magic_in_flames: (chuu)
[personal profile] magic_in_flames
Title: Like a Humming Bird and a Buzzing Bee
Fandom: Bleach
Pairing: Slightly, one-sided Kuchiki Byakuya/Abarai Renji
Rating: G
Word count: ~2200
Warnings: some fluff, minor angst
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo and related companies, I just like to play with his characters. However, the song is my own creation.
Summary: Kuchiki-taichou has an odd habit that Renji can't quite recognise
Author's notes: Written for [ profile] blue_eyesgirl. This idea came up during an AIM conversation, and I had to write it. I tried to keep Byakuya in character, but I'm not sure how well I write him ^^ I wonder if I should warn for my bad poetry... XD

The first time Kuchiki-taichou did it, Renji barely noticed.

It was odd, this; all the officers in 11th had their own separate offices, and Renji had grown used to working alone. Admittedly, that was probably to cut down on fights, but that was beside the point. The point was, anyway, that as a lieutenant, as Kuchiki Byakuya’s lieutenant, Renji had expected his own office.

The bastard said he liked to work closely with his subordinates. Renji knew it was to keep a close eye on him, but he kept that particular thought to himself.

It was uncomfortable for the first few weeks, even to the point that Renji would flinch if he dipped his pen into the ink too hard and disturbed the silence with a sharp ping. He didn’t even dare think about cursing in that kind of atmosphere; which, after all, was probably one of the reasons it was maintained. But after some months spent working in the same room as him, Renji had gotten used to Byakuya’s silence; other than the soft scratching of his pen.

The tapping was so light that he didn’t hear it at first. Once he’d finally registered it, Renji looked up first at the window, expecting a bird or something like that; it was too light for knocking at the door. Confused when he could find no source for the rhythmic drumming, Renji finally glanced towards his captain.

Byakuya was quite obviously entirely engrossed in his work, writing steadily with one hand, while the other kept that slow, steady beat. Renji watched for a minute, fascinated by those long fingers doing something so… human. He didn’t blink, staring openly at Byakuya for that long moment.

Shaking himself suddenly out of his revere, Renji returned quickly to his work before his captain caught him out. He listened though, as he wrote, noting eventually that the tapping wasn’t aimless; it had a specific rhythm, that repeated every so often.

Renji was curious, but he certainly didn’t have the courage to ask Kuchiki-taichou what he was tapping. So he simply fell back into his own rhythm, concentrating on his work. Somehow, it was easier with the slow beat echoing in the room, the red head slowly adjusting to work to it. It was jarring when Byakuya finally stopped, standing to hand him a stack of papers to deliver. Renji found he missed the sound.

His captain wasn’t relaxed enough to play out that melody often. Renji worked out over the weeks that followed that the tapping was unconscious; that Byakuya only did it when he was so wrapped up in his work that he didn’t notice he was doing it. Once Byakuya had started, Renji was extremely careful not to do anything that would disturb the rhythm, anything that would make Kuchiki-taichou stop. More than once, during the days when only silence reigned in the officer, Renji even caught himself wishing that his captain would begin it.

Before long, Renji was certain he knew the song. He didn’t know how he knew it was a song, he just did, and trying to name it was driving him crazy.

The next time, Renji paused, pen to paper; listening to Kuchiki-taichou, though he kept his eyes firmly on the desk.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Pause. Tap, tap. Pause. Tap. Tap. Tap. Pause. Tap, tap.

It really was annoyingly familiar. Renji wasn’t even pretending to work now, watching Byakuya again. He started slightly to see the hint of a smile of his captain’s face; to anyone who hadn’t spent six out of seven days a week with him, he might not have appeared to be smiling at all, but Renji could see the difference.

What’s he thinking about? Renji wondered. Byakuya’s eyes were on his work, it was true, but there was a far-off look in them that made Renji more curious the longer he watched. What does that song mean to him?

He was so caught up in his own thoughts, that it wasn’t until Byakuya had been meeting his gaze for a few moments that Renji jumped, blushing as he realised he’d been caught staring.

“Now if only you paid as much attention to your work.” Byakuya murmured, and the slight amusement in that voice made Renji blush harder. He dropped his eyes quickly to his work, scribbling away furiously. He didn’t slow down again until he heard Byakuya start working again a few moment later, feeling his captains gaze on him for those long moments. Renji was disappointed when the tapping didn’t start up again.

Days passed after that with Renji giving Byakuya only awkward half glances, trying to keep himself focused on his work. He was certain that his captain was just on the edge of smirking every single time he did it, but he still couldn’t help himself. Renji actually had to stop himself sighing with relief when Byakuya began tapping out that rhythm again, the tension in the office seeming to disappear almost instantly.

About an hour later, Renji had slipped into his usual daze; signing paper after paper while just skim-reading enough to get the general gist. He let his mind wander away from the monotonous paperwork, picking up instead on the rhythm that, though fainter, Byakuya was still tapping.

Renji blinked as the melody finally, almost absently, clicked into place. The red head grinned to himself as he began to hum it, working faster, satisfied now that that annoyance of not knowing was gone.

He flinched as Byakuya’s pen clattered to the desk, looking up immediately and almost flinching again at the shocked, almost hostile in a way, gaze his captain was giving him.

“Where did you hear that?” Byakuya’s voice was soft, - even somehow defensive, Renji thought - but he could still hear him perfectly from across the office.

“J-just a song from Rukongai.” Renji couldn’t justify the stutter even to himself; Byakuya didn’t seem angry, exactly.

There was silence for a few moments, Renji shifting uneasily in his seat. Although, really, he had no idea why and it was beginning to piss him off; why shouldn’t he hum, if Byakuya could sit there tapping his fingers?

“Sing it for me?” The odd, - extremely odd - quiet request startled Renji out of his thoughts. He blinked at Byakuya for a few moments, completely confused.


“Please, Renji.” Byakuya whispered. Renji’s eyes widened; he’d never heard Kuchiki-taichou make such a plea before, certainly never sounding so desperate. He could only hold that gaze for a few moments before he dropped his eyes to his desk and cleared his throat.

“Like a…” He hesitated. I feel ridiculous… But Byakuya’s earnest gaze hadn’t shifted when Renji glanced up; he’d never really seen any emotion at all in those eyes, so now… He sighed and began again, flushing self-consciously.

“Like a butterfly and a humming bee,
Seeking their sweet nectar.
United in their need and yet,
Separate from each other.”

Renji paused, clearing his throat, before he glanced up again, Byakuya silently urging him to continue. I’m sure this isn’t in my regular terms of service… But he continued anyway;

“Two together do much better,
Once they’ve solved this life-long need.
They needn’t be as similar,
As the wind and the reed.”

There was only one verse left now, and it seemed silly to leave it unfinished. Besides, was that a real smile beginning to show on Byakuya’s face?

“So let us dance together;
Forget our different aims.
For we are yet just one small part,
In all of nature’s games.”

In the silence after he’d finished, Renji darted several glances at Byakuya. The noble was staring into space, and he was certainly smiling; even if it was still small. Renji couldn’t help but smile himself at such a display from his stoic captain, feeling strangely happy that he’d helped cause that.

“Hisana… used to sing that.” Byakuya said softly, after a few minutes. Renji glanced back up when he spoke, his eyes widening slightly at the words. His captain met his gaze, still with that small smile. “I haven’t heard it in a long time. Thank you, Renji.”

Renji blushed, looking down at his desk at the emotion in Byakuya’s voice. “S’nothin‘.” he muttered, needlessly shifting papers around on his desk. He missed Byakuya allowing himself a fond smile, directed at him this time.

“Why did you start humming that?” Byakuya asked curiously, after a moment of silence.

Renji grinned slightly to himself as he looked up. “You’ve been tapping it for months, Kuchiki-taichou. I only just remembered the words.”

It was Byakuya’s turn to look a little embarrassed. “I apologise if I disturbed you.”

“No need.” Renji returned with a stronger grin. “I didn’t mind, and it kinda helped me to work.” he shrugs.

Byakuya gave him that small smile again. “Then I won’t concentrate on not doing that.”

Renji smiled back, then dropped his gaze to the desk again as he realised that was the first civil conversation they’d really had that wasn’t about work. If he hadn’t known his captain better, Renji would have sworn Byakuya chuckled softly, but his face was calm when the red head glanced up.

After a while of working in silence, Renji worked up the courage to murmur; “It suits you two.” The sound of Byakuya’s pen stopped for a few moments, and Renji swallowed, worried that he’d overstepped his boundaries.

“That’s what she always said.” The soft words reassured him, and Renji went back to writing, as Byakuya did.

It was several minutes later that Byakuya asked; “Where did it come from? I mean, more specifically than just ‘Rukongai’ Hisana would never tell me.”

Renji paused for a moment as he thought back. “It was an old song that someone in Inuzuri just always seemed to be singing. There’s a story that goes with it.” A quick glance at Byakuya and a slight nod told Renji to continue. He told it exactly the way it had been told to him;

“The story goes; there was a young, beautiful noblewoman who used to have to ride through Inuzuri to visit her brother. Every time she rode through, she would see this same man watching her carriage go past. In time, she noticed what kind eyes he had, and a demeanour opposite to his rough clothes. It made her curious, so that she watched out for him each time. But once when she drove through, he wasn’t there. So she got out of her coach and, followed by a guard, began searching for him. She found him in an alleyway, severely injured.”

Renji paused there, smiling at the intent way Byakuya was listening. Byakuya gave him an impatient look - impatient for the noble - and Renji continued with a chuckle.

“As she bandaged his wounds, she admonished him for getting into a fight. He, of course, could barely believe that she was there, but he did stick up for himself. ‘I fought to protect the children,’ he explained. ‘Who were being chased by men for sport.’ At this, she knew her first impressions had been correct, and that he was a kind man despite his rough beginnings. But, as I’m sure you know, taichou, they would have been forbidden to become involved. So, obeying her family, she returned to her house, vowing never to see him again, though it hurt her.”

“That’s not the end, right?” Renji grinned again at the question - slightly urgent - and shook his head.

“The man refused to give up just like that. He spent weeks working to afford a decent set of clothes, then further to find out where her family estates were. He watched them for days, until he found out which room hers was. Then, he stood beneath her window, night after night, singing this song to her. Eventually, when she saw he was not going to leave until she did, she opened the window one night and spoke to him. ‘Why won’t you leave?’ she asked. ‘Please, I cannot see you.’

‘And I cannot accept that.’ he replied. ‘Please, listen to my song. You are my butterfly; lovely, magnificent, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I am but a lowly bee, but I humbly ask that you dance away with me.’”

“Did she… take him up on his offer?” Byakuya asked tentatively.

Renji nodded, smiling. “She barely had to think on it before taking her savings and a few clothes and leaping into his arms. They ran away together to lead a poorer, but much happier life together.” he finished softly.

Byakuya was silent for several minutes afterwards, obviously deep in thought. Renji had barely returned to his work when the noble murmured; “It suited us very well.”

Renji gave him a gentler smile then than he had given anyone in a long time. “Rukia would think so too.” he said softly.

Byakuya nodded slowly. “Somehow, it seems to illustrate another of my relationships…” he mused, half to himself. Renji gave him a curious look, but Byakuya said no more and they simply returned to work, the atmosphere in the office much more relaxed than usual.

If the bee had no right to be chasing the butterfly, then the butterfly certainly has no right to pursue the bee, when such attention is unwanted.

Date: 2010-03-18 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Edited Date: 2010-03-18 09:35 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-03-18 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is very very nice to read! I don't think Byakuya's OOC-- he might have softened in front of Renji, but he's still wearing that mask of his, and he doesn't let people get too close until he actually makes the conscious decision to let a tentative friendship happen between him and Renji though it's still very obvious that Renji thinks of them as having a professional relationship and anything that happens of a personal nature works towards greasing that relationship, and he's still very cryptic. So yes, I love the angst, and the quiet distance that Byakuya maintains with his emotions because his rational mind is always in control.

Thanks! It was very very enjoyable. Will there be a sequel, or is this a ByaRen story where the pairing is better honoured in the breach?

Date: 2010-03-18 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can totally see this conversation happen between them, although Byakuya is usually a very reserved person he is open about his past love for hisana and he usually doesn't hide what he felt for her,
But I really think this deserves a sequel about the other bee in Byakuya life ;)

Date: 2010-03-18 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, superbly written :) Byakuya is a very emotional person, he just hides it very well.
You've caught their relationship perfectly with Renji's desire to bring them closer together but how he's terrified of trying.

This is a fantastic pre-slash, but I'm sure everyone wants to see more!

Date: 2010-03-19 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
:D I really liked the poem and the way it rhymes. :D and yes, this one definitely deserves a sequel about the other bee in Byakuya's life... XD

thanks so much for sharing this sweet piece! :D

Date: 2010-03-19 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Byakuya's plea to hear the song was really cute and sweet. like a shy, eager child. I wish the "Renji" bee would whisk the "Byakuya" butterfly.

Date: 2010-03-20 05:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The two of you are converting me, you know that right? This pairing seems cuter and cuter every time I think about it.

That last bit was so beautiful, and the more clueless Renji is to Byakuya's words, the more adorable it is!


Date: 2010-03-24 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't know what to say. This was beautiful.

You did an extremely good job of writing Byakuya a little softened and less icy than usual without making him seem OOC.


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