- Sep 14, 2006
Seems like I'm posting a bunch of threads right now, huh? Anyway, here's a little collection of one-shots, and I'll try to have them posted in order as much as possible. For the most part the one-shots are going to revolve around the Kuchikis, but there'll be one-shots with the others too.
For those of you interested, I got some inspiration for this piece from the story A Father's Promise by junko. The story isn't mine in even the slightest, but I just thought I'd share with you the inspiration for some parts in this piece (mainly Byakuya and the bedtime story thing).
You Were Just Here
Byakuya gave Hisana a hug, smiling at his wife. Looking down, he bent low and looked at the five-year-old boy that had come up to them. Ruffling his dark hair, Byakuya met his son's grey-violet gaze and smiled at him, but when he noticed the boy's hesitant expression, he frowned a little before covering it up with a smile. Holding the boy's gaze, Byakuya asked, "What's wrong Kaien?"
Kaien dropped his eyes, and Byakuya noticed the tears that were starting to well up. Before he could prompt the child again, the boy whispered, "Do you have to go to work today? Can't you just stay home, please?"
Giving him a quick hug, Byakuya explained gently, "I can't. You know that Kaien; I need to go to work. I promise I'll come home later tonight, and when I get back, we'll have some ice cream." Releasing the boy from the hug, Byakuya returned to his full height, noticing as he did the panicked look on Kaien's face as the boy's head snapped upward at his words.
Turning to leave, Byakuya's eyes darted to the photo of Rukia sitting on the counter. It had barely been three years since her death, an event that shouldn't have happened so soon; even more so within the manor. It had led to heightened security around the Kuchiki estates; it could have been a fluke, but the Head Captain suspected it was an assassination. Hisana and Kaien were both still deeply saddened by Rukia's death; her sister's death seemed to take a toll on Hisana's already poor health, leading to his wife barely being able to manage to go out of the house.
Byakuya felt a familiar, painful squeeze in his own chest as his breath skipped for a moment, both because of Rukia's loss and the effect it had on Hisana. With a skill born of too much practice, he pushed the pain to the side to be dealt with at a later moment. He walked away, not seeing the desperate plea that still gleamed in Kaien's eyes as the boy watched the familiar sight of his father's back as he left for the squad 6 barracks.
Byakuya had to go to work to keep his family safe after all.
Kaien bolted upright from the familiar nightmare, his eyes darting around him in search of anything out of place. Tears formed, ones as familiar as the nightmare, and Kaien tried to blink them away as he got out of his bed. Walking out of his room, the young Kuchiki kept his head down even as the staff moved around the manor to get it ready for the day. He didn't have to look outside or at a clock to see that it was far too early for him to be up. As of recently, though, Kaien hasn't been able to sleep all the way till morning without waking up screaming in the middle of the night, crying out for his parents.
Speaking of screaming, Kaien had to stomp down the desire to cry out when he saw where his feet had taken him again. He was in the kitchen, and his eyes took in the "messy" room. It was messy in the sense that the servants hadn't quite gotten the heart to clean up the remnants of that last normal day just yet. Translation: He didn't want them to touch it. He wanted His father to come back and ask why the kitchens hadn't been fully cleaned yet, and the staff didn't have the heart to take that stubborn bit of need from the boy.
Kaien's eyes found the cup on the counter, half filled with some kind of liquid, and on the back of a chair was a spare captain's haori with the sixth division insignia on it. On the chair next to it was a light violet kimono, one that his mother had worn a few days earlier before she'd slipped into a coma, the fresh grief finally proving too much for her frail health.
The next thing Kaien's eyes found was a picture of their whole family; his father was standing behind Aunt Rukia and Hisana, his arm wrapped around Hisana's shoulder, an easy, open smile on his face. Kaien meanwhile was being held in his mother's arms, a gentle smile on her face while Aunt Rukia was laughing about something. The two-year-old Kaien was busy looking up at his mother, a puzzled look on his face as he tried to wrap his mind around things.
Tearing his eyes away from the picture, Kaien found another one. It was of him and his dad, they were laughing because of something that had happened before hand. The snow drifting down around them had come to rest in the boys' dark hair; there was, at least in the case of Byakuya, snow on his lashes while Kaien had a snowflake on the edge of his nose, causing the four-year-old to go cross-eyed in an effort to watch it. A slight smile coming to his face, Kaien felt the phantom ache in his sides from how hard he'd been laughing from the tickle torture his dad had put him through in revenge for hitting Byakuya with that snowball.
The next thing that Kaien's eyes landed on soured the slight lift his mood had gotten.
To be more correct, what was left of the zanpakuto since the blade had shattered upon its master's death. His heart squeezed from pain and his eyes instantly filled with tears. Stumbling his way over, Kaien shakily placed his hand on the hilt of the destroyed sword. "I-I-I-" He stammered, before he closed his mouth and swallowed; trying to force the lump down so he could tell the destroyed sword his thoughts. The same way he tried to reach out to the zanpakuto spirit every time he saw the empty hilt.
He couldn't do it. Kaien couldn't tell the lingering spirit that it was his fault. He'd had a nagging feeling that day, even before he'd woken up. Instead of fighting harder to get his dad to stay, Kaien had just stood by and let his dad go off to work. He could still see his mother's face, the despair consuming her, when Renji had arrived to tell them the horrifying news.
Kaien was splayed out on the floor, kicking his feet in the air as he colored in a coloring book. He listened as his mother hummed a song, and a quick glance in her direction confirmed that she was still curled up on the couch. Cocking his head to the side, he tried to make out the title of the book she was reading. Catching her eye, he felt his heart soar as his mom smiled and adjusted how she was sitting; making enough room for him to climb up next to her.
Grabbing his coloring book, the five-year-old scampered up next to her. Curling up beside her, he tried to focus on the coloring book, only to feel his mother wrap her arms around him and pull him close. Letting himself be held in that fashion, the boy closed his eyes and listened to his mom humming a familiar melody. It was the lullaby she'd been working on for him. Relaxing as the song continued, he almost allowed himself to drift off to sleep when a knock at the door came.
Snapping wide awake, Kaien looked back to see his mother's eyes shining with concern as she glanced at the time. It had only been a couple of hours since father had left, so there was no way he could be home this early. The sound of something hitting the wall and shouting had Hisana pushing Kaien to the other end of the couch as she rose to her feet. "Stay here Sukoshi Sakura." She ordered sternly, before she walked out of the room and toward the commotion.
Kaien huffed a little at the nickname, and despite knowing that he should stay put; Kaien slid off the couch and quietly followed behind his mother. Trailing behind her for a couple feet, he stopped around the corner so he wasn't visible but he could still hear what was going on. Poking his head barely around the corner, he watched as Hisana stopped in front of Renji, waiting for him to say something.
Taking in Renji's battered appearance; Kaien felt his stomach tighten at the sight of the blood running down the left side of Renji's head. The lieutenant was holding his left arm close to his body too, almost like he'd broken it but he'd wanted to stop by to say something before he went to the fourth division. After a few more agonizing minutes in silence, Renji asked gently, "Permission to come in Lady Kuchiki?"
Okay, that's not like lieutenant Abarai, and it made Kaien feel sick to his stomach. Trying to swallow the nausea, Kaien listened as first, Renji was given permission to enter only to be demanded to explain what was with the formality. "Um, right, about that formality. The captain took me and some of the other squad members out on patrol with him. It was a standard routine, only for after a bit for some Hollows to appear and attack us. At first it wasn't a problem, they were your garden variety so it didn't matter. You may want to sit down for the rest of this, Lady Kuchiki." Renji encouraged gently, motioning for one of the staff members to retrieve a chair for Hisana to sit in; which Hisana did take.
"But?" Hisana asked, her voice treading the line between two emotions Kaien couldn't identify.
"Some Menos Grande appeared, Vasto Lorde to be exact. Captain Kuchiki ordered us to retreat, to get some help while he and Kurosaki held them off. We'd barely cleared the area before the captain used his bankai, same thing with Kurosaki. I stayed with the squad a little bit longer; but I didn't feel right leaving the captain and Kurosaki alone to fight them; but by the time I went back... I'm sorry; I should have never abandoned them in the first place."
His heart stopped. Renji wasn't implying what Kaien thought he was, was he? His eyes darting downward, Kaien felt the fear and despair clawing up his throat; there wasn't much denying it when he saw the bladeless Senbonzakura sitting in the lieutenant's grasp. A keen cry escaping him, Kaien saw the way everyone's eyes darted toward him; Renji's eyes filled with horror while Hisana was a mix of fear, sadness and her usual love yet quiet strength.
Stepping fully into view, he shook his head, tears already falling as he screamed, "No! Dad can't be gone, he promised he'd be home and we'd have some ice cream. He promised!"
Eyes snapping to Renji, he screamed accusingly, "It's your fault! You should have stayed, it's your fault they're dead! You asshole!"
He distantly registered his horror at the accusation, and he saw the staff's own mounting horror. Eyes darting to his mother, Kaien saw the understanding in her eyes, only for it to be overwhelmed with a new brokenness. Shaking his head in denial, Kaien spun on his heel and ran down the hallway, not bothering to stop as Renji hollered for him to do so.
It couldn't be true, it couldn't be true, it couldn't be true.
Feet slapping against the wood floor, Kaien's mind kept repeating the denial. After all, Byakuya had been okay just that morning. He'd held the both of them before he went out to work. There was no way that he was dead; he couldn't be gone just like that. The sound of footsteps behind him reached Kaien's ears a moment before he was wrapped up in a hug. Twisting around to vent his frustration; Kaien felt it die on his tongue when he saw his mother. Tears springing to his eyes again, Kaien buried his face in the soft fabric of his mother's pale lavender kimono before he started to cry again. Hisana held him and started humming again, trying to keep herself together so that he could grieve.
Forcing himself back to the present, Kaien's eyes darted around for anything that would help to anchor him even more. After all, he was by himself as of now since shortly after Renji had left, grudgingly mind you, his mother had fallen into a coma and had left Kaien alone. Spotting a small blanket on one of the lower shelves, Kaien snatched it up and wrapped it around himself; trying to fend some of the cold off. He knew though it was futile though. A blanket couldn't take care of the chill that was settling into his skin, just like he knew no type of medication could he the pain that he was experiencing; only time could do that for him.
His eyes drifted back to Senbonzakura, and he got his father's voice in his head again. Byakuya had told him that the only way a zanpakuto shatters is if the Soul Reaper had taken enough damage that they couldn't take anymore, usually resulting in the Soul Reaper's death. Feeling a surge of anger and pain, Kaien shouted, "It's not fair! You were just here! How could you abandon me and Mom like this? You promised.. You promised.. You..." Tears coming to his eyes, Kaien tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but he couldn't do it.
Falling to his knees, he curled his fingers into the fabric of his pajamas, his nails biting into his skin and causing little red welts to appear. The blanket wrapped around his shoulders slipped to the back of his mind, so he didn't care about the warmth of it anymore. There were so many things they were supposed to be doing in the next couple weeks; so many things that had been planned; but now there was no way that was going to happen. He was an orphan, and it was his fault. He hadn't tried hard enough to get his father to stay home. So because of that Byakuya and Kurosaki had been murdered, and his mother had been so consumed with grief that combined with her frail health, she'd slipped away. He'd never feel the warmth of either of his parents embrace.
It was his fault. It wasn't Renji's fault. Despite the accusation that he'd thrown; it was Kaien's, he refused to believe otherwise. If he'd only tried harder than maybe things would have turned out differently. A scream escaping him, Kaien punched the floor; not caring that he'd get hurt from it. Tears falling freely, he continued screaming until his throat was so raw that no sound came out; and even then he kept trying to scream. Feeling the hands of one of the staff on him, he squirmed loose from the staff member and got to his feet. Blinking away as much of tears as he could, Kaien ran away from the housekeeper; there was no way he could deal with them right now. He couldn't be near anyone at the moment. He just wanted to die so his own suffering could end.
Slipping out into the early morning, Kaien didn't bother to pay attention to where his feet were taking him. He just had to get away from everyone; he couldn't stand their company any more than he'd already been forced to deal with. No one knew just how much it was bothering him. He was being forced to be as strong as someone could expect a five-year-old could be; probably even stronger than what someone would expect with the fact that he's a Kuchiki. Stumbling over something, Kaien tripped and hit the ground hard; pushing himself up onto his hands and knees he thought, Why? Why did you have to go Dad? Why didn't I try harder? Why? Why?
Closing his eyes to try and will away the fresh bout of tears, he didn't notice that the area around him seemed to be twisting in on itself; like the area was being torn apart by a powerful source of reishi. He also didn't notice, consciously, that he'd curled up on the ground and had started to drift off to sleep; even though that meant more nightmares.
Kaien felt a hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently into awareness. He stirred a little bit and cracked open a grey-violet eye to a slit to see who it was. Jerking wide awake at the sight before him, Kaien scrambled backwards and felt his back slam into a tree trunk; but his eyes were glued on the man before him. There was only one of two explanations for it; either the last couple of days had been one heck of a bad dream. Or two, Mayuri was using him to test some sort of new drug.
Seeing the Soul Reaper's own panicked gaze, only for the fear to disappear a moment later. Kaien stiffened but didn't move as he watched the Soul Reaper slowly approach him, staring at him as the Soul Reaper crouched down to his eye level, he listened as the familiar male voice asked, "Hey kid, are you okay?" Uncertainty and concern made the normally formal person slip into more of an informal speech pattern.
Staring at the man, Kaien stammered, "H-how? You're supposed to be dead."
Watching Byakuya's eyes flash in confusion, he listened as the captain answered, "No, I'm not young one. Now, who are you and, if you happen to have some, where are your parents?"
Dropping his eyes, Kaien whispered hoarsely, "They're gone, and my name is Kaien."
He wasn't sure how to feel when Byakuya wrapped him up in an awkward hug before releasing him into the care of Rukia. Although if Kaien didn't know any better, he'd say he'd somehow entered his own personal hell since it seemed as if the dead had somehow returned and he was the only one that knew the truth. Although if he did know one thing, it was that it was going to be all kinds of fun adjusting to this.
You Were Just Here - Byakuya
The sky was clear of clouds, letting the blue really show and the sun shine through. For the most part everything was peaceful, but there was no mistaking the clang of steel that rang through the air as two Soul Reapers sparred in a courtyard.
Byakuya raised his blade, blocking the strike from Rukia as she swung at him again. Stepping to the left, he raised his hand and said softly, "HadÅ #4: Byakurai."
A second later the reishi sprang from his palm and raced toward Rukia; he knew it wouldn't hurt her severely, he intentionally made it weak by not reciting the incantation and Rukia was bound to already have a counter going on. Even still, Byakuya noticed the fact that he was tense with anticipation and fear. If he'd somehow hurt Rukia he'd never forgive him, it was only when he saw her dodge to the left and fire off her own kido spell in retaliation that he felt better.
Flash stepping out of the way, Byakuya watched blandly as the kido struck a tree, punching a hole in it. Staring at it blandly, he remarked, "SÅkatsui?" He sheathed Senbonzakura as he moved closer to inspect the damage done to the poor, defenseless plum tree that had been attacked.
He didn't have to look to know Rukia had rolled her eyes at the question. HadÅ 33 was her favorite to use in a fight. Byakuya knew it; and everyone else knew it too. Sensing a spike in reishi, he turned back to face Rukia; both to see if she was okay and to see if she sensed it too. Seeing that the answer was yes to both, he nodded wordlessly and unsheathed Senbonzakura again before he flash stepped in the direction of the spike.
Reaching the location, his eyes saw the child that was curled up on the ground. Yes, his curiosity was climbing as to how the child made it on the grounds without being noticed before now; but Byakuya noticed the quick surge of fear before he stomped it down. He refused to give it any quarter in his heart until he knew for sure that it was necessary, and even then he wasn't likely to.
Motioning for Rukia to stand back, Byakuya walked over and crouched down to the ground. Reaching out a hand, he placed it on the child's shoulder and shook him gently, "Are you okay?"
Getting no response Byakuya did it again, trying to get the child to stir. He performed a quick visual once over to see if there were any injuries. He didn't see anything wrong with the child; so why wasn't he waking up? "Brother, are you sure you should be so close?" Rukia asked, her fear giving more power to the words and hardening Byakuya's resolve to be the one to stay in close proximity to the child.
"No. I probably shouldn't be this close to someone we know nothing about, but someone should check on this boy." Byakuya answered coolly, trying to remain as calm as possible to help Rukia. Even then, he wasn't afraid; he was just more intrigued by the boy.
Shaking his shoulder once more, Byakuya smiled a little when the boy stirred and cracked open an eye to see who was bothering him. It took only a moment for the boy's mind to process that there was someone near him, and Byakuya had to admit, his freak-out was a little unnerving. Watching as the boy scrambled away from him, Byakuya was about to say something when his mind registered the boy's eyes.
Tensing at the color, he also finally registered that the boy's soul felt vaguely familiar. Sucking a deep breath in through clenched teeth, Byakuya rose to his feet and carefully approached the child, trying to shove the feeling of a familiar stranger out of his mind. After all, there is no possible, or logical way, on Rukia and Hisana having a younger brother; especially one this young. But if so, why did the boy look like Hisana? Calmly approaching him, Byakuya crouched down again so he was at eye level and asked coolly, "Hey kid, are you okay?"
He mentally cursed himself for letting his uncertainty show, and maybe Kurosaki and Abarai had finally caused him to lose some of his formal speaking patterns. He heard the stammered reply, and he couldn't quite hide his confusion. So the kid thought he was supposed to be dead for some reason huh? Did this kid hit his head or was he just delusional?
Sighing in mild exasperation, Byakuya answered coolly, "No, I'm not young one. Now, who are you and, if you happen to have some, where are your parents?" He looked the boy up and down, trying to judge based on his appearance. And for that matter, why do you look like Hisana? Byakuya asked mentally, but kept from doing it out-loud since he figured the child wouldn't appreciate that question.
"They're gone, and my name is Kaien."
The pain in the boy's face and voice nearly broke Byakuya's heart. After all he knew too much about the pain of losing one's parents. Granted he wasn't as young as Kaien, but he did believe that no matter how old someone was, they were never ready for the act of burying their parents. Closing his eyes for a brief moment to will the pain away, Byakuya opened them again and looked at the boy. He wasn't sure, but he thought that in times like this there was something about physical contact helped. Also, he didn't like the idea of this familiar stranger, for whatever reason that is, being upset.
Hesitantly, Byakuya reached out and gave him a quick hug, and it didn't escape him on the way Kaien tensed. Releasing the boy after a moment, Byakuya returned to his feet and turned back towards Rukia and saw the questioning look on her face. Raising an eyebrow, he quickly walked over and asked, "What is it Rukia? Do you have something to say?"
"Why did you give him a hug? You're normally not so warm towards strangers." Rukia retorted, concern in her eyes at the gesture.
Looking away for a moment to check on the boy, he returned his gaze to Rukia and answered truthfully, "I don't know, he seems familiar to me somehow and he just looked like he really needed the hug. Can you look after him for a while?"
He only waited until he got a nod from Rukia before he left. It was not too much of a surprise his mind took him straight to his parents' graves. Looking at the two slabs of marble, he found himself telling his parents about his encounter with the boy and his intent to take the boy in since he didn't want him to grow up alone.
"I'm sorry; I know I said I wouldn't break the rules again. It's just I think this boy could use a home; it sounds like he's gone through a lot recently. I promise that after this, unless it jeopardizes my family, I won't break the rules again. I hope you can support this decision to adopt someone else into the family." Byakuya said, before he stood up and headed straight back to get the manor ready for the newest maybe of the family.
And maybe from the constant contact Byakuya would be able to figure out why Kaien seemed so familiar to him.
A Day Off
Byakuya heard the crying first. The second thing he heard was his feet moving across the floor as he made his way to Kaienâ€™s room. Opening the bedroom door, B'yakuya shut it softly behind him and then quickly crossed to the bed. Bending down, he reached out a hand and lightly shook the five-year-old that was in the bed. Feeling Kaien flinch away from him, Byakuya scowled lightly before he repeated the attempt to wake his son up.
It was on the second attempt that Kaien jerked awake, his eyes hazy from sleep before he blinked it away. Pulling Kaien into a close if slightly awkward hug, Byakuya patted Kaien on the head in the same fashion his father used to do. â€œIt was just a bad dream, thereâ€™s nothing to be afraid of.â€ Byakuya said soothingly, keeping his voice as level as he could. Glancing at the time, Byakuya saw that it was almost time for him to go to work. He had at most a half hour left before he had to leave to the Sixth Division barracks.
Apparently his eyes lingered on the clock for a little too long. Kaienâ€™s eyes darted to it to see that it was pretty close to him needing to leave. Byakuya didnâ€™t expect what happened next, despite having adjusted to having a five-year-old in his house for the past five months. Tears instantly sprang to Kaien eyes, and he snatched the sleeve of Byakuyaâ€™s sleep kimono. He didnâ€™t flinch at the insistent tugging that suddenly started at his sleeve, nor did he flinch when Kaien half-climbed, half-tumbled off the bed into his lap and grabbed his shoulders.
â€œYou canâ€™t go in! Please donâ€™t go in!â€ Kaien pleaded, his voice getting more frantic with each word.
Taking a deep breath, Byakuya reached up and carefully dislodged Kaienâ€™s grip from his shoulders. Releasing the boyâ€™s hands when they were in front of the boyâ€™s stomach, he almost said something when Kaienâ€™s hands shot out and grabbed his shoulders again. â€œDonâ€™t go into work today, please? I-I-I canâ€™tâ€¦please donâ€™t go.â€
Okay, definitely not normal for what heâ€™s learned about the boy. Again removing the childâ€™s hands from his shoulders, Byakuya kept a grip on them with one hand and reached out the other to smooth Kaienâ€™s disheveled hair. He gave a quick â€œshhhâ€ sound when Kaien opened his mouth to say something again, and based on his previous words, Byakuya was sure it was to plead with him again. â€œI canâ€™t just not go in today, Kaien. You know the rules around here,â€ Byakuya argued gently.
Tears started to fall at his reprimand. Byakuya wasnâ€™t sure what emotion gripped him at the sight, but it was definitely one he didnâ€™t enjoy. Nor did he enjoy the sight of Kaien crying because of whatever heâ€™d seen. Feeling Senbonzakura stir at the edge of his consciousness, he turned his attention inward just long enough to fill the ZanpakutÅ in on what was going on. Noticing the way Senbonzakura was mulling it over, Byakuya focused back on Kaien to see what the boy was up to.
Kaien was still basically where heâ€™d left him, but heâ€™d maneuvered close enough to bury his face in Byakuyaâ€™s chest. It didn't take too much to figure out that Kaien was crying, shifting his weight a little bit while being careful not to jostle Kaien, Byakuya heard the whispered suggestion from Senbonzakura, and while he thought it was a little extreme, he did have to admit the ZanpakutÅ spirit did have a point. Gently pushing the boy away so he didnâ€™t hurt Kaien, he heard the slight sniffle that came from him before the five-year-old brushed away his tears as well as could be expected.
â€œOn second thought, Iâ€™m sure lieutenant Abarai could manage the division for the day.â€ Byakuya said coolly, keeping his voice level even as he saw Kaienâ€™s eyes brighten at the fact he wasnâ€™t going into work. Heâ€™d been working almost nonstop recently, so surely one day off wouldnâ€™t kill him. Right? He deserved the break and chance to hang out with his son all day.
Pulling Kaien into a hug, he made a mental note he had to see about getting Kaien to eat more before Byakuya climbed onto the child's bed. Pressing himself against the wall, he released the five-year-old and commented lightly, â€œYou should get some more sleep Kaien, youâ€™re a growing boy after all.â€
Watching as Kaien wrinkled his noise at the remark, Byakuya held back a laugh as the child puffed out his cheeks at the comment. â€œI am not a child!â€ Kaien protested, his grey-violet eyes dancing with an all too familiar fire.
Pushing back the brief surge of memory Byakuya focused back on his current task at hand. He glanced at the time again to confirm just how early it was, not that it was necessary. Seeing that it was way too early for a certain raven-haired child to be up, Byakuya focused back on Kaien and tried to figure out how to take care of the situation. Sighing a little to himself, Byakuya did the only thing he knew; and it was the same thing his father had done for him. He gave Kaien a hug, drawing a soft noise of surprise from Kaien.
Releasing him a moment later, Byakuya smiled a little as the five-year-old twisted around to glare at him. Barely keeping himself from laughing at the sight, Byakuya patted the area next to him and tried to remember what else his father had done to comfort him whenever heâ€™d had nightmares after his mother had died. An idea coming to mind, Byakuya settled down and stage whispered, â€œDo you want to hear a story about a brave sailor?â€
He watched the boyâ€™s eyes grow guarded for a moment, only to brighten at the idea of a bedtime story. It didnâ€™t take long for the child to grab a pillow and for him to climb over to the older Kuchiki, waiting until the child had settled down, Byakuya looked at him and said coolly, â€œIâ€™m warning you Kaien, this type of story isnâ€™t meant for the faint of heart.â€
It was hard not to burst out laughing when he got swatted by a pillow and the halfhearted glare being sent his way. It was almost like a puppy trying to bark for the first time, or a kitten trying to meow for the first time. Or maybe a puppy howling? Either way it was pretty adorable. Byakuya watched the way Kaienâ€™s gaze hardened at his amused experience, only to soften a moment later as the child settled down for story time.
He could already tell that Kaien didnâ€™t have the heart of a warrior, but he still wanted to become a Soul Reaper because it was the â€œduty of a Kuchikiâ€. He could understand that somewhat, apparently his father had been the same way. Although just like his grandfather, Byakuya had his doubts about it because Kaien didnâ€™t seem to have the best health, much like his mother and grandfather before him. Dismissing the thought from his mind, he looked at the boyâ€™s eager face and continued in a stage-whisper, just to add suspense, â€œAre you sure youâ€™re ready for this Kaien? As I already stated, this isnâ€™t for the faint ofâ€¦. Donâ€™t misbehave if you want a story,â€ he laughed, swatting the pillow to the side as the child lashed out in anger at the implication he couldnâ€™t manage a simple story.
It didnâ€™t matter that Kaien was a Kuchiki, or that Byakuya was a Kuchiki; so he shouldnâ€™t laugh. The expression Kaien had was too cute to not laugh, what with Kaienâ€™s attempt to be serious. It also didnâ€™t help that the five-year-old went from serious to pouting in about two-point-five seconds. Regaining his composure, he reached out a hand and ruffled Kaienâ€™s dark hair, causing the boy to swat at his hand with the pillow that was still clenched in the boyâ€™s grip.
â€œThe story Papa?â€ Kaien pleaded, his eyes growing wide as he tried to convey how much he wanted it.
Nodding in agreement, Byakuya pulled Kaien closer and started in on the story. It was, naturally, about the Seaweed Ambassador. It didnâ€™t seem to matter to Kaien, the boy enjoyed the weird little creatureâ€™s antics. And honestly, Byakuya enjoyed it since it was something that was purely theirs, he didnâ€™t share it with the Byakuya from that other reality; not like he shared the quirk of draping the captainâ€™s haori over Kaien as a blanket or the eating ice cream on his days off. The fact that he did share it bothered Byakuya, if only because Kaien would randomly start crying during the act because of memories.
Something Byakuya could understand, he was trying to keep from choking up as he told Kaien the story. His mind kept drifting back to when his father would tell him stories about the Seaweed Ambassadorâ€™s adventures, and here he was doing the same thing. Noticing the slight change in Kaienâ€™s breathing, Byakuya looked down to see that the boy had fallen asleep.
Watching his son, it was still weird thinking that, for a few more minutes; Byakuya felt his own eyelids start to close on him. Closing them, Byakuya allowed himself to drift off to sleep for a little while. Maybe just a couple hours at most, it wouldnâ€™t be for too long.
It was in the afternoon, and Byakuya had relocated to outside in the garden. Kaien was curled up sleeping next to him, having woken up just long enough to come looking for him and to have some ice cream. The used bowls had been taken to the kitchen to be washed by a servant girl, just as heâ€™d asked. Byakuya stared out into the garden, watching a plum tree that stood just a little bit away from a cherry blossom tree. His eyes were on the plum blossom tree, and his mind was on Hisana.
â€œI wonder if you would have adored Kaien if youâ€™d had the chance to meet him. You probably would have, thatâ€™s just who you were Hisana.â€ He whispered, keeping his voice softer than normal, not wanting to disturb the boy next to him.
He saw that the plum blossoms were open, releasing their fragrance into the air along with the cherry blossoms. He heard one of the servants calling for him, but he didnâ€™t make a move to go see to what was wrong. Instead he focused back on Kaien, the childâ€™s head was resting on his leg, so itâ€™s not like Byakuya could move anyway since he was being â€œpinnedâ€.
The shout disturbed Kaien from his slumber, and instantly earned Byakuyaâ€™s annoyance. Turning to look at Renji, because he recognized the voice instantly, Byakuya sent his lieutenant a withering look for the blunt disregard for the fact that Byakuya had decided to take the day off. Noticing his lieutenantâ€™s injuries, Byakuya felt a twinge of concern for the redhead before he covered it up again.
Only for his concern to switch to Kaien when the childâ€™s eyes found Renji. He watched as first confusion appeared, then concern followed by pure terror and despair. Watching as Kaien climbed to his feet, the child bowed to Renji and then bowed to him before he excused himself. Byakuya stared after him for a moment longer, and then he focused on Renji and ordered coolly, â€œYour report?â€
â€œI took some of the men out on patrol, sir. We came across some Hollows, and we took care of them easily enough. The problem came in when some Vasto Lordes appeared, we somehow all got away for the most part; and after a group effort, the Menos have been eliminated, sir.â€
Byakuya nodded in acknowledgement of the report. It was sufficient, and he knew that Renji and the others were lucky to have gotten away with their lives. Glancing back in the direction that Kaien went, Byakuya ordered, â€œGo to the Fourth Division to get those injuries healed, Iâ€™ll be in later to take care of the paper work. Thereâ€™s just something I need to take care of first.â€
He heard the affirmative from Renji before his lieutenant left. Getting up, he walked back into the manor to find Kaien standing in the middle of the kitchen. He could tell that while his body was here, the boyâ€™s mind was elsewhere. Carefully approaching Kaien so as to not startle him, Byakuya knelt down and put his hand on Kaien head. Watching as the boyâ€™s snapped to him, he saw the panic in the grey-violet eyes before they calmed down.
â€œI need to go in for a little while, itâ€™s just to do some paperwork.â€ He said gently, causing the boyâ€™s eyes to widen in panic again.
â€œNo! You barely avoided getting killed, you canâ€™t go into work. Please!â€ Kaien cried, grabbing a hold of his sleeve and tugging lightly.
Byakuya felt the motion, but he felt as if heâ€™d taken a direct hit from HyÅrinmaru. He felt as if he was frozen to his core. Staring at Kaien for a moment, Byakuya continued to try and wrap his brain around what heâ€™d just learned. Taking the day off actually saved his life? Really?
Dismissing his shock for the time being, he coaxed Kaien to look at him and saw his sonâ€™s reluctance. â€œI promise, Iâ€™ll be back before you know it and weâ€™ll have some ice cream. If you want, you can go over to the Hisagis and play with Holly.â€
He watched the reluctant nod Kaien gave, and he couldnâ€™t help but notice the uneasy smile that spread across the childâ€™s face. Grabbing his hand, Byakuya lead Kaien out of the room so he could get done with the paperwork as soon as possible so he could get back home. After all, he had a promise to keep to a certain second chance that stumbled into his life. He was going to be a good father.
He wouldnâ€™t mess up this time.
For those of you interested, I got some inspiration for this piece from the story A Father's Promise by junko. The story isn't mine in even the slightest, but I just thought I'd share with you the inspiration for some parts in this piece (mainly Byakuya and the bedtime story thing).