It's done! Fertig! 終わっていますよ。
HAPPY BIRTHDAY laurie_bunter -dear, RUKIA, BYAKUYA-SAMA, adam_epp . XD
And here's my entry for your contest.
The .pdf file is located here, the version that I would rather you read, since it has the right fonts and layout...
Title: Depositus (Residue)
Author’s Name: bunnisteffi
Word Count (if applicable): 2,908
Spoiler Warnings (if any): So long as you know as far back as 50 years into Byakuya-sama's past, you won't be spoiled.
Summary: [Past Universe] For a soul that is so laden with the residue of eterene sorrow, it's no lie to say that he's a dense man.
Or, The Bond of Saltwater Tears
A Byakuya/ByaHisa-centric Fanfiction
“ We should not shed tears…”
As a child, Kuchiki Byakuya never understood the reason for tears.
That is the kindling that stoked the fire, and created the smoke that shrouds him from the eyes of Soul Society’s inhabitants; Kuchiki-taichou is a cold man who shows no compassion – he has never ever been seen with tears.
He does nothing to dispel these rumblings, because he knows that they are wrong; he has cried before. That is, once, in his youth, for the most important person in his life.
He has never cried since then.
From before –
There would be no more care for the matter. None. It had been foolishness, blatant foolishness to have put in so much, so much for her.
This had been his immediate thought when fraught with despair over her leaving.
The one whom he had first opened up the glacier of his being for. The one who had caused his heart to heat up and pulse like a volcano’s core. And then whose withering had led this heatedness to cool so rapidly, almost as if to keep the memories of her from going up into flames and powdered ashes.
In times like the one that he was birthed in, in these times of which love and life was ever-fleeting, and death was the predominant ruler of everything, no one – not even one who was nobility-born – could bravely declare that he had feelings for anything.
Say, if you dare, that you adore the lovely blooms of the sakura tree outside your window. By the very next mor – no, it wouldn’t even take that long – by the next toll of the hour-bell, the delicate blossoms would have rotted and been grounded into a sorrowful hollow in the earth.
No, the gods had not an ounce of compassion in them. They spared nary a glance for the overflowing rivers of dead which, despite the ravenous rampages the Grotesque Ones (predecessors of Hollows) went on at them, failed to show ebb in its relentless waves. The dead were too many, the living too fleeting, and it was likely that the actions of the monsters provided temporary amusement for those gods.
He did not have to be taught to display a lack of emotion. No child had to be, for everyone was sure to have some telling encounter which enforced the idea of showing no care for any other being in this world of death. ‘To live is to die; those who seek differently shall be punished by the gods over and over, again and again.’ The destiny the cruel gods set undoubtedly framed a day in which it would only tear one up inside for caring deeply for another being.
The warnings had all been there.
For him, passing through the death-musted corridors of his ancestors from the time he could walk was enough. The things he saw, sights which even the paper screens failed to shield him from were too heart-wrenching for him to feel nothing. But even so, he still shed tears for them all. Tears, which came every night that he sought to hide from other eyes.
Some people got to laugh
Some people got to cry
Some people got to make it through
By never wondering why
His first impression of her was of no significance; that was understandable for two reasons. One previously mentioned – it served no one to take note of anything. The second was that she belonged not to the gentry. An orphan from the furthest-flung districts, a place that was so scarred with the mark of the vengeful gods, the survivors were shunned by all.
The girl was brought in to replace another who had been pulled into the Death Tide in the night. And so, he paid her no attention; like the sakura petals, she might be gone in a heartbeat.
But that was before she found his tears one night. It was known that tears would signal for the unwanted attention of the gods.
When she saw him in that darkened, windowless chamber, she felt at those she had found respite. Finally, here was somewhere where she could safely let forth the liquid anguish that had been building up behind her once-bright eyes. She felt her own sorrow well up, and could not help but set it free there-then.
Light from the lone taper she was holding at the doorway outlined his figure. No one would have thought that he was shedding tears, with his rigid posture and soundless cries. The girl only knew when curiosity brought her shuffling towards her lord on bent knees. Hesitantly, she had reached out towards his face, something that she would never have done had he acknowledged her presence, or if the room had been less dark.
He had smiled at how her hand froze upon his cheek. No doubt, she was startled by the feel of the warm droplets there. Between his thumb and forefinger, he snuffed out the flame. Keep silent, and you can stay. She understood his unspoken message and knelt where she was. Tears came from her almost instantly.
The next time it happened, she had once again crept uncertainly into his room. She brought no light with her this time. While she still had an ample of lost loves to weep over, the tears came less readily to her eyes this time. It gave her time to wonder at his tears; all the time, his countenance remained emotionless and unfeeling, something which the common people tried perfecting. Only here in the darkness could she feel him feeling.
It became a habit of theirs. His wordless instructions had altered as their tears slowly dried up. Stay and we shall revel in this silence together. Peculiarly, they had found hope that shone brighter and brighter with each encounter in the watery blackness. It came to the point where they would just sit, absorbing the echoes of the other’s steady breathing, unbroken by sobbing.
And they never cried again.
They took comfort in the fact that in this place, there was at least this one other person who dared weep. It could be that their buried-deep emotions were called up so often here, that it was so easy for him to pull her to him one night, holding her head snug under his chin. She did not struggle – though instinct told her to get up and run away – slumping comfortably into his embrace.
Too easy, this. His hands might have been sure and firm and her compliance ready, but both had feared that the minions of death would burst through the frail paper walls, setting fire to all that was burnable – everything – including them. In punishment.
Soon, holding her in the dark was not enough for him. As his heart became an erratic thing, his thoughts light and indulgent while his frozen exterior began to crack outside. Seeing her in the hallways, he could not stoically ignore her presence, as with the other servants. There would be a half smile just for her, accepted with a duck of her head and a pattering of feet disappearing down the other side of the corridor.
No one seemed to notice these little exchanges, or mayhap they did, choosing to mutter a blessing upon the two youths, and hurried on with their unhappy existences. Then again, it was hardly possible that anyone could have seen them, as lives were being taken in and out of the once-noble house so swiftly.
That was something which shadowed his every dream of her; he could be smiling and blissful with her one moment and the very next, she would be ripped away from him, or struck by a minion’s deadly lightning, or go up in smoke, cooked in demon fire… In the dreams, more often than not, it would conclude with him being left with nothing, left with just his liquid heart that seemed unable to re-solidify. She, too, was affected by this torment, but she told him not a word about it.
Hope and love was such a scarce commodity, that they would rather have some pain bordering on each of their trysts than not have met each other at all. Just to be safe, they kept to the dark room with its flimsy paper screens. It was their haven, wherein they could smile, and touch, and mouth sweet soundless nothings.
It was enough.
Even if heaven and earth collide tonight
We’ll be all alone in a different light
I don’t care what the world can see
It’s just between you and me
I said, it’s just between you and me
It would have been enough, if she had not had the sudden compulsion to take to the light. She sought for it in its physical entity, and would not enter the dark room with just the promise of the other brightness – hope. It was almost madness, for light could only be found outside, out in the daytime, out in full view of the gods’ eyes.
He would stay in their room, filled with paranoia in the absence of her presence. The gods would have their way with her, he feared, if they knew about the things that had come to pass. The frenzied thoughts that passed behind his cracked built up insurmountably; even sleep failed to come, failed to tame his agitation.
She would return holding a candle stump, and he, standing against the rectangle of darkness, would see her light-dazzled eyes, her diffident smile, and take her into his arms. He told himself, It is worth it, and he basked in her new-found glow, all without considering her breech of the established safeguards.
But each time, his reluctance to release her from his embrace increased ten-fold.
It could be likened to chasing a butterfly that had entered the Sun’s domain. In the dim light of a house, the riveting being had still been within his grasp; out in the light, its glittering beauty was sublime, and so was its elusive nature.
He, who had never left the protection of the darkness, wanted to follow her out into the light. Hardly had it occurred to him that there could be anything amiss in her actions. Therefore, it was more than banal curiosity that brought him to tail her – when she left, for the first time, in the night.
As she made to slip out of the doorway, Byakuya moved to cut her off.
She eyed him hesitantly. “Byakuya-sama, I have to- ”
“Yes, I know. But… ” The look he gave her was one half- concern, half-puzzlement. The strange warning awareness that he had felt a moment ago heightened. It told him not to let her go on searching for her sister. But with that being her only lifeline these days, when he left her stifled in the mansion often while he worked tediously at his captaincy…
He would have to redouble the guards he had assigned to her in secret.
Gently, he reached out to tilt her chin upwards while inhaling the faint soap scent of hers. “Take care, Hisana.” And she gave him a little reassuring smile before turning her back on him.
He could not place his finger on what exactly the niggling feeling was.
She shone in the dark. It was just not possible to tear his eyes off her.
Half-hidden behind a post at the foot of the arch-bridge, he stared. And as he stared, his need to launch himself at her, to clutch her tightly to him intensified. How could so strong an attraction exist? That by itself was illogical.
Then the brightness flickered, and with that brief interruption, he realised that she was perched precariously at the edge of the bridge’s middle – at the highest point. The glow inside her shifted once more, and then it left her to form an eerie pellucid web around her body.
Flame-biting comprehension threw him into motion. He knew then that their acts of clandestinity had been sighted – this was the very moment that he had feared. One moment, he was standing a distance off her, and the very next, his frantic hands scrabbled to find purchase in her jelly-like prison.
All this while, she had been caught in some trance. But now, her masked eyes became clear with recognition and large with anguish. Her body remained motionless, frozen by the impenetrable substance –
WE SHALL TAKE HER AWAY. Her captors had finally decided to make themselves known.
The youth continued with his manic tearing at his futile attempt at freeing her. NO. He would not allow them to do that, to take her away. He had to – he had to –
YOOOUUUU. YOU WHO HAVE GONE AGAINST USSSSSS. The source-less voice hissed and whined. Bodily instinct told him to turn his back and run back to where there was temporal safety, yet through the strength from his fervor for her kept him there.
The terrifying cacophony was relentless- AND WE SHALL TEACH THIS BRAT- Oh yes he shall ssssssuffer- SSSSUFFER- Forever- EVER- FOR EVER AND EVER AND EVER AGAIN! Till the end!
Before his eyes, she was dragged by the neck skywards, the light-skin having woven itself into a brutally thick cord. She was jerked up and held atop the tumult of the crashing water beneath. WE SSSHALL MOCK YOUR TEARSSSSS.
It was not in slow motion that caused him to cry out for her as she fell from so high above, down, down, down into the frothy, lapping waves of the eager dead. Rather, it was that his vision had suddenly been engulfed in a pink blindness, and then he felt the drops of her love, dripping one at a time onto the bridge on his nose.
And for the very first time, he cried out her name-
“ –––––– …”
The word had come bubbling to his lips, as strangely as how tears had come springing to his eyes. He did not know which shocked him more – that he was saying the name of a girl – for surely it was a girl’s name – that he had never heard of, the that his maiden tears were shed for absolutely no reason in particular.
Look. The young Kuchiki heir has almost jumped in surprise, for this was the second time Senbonzakura had spoken of her own accord. He did as she told him to-
Crossing his vision, a tiny raven-haired girl pushed past, her head turning for a moment to flash curious her violet orbs at him. With startling clarity, he realised that they were brimmed full with tears, as like his.
He strode on towards her swiftly disappearing back There was no need to wait for his sword spirit’s firther instructions: Now speak to her.
His mind awoke to an unending pink visage., which took him a moment to realise was an entire landscape of sakura blossoms. He felt curled up in a cocoon of them, while little winds blew the scattered petals in fluttering spirals against his cheek.
Their game is not complete. He understood automatically to which parties this pleasantly cool voice was speaking of. They had been too blinded by their jealousy of your love for the girl, that they did not see that what you have had been formed a subtle bond with her through your tears. And that has turned their game against them – their curse will never fully take hold on the both of you.
I will see to it that you will always meet her in each of your lifetimes. That opened his eyes. Such a promise… he wanted to know who his benefactor was. That is the extent to what I can do for you. And the voice dimmed regretfully. Each time, she will leave you behind.
Knowing that he would see her again, the relief he felt was immense, even despite the next words – My young admirer, I am afraid that a large part of your lives will all be laden with the residue of your saltwater tears.
He smiled. “Even so, I thank you.”
And I, you. I, the spirit of the tree whose blossoms you had once loved, shall remain by you for eternity.
I’ve seen the light
And I’ve seen the flame
And I’ve been this way before
And I’m sure to be this way again
For I’ve been refused and I’ve been regained
And I’ve seen your eyes before
And I’m sure to see your eyes again
So with each lifetime, the soul that was to become Kuchiki Byakuya would love the girl he had met in the fluid darkness.
Every time they came together, no matter in which realm both were inv (for in due time, someone would dissolve the chaos and set borders to the worlds) nor who they each were, brief tears would mark the bittersweet occasion, his love for her would always exceed hers, she would always left him behind, and he would always shed tears once, then nevermore.
In this life, it does seem like the far-reaching curse of the destroyed gods is waning – a breakthrough has appeared. For the first time in all lifetimes, Hisana has finally left him something that he found, the Light of her eternal seeking.
And the next time he sees her, he will be able to bring forth his true tears – melting the heaped residue of sorrow and despair – and set themselves free.
I would like to thank Luna de Atermis and charming.murderess for being my betas! Especially Luna, who’d given me pointers to add to Depositus. *sends major hugs*
As for the story’s title, ‘depositus’ is latin for ‘to put down, to entrust, to give up’. It is fitting for what Byakuya had to do with his lifetimes of being left behind by Hisana.
A part of this story is based on Kurosaki Ichigo’s FtB movie quote, "...Hey, if death really isn't the end, even for us maybe that was not our first meeting... maybe we were connected way before that”. I had been playing with the idea of reincarnation, and connections between souls that cut lifetimes a while before coming upon this quote; it just serves to confirm my earlier theory. Fufufufuffu.
Originally, I had meant to write an IchiRuki ‘creation’ story (which I MAY still write), but with Laurie_Bunter’s January contest, I couldn’t resist writing something with the same concept for Byakuya-sama. I tried to explore the reasons why Byakuya’s how he is today by coming up with the idea of him and Hisana having been punished for their love in a past world where it angered the jealous gods to see love among mortals.
I hope that you have enjoyed my take on his past. Without further ado, here is the list of songs I had come up with after finishing the raw fic.
I’ve been this way before – Sarah Brightman
Just between you and me – Foreigner
夜空の川 yozora no kawa (river of the night sky) – Kuchiki Byakuya
Never meant to belong – Shiro Sagisu
Suite “never meant to belong” 1st – 3rd movement (FtB OST) – Shiro Sagisu
Time after time – Cyndi Lauper
For your eyes only – Sheena Easton / David Pedersen (Carnival)
Excerpt of “We should not…” taken from BLEACH Vol. 7 The Broken Coda by Kubo Tite; Song lyric excerpts of “Some people…” and “I’ve seen the light…” taken from Sarah Brigthman’s ‘I’ve been this way before’; “Even if heaven…” excerpted from ‘Just between you and me’ by Foreigner.
7/8th Janauary 2009