Title: The Things You Do When You’re Not Thinking Straight
Author: vionaxinyi also known as Tanequil
Category: Byakuya Fic
Word Count: Uhm... 3160...
Disclaimer: Bleach = not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers up till Chapter 340. As a matter of fact, this little bit starts right after Chapter 340.
Rating: PG for light swearing
There was a time, back then, when all Kuchiki Byakuya would have thought of, as he lay severely injured and dying on the battlefield, would have been the Kuchiki Clan.
He would have worried about what his death would mean to the Clan as a whole, what it meant for the Kuchiki prestige, the Kuchiki power, and the Kuchiki Name. He would have paused, perhaps for a few seconds, to wonder vaguely whether Grandfather or the Elders would miss him, this wondering being a faux pas on his part, a sign that he had not quite been able to erase all the sentimentality from his heart.
He would have then rid that notion from his heart, and proceed to think of which Elder to call to his bed to have everything arranged just the way tradition dictated for his funeral. And he would have to appoint a temporary successor to the Kuchiki Clan, a successor so worthy that though not Main House Kuchiki, would have been able to so well take over his job that there would be few complaints against this man, if any at all.
When he was young, or younger, as it was, he would have worried that dying like this, on the battlefield, and not on his own more-than-sufficient futon at home, would have been a great disgrace, it would have been something that was unspeakable, something unmentionable, something that would cause the entire Kuchiki Clan to have to lower its head in embarrassment, in shame.
He would have been disgusted at his own weakness, at his own folly for engaging in battle not fully prepared, not completely ready, and for falling there, in defence of something that others could handle, that someone else could protect, because the Kuchiki Clan mission was not one primarily focused on battle, but on records and the keeping of times long gone.
He would have been sad, just a little, that there had been so many things he had not done, and just a little, just a little sad that he had not gotten to see his old mentor, Yoruichi again. It would have been nice for her to be around to see him grow up into a Captain, he would have mused, by now no longer caring about sentimentality, because no one was looking anyway.
He would have been a little disappointed that he was leaving like that, that his division members were keeping their distance because they had not fully understood him yet, and the respect they had for him was one not completely formed by himself, not forged or beaten through fires like most of the other captains, but something granted to him because he had been there at the right time and so it just happened to have been there too.
He would have sighed, very softly, and vaguely wondered if his parents, if Father and Mother up there, wherever they were looking down upon him from, were proud or ashamed of the son they had barely seen, barely known, and had little, or no part in the raising of.
And he would have regretted, he would have regretted that really, there had been so many things he could have done, because in the end, death meant that after centuries, no one would remember him, no one would judge him, no one would care if he had danced around half naked in the main Seireitei square. He would be dead, and that was it.
He would have known nothing more than the Clan, have done nothing more than what was expected of him, and would have had absolutely no aspirations for the future other than those deeply intertwined with the Clan.
The fact that his entire life had been completely pointless would have been obsolete. He would have been the man to take down the Kuchiki Clan by doing exactly what they wanted and expected him to do.
He would have done all those things, he really would have, perhaps seventy years ago, when he had just made Captain, when he was young, more so than he was now, after Yoruichi had disappeared, and before he met Hisana.
Before he met Hisana.
Before she left him.
Before he found Rukia.
Before he lost her.
And then found her again.
He had felt the reiatsus of those five, all five of them, flare.
He had made his way slowly, very, very slowly to where they were engaged in battle, still dripping small little drops of blood from his left leg where the cut was just barely closed. [He would not take too much of their energy because he was no longer needed and what would happen after was not something he could contribute to, even if he wanted to.]
He had stood there and watched as they banded together to support Kurosaki, to help him, cutting down the Exequias like leaves falling in autumn.
It would seem that they had all grown and knew now how to think strategically. Out of the four of them that he could see, Kurosaki would have been his choice to send to fight Schiffer, because although Rukia was strong in her own right, that other companion, not the Quincy, was uniquely powerful in a way that reminded him vaguely of a Hollow, and Renji had bankai as well, Kurosaki’s bankai was rather easier to master.
And Kurosaki’s other half, that mysterious insane fiend that had assaulted him in their previous match, was a power to be reckoned with.
They were all coping fine. Kurosaki had entered, Abarai and was it Yasutora, as well as Rukia were fighting on par, if not completely overwhelming their opponents.
He allowed himself a small smile when no one was looking, before settling on one of his enigmatic expressions, a proud look coming to his face. [Not that anyone could tell, anyway. Anyone who knew him well enough to differentiate those looks was either not present or not looking.]
There had been the distinctive sound of what could only be a cero.
There had been this crash, a loud resonating boom that echoed throughout and sounded like stone smashing down around two fighters.
Two fighters whose reiatsu signatures could be read from a mile away.
The over-analyzed signature of Ulquiorra Schiffer, so painstakingly taken apart by the Twelfth Division and then put back together again to discover how he had just torn a hole into the Dangai and taken Inoue Orihime away.
And Kurosaki Ichigo.
He knew that signature anywhere. He recognized it, both sides of it, one side already giving its best and the other side holding back, but raring to go.
He recognized it.
And so did she.
They both looked up, his gaze snapping up much like her own, just lingering for a much shorter time.
An unknown reiatsu flared slightly, and his eyes widened in horror.
Turn! Turn! Oh, for god’s sake, TURN!!
She did not turn.
She would not turn in time.
Oh god no.
Not now. Not this way.
Before he knew it, he was dashing down the rubble, feet barely touching the stone as he pushed his shunpo to speeds he had never achieved before.
The wound in his left leg reopened, the blood sputtering with each step. Good god, what was he thinking?
He kept moving, kept moving, went faster and faster.
He had to beat that damn branch.
He had to beat that bloody branch to Rukia. [Somehow, this felt very much like déjà vu, but he had no time to think, just running.]
Ten steps, oh god. Stop, you damn tree! This is cheating! This is unfair! You do not attack an opponent who is absorbed in something else!
[Never mind that he did not approve of their relationship yet.]
The childish, easily irritated, bratty side of him sprung up from places he never knew he had as he forced himself to go even faster, forcing his heart to beat furiously in his chest, forcing his burning legs to rush faster, faster, faster.
He was not going to lose. Kuchiki Byakuya did not lose. He was not going to lose. No way.
Five steps. The branch, it… It was speeding up!
A low growl, a low growl that no one else heard, as he literally flung himself the rest of the way, Senbonzakura out in front of him.
The pink petals scattered in front of her, in front of him, and for a second, he couldn’t see the branch.
And then he saw it and did not see it.
There was a blinding pain on the left side of his head. It felt like his face had been split into two, and he staggered to the side, blindly drawing Senbonzakura away with him. [He had won then.]
Funny how the pain just flickered and suddenly stopped when he realized the fact that it had hit him on the face meant that it most likely had not hit Rukia.
[He was quite a bit taller than her, after all.]
That was good. He would have flashed a thumbs up at her, though he supposed that if he turned in her direction and let her see his face, she would probably freak out or something, judging from the rolling crashing pain on the left side of his head.
He could see out of his right eye, he realized idly as he stumbled to the side, a distance to the side, before crumpling rather ungracefully to sit on the ground, left leg not really listening to him anymore.
Senbonzakura was saying something, but between the light-headedness and the flashing pain on the left side of his face, he could not quite concentrate to listen to her.
Until she shrieked with all her strength at him to look up.
He did, and the world spun.
He saw them coming towards him, saw Senbonzakura just sitting there mere feet away from his hand.
He tried to move, but his leg was not making it easy for him.
Forcing himself to his feet, he stumbled over to her, grabbed her, before swaying dangerously on his feet.
He watched as they got closer, watched as his many executors came towards him.
For the first time, he swore as he tried to keep his balance in this swirling, spinning, twirling would.
It was barely working.
He lifted Senbonzakura up.
He had no strength to slash anymore, he could barely see from out of his right eye, he could barely stand straight.
This was kind of unfair.
The thoughts that flashed through his mind were really different from those he thought he would think when coming face to face with death.
His thoughts flew to, surprisingly enough, Senbonzakura first. Perhaps it was because she had just hollered at him for the first time in both of their lives. He wondered vaguely, very vaguely, if she would forgive him for being such a silly prideful ass when he could easily have been one of the most powerful captains ever, because really, she was such a useful and versatile zanpakuto. Perhaps, and perhaps not, because she was as prideful as he was.
He was a little guilty for killing her as well, because, well, he really had no desire whatsoever to end her life, and that she had to go because he was dead was something that he did not think she would like.
His mind snapped over to the various people who might possibly miss him, who might possibly remember him vaguely, who might possible attend the funeral, snapped to people he saw only so rarely like Hitsugaya and Soifon, and wondered how they were doing.
He wished them all the best.
And hoped not to see them on the other side so soon. That would be bad. Really bad. Yeah.
Then he thought of the people who were a little closer to him, of his old mentors, Yoruichi, and then Ukitake, and Ginrei. He wondered if they were disappointed to see the man who had grown from the boy they knew. He hoped not. That would suck. Ha. His brain really was deserting him, it seemed. He rarely thought in obscenities.
He thought of Renji, and then decided that Captainship of the Sixth Division ought to go to the man, and maybe then the division would be a little livelier than it was currently. He realized that he had not yet had that proper spar with his lieutenant, not Bankai against Bankai yet.
Ah well. That… could wait, he supposed.
Then there was just Rukia left. A soft sigh escaped his lips. If there was anything he could do to help her just a little, he would. Perhaps it was because he, of all people, knew what it meant to be lonely, knew what it meant to be alone, knew what it meant to be left behind. He did not think it was a good idea to leave her alone like that.
He still needed to coach her in the running of the Kuchiki Clan.
He still needed to help her with bankai as much as he could.
He still needed to pen that recommendation letter for Lieutenant-ship of the Thirteenth Division.
He still needed to go talk to so many people and learn more about her.
He still needed to get to know her well enough that she would no longer duck her eyes to the ground every time she spoke to him.
And he still needed to beat up Kurosaki Ichigo. Properly.
Then there was no one left, no one left but him. It was a little sad, because there was so much more that he could do, but god, he was getting tired on his feet, and even standing was starting to get difficult.
He could no longer feel the blood sputtering out from his leg wound, no longer feel that throbbing pain on his face, no longer feel just about anything, actually.
It then occurred to him that he was not even two hundred, and that was really pathetic.
[He knew that there were some people planning that two hundred birthday bash for him. It was supposed to be a surprise, but because bank records were part of some of the paperwork he had to do sometimes, and because he was the designated person in charge of the Shihouin bank account, he could tell. They had catered the cake and food already, which was about three year’s of Renji’s salary. Orders had been placed for the decorations, invitation cards were going to be sent soon. If they wanted to change all that to be for his funeral, the prices would skyrocket.]
Darn. It was not too good an idea to die then.
There was so much to do, so much he could still do, and honestly, the number of people pretending to be sad and crying at his funeral just disturbed him. He bet the Kuchiki Clan would invite like half of the entire Soul Society to come see his dead body, and there was no way in heck he wanted that.
[Hisana would probably not be too happy to see him again so soon anyway, so he might as well try his damn best to stay alive, because being killed by a bunch of not even Adjuchas level Arrancars was kind of sad.]
He steadied his footwork, forcing his right eye open, steadying himself and taking a deep breath which merely sent the world twirling around like a mad ballerina.
He… squinted [Squinting was unbecoming of a Noble. Nobles either saw, or averted their eyes. They never squinted.] as he watched the first one come closer, before ducking to the right, swearing as the Arrancar’s sword caught his arm in a shallow slash.
The Arrancar died as he swung Senbonzakura down [in the sloppiest swing he had ever executed in his entire life] to smash its helmet open.
The second Arrancar was dealt with similarly, and soon he was decorated with a series of shallow cuts which he had not completely dodged.
The tenth Arrancar merged into the twentieth. He vaguely noted that this seemed to be getting harder, and he seemed almost to be drifting out of himself.
Then he tripped at was it thirty or thirty five? He tripped, his left leg refused to support him anymore as he crumpled to the floor in an undignified heap, sword held protectively over his body.
This was completely embarrassing. Completely and utterly embarrassing, he noted as thirty six to fifty six came rushing forwards.
This was such a stupid way to die. He attempted to scramble to his feet, and by now, dignity was not even on his important-things-to-note list. That was now just shortened to survival. His scrambling did not work, and he had to prop himself up with Senbonzakura. This sucked. It sucked big time. His brain was really dying from… what was it now? He did not think that he had gotten a blow to his brain, because he would already be dead. It was probably something else.
And he was doing his damn best to try to survive, but hell, it was not working. This was so damn unfair. He was going to be done in by a bunch of morons who were slower than he had been as a kid.
This was so incredibly stupid that he laughed as he attempted a last ditch at survival, blasting kido out in a wide arc and fatally singeing forty to forty seven.
Forty eight lunged at him, and he no longer had the strength to block or even duck, just standing there and glaring at the Arrancar who faltered slightly but still came in to swing.
[Ha. His glare seemed to work as a last ditch weapon as well. Too bad it could not kill the enemy.]
He saw the blade coming closer, and knew that even if he fell to the ground to duck the blow, it would be too late.
It was already too late, in any case, so he just glared at the Arrancar with one eye.
He would not look away.
That would be uncool, and he vaguely wondered where all this queer personality was coming from. Probably his suppressed personality, he mused.
The blade got closer. He refused to blink, because if he blinked and then died, that would be completely anticlimactic and you got it, stupid.
Now Forty Eight seemed closer as well. Funny how he had not noticed it.
Then Forty Eight fell, and he blinked his right eye, plunging him into dizzying blackness for a moment.
“Sorry I’m late, taicho!”
Damn you, Abarai.
What took you so bloody long?
For the first time in his not-very-long life, Kuchiki Byakuya smirked openly before collapsing in a completely undignified heap to the floor.
The last thing he heard before he blacked out was a very indignant squawk.
He had dropped Senbonzakura to the floor.