“An Unexpected Encounter”

Saturday, 29 August 2015

  • Author: Lavender Wynter (lav.wynter@gmail.com)
  • Series: Bleach (owned by Kubo Tite)
  • Pairing(s): Kuchiki Byakuya x Urahara Kisuke
  • Characters: Kuchiki Byakuya, Urahara Kisuke, Shihōin Yoruichi (mentioned), Abarai Renji (mentioned), Kuchiki Genrei (mentioned), Kuchiki Rukia (mentioned), Kuchiki Hisana (mentioned), Aizen Sousuke (mentioned)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Warning(s): PWP.
  • Word Count: ± 5,500 words
  • Summary: Kuchiki Byakuya couldn’t get a person out of his thoughts, and when he runs into Urahara Kisuke, unexpected things happened.

Please do not distribute. Thank you.

———————–

Kuchiki Byakuya had been tossing and turning for the last two hours, the stillness of the night agitating him instead of calming him like it usually did. The problem, Byakuya came to realize, was the tall, exiled, blonde man who hasn’t left his thoughts since he heard his name tumbling from those lips.

Kuchiki-san…

There was respect in that voice amidst the surprise, for the recognition of Byakuya coming into who he is since the blonde’s exile. As much as that vibrated the cords of Byakuya’s being, what followed the blonde man’s words nearly undid Byakuya in the midst of battle.

Good luck, Kuchiki-taichō

We’re counting on you, the gray eyes spoke.

He had nearly lost concentration in the midst of battle over that. Him. Kuchiki Byakuya.  That’s never happened before. Ever. Not even his beautiful Hisana had that level of effect on him. Not that he ever allowed her to be in danger.

Then again, no one has ever said anything like that to him – to physically lay the confidence and trust upon his shoulders. From as far back as Byakuya could remember, that was something he had worked and trained tirelessly for, an expectation he had to meet. He never really heard it from his own grandfather – not even when he took over as head of the Kuchiki Clan, and his parents had passed away too young to have been around to give him that kind of trust. People just expected it of him, but not one person has ever verbalized it. Byakuya thought he was over such childish tendencies; had in fact, believed he was beyond the need of praise to his noble being to have it affect him at all.

Yet it did, and it affected him enough to hand over resolving the issue of Rukia to Kurosaki Ichigo, a shinigami representative, of all people, when his own vice captain was standing right there, bankai released.

Despite having been far enough away for Urahara’s communication to have been drowned out by the atmosphere, Byakuya had hung onto every word the blonde man said, explaining how this could have all come to be, as if the man was comforting Byakuya instead of his sister who was kneeling there on the ground in the throes of despair and grief.

Why? Why did it matter so much when it had not mattered before? What was it about Urahara Kisuke that Byakuya is losing precious sleep over thoughts of the man?

Byakuya sat up from his futon, folded everything into a perfect column of bedding and blanket, and got dressed. The tossing and turning wasn’t doing a damn thing for his posture, and that was one of the things about himself he took high pride in. The full moon was bright outside, and the night still and quiet. The cool air was a welcome reprieve from the heat, and the only sounds were the footfalls of night guards who patrolled the barracks as well as Seireitei itself.

Sun-kissed blond hair. Steel gray eyes that says and hides so much all at once. The broad shoulders. The slender waist hidden under the haori. The inches the man has on Byakuya meant long limbs. Long, muscled limbs. The musculature the man must have from his days in the Onmitsukidō and dedication to being one of the best…

Want him to throw you against something, Byakuya-boi? Yoruichi’s voice sounded in his head, annoying smug as always, and lavender-gray eyes went wide with surprise a second before mentally snarling at the century old nickname. Just when did those kind of thoughts start creeping up on him like that?

Byakuya let his legs pick the paths as he meandered, lost in thought.

Urahara Kisuke wasn’t like any other captains before him. It was no secret that the man was an absolute genius, capable of superb observation and deduction at a glance, and was the true backbone to the Onmitsukidō’s intelligence network. Setting up the Twelfth Division and the Shinigami Research and Development Institute to mimic the Second Division’s connection with the Onmitsukidō not only proved his capability to advance and build, but also that he understood things barely a handful of others did. He made progress on research they’ve all come to rely upon even if no one spoke of it.

However, the man wasn’t a leader. He worked best behind the scenes, but struggled under duties of being Captain, his grandfather had said at dinner one night. He didn’t have the confidence to lead. When Byakuya made the comment that his grandfather should not have passed the man during the exam if he felt the man incompetent, Kuchiki Genrei replied, “Confidence can be learned in the face of adversity, which will be often enough. What we need is some new thinking, Byakuya, to help us move forward. I believe Yoruichi-dono made the right choice.”

Byakuya hadn’t known what to say to that, so he promised that by the time the leadership of Kuchiki fell to him, he will not lack the confidence he needs to be an effective leader.

And when they had all forgotten who Rukia was – even him – it had been that child who came to the rescue. His own lieutenant made the same decision as that very first time they banded to save Rukia on Sōkyoku Hill – to join forces with Kurosaki. Then Urahara had shown up, despite his exile, to help.

And didn’t have a single problem infiltrating Seireitei without anyone knowing – his confident attitude whilst staring adversity in the face, that easy smile, understanding the role he needs to be at any given time, the ability to provide answers when people had questions, to step down from the high peaks and explain things to the less intelligent beings in a way they could understand…

This was a man who understood his exact position in the world and whose closest comrades understood that as well, even if no one else did. That subtle hard edge of Urahara Kisuke is now firmer, more concrete in the blonde man’s aura than when Ginrei had talked about him.

Adversity builds confidence… His grandfather had taught him. Just as easily it can tear a man apart. Which will you be, Byakuya?

Was that what the Werecat saw? Urahara in his entirety and had chosen to believe in and save her friends even when it meant being hunted, tarnishing the Shihōin Family Name, and becoming a fugitive.

That gave Byakuya considerable pause and the odd sensation of jealousy – a feeling he wasn’t accustomed to but understood its meaning well enough. Byakuya never had the need to feel jealous. He felt that as long as he worked hard enough, all which he seeks to accomplish will be. So to feel jealous towards the people who share the man’s side and guard his back just like he guards theirs…

Could it be that Byakuya wanted to be one of the few?

Byakuya stopped to find himself by the Sōkyoku Hill, and he glanced up to the platform his sister had been strapped to, now broken. This was where the battle between himself and Kurosaki Ichigo had been fought, and it took him – a fact he admitted to no one – a considerable amount of time to come to terms that the child Ichigo had managed to achieve Bankai and to make Byakuya work for a victory in a ridiculously short amount of time. It took him twelve years to achieve Bankai, decade more to master it, and the child managed it in three. And Urahara…

How did he know? Where does that man’s insight come from?

The silence of the woods at the base of Sōkyoku Hill swirled around Byakuya’s thoughts, adding to the quiet musings like someone pouring fuel on a fire to give it volume and intensity. Glancing up, one could make out the stairs that spiraled up to the platform strutting out the side. While it would have taken nothing more than a simple Shunpo step to get to the top, Byakuya embarked on the steps itself. If nothing else, the time and the effort will help keep his thoughts focused and away from…

… that man.

Or so he hoped.

He should have remembered that hope was an ideology for the weak.

“It is a beautiful night for a stroll, Kuchiki-taichō,” the voice that had haunted his mind sounded outside his ears, and Byakuya froze at the figure three steps above him cloaked in a solid black cape and hood, leaning against the side of the hill and staring up at the stars as if waiting for something… or someone to walk by. Despite knowing that the man stood in front of him, he couldn’t sense a trace of the man’s reiatsu. Byakuya frowned. He was one of the best in controlling the amount of reiatsu around lesser beings, but to leave not an errant trace like Urahara did was skill on a different level.

So this was the kind of ability it took to be one of the most skilled members of the Onmitsukidō. The skills of the man in front of him that most people either didn’t realize or never fully understood was terrifying. What else was Urahara Kisuke hiding? What was the man capable of? Why is the thought of what he didn’t know about the man having such a powerful affect on him? Byakuya fought the shiver that threatened to creep down his spine.

“You’re still here,” Byakuya nonchalantly noted and drew abreast of Urahara, intent on moving past the man and continuing with his journey up the hill, back straight, pose regal, and practiced grace never once faltering to the inner turmoil. Byakuya could sense the man’s eyes on his back, eyes of stormy skies that could read too much.

“Indeed, I am,” Urahara acknowledged.

Byakuya turned his head just enough to glance at the shadow behind him and dipped his head in a curt nod. “Good night, Urahara,” he said before continuing on, determined to put some distance between himself and the blonde man.

“May I inquire to what’s troubling you, Kuchiki-taichō? Perhaps I can help?” Urahara asked before Byakuya made it more than six steps further and stopped the man in his tracks again.

Byakuya turned ninety-degrees towards the man still standing at the same step when Byakuya passed him. “You assume much, Urahara,” Byakuya replied back.

“My apologies, Taichō,” Urahara said.

Byakuya turned back to the stairs in front of him.

“Was I mistaken in my assumption?” the blonde man asked again.

Byakuya didn’t bother turning back around this time to reply. “Urahara. Despite what we know of Aizen, you are still a convicted criminal in the eyes of Seireitei. Leave else I feel the need to arrest you,” he said before continuing in his climb.

Urahara’s presence completely disappeared from Byakuya’s senses, but doubled its efforts in troubling the man within.

Perhaps I can help?

Byakuya had to stop as his body sang the tunes of Urahara’s offering of assistance. What was wrong with him? Byakuya would have typically scoffed, no… scorned at anyone who had the audacity to claim they could help him. He is the twenty-eighth head of his clan, Captain of the Sixth Division, and never has he ever needed help from those below him.

Because no man has ever had anything to offer him. He had only ever been kept by Hisana, and she had been the only person in the world he trusted to take care of him. She was the quiet strength he drew from, the warmth he knew he could return to at the end of any trying matter, and it had all been so short-lived. It had left him on his knees, and he didn’t like that feeling at all.

Byakuya had never allowed himself to depend on another soul ever again. He would hold his own. Always. Until Urahara Kisuke came waltzing back into Seireitei, that is.

Irritated, Byakuya gave up on the stairs and Shunpo-stepped his way to the top of the hill. If it had been anyone else, he would have arrested the criminal immediately, or had ran him or her through if there had been resistance. That he didn’t so much as do anything but warn the man of the possibility of Byakuya arresting him spoke volumes.

Volumes he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to hear at the moment… or ever.

Unguided feet carried the man to one of the large posts of the ruined stockade, the last prisoner it held being his own sister, Rukia. The whole event surrounding the deflection of three Captains, over an object created by Urahara himself, secreted within Rukia, his battle against a boy that he lost played through his mind.

Nobody had known where Urahara had gotten to in the last century until that boy had shown up with Shihōin Yoruichi and uncovered the conspiracy they all lived within for gods only knew how long.

“Perhaps I should be worried you’ve come to arrest me, Kuchiki-taichō?” Urahara’s voice floated from the direction of the other wooden pole. “It appears you and I think a little alike on nights like this. Do you enjoy walks at night as well?”

Byakuya snapped his head to the left, eyebrows drawn, and eyes searched for the exiled shinigami that he knew was there, even if he couldn’t sense the man immediately. A figure sitting on the ground with his back propped against the pole climbed to his feet and turned around to face Byakuya. “I thought I told you to leave, Urahara. Does it amuse you to break laws and flaunt it in front of people?”

Urahara approached, hands tucked in sleeves, an easy smile on his face, and eyes half-hooded. “There are many things people can say about me. Flaunting isn’t one of them, Kuchiki-taichō, except maybe at Kurotsuchi-taichō,” he replied with a small smile.

Lavender-gray eyes glared, and Urahara came to a stop a few feet away from Byakuya before tilting his face skyward again to watch the stars. “The stars are never quite so beautiful in Karakura. Humans like light too much and ends up washing out the sky when the sun has set,” he observed. “I have missed this.”

For whatever reason Byakuya couldn’t fathom, he followed the man’s line of sight towards the sky to study the very diamonds winking at him from above. He didn’t notice or sense when the other shinigami moved closer, close enough to leave inches between lips and a ear, “What is it about me that has gotten you so worked up this night, Kuchiki-taichō?” Urahara whispered.

Byakuya couldn’t help the flinch this time as he twisted away from the man like he’d been stung by an overgrown bee thorn, and his back ran smack into the wooden post. “What do you think you’re doing, Urahara?”

“Making simple conversation.”

Byakuya couldn’t help but noticed how the dim light of the moon and stars still shone and reflected themselves in the blond strands of the man’s hair. It was… mesmerizing.

“You’re wasting my time,” Byakuya replied, smoothing his expression to one he used with subordinates who thought too much of themselves in speaking to him.

“Oh? Then what are you interested in?” Kisuke asked, not missing a single glance from the shorter man. “Arresting me perhaps? A restraint?” Kisuke offered up his wrists in front of him, palms up, in a gesture of offering.

Red blood cells collided with each other and formed mountains of accidents and blockades as the signals and directions became jumbled. Angry lavender eyes flashed in the darkness, and Byakuya wasn’t sure who he was angry at – himself or Urahara.

Probably both.

And just why is it that on this night, of all nights, that the one person he had to come across, of all people, be Urahara Kisuke?

“Leave,” Byakuya commanded.

“Truly?” Urahara asked, lowering his arms to his side.

“Truly,” Byakuya replied, but the conviction was lacking and the other man stepped closer.

“I don’t believe you,” Urahara whispered. “What is it about me that is bothering you so much, Taichō? Is it because I am a fugitive or is there something more?”

Byakuya glared harder, if that was even possible. Urahara studied Byakuya for a moment or two longer and then held out a hand. “Perhaps we should go somewhere more private where a conversation would not be overheard or intruded upon?”

“As if there is such a place in Seireitei you would know of,” Byakuya scoffed.

“Indeed,” Urahara smiled, and Byakuya sternly told his knees if they even gave hint of buckling, he would be spending as much time on them as possible for the next half century in front of Hisana’s shrine. Without a cushion.

For reasons beyond Byakuya’s understanding, he clasped the offered hand, and disappeared in the next instant with Urahara as the tall blonde pulled Byakuya into his arms and executed a Shunpo-step as flawlessly as Shihōin Yoruichi. The duo reappeared at the base of Sokyōku Hill, and it wasn’t until Urahara disappeared into the wall did Byakuya realize there was a hidden entrance.

Down a long ladder was one of the biggest interior caverns Byakuya has ever seen, and Byakuya couldn’t help himself from gawking internally in awe. He never knew such a place existed. It was nearly the size of the Kuchiki Estates.

“What is this place?” Byakuya unconsciously asked.

“My secret training ground,” Urahara answered as he stepped past Byakuya into the cavern. “There is a hot spring deeper inside. Care to join me?” he beckoned with a graceful sweep of an arm that ended with his palm up in the gesture of respected request instead of command.

The idea of getting into a hot spring with Urahara, even if they were nearly nude instead of fully nude, irritated Byakuya in his current state. There would be no hiding any bodily reactions from the blonde man, intended or not, and as much as Byakuya liked to pride himself on not being easy prey, the former Captain of the Twelfth Division wasn’t the average man either. No, that just wouldn’t do.

“The purpose of this was to have a conversation without risks of eavesdropping or interruptions,” Byakuya replied tartly.

Eyes that know too much and showed too little examined Byakuya, and without warning, Byakuya suddenly found himself held by the face by two large hands with soft lips pressed against his in the firmest and softest kiss Byakuya had ever experienced. Teeth nipped at him, and it took several seconds for Byakuya to gather enough thought to remember that he should be reacting. Hells, he should be retaliating!

But the realization  took several seconds too long, and it was all Kisuke needed to pull back, tongue licking one final time before the man let Byakuya go. It took a few extra seconds for Byakuya to snarl inwardly at what just transpired.

Damn that man to the Seven Hells!

“Then let’s talk, Kuchiki-taichō,” Urahara whispered before turning his back and making his way deeper into the training ground. “But I do enjoy my creature comforts. There’s a place we can talk more comfortably.”

The cavern exited into a cave equipped with a large futon, chairs, tables, and an assortment of gear, and Byakuya wondered at how clean and fresh everything looked within. The space was obviously kept clean by someone, if not used often. At least, Byakuya didn’t think it would be used often, unless Urahara had been living underneath their noses this entire time. It would certainly explain the impromptu appearance of the blonde man to save Kurosaki.

Because nobody can possibly be that good.

Urahara sat down on the futon and gestured towards the chairs, “I would offer something to drink, Kuchiki-taichō, but it has been a while since I’ve been back. The other person who uses this place isn’t one for keeping condiments around unless it was being served, just equipment. But, please, do make yourself comfortable.”

Soft eyes and a warm smile punctuated the speech, and Byakuya wondered again why he was even there. When Byakuya pretended he was a carved stone statue for more seconds than necessary, Urahara offered, “you are welcome to join me on the futon if it suits you better, Taichō.”

“Your presumptions are trying my patience, Urahara,” Byakuya intoned what he hoped was annoyance at the blonde man. Urahara’s only answer was to tuck his hands back inside his sleeves and wait.

Byakuya glanced around as much as his eye movements could provide. Turning his head would mean that he was interested, and right now, Byakuya didn’t know if he wanted Urahara to know that. Although…

Byakuya tried stealing a glance over at the blonde man still sitting there studying him, but caught Urahara’s eyes instead.

… it would seem that Urahara Kisuke seems to understand more about Byakuya’s confusion than Byakuya did. If that was the case, what was the man’s intent? More importantly, how much can the man be trusted?

“How many others know of this place?” Byakuya asked.

“A couple,” Urahara answered.

“That were-cat,” Byakuya muttered.

Urahara chuckled in amusement, but neither agreed nor disagreed. Byakuya found himself wishing to hear more of that laugh and wondered if… just maybe for this night… he could trust this man.

The same man who hid the Hōgyoku in Rukia and put her in infinite amounts of danger. The same danger that forced him to choose between keeping his vow to his family or to his Hisana, his conscience reminded him.

No… Urahara Kisuke cannot be trusted. Not by someone in Byakuya’s position and rank. Right?

“It would seem to me, Kuchiki-taichō, that for one as mindful of time as you are…” Urahara trailed off, posture relaxed and armed with a smile that was, as far as Byakuya was concerned, getting a little too charming. “Is there something you wish to discuss?”

Byakuya thought of the kiss earlier. He’d never known anyone to kiss like the man did… not that he had kissed another man before this night, and he was the one being kissed at that. No, the only other person he had ever allowed was his Hisana. But Hisana had lived her life wanting to do nothing but serve him in return for the his love despite the many times he’s told her not to trouble herself in such a manner.

“Was it the kiss?” Urahara’s question sliced through Byakuya’s thoughts. “Or perhaps you find yourself intrigued?”

If looks could kill, a lesser man would be a smothering pile of ash where the blonde sat.

“You presu…”

“Am I?” Urahara interrupted.

Byakuya refused to believe the man had telepathic powers, or that Byakuya himself could possibly be so easily read. The former captain of the Twelfth Division must be one of those rare people gifted with the ability to accurately guess questions in hopes of gaining a readable expression. Urahara Kisuke wouldn’t be getting that so easily from him.

“I am sorry I had missed the wedding, Kuchiki-taichō, and for the passing of your late wife, you have my condolences,” Urahara continued, respectfully. “But if you don’t mind me asking, have you taken interest in anyone since then?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Indeed, then shall we talk about my business?” Urahara asked, “Or was there another reason you followed me in here?”

Go, Byakuya told himself for what felt like the hundredth time. He wanted to leave, get as far away from this man as he could, but his body wanted to stay, too swayed by the fleeting touches. Perhaps it was some form of demon craft Urahara had discovered and is using to pinpoint all of his internal frustrations. Whatever it is, Byakuya felt somewhat violated. No one should be able to pinpoint him that accurately, least of all a man he’s hardly ever crossed paths with.

Yet…

The feeling when Urahara had stood so close on top of Sokyōku Hill. The kiss earlier that was wrong, but felt too right. Why? Why had he not allowed another being close to him since the death of Hisana? He believed he was destined to be alone. That the only person he could ever have loved was Hisana.

Perhaps that may be. So what of Urahara Kisuke?

“Why did you put the Hōgyoku in Rukia?” Byakuya asked.

Urahara’s eyebrows knitted, a tongue licked lips, and after a few moments of silence, gray eyes lifted to look back at Byakuya. “To protect those I love,” he answered.

“You… of all people… should have known the consequences…” Byakuya accused.

Gray eyes hooded as Urahara shifted his glance downwards. “I did. I do,” he whispered.

“So your intentions was to sentence her to die with your creation!” Byakuya snarled, a hand thrusting forward to snare the black fabric and to yank the blonde to his feet.

Urahara didn’t resist. His eyes stayed downcast, waiting to see if Byakuya had intentions of beating him to a pulp. If someone else had done what he had to Tessai or Yoruichi, or Ururu and Jinta, he would be just as furious.

When it seemed like Byakuya was waiting to hear an explanation from him, whether to explain why or to defend his actions, Urahara finally lifted his eyes back up to the angry lavender-gray ones. “I had hoped that being the sister of Kuchiki-taichō and a member of the Thirteenth Division, Ukitake-taichō, would be able to stay Aizen’s hand,” he said.

“It didn’t,” Byakuya reminded him.

“No. It didn’t,” he agreed.

Then it hit Byakuya. Urahara had hoped, but being the genius that he is, the blonde didn’t bet everything on hope. “Kurosaki Ichigo…” Byakuya said.

“Yes.”

“How did you find someone like him?” Byakuya asked.

Urahara raised his hands to the one that still gripped the front of his cape and shirt underneath. “There is too much in there I’m not at liberty to share, Kuchiki-taichō, as I am still a convicted criminal in Seireitei, but technically, your sister was the one who found Kurosaki-san. If it wasn’t for your sister, I couldn’t have pulled this off.”

Byakuya released his hand and took two steps back.

“If I may be so brazen…” Urahara said as he righted his clothes. “I intrigue you, Kuchiki-taichō, although I am still trying to figure out why. I don’t believe it has anything to do with Rukia-san or Kurosaki-san. Was it something else I said?” No trace of amusement or mockery registered on Urahara’s face.

“You flatter yourself,” Byakuya retorted.

“Am I? Then I am reading too much into your not arresting me, allowing me to bring you here, and then not retaliating during that kiss.” Urahara moved towards the direction they had come. “As such is the case, then allow me to show you out.”

Byakuya didn’t follow the blonde man out of the inner cavern as his feet refused to obey orders he gave them. Seconds after Urahara’s disappearance, the blonde man returned, looking questioningly at Byakuya. “Kuchiki-taichō?”

Byakuya couldn’t figure out from where the answer came from, but his mouth formed the words nonetheless, “You were not reading too much.”

Urahara’s eyes widened for a second before a smile graced facial features Byakuya found more and more appealing by the minute. “I see,” was all the man said before approaching and shedding the the black cloak along the way. The man’s powerful reiatsu, as restrained as it was, swarmed powerfully around the room before the blonde wrapped it tightly around himself. “Then I suppose, I can try this again…” he said before clasping Byakuya’s face in his large hands and leaning in for a kiss.

Closing his eyes, Byakuya allowed himself to sink into the warm embrace.

~ ~ ~

Byakuya stirred from the soundest sleep he’s had in decades, and sat up in shock when the surroundings wasn’t that of his room at the Sixth Division. Memories of the night before flooded back into consciousness. Urahara Kisuke, or any of the man’s items, was nowhere to be found. Snagging the white under robe folded neatly on top of everything, Byakuya left. He needed a shower, and Kisuke had said something about a hot spring in the cave.

How the spring came to be in the cave, he wasn’t sure and wasn’t quite certain he wanted to know either.

“Good morning, Kuchiki-taichō,” a familiar voice greeted him. “Sleep well?”

Byakuya didn’t answer. If given a choice, he much preferred it when Kisuke called him by his given name more than his family one. He wanted a connection to the man he had shared a bed with last night, but too much fought against it in his mind. Until he knew where the hell he was going with this, it was best that the two of them kept it somewhat impersonal. “What time is it?” he asked.

“A little after ten.”

Ten?!

“I thought it best not to disturb you. You needed the rest,” Kisuke said.

Byakuya’s temper flared. “I have duties, Urahara!”

Kisuke nodded. “Yes, you do. But it can be argued, Kuchiki-taichō, that being mindful of yourself and your health is in line with being mindful of your duties, is it not? If you’re in need of a shower, there is one if you enter through that entrance over there. An underground spring. Once clean, you are welcome to be on your way. After all, you’re the head of the Kuchiki Clan. I’m sure taking care of family affairs is just as important as taking care of your Division.”

If there was one thing Byakuya knew he would soon tire of, it would be Kisuke’s ability to have an answer for just about everything. It didn’t make the man’s logic any less sound, to be sure, but it is still highly irritating.

Of course, he would hardly consider the night he spent with the man as “family affairs.”

“You’re leaving,” Byakuya stated as he took in Kisuke’s attire. The black cloak and hood was back on the man’s tall frame and his reiatsu non-existent again.

That’s quite the invention, he thought.

“Yes. I’ve overstayed my welcome, I suspect. I still have things to plan. A lot has happened, will still happen. I need to make sure everything can be answered for,” Kisuke replied, gray eyes as steady and unreadable as ever.

It hurt. Byakuya didn’t know what he had expected, if in fact he had expectations, of Kisuke. It would have been nice if the eyes were warmer, if he could somehow understand what went on behind them.

“Take care of yourself, Kuchiki-taichō. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon,” Kisuke said as he closed the distance between Byakuya and himself. “Don’t think too much on this. You’ll be ready when you are,” he whispered before leaning in for a quick kiss. “You’re the leader of the Kuchiki Clan. That means you can make changes you want to see.”

Byakuya’s eyebrows drew together in a frown. “What makes you so sure?”

Kisuke smiled. “Because I’ve seen it. If I hadn’t gone and ruin a certain Werecat’s future, it would have continue to happen in the House of Godly Gears. Thankfully,” he said as he turned towards the direction that led outside the hidden cave. “Her younger brother adored the Werecat. So much, in fact, he’s following her footsteps.”

“Gods help us all,” Byakuya muttered.

Urahara laughed at that. “Perhaps. But, Seireitei will see changes soon. I know you love Hisana. Love can be found again. You’re not disrespecting her memory if you happen to find another. Don’t despair too much. Until next time, Kuchiki-taichō,” he bid with a simple salute.

“Byakuya.”

With a nod of acknowledgement, Kisuke echoed. “Byakuya-san.”

“If I ever…” Byakuya found himself saying but he couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.

Kisuke’s remarkable insight didn’t fail him. “There are ways of finding me. If you don’t mind the Were-Cat from being a carrier, you can leave me messages here. I’ll get them and return them the same way. Just one thing, Byakuya…”

Byakuya didn’t respond outside of standing quietly to listen to what the man’s request may be.

“Remember the Sōkyoku Hill. Remember Kurosaki. One day in the near future you might be called to make another decision again between Rukia and the Gotei Thirteen. I hope you’ll make the decision best suited for the circumstance,” Kisuke answered.

What was that supposed to mean?

“Hope is for the weak, Urahara,” Byakuya reminded him.

Kisuke smiled, “Yet it something we all fight for.” With that, the blonde bowed, turned, and left Byakuya to his thoughts.

Kuchiki Byakuya was on his way back to the Sixth Division Barracks before he realized what Kisuke had said.

So the Were-Cat’s been to and from Seireitei all these years!

Putting everything, including the annoyance at his thought, that had transpired in the last twenty-four hours out of his mind, Byakuya began his day. He’ll have to make up for the missed hours, but right about now is when he usually checks in with his fukutaichō, Abarai Renji.

*  *  *  *  *

~Owari~


Author’s Notes:

All mistakes are my own, and despite how horribly written this story is, it’s for Gaia77-san. The pairing popped into my head one night during one of her video streaming while she drew her favorite characters in World of Warcraft over a year ago. You can find her Tumblr blog of beautiful art HERE. I did mention this in the chat room while she doodled, and a couple of amused replies ensued along the lines of “How are you going to make that work, exactly?”

XD

Honestly? I haven’t a single clue, but the idea won’t leave me. Dreams happened. Random lines of scribbling appeared here, there, everywhere. There was smut in the dreams.

This story was supposed to be rather smutty, but my heart wasn’t in it. After something like eight failed attempts, I deleted about 6 pages of smutty stuff and wrote it a little differently after another disruption to my nightly rest happened. Kuchiki Byakuya wasn’t amused in the slightest bit, let me just share that.

This story takes place in the time and setting of Bleach’s third movie: Fade to Black. It was the only way I could get these two men together.

… I hope you enjoyed!

As always, comments are welcome!

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