Warning: Mentions of character death
Summary: Even he found it ironic, to be surrounded by so much death when he, himself, was a Death God.
A/N: Inspired by Ono no Komachi's poem "How Sad."
to think I will end
a pale green mist
drifting the far fields.
-Ono no Komachi
Even he finds it ironic, to be surrounded by so much death when he, himself, is a Death God.
His mother died first. Even now Byakuya remembers standing before her grave, a child in an adult world, with his father’s gentle hand on his shoulder as he stared, dry-eyed. It would not do for a Kuchiki to cry. He watched the pyre being lit, and then his mother disappeared from his world in a flurry of ashes, and Death perched itself on his shoulder where his father’s hand had been.
His father died honorably. Soujun Kuchiki was a gentle man with a gentle heart, and kindness guaranteed a quick death. You did not become a Shinigami through kindness. It was his grandfather’s hand which crept on his shoulder at the funeral, and once more Soujin Kuchiki, like his wife before him, vanished in the fire and smoke.
When Yoruichi left, the Seireitei was in an uproar, but none more than Byakuya himself. No warning, no explanation, nothing to prepare him for yet another loss – the loss of a friend, a mentor, his were-cat. It was not death at his shoulder now, but the wide, empty space of abandonment. Byakuya disappeared within its depths.
It was the scarf on his shoulder when his grandfather, the honorable Ginrei Kuchiki, who died next. His funeral was small and personal. His body was draped in fine silk which snapped in the cold winter breeze, the fire doing nothing to warm his grandson’s face.
The following spring, death was lost in the dark violet gaze of a Rukongai girl with small hands and a sad smile. Those eyes became wider and more encompassing than the abandonment he draped himself with, and once more, Byakuya vanished within.
But when the moon fell behind the clouds and his lips were on her nape, the noble knew death had found another perch.
Five years later, it was not Byakuya Death visited next, but his wife, and at her funeral its breath was warm with promise. It lingered as a love mark would on his cheek for years afterward, until he no longer noticed it, becoming as much a part of him as the strangling scarf, the weight of the kenseikan in his hair.
Kaien Shiba was next. His death was sudden, tragic, and Byakuya attended the funeral in Rukia’s place. She had enough to burden those small shoulders; what was one more weight upon his own? And so Byakuya helped her carry it, unsure of how to help, knowing that whatever words he had to say were meaningless. He said nothing.
Until he flung himself unflinchingly into the grim reaper’s arms, Gin’s blade cold like the winter of his grandfather’s death.
Rukia had Hisana’s eyes as she looked down on him, her hands just as small as they folded into his own, the warmth of her pulse urging him back to life.
He can still feel those tiny hands, so unlike the grip of death on his shoulder, as he prays before Hisana’s shrine. The spicy incense wards away the threat of war waiting for them all, his late wife’s photograph a look into the past. Her smile is as it has always been. In this room, not even Death can touch him, kept at bay by the candles and Hisana’s soft violet eyes.
The scarf and kenseikan are gone, dark hair falling softly along his face, throat bare in supplication before his love.
“I will do my best to stay alive, Hisana.”
Nearby he can sense the flicker of Rukia’s sprit, still with slumber. Briefly, he wonders what fills her dreams, and hopes they do not contain the pollution of war and the fog of dying. But he would not be surprised if they were.
With pale fingers he traces the outline of Hisana’s face along the glass, some part of him hoping for death, if nothing more to be with her again.
When he steps outside into the moonlight, Byakuya knows Death is there waiting for him, somewhere in the murk of nightfall. He looks out to the far fields beyond, unafraid of what death may bring, because now, Byakuya knows – he is prepared for it.