Pairing: Byakuya/Rukia-ish(???) with cameos of other pairings
Genre: Drama, angst, "family issues," backstory, futurefic, romance, friendship
Summary: Not all legacies are noble. Byakuya learns this the hard way. Series of semi-related oneshots.
chapter 4 | vi. one sentence
Sometimes, when he looked at her, she wasn't sure which of them appeared. And always, for a quick, sparse second, Rukia thought she detected a twinge of enormous sadness—nearly prostrate, tearing out.
He was blind.
There were differences. Subtle, hinted and obscured. But they were undeniably there (subterfuge was a faithless lover to be pinned).
Firmly, she told him: that she and her were not the same. That Hisana was here-taken and forever-kept.
"Nii-sama," she tried again. "Please stop."
It's just not right.
He didn't answer, kissed her breathless instead.
Silence is the music of the muses.
And they were too used to this charade to stop. A linchpin: it held them in place.
Overcome and receding, she thought back to yesterdays. It was more bearable this way.
A decade or so after the adoption (she lost track of the years) came the pivotal point. Insidious and exquisite but the moment wasn't something to be noted. Not worth the while.
One evening, late into winter and drinking the usual postprandial tea (they both preferred it bitter and sharp), everything changed.
Byakuya asked her if she knew how to dance. Rukia shook her head, thinking she'd unpardonably disappointed him—yet again. And he was, however slight (was careful not to show it).
"Why, Nii-sama? Is it something you wish for me to learn?"
He frowned. "No. I was only curious."
Later, she learned that the former lady of the house had been an accomplished dancer. Beautiful, graceful, and all-too-much perfect. But Rukia immediately remembered that Hisana had prematurely died. And then remembered why she was here—
in her place.
Rukia deified him, feared and admired him. He wasn't oblivious to the gossip, to the side-cast, apprehensive glances and snide remarks. Immune but not ignorant. He kept a mental tab on them, stored away for future retaliation—prophesied to come.
The rumors bothered her too though she fastidiously hid her thoughts. Smiling, she trained harder, fought stronger, did everything to avoid the issue (and him).
Byakuya understood. It wasn't in her nature otherwise. But still, he wished she would simply come to him rather than berating herself (sickening unto death) over the what-ifs.
So for now, he let it be.
The sixth seat of the eleventh division shot him a look to kill. Rarely did he face hatred in its purity. Intrigued, Byakuya inquired about the boy.
"Oh, Renji-kun?" As if on cue, Ichimaru Gin smiled. "He used ta be in Captain Aizen's division, recently got transferred ta the eleventh. Says he likes ta fight. And somethin' 'bout an old score ta settle."
"By the by, ya know what they say." Gin's grin widened. "Curiosity will kill the cat."
Renji might not have been too bright and a tad too rash, but he was realistic.
He knew his limits whereas others thought themselves godlike.
Above, Ikkaku cackled and beat him bloody like an avenging messenger. "What's the matter, Abarai? I thought you liked pushing yourself."
"Shut up and come at me."
Ikakku swung his sword.
Perilous: Renji stood, ready to be bludgeoned and imagined what could have been.
On dulcet, song-woven nights, she visited him. Behind the barracks of the eleventh division (long gone to sleep) they were alone and free. Impervious to outsiders, to her brother, Renji could be open with her like it had been—like it should.
Fervent, Rukia brought him her woes and tribulations and the vanquished underbellies of herself. Nestled in the crook of Renji's arm, she played with the unruly wisps of his hair, thinking how beautiful he could be.
And how chaste, almost brotherly, his kisses were. Fluttering in episodic bursts, they grazed her skin with needled warmth. In the morning, his touches were fated to fade—like nothing had ever happened. And when they passed by each other again (daylight stinging) he would avert his eyes and she would escape in a voiceless regret.
Memory was fleeting, a hushed and cheating tragedy. It moved in circular, tangent strokes.
In her cell, she reflected on the little, insignificant, and bygone moments she and Renji (and her brother) shared.
Second by second, gritty and unabashed, everything became immobilized.
"This is the last time we will speak."
He was serious (Byakuya always was). And this, in that appalling way typical of all noble men, was meant as farewell.
Trailing after, on the border of dismay and amazement, Renji gaped at her with shredded eyes. But he's your brother-he can't just-
Rukia dueled against the desire to say I told you so.
In her room, he helped her forget her imprisonment and what had happened and the present void between them. Byakuya was nothing less than excellent at everything he did.
Her limbs were stiff and unyielding, and he must coax her out. Byakuya was patient with her, preservering and—
Like a spine-wrenched, heartfelt betrayal.
They fell, against one another, somehow right. Pieces of a puzzle (lost and found) soldered together. Helpless, she watched as Renji disappeared.
Life was a fountain of false impressions, spouting out axioms and rules (touting its mercurial trust). Life was deceitful, evil in the prime, and Rukia had long since given up on solving its mysteries.
And so, locked in her lonely chasm, she debated their charms.
Renji was her first.
And now, Byakuya was her only.
(But not her last.)