Title: Turning Over Stones
Genre: Romantic tragedy
Warnings: character death
Summary: Meeting her changed Byakuya forever... but it was her death that changed him even more.
Disclaimer: I am not Kubo-sensei, ergo I do not own Bleach.
A/N: Does anybody else think that it was cruel to give us a canon wife for Byakuya, and then not really tell us much about her personality?
Even as a child, Kuchiki Byakuya had always been exceptionally orderly and rule-abiding; and so, he had never had the experience of tromping haphazardly through the Kuchiki family’s private gardens, stepping on delicate flowers and turning over stones to marvel at the unexpected world beneath.
In fact, he did not turn over his first stone until he was already a ranked shinigami officer; even then it was both unintentional and metaphorical. Nevertheless, it took his breath away, and that in and of itself was quite a feat.
The little old ladies of all the noble families liked to get together and gossip about nieces and nephews and grandchildren, especially those who were in an advantageous position or who could be easily manipulated. Byakuya had found himself in a most advantageous position indeed, and the little aunties were as busy as bees in a hive. At first, they dismissed the girl Hisana as a passing fancy ( “Don’t worry, my dear, we all know he’ll get it through his head eventually that he’s only making himself look a fool” ). When their engagement was announced they got together and scheduled lavish parties and ordered fine kimono made for her that were worth more than her very life.
None of this mattered to Hisana, because from the highest tower in her new home she could watch the sunset washing across the entirety of Soul Society and dappling the calm light it cast on the western river beyond the gate.
To Byakuya, she had at first been nothing more than a pebble in that riverbed, a faceless, nameless peasant clad in dun-colored rags. And wasn’t it strange to find that anonymity could be turned over to find a living, breathing person in its stead, one who liked sunsets and water lilies and the sound of wind chimes going wild during a storm?
She liked white tuna; for the first time in a whole lifetime of eating it, he realized that he preferred sea urchin roe. And there was a stone turned over too, because he has never considered that there might be a person inside himself as well.
Nobles and nobodies alike, it was an intriguing idea to think that there might be something more behind a dirt-streaked face or a pasted-on smile. For the first time ever, he believed in identity.
He hates them all now.
The aunties looked appropriately somber for Hisana’s funeral, but behind their solemn glances there was always an amused little smile that anybody who was really looking could see. In the end, the sight of their cunning hands fiddling with the flowers left him with a bizarre hallucination ( and surely it had to be a hallucination ) of one of them rearranging his late wife’s body so she “didn’t look quite so common ( what a lost cause )”.
It went without saying that there could be no loss of composure at a formal event, so he watched blandly as one of the women may or may not have called to another, “Mayu-san, come help me with this; her arm keeps on flopping all over the place.”
The tower room is closed off now, thick drapes smothering all its windows; the sun doesn’t set here anymore.
Each of the great noble families has their own unique burial customs. The Kuchiki have chosen since time immemorial to erect pillars of stone as markers. In the half-light at Hisana’s favorite time of day, they stand up like the broken needle teeth of a beaten-down old cat. In the daytime, the marble is yet as cold as a carved ice floe even in direct sunlight.
And Byakuya doesn’t turn over stones anymore, because this marble is the most important stone of them all, and he knows that there is nothing to be found beneath; her ashes have long since been scattered to the wind.