he wanted to know everything.
"She was actually born in the spirit dimension. Her father was a member of the royal guard and her mother was an attendant of the queen. She came with them to the cherry blossom viewing we hosted here that year…and we met in this very place. I was here…like this, looking up at the full moon and she was taking a moonlight walk. She didn't see me sitting here and she just walked out to the edge of the cliff and stood there, staring. I couldn't breathe or give myself away for fear she would fall. But finally, she turned, and she noticed me sitting beneath the tree. She said, "Are you enjoying watching me, Kuchiki-san? Were you planning to make your presence known?" I didn't know what to say, so I stood and walked closer…and the closer I got, the more beautiful she became. She had long, thick black hair like yours that waved in the wind. Her eyes were not gray like ours, but a lively emerald green. I apologized for staring, but she just laughed. "I have to confess," she told me, "I didn't come here by chance. I followed you." I asked her why…and she said, "Because when I see something beautiful, I can't help but look closer. When I saw you, I thought that I had never seen a man so beautiful. I wanted to get closer." I laughed and reminded her that there were many beautiful people gathered for the cherry blossom viewing. She said, "I wasn't speaking of you in that way. When I say beautiful, it means, not just a lovely form, but a beautiful soul. You are unique among the nobles. That is why I wanted to get closer." I don't quite remember what happened after that. My heart was beating too fast and my head didn't stop spinning until after we were married."
Byakuya felt his lips smiling. His father didn't have that sad look in his eyes anymore. He looked happy remembering her like that. He left Soujun buried in his memories and leaned against his shoulder again. This time, the sakura and the rush of water lulled him all of the way to sleep. He didn't feel himself being lifted and carried back to the manor…or the sounds of voices calling his father away on his last mission. His very last memory of his father was the gentle feel of Soujun's lips touching his forehead.
Byakuya was startled out of his thoughts by a barely stifled sound of pain, somewhere nearby. He heard soft male voices and turned toward the sound. It came from beneath the cliff, further down the trail that led from the top of the waterfall, down to the lake, beneath it. He recognized one voice as Ichimaru Gin's and continued to edge closer, carefully placing his feet. Gin's strangled cry startled him and he froze, poised and ready to flash step to help, but sensing extreme danger.
"Be quiet," said a voice that sounded vaguely familiar, but was too muffled for him to place, "Stop making such a fuss."
He moved closer, looking cautiously through the brush that concealed him. Gin bit back a sobbing cry and Byakuya could hear the sound of a bared body pounding against another. He could see the outline of a dark form lying atop a smaller one, the larger hips thrusting heavily into the smaller…and he could see that the smaller one was shaking. The bigger man let out a satisfied groan and fell against the back of the other. He kissed the smaller one's neck and shoulder, whispering softer words. But his last ones made Byakuya freeze in place and nearly stopped his heart.
"I don't want to see you look at any of them that way again! They are his. They are part of what holds people like us down and makes us feel small. You became mine because you wanted to break away from that…to stop them from hurting us and treating us like dogs. Don't forget that, the next time one of them lures you…Gin."
He couldn't hear Gin's answer.
Byakuya sank into the brush and concealed his reiatsu. He waited breathlessly as the other man returned along the trail, headed for the manor. When all was quiet, he moved towards the soft sound of Gin's heartbroken sobs. He reached the youth and moved closer, then reached out to touch his shoulder.
Gin reared back, wild-eyed with fear. He gave a choked cry, then stopped himself, staring at the young Kuchiki heir.
"Who…who was that?" Byakuya asked, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice.
The moonlight fell onto Gin's naked body and Byakuya saw blood and semen on his skin.
"Who did this to you?"
Gin shook his head and slowly put his clothes back in place.
"It doesn't matter. Just turn around and walk away. You don't want to get involved in this."
Byakuya continued to watch as Gin tied the belt at his waist and took a stumbling step. He leaned against a tree, trying not to cry out. The noble's eyes softened and he took a step forward. He set a slender hand on the other youth's arm and guided him to the ground. Gin shivered softly.
"What are you doing? I told you to leave. He might come back."
"I can handle myself," Byakuya assured him, "I am going to heal you. Hold still."
Byakuya sat down next to him and removed the heavy kenseiken. He set it down in the grass, then moved closer to Gin. Gin quivered softly under his hands as his power flared and sank into the wounded youth's body, but slowly calmed as Byakuya's hands moved over him.
"Why are you doing this?" Gin asked quietly, "I always had the feeling that you didn't like me."
"One doesn't have to be close to another to afford that other basic human decencies, Gin. The one who did this to you is a monster. You should tell someone."
"No," said Gin quietly, "You don't understand. No one realizes but me…and if I say anything, then he will only hurt me worse. He said he would make me wish that I was dead. Don't tell me to go to anyone…and don't tell anyone, yourself, Byakuya. He'd just kill you on sight. He's that dangerous."
"Then we should tell someone together…perhaps your taichou would understand…"
"No," Gin gasped, his eyes panicked, "No, Byakuya. We can't tell anyone…please…"
They froze at the sound of footsteps on the nearby trail. They waited until the sound died away, then flash stepped back to the manor and slipped silently into Byakuya's bedroom. Byakuya helped Gin to the edge of the bed, where he sat and waited quietly as Byakuya bared him to the waist and carefully finished healing him.
"I know there are other injuries," he said softly, "Shall I heal them for you?"
Gin shook his head.
"I…I don't think I can stand to be touched there. I might cry out and someone would come in. You have done enough for me, Byakuya. Arigato."
Before he could move, Gin leaned closer and smiled at him.
"You are nothing like what he says. You are right. He is the monster."
He closed the distance between them and captured Byakuya's startled lips in a gentle kiss. Stunned, Byakuya remained frozen as the kiss deepened and Gin's tongue touched his lips.
Both boys pulled away in shock as the door opened and Ginrei stepped into the room, followed by Aizen Sousuke. Gin made a soft, terrified gasp and Byakuya caught his breath sharply.
"What is the meaning of this?" Ginrei asked in a low, enraged growl, his reiatsu raging around them until they could barely breathe.
"G-gomen nasai, Kuchiki-sama," Gin said in a trembling voice, "He was only healing me."
"I found him in the forest near the waterfall. He…had fallen…and was injured. It is as he said. I was healing him."
"And since when does one heal by placing his mouth on the other's?" asked Aizen, nearly smiling, "I hadn't realized that healing was such friendly thing…or I might have specialized in it…"
Ginrei glared at Byakuya.
"Explain yourself," he said coldly.
Byakuya thought quickly, but couldn't speak.
"It was my fault," said Gin quickly, "You have my humblest apologies, Kuchiki-sama. I…I wasn't thinking. I was just so…thankful for the relief of pain."
"It must have been a dreadful fall," said Aizen calmly, "You must let me see you to the fourth division, Gin."
"Byakuya," said Ginrei in a stern voice, "Where is your kenseiken?"
Byakuya took a surprised breath, touching where it had been. He saw the anger in Ginrei's eyes and scrambled to his feet.
"I…it…must have slipped off when…when I was bringing Gin back. I will go and find it at once, Grandfather!" he said, flash stepping to the door. He froze as Aizen's hand wrapped around his wrist and the gentle brown eyes found his.
"You should take your attendant," he said softly, glancing back at Gin, "You wouldn't want to 'fall' too."
Byakuya nodded breathlessly and motioned for his attendant to follow him. He flash stepped away from the manor too quickly and left his attendant far behind. As he ran, all he could see was Gin's shattered expression, and the boy's sounds of pain filled his ears. Everything inside him screamed at him to go back and talk to his grandfather, but Ginrei was angry…and Byakuya didn't dare say anything to him until he had calmed. He shook at the memory of Gin's mouth fastening on his and the door being thrown open, exposing the kiss.
He slowed as he reached the waterfall and quickly returned to the place where he had found Gin. Strangely, although he found the kenseiken, all signs of what had happened there, the flattened grass, the broken bits of brush…even the traces of blood were gone. He set the kenseiken back in place, shaking his head. He couldn't make sense of it. He flash stepped back to the manor, unnerved at not finding his attendant as he worked his way back. He reached the manor and was given a terse command by Ginrei to farewell the guests and go to bed. He started to ask about his attendant, but was frozen in his tracks by his grandfather's spiritual pressure and by the time the last guest left, he had forgotten his concern. He undressed and tumbled into bed, then lay, tossing and turning all night. Gin's sounds of pain rose up hauntingly out of the darkness, making him shiver inside. The other man's body pounded relentlessly against Gin's…then against his. Byakuya sat up, shivering and sweating. He called softly for his attendant, but heard no answer.
It was early morning, far too early for the sounds of the voices outside his room. He climbed out of bed and wrapped a yukata around his quivering body, then stepped to the garden doors and listened.
"We just found him, Ginrei-dono…ripped apart…like he was attacked by some kind of monster!"
"Shall we wake Byakuya and ask if he saw anything?" said another voice.
"No," said Ginrei, "If he had seen anything, he would have told us. We will tell him when he wakes…Double the guards around him."
Byakuya swallowed hard and returned to his bed. He knew better than to think it was a coincidence.
He knew it was a warning…