Kiss and Control

BY : Orionshadow
Category: Bleach > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 8539
Disclaimer: Tite Kubo owns Bleach and the characters depicted therein. The characters in this story are not mine. Payment is not received for this work.

Tite Kubo owns Bleach and the characters depicted therein.   The characters in this story are not mine, except for the original characters.  I make no money from the publication of this work.

Reeling From Nights

It didn't take an hour to sort through Shunsui's problems. It took over double the time and Ran had to refrain from sighing on a number of occasions.  Some of the problems Shunsui mentioned could have been easily avoided if one of the couple had been less relaxed or the other more relaxed or either of them tried to understand the concept of compromise.  From the events Shunsui related it was clear that Nanao placed more importance on how other officers might view their relationship and interaction.  Her view of this and reaction often caused conflict.  Shunsui, of course, didn't care, whereas Nanao believed his attitude was the cause of some perceived disrespect from other Divisions.  Every time Shunsui tried to dismiss her fears she dismissed his reassurance.  Their problems only grew instead of decreasing.

Even when she was listening to his problems, she was trying hard to think of a solution, but there was one thing she believed.  "She won't listen to me, Shunsui," Ran tried to explain for the third time.  He'd already pleaded with her to talk to Nanao twice and she had tried to dismiss the plea, but now was the time to address it. "Nanao doesn't respect me very much, or thinks I am making fun of her when I try to talk to her about anything serious.  Any time I've tried to talk to her about you, she recoils."

"But she should listen to you.  You're older than her, more experienced and the same level as she is..."

Ran cut him off.  "That doesn't matter.  My age, experience, whatever, it doesn't matter.  Nanao knows what she knows and has difficulty in processing new ideas."

A deep sigh informed her that Shunsui was beginning to accept her words, albeit reluctantly. 

Taking a deep breath, Ran repeated something she'd said a few times already.  "You should talk to her.  Try and work out a compromise."

"I hate compromise and Nanao won't.  I've tried to compromise, many times.  I tell her what will work best."

It was hard to keep her eyebrows from vanishing into her hairline at this statement.  She had tentatively tried to explain compromise previously but felt she'd failed.   Here was the proof.  "A compromise means you BOTH agree to try to make changes."

Shunsui seemed more sober after the fifth pot of tea and opened his mouth to protest, then stopped and finally nodded.  "I'll try talking to her."

Ran smiled a little.  "If you really want this to work, you could try listening to her."

Shunsui looked aggrieved.  "I said I'll try talking to her."

It was hard to suppress the giggle which was trying to escape.  He wasn't listening to her or maybe he was not understanding.  She loved Shunsui as a friend but sometimes he could be as inflexible as Nanao.   Instead of laughing,  she took a deep breath and replied, "Communication is both speaking and listening, my friend.  If you don't listen you don't hear and then you don't know what the other person is saying, or trying to say.  You didn't listen to me when I said you could try listening to Nanao."

Shunsui blinked at her slowly.  He appeared tired and seeing this made her feel tired also.  She tried to think of another way to explain it.  "You've mentioned that sometimes in the Captain's meetings no discussion of a subject is permitted if Captain Yamamoto holds a very strong opinion."

He nodded at her statement.

Encouraged at this sign of agreement, she continued."You are not allowed to express your opinion and it can be frustrating if you can see another and better option.  You've told me that in the past it didn't bother you, but the fact you mentioned it means it does."

Shunsui frowned and stroked his chin.  "I suppose it does.  Is that what you mean? He is talking , but not listening?  Or even prepared to listen?"

"Exactly.  You understand," she rose to her feet.  "I'm tired and have to sleep.  We can talk again later but, please next time, not when I..."

"Have to help someone with something," Shunsui finished for her as he climbed to his feet.  "Thanks for listening, Ran.  It helped.  I'll try 'communicating' with Nanao and maybe we can compromise on some things."

They hugged briefly before she closed the door behind him and prepared for bed.  The talk with Shunsui had briefly distracted her from the awkward evening she'd spent with Captain Kuchiki.  It was both bad and good as she hadn't wished to think about the Captain, at all.  The evening had left her with a vaguely uneasy feeling that something had gone wrong and she couldn't pin point what it was.

Released from considering Shunsui's problem she couldn't stop thinking about the evening as she prepared for bed and she felt her anger return.  Captain Kuchiki was so very critical.  It might be hurtful to anyone who truly cared about him and perhaps provided a possible reason why Rukia was not helping him with the task of finding a wife.  The one thing for which she was thankful was he had agreed to remove the younger women from the candidates.  It would be hard enough for a young girl to take charge of a noble household, but to also answer to a cold and critical husband who seemed like he would stand in judgement of any failing would be shattering.  A husband and wife should support each other, not watch each other to jump on the slightest error to prove superiority.  A young girl who had been gently raised and indulged might quickly learn to loathe the man who aspired to perfection.

As she got into bed and turned off the light, she tried to think of anything other than Captain Kuchiki.  It was late and she needed sleep.  Today had been exhausting and if she was once again forced to assist in the bride selection tomorrow might prove to be equally bad.  Closing her eyes she decided to think of paperwork and was asleep very soon afterward.

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Over half of the possible candidates had been removed.  He still had trouble believing he'd agreed to the request but at the time.  He could see the difficulties a young and inexperienced woman might have in coping with the responsibilities of managing a house as distinguished as that of the Kuchiki's, but it had removed some valuable alliances. 

Despite his intentions Byakuya was reviewing the folders that were removed due to the age of the candidate.  He was a little shocked to see some candidates under 10 year olds were included as potential candidates but did notice that it was clearly stated in each profile the marriage would be in name only until the parents were convinced their daughter was old enough.  This did not suit him as he wanted to marry now and have someone, his wife, take responsibility for his comfort.  Waiting for the parents to decide the girl was ready to be a wife would mean the decision was out of his control and influence.  Also, if the girl was too young she might change in the intervening years and be less suitable.

He sighed heavily and regarded the folders with disappointment.  Maybe Lieutenant Matsumoto was correct in excluding them.  After glancing at a few more he returned them to the pile, resolving to return them to the nokodo as soon as possible.  He made certain that one file remained on the bottom  and once again ignored it, not wishing to experience the same shock he had experienced earlier when viewing the picture of the candidate.  He did not wish to think of Hisana again, not while he was attempting to find a replacement. 

That wasn't quite true.  No one could replace Hisana.  He almost succumbed to his impulse to think of his first wife and all the sadness her illness and death had brought him but instead he firmly put those thoughts aside.  The sadness served no useful purpose and any longing would remain unfulfilled.  The past was a place to visit, only that.

He shut his eyes and banished any thoughts of wives, past or future and loneliness.  None of it mattered.

His mind, temporarily unoccupied,  involuntarily turned to thinking about the Lieutenant.  He had been very angry when she'd laughed at him but had managed to retain his control.  How could she laugh at him? He was a Captain and a noble!  He had more breeding than she could ever aspire to and a position in society which all must envy.  She should be honoured he'd requested her assistance in choosing the woman with whom he would share his life; a position to which she could never aspire. 

Not that she seemed to wish to be his wife.  Her attitude seemed to indicate she thought being his wife might be unpleasant.  She hadn't actually said it, not in words, but the way she'd outlined how it was important for a woman, not a child, to take on the responsibilities of being in charge of a noble household made it apparent it was something she did not want.  Why would any woman not wish to be his wife?  True, she was held a responsible position within the Seireitei, but any person could be a Lieutenant.  It took talent, skill, determination and leadership skills to be a Captain.  He didn't see any indication the woman had aspirations to rise any higher than she was now.  Why would being a Lieutenant of Division 10 be considered a better position than that of his wife?  What higher honour could any woman hold?

That thought angered him even more.  What was wrong with her?  Didn't she understand how women had often pursued him in the hope he might deem them worthy of a few hours of his valuable time.  Each woman probably believed that, given time, she would be easily able to convince him of her value/beauty/intelligence or other attribute which would capture his interest, but it would not happen.  What was important was if she fit his families criteria for being the female representation of the Kuchiki clan, not only his personal taste.  All of them fell short.  A woman fit to be his wife would never pursue him.  She would be too modest and careful of the social mores to show such indelicacy.  In many cases she might even appear not to wish to indicate any interest in him whatsoever until her parents had agreed that she may do so. 

This was the reason why he should not even think of that woman in any way.  She had no parents of which he was aware.  He had some vague memory that she, like Rukia, had been a child who grew up with no parental supervision.  How could a child without the benefit of proper education and training be in any way suitable for him? 

Hisana...

Hisana had not been assertive.  She was kind and gentle but ready to be led by him into the proper behaviours.  She was aware of her position and grateful to him for giving her the opportunity to rise from her lowly position.  He had never told her how it gave him pleasure to hear her express her gratitude to him.  Each time he had cut her short, telling her that such expressions were unnecessary between the two of them, but hearing her utter the words along with her assurances of affection had made him feel a warm glow.  She had not always followed his direction, with her heedless searching for her sister, but each time he had gently chided her for this fault she would apologise but never promised to stop her search.

The Lieutenant would never show gratitude.  So far her attitude indicated the opposite of gratitude for the opportunity she had in assisting him.  Here she had the chance to eat fine cuisine that she had probably never experienced in the refined surroundings of his home but she had not appeared impressed. 

Thinking about the evening he recalled how the light had made her hair shine, gleaming softly with the untamed mass spreading over her shoulders and framing her cleavage, which he tried to ignore.  It was hard to ignore.  He was a man and she provided ample visual proof she was a woman. 

Did she do it intentionally or was it because she couldn't find a uniform large enough to cover her chest?  He found the second suggestion hard to believe but then he tried to imagine what the Lieutenant would look like if the clothing she wore completely covered her chest.  It was a very difficult image to conjure as his mind kept returning to the image to which he was accustomed.  Eventually a hazy image of what it might look like emerged and it was still attractive but the image did not look like the Lieutenant.

If he decided to raise her to the position of his wife, not that he was planning to do so, that would be impossible,  it would be essential for her to change the way she dressed.  It was a good thing he would never believe that she was worthy of his attention, time and indulgence.  The wife of the noble Kuchiki household could never display her chest and it was almost impossible to imagine Rank... Lieutenant Matsumoto wearing the formal Kimono that etiquette would  demand she adopt.  Her hair swept up into an uncomfortable but fabulous confection, her front teeth blacked out, her face whitened with powder while her eyebrows would be concealed and new ones painted on.  Even if he tried to stretch his imagination as far as possible it was almost impossible to summon up an image of the woman dressed formally.  Of course he had never suggested Hisana dress in that manner, though he was certain she would have done so, if he had requested it, but she seemed too delicate to withstand the rigours of the dress code.

Not that a wife would need to dress formally at all times, only if the importance of the occasion demanded such a costume. 

With a start he realised he was sitting upright with his eyes half closed as he thought about these trivialities.  His interest in the Lieutenant was purely carnal, nothing more.  He would not lower himself to have a liaison with such a woman, she was unsuitable to marry and showed no interest in him.  It would be best if he retired for the night, after suitable meditation and allowed sleep to remove some of the stresses he'd encountered during the day. 

Before he slept he resolved to request the woman's attendance on the next evening.  She had proven slightly useful.  Maybe her further presence would exorcise her attraction while he benefitted from her assistance in choosing his wife.

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The day dawned too soon.  Her head was relatively clear as she had only drunk tea and other innocuous liquids the previous day but the exertions of the day, the unpleasant time she'd spent at the Kuchiki mansion and the hours trying to help Shunsui make sense of his situation had been exhausting.  Any inclination to rise from her bed was overcome by the lure of trying for further slumber. 

The dreams of the night had not helped.

No, those dreams had drained her energy even further.   Tormenting dreams which made no sense to her.  They seemed to focus on water travelling through a bamboo construction, finally emptying into a pond which contained large creatures she could not distinguish clearly.  Were they carp or dragons or some other water creature which both threatened and entranced her?

Why was she dreaming of water?  It made little sense.  Nothing she'd experienced the previous day might have led her to dream of water.  It would have made more sense if she'd dreamt of weddings , or flowers, or paperwork, but she'd dreamt of water. 

Crossly dismissing her thoughts and trying to banish her dreams from her memory, she rose and prepared for the day, hoping that no message would be received requiring her to spend her time on a thankless task.

 

Instead of shirking her duty, she helped her Captain as much as possible, hoping he would notice and reward her with an evening off further unwelcome duty.  The unwelcome message arrived halfway through the day, while she was making tea for their mid day meal and without any consultation, she was sentenced to another evening of wife selection.  The message had been sent before she knew it had arrived and when she tried to remonstrate with Captain Hitsugaya, he had frowned and rubbed his left hand through his hair.

"It won't be for long, Matsumoto.  I should have asked but you've already spent one night helping.  I don't see why it's an issue," he explained.

"It is an issue, Toshiro.  He's already employing a nokodo; he has family to consult.  Why am I being dragged into a personal affair?" she tried to remain calm as she listed the facts as she saw them. 

"Because I was asked, not you.  How much longer could it take?  Choose the prettiest girl from the best family.  See? Simple," was his suggestion.

Ran groaned and covered her face with her hands.  "Simple!  Simple?  Nothing to do with that man is simple.  He wants more than breeding and beauty.  He wants a paragon of Japanese noble virtue, who has the faithfulness and patience of Princess Ototachibana, wife of Prince Yamato Take and the wisdom of Omikane.  Even a woman who had those qualities might not be deemed worthy to become his wife."

She saw Toshiro hold up his hand as if trying to silence her.  "I'm sure he's not as bad as you say.  Captain Kuchiki takes his responsibilities seriously and when it relates to his family he can be very particular."

Ran had to contradict him, not that this had never happened before.  "Particular?  No, he aspires to perfection!  He has no sense of humour, only a sense of honour."

"Calm down, Matsumoto.  I've already informed the Captain you will assist him tonight.  You will do so and I will..." He stopped as if thinking of some way to console her, or at least prevent her from expressing her viewpoint.  "You can sleep in tomorrow." He nodded to himself.  "Yes, you can arrive at work at 10.00 am, not later."

Ran opened her mouth to argue, but seeing the look on Toshiro's face convinced her he would not listen and probably take back the promised offer of sleeping in.  Sighing heavily she agreed and worked through the rest of the day with a feeling of impending boredom. 

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Receiving the reply that Lieutenant Matsumoto would assist him brought forth some confusing feelings.  He was pleased he would receive some assistance but a few deeper feelings expressed pleasure at spending more time with this unworthy woman. 

His dreams last night had been dominated by water.  Possibly because he had spilt the tea.  It seemed odd such a small event could affect him so profoundly.  Water was of no consequence in his life, simply something useful for washing and drinking but of little interest otherwise.  Water, like an ocean rolling through the background of his dreams, while he felt the coolness of the wind that travelled over the water cooling his body which seemed over heated.  It was strange because unless he stood in direct sunlight in summer, he rarely felt hot.  His family did not feel the heat, or admit to feeling it as that was something ordinary people felt.  Also, he rarely complained of the cold.  The weather could not be changed or challenged, it simply was and as a being living within the environment, he simply adjusted and moved onto his duties. 

In the dream he had felt sweat prickle on his forehead as he stood with his back to the ocean, feeling alternatively hot from either the sun or his body temperature and cool from the air which surrounded him.  Of course it made no sense.  Possibly it was just a mental reframing of the embarrassment of spilling hot tea in front of a person who was so below him in birth, breeding, culture and all other important factors in his life. 

Throughout the day the faint memories of the dream kept returning and he resolutely shut them out each time.  He was no superstitious peasant who put any faith in interpretation of dreams.  He was successful until his lieutenant had been given permission to leave for his noonday repast.

Abarai was a simple man who seemed to believe in all manner of silly things, like love and romance.  He recalled, with some difficulty, not long after he'd been appointed to his position he'd tried to mention a dream he'd had and said he would look it up in a dream dictionary he had.

"I had this dream about the sun shining on a budding rose which opened its petals.  I really think it is a good omen, but I will look it up in my dream dictionary..."

"Is that really an appropriate usage of your time?", Byakuya had asked crisply, trying to remind his subordinate of his position and place.

"It will only take a minute..., " the man had replied, possibly having been permitted this amount of freedom in his past positions.

Byakuya had coughed and shown his scorn for the idea by turning down the corners of his mouth, crossing his arms and raising his left eyebrow in derision.  Abarai had faltered in his speech and quickly replaced the book he said he would consult.

Without realising what he was doing he found himself behind Abarai's desk, looking through his collection of trashy books.  Byakuya was not surprised to see a copy of Genji Monogartiri, some graphic novels originally serialised in Shonen Jump, Parasite Eve amongst what appeared to be trashy novels aimed, he thought,  at boys. At the bottom, hidden almost by a translation of The Journey West was the copy of the dream dictionary. 

Picking it up, he looked at the cover.  The cover was light blue and pink with cloud bubbles and text proclaiming it to be 'the ultimate guide to the meaning of dreams'.  It was rubbish.  He knew it was rubbish, as much as choosing an auspicious day to get married or bear a child was only supported by tradition, not facts.

But he was interested in knowing.  Only slightly interested.  It didn't matter what the dream meant.  Night dreams were ways to pass the time while sleeping.  Daydreams were a ridiculous indulgence which never came true. 

Opening to the index he was surprised to see there were a number of different dreams about water.  Turning to the right chapter he glanced at some passage mentioning that dreams of listening to water meant you were calm and in control but if you were watching a river running fast, you were scared of event overtaking you and changing your life.  None of this meant anything to him.

He thought about it and then looked for a meaning for the ocean.  For some reason he remembered the ocean as being pink.  Surely that was absurd.  Oceans were gray, blue or green, not pink. 

As his eyes sought the meaning he noticed there was a meaning for a pink ocean.  He read it and the book slipped from his hand as his eyes gazed at the wall while he tried to take it in.  His initial reaction had been correct.  The book was rubbish.  Trying to interpret dreams was like working out the possibility of weather conditions by counting fish scales.

He wasn't feeling overwhelming lust for anyone.  There was no room in his life for these feelings.

Perhaps spending more time with Lieutenant Matsumoto might be a bad idea.  It was too late to cancel and to do so after he specifically requested her help might make him seem as if he didn't know his own mind.

The dream interpretation was wrong.  He knew himself better than any random dream might indicate.  It was his role as the head of the Kuchiki clan.

 

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Soundtrack

'Seeds of Dreams' Girl Next Door

'The Game of Love' Daft Punk

'Ocean Soul' Nightwish

'Dreams of Leaving' Human League

'Kiss and Control' AFI

 

Happy Belated Birthday KK.  As you know I'm travelling and writing doesn't happen when I have little access to a laptop.

Review.  They sometimes amuse.

 

 



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