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02 January 2009 @ 04:31 pm
Je Ne Sais Quoi: Chapter 3 [Renji x Rukia]  
Title: Je Ne Sais Quoi Chapter 3
Pairing: Renji x Rukia
Fandom: Bleach
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: T
Summary: There is something about her that gives off the stink of living out of spite.

 

3.

He offers an orange out of curiosity (as to how she would respond). She takes the fruit awkwardly and bites into the flesh and beams. It tastes good, sweet and juicy.

“Wow.”

Renji shrugs (pulls it off like nothing).

And Renji wakes up and realizes she’s not there (here). Somewhere, anywhere. Off in the distance—on a mission—he can’t care less. Taichou, he repeats. That’s what’s important. Renji sits down to eat breakfast and chants his hymn over and over.

It is nauseatingly religious.

-

Rukia comes back two weeks later, thoroughly exhausted and dreading. Covered in sores and battle scars, she takes Unohana’s hands and brushes them across her burning forehead. Her brother is there too, the prick, and Renji wants to hit him in the jaw. But that would be suicide, and Renji knows better by now.

Breathe. Slow. Deep. Let the small things go.

She mumbles in her sleep, tosses fitfully. She looks like a piece of trout gurgling for water. Kaien. Or something. Renji thought he heard a name.

“Is she…”

Unohana-Taichou smiles, reassuring him (it doesn’t work).

“She’s fine. Just needs some rest. You may go now, both of you.”

She points at Byakuya. And Byakuya leaves (strangely submissive, Renji notices).

“But—”

“There is nothing to worry about. Please go. Now.”

He leaves and takes with him a knowing dread. Kaien. He could’ve killed the little bastard if he didn’t go and get himself killed. Hero worship. (What he would’ve given for her to think of him like that, adoration and adulation and everything in between.)

-

Yes Sir,

No Sir.

How he hates Kuchiki Byakuya.

Yes Sir,

No Sir.

Renji parrots back and lets himself to be manipulated. Twang, Byakyya plucks the string and Renji follows suit. Renji never disobeys, Renji is the best subordinate a person could want.

(Because what Byakuya doesn’t know makes no difference.)

There is a reason for everything, especially subjection to degradation to this incessant decline. Renji grows weaker by the moment while Byakuya treks on, fueled by lineage and prestige and plenty of other adjectives Renji can’t even pronounce.

And Byakuya takes her with him. She walks by his side and can only look back at him (at Renji) with doleful eyes that apologized and apologized and still changed nothing.

Nothing.

“No Sir, nothing happened.”

Byakuya nodded, good. “Make sure it stays that way.”

“Yes Sir.”

-

From time to time, when they are both off-duty and wandering aimlessly, he visits her. Always on the outskirts of the estate (where he is still permitted to stand). Always in the evenings, around sundown. Always, she wore the same expression—painted on.

She draws him closer to him, points to her chest and shows him her scar. Or the scar that would have appeared if she were still human.

“Look. Isn’t it magnificent?”

He laughs.

“Yeah. Must’ve heart, eh?”

She nods.

“So, summer is coming to an end in the Real World?”

“Uh-huh. But I have to go back before then. Field mission.”

“You could’ve been promoted a long time ago.” (And spared.)

“I know.” (And we both know why I wasn’t.)

“At least it won’t be anything dangerous.” (He—the nasty prick—won’t allow it.)

-

Before she leaves, again, he brings her oranges tied up prettily with a square of pink silk. Dainty-quaint, short and sweet.

The cycle perpetuates.

And Renji surfaces, more adamant and courageous.

Because courage is the underlying making of all heroes. And he wants to prove to her that he’s not some gutter-slop anymore. That he’s worth something. That he—and the prick—are equals. That he and her were equals too.

The playing field is leveled, and Renji stakes his claim.

-

Sweat and fractures: Renji trains relentlessly.

Inexorable. Pigheaded.

Renji waits to challenge Byakuya and win.

(Just a matter of time, he reminds himself.)

-

A conversation ensues between him and his sword. Zabimaru asks him why he is blind. Renji responds tersely: none of your business.

Zabimaru sighs and sends a whipping blade of air at Renji.

He dodges and gets up again. Again, fight me. Come on. Again.

And Zabimaru deflects whatever blows Renji sends his way.

“Why are you so stubborn? Why do you chase things (her) that keep flying away?”

Shut up and fight.

-

The summer (by human standards) pass and still she does not return. Renji becomes worried and almost asks his captain on her status, but remembers that he is competition.

Renji whittles away at a stone, clashing steel against flint until—

A week later, an announcement is blared over Seireitei. Kuchiki Rukia is a fugitive is to be captured.

Her nature is fickle. It pours out like sand through cracked class with a useless net waiting below. She runs, and he pursues.