I do own own Bleach. This is based in a dream that I had. So please, ignore any inaccuracies as far as story goes. Just enjoy the writing?!
His responsibility had been to trying. He had become emperor, but, his heart was not in it. His voice locked in his throat and he longed for peace. He longed for the silence of winter. Byakuya Kuchiki had become the emperor, loved and respected by all. His blade a driving force of justice and reason, art flourished, the economy soared, he had issued in a golden age of prosperity. Melodramatically, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Byakuya had fought tooth and nail for this position, this lifestyle, this serenity. The lonely years flew by; he locked himself in his room. Writing and the view from his window his only means of escape. One fall morning he received a gift from his most trusted servant. The red head seemed to be concerned about his master’s waning health.
Renji Abarai set the cage gently onto the small wooden table. When Byakuya did not look up, Renji sat on his knees. He pulled the cloth from the cage and waited for the Emperor to say anything. Half an hour of no response Renji knew that nothing he could do would save him. He stood and looked down at the man he had once respected and hated. This palace, this life – it was too much like this bird. With a sigh Renji gave a nod and a prayer.
“Emperor, forgive my saying so, but I worry about your health. I will handle all of the affairs that I can. Hisagi has been helping me lately, so I think we can manage while you recover. It’s not much, but we found this little bird – broken and alone.” Renji looked at the pale song bird and sighed, “If anything we hoped that it would be within your Divine Grace to help her.”
Renji dismissed himself, but he took his time in shutting the door. Byakuya’s hand opened the caged door and lifted the small bird from her resting place. She hopped along the table unable to fly, and for a moment the emperor thought she was nothing more than a trinket to distract him. He rested his firm hands around her and released a minimal amount of energy. After several moments she flapped her wings but did not fly. From that moment, they were never separated. Byakuya marveled in her snow white feathers, etched in aquamarine, her eyes a deep and soul piercing gray.
“I shall call you Snow.” Byakuya spoke, his voice rough and ragged from not having used it in what seemed like an eternity. “You are the only one who understands me.”
His dark hair fell into his face, his hands effortlessly attended to work that he wanted to do. One more image, the painting of snowflakes, the destruction of spring, the dismissal of summer. He sighed about the chaos outside of the four thin walls. Life was no longer beautiful or magnificent. If not for the red head, he would be swept into the abysmal sea of despair. Byakuya tilted his head, Terrible, he thought correcting himself, if not for my dear little song bird. His pen set down onto the low wooden table, his eyes glanced over to the winter feathered companion. She was small and fragile. Byakuya was reminded of loss, her song was reassuring, mournful, and it made him relive a time too simple and heartbreaking.
His hand stretched out, she jumped from her perch to his finger, chirping her affection to a somber smile. Byakuya pulled his hand closely to inspect her, after a moment of her singing his smile faded and he blinked slowly, as he placed a gentle kiss upon her head. Snow started to sing again, her wings flapping minimally as he sat with his eyes focused on the outside world. Byakuya looked back to her when her song stopped
“Snow, you warm my heart.”
The door opened to reveal his servants, one with red hair, and one with dark. They bowed and joined him at the table to a half stretched hand.
Snow looked to Byakuya then between Renji and Hisagi. She turned her shoulder refusing to sing for them, instead focusing on Byakuya. Her wings fluttering lightly as she rocked back and forth.
Hisagi cracked a small smile, “So stubborn. I have heard rumors that her songs heal.”
“But have never actually heard her song,” Renji continued. “Troublesome, maybe even a little bit arrogant.”
Byakuya’s face lightened, his hand reached to his shoulder and she jumped from his delicate fingers to his strong shoulders with ease.
“Forgive us for intruding, Your Holiness.” Hisagi started, “But we came to check on your health.”
“Your color has returned your strength looks as though it has never left you.”Renji added, “We’re happy to see you in such good spirits.”
Byakuya shook his head, his hair disturbing his small white companion, “I still won’t be joining the court for anything.”
“We didn’t think so.” Hisagi and Renji voiced together.
“But your mother is insisting on your finding a bride. And before too long the court will decide that your ways are old and tired. If you do nothing, your kingdom will crumble beneath you.”
“I have no need for tired laws and brides. For women who will only live to kill me.” He sighed heavily his hand absently rising to his shoulder. Snow jumped back to his finger, and he brushed her with his thumb. “No one understands that this was supposed to be simple. You two have worked too hard for something you didn’t want. There was only supposed to be freedom.”
“There is no such thing as freedom.”Renji lightly argued, “There are only cages – bigger, smaller, and all engulfing. We’re all trapped in this life. Some of us choose it, others do not.”
“Which are you Renji?” Byakuya inquired softly his thumb still rubbing against soft feathers.
“Choice.” Renji sternly nodded, “I am here because I want to be.”
Hisagi answered, “Choice, as well.”
Her chirps caused Byakuya to smile, “Yes, I suppose I did make the choice to be here as well.” He exhaled slowly, “But I have also chosen not to weave the webs of this life. My choice has been inconvenient for you?” His eyes glanced up, focusing on the two men across the table.
“Of course it has.” Renji griped as he crossed his arms, “But I chose to stick by you.”
Hisagi rested his hand on the sword at his waist, “And we will fight for what you want because we think it is the best notion. We merely await your orders.”
“There’s no need for that.” Byakuya tiredly replied, “I do not wish for bloodshed to stain the beauty of this otherwise blank canvas.”
“It will not remain blank forever.” Hisagi warned, “Someone will try to take it from you, and when they do, we will not hesitate.”
Renji stood, “We will promise that we will try to do things your way. We have lived by the simple laws you have set – but we implore you to consider what is going on.”
Byakuya waved his free hand growing weary of the warnings and grim faces. Snow looked up at him, gray eyes too honest and piercing.
“Do you think that I am doing the wrong thing?” He inquired, his thumb softly brushing against her again.
’I think, that as long as you choose to stay in this cage, you will be painting your canvas in gray. You dream of peace and serenity yet hide your wings. I am no different than you, Byakuya, and this is why I can sing for you – why I can tell you the truth. If you choose to wither, then I will fall with you into the abyss. But just as assuredly as we can fall, we could soar into blue skies.’
Byakuya took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He slowly stood his knees wobbling beneath him. He set his companion onto the top of the cage and pulled on his white haori. He pulled on his gloves, his sword rested against his hip, and he sighed as he reached back out for her. She jumped onto his finger and began to sing once more. Her tune was lively and reassuring, something that reminded him of battle and definition.
“If you say the skies are blue, then perhaps it is time that we fly.”