'Kaien thought Byakuya to be a priss. Byakuya thought Kaien to be an idiot.' The basis of a beautiful friendship. Companion to Fragments.
When they first formally meet (the unofficial meeting didn't count, for Kaien was far too drunk to even see Byakuya properly), Kaien thought Byakuya to be a priss. Byakuya thought Kaien to be an idiot.
The two opinions had never changed throughout their friendship.
Kaien had never beaten Byakuya at shogi, and he never will. Byakuya had never defeated Kaien at poker, and he never will.
Both of them will never stop trying, however.
Although both of their respective Houses trained them hard to gain glory for their families, Kaien had always known that Byakuya was pushed far harder than he ever will, because the Kuchiki House was considered the First House. He didn't mind, in fact, he was rather glad of it, for Byakuya had always taken his duties to his House more seriously than Kaien did.
Besides, it gave him an extra excuse to drag that prissy bastard out somewhere to 'loosen up'. Not that he really needed an excuse in the first place, but it always pays to play safe.
Kaien's room, whenever Byakuya visited, was messy and cluttered, with books and clothes and practice swords everywhere. He always felt slightly stifled whenever he was in the room, and tried his best to drag Kaien out somewhere so as not to see the clutter.
Byakuya detested any mess.
Kaien hated Byakuya's room, as it was always neat and clean, with clothes in the wardrobe and books in their shelves and everything in their proper place. Kaien thought it was slightly suffocating whenever he saw Byakuya's room, and always had to mess it up a little, or even drag Byakuya out of the room.
Kaien hated that Byakuya's room looked as if it had never been /lived in/.
Byakuya thought that Kaien talked way too much about girls, and fall in love, and out of love, with them far too fast.
He decided that if he ever falls in love, he would love that person, and only that person, forever.
Kaien, on the other hand, thought that Byakuya was far too stiff, especially about women. There was no point in living if one didn't try everything just once, love and women included.
However, he knew that when he truly falls in love, he would be willing to die for her.
The competition between the two of them started when Kaien was twenty-one and Byakuya eighteen, mere children in the eyes of those in Soul Society. Kisuke had said, then, that both of them have a potential to be great Captains, but Byakuya was undeniably more powerful.
Ever since then, Kaien tried his best to prove Urahara wrong, while Byakuya tried his best to prove him right.
Meanwhile, Kisuke laughed in secret and congratulated himself on a job well done.
Though both of them would never admit it, Byakuya and Kaien both knew that without the friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) competition between them, they would have never done as well as they did.
It would take at least the Chinese water torture and the threat of Kuukaku's fireworks show to get them both to admit that they needed each other, however.
Byakuya and Kaien's first kisses weren't any girl, but each other.
It was an accident, really, and the kiss wasn't a kiss at all. They had been sparring, caught up in the moment when Kaien tripped (Kaien had always sworn that Byakuya was the one who tripped him. Byakuya had always viciously denied this.). Somehow or another, Kaien managed to pull his best friend down with him and their lips ended up /touching/.
They had sprung apart seconds later, both stammering apologies before fleeing without so much as a look at each other.
Their practice swords were left on the floor.
It was very awkward for days afterwards, as whenever their eyes met, Kaien started babbling nonsensical things incoherently, and Byakuya looked away, quiet as always, and blushed.
All in all, it was, as Yoruichi (the /sadist/) said, rather amusing.
Quite obviously, though, Byakuya and Kaien Did Not Think So.
Eventually, Kuukaku got tired of the awkwardness and tiptoeing around each other, and asked both of them what's wrong. When they told her, Kaien's first protest was "I still like women!"
Kuukaku then sighed, wondering just why her older brother was so idiotic sometimes, and banged their heads together. Literally. She told them, amused, that a kiss is just a damn kiss sometimes, and it meant as much as they wanted it to mean.
"And, aniki, accidentally kissing a guy didn't mean that you swear off women. If so, the human race would have died out long ago."
She decided that, as a whole, men are /idiots/.
It was an unspoken and unanimous agreement that the kiss was an accident and thus Did Not Count, and so everything went back to normal. Byakuya and Kaien continued sparring with one another.
Kisuke, Yoruichi and Kuukaku all breathed a sigh of relief. After they had picked themselves from the floor from the laughing fit the whole situation had induced, that is.
When Urahara and Yoruichi left, without warning and without a word, it was Kaien who was hurt the most, for he never stopped hoping that they would come back one day.
Byakuya knew otherwise, for he was a realist and not an idealist, but he had never tried to correct Kaien.
One could never have too much hope, after all.
During Kaien's wedding, it was Byakuya who reassured him that he would do fine (in his usual sarcastic way, of course). It was always Byakuya who made sure that he was dressed properly and convince Kuukaku to pour the tea for the wedding of her brother and her new sister-in-law.
And of course, it was Byakuya that Kaien was sure would be the next to marry. It wouldn't do for him to win that competition between them, after all, not when it had been going on for over a hundred and fifty years (current score: 1721 to 1698, with Byakuya currently in the lead).
It was Miyako who first found out about Hisana, but it was Kaien who first did anything to /help/.
While Miyako secretly taught Hisana about the ways of the Kuchiki House, Kaien helped Byakuya see that his own happiness was far more important that any familial duties he had. He also helped, somewhat, in convincing the Kuchiki clan to accept Hisana.
It was the only time he felt that his status as the Head of the Shiba clan was of any use.
When Byakuya and Hisana married, Miyako helped pour the tea while Kaien and Kuukaku stood at the side, watching proudly and fondly as their almost-brother found his true happiness.
When Hisana died, lost to the hands of an illness that should be easy to cure, Kaien was at a loss as to what to do. He had never lost a loved one before (Kisuke and Yoruichi didn't count, for they would return. He knew they would.).
All he could do was to simply /be there/, placing a hand on Byakuya's shoulder when he thought he needed to, offering a grin or a joke just to stop Byakuya from drowning in his grief.
Somehow... somehow, it was enough.
Rukia never knew that her brother was more than just an acquaintance to her beloved Kaien-dono. Both Byakuya and Kaien kept it from her consciously, knowing that if Rukia knew about their friendship, she would never realize that Kaien helped her because he wanted to, not because he had to.
In that way, she was very much like her brother.
Just before he died, Kaien suddenly realized just how mad Byakuya was going to be when he knew how much Kaien had hurt Rukia.
Hopefully, the prissy bastard would understand that it wasn't his fault that Kaien died, that he died because of his own pride, his own stupidity, that Kaien's death was no one's fault but his own.
Somehow, he doubted it. His little brother had a ridiculously strong guilt complex.
It was only after Kaien died that Byakuya fully realized what the other man meant to him.
Kaien had always known that Byakuya was the far too quiet, overly competitive, prissy and prideful little brother he never had and never wanted to have. And he was truly happy to know him, to understand Byakuya as much as he did.
Somehow, no matter how long Byakuya had known his best friend, Kaien was still an enigma to him.