(I promised this a long time ago to Picklez80, one of my most vocal supporters on the site. She asked for an angsty Romance/Hurt/Comfort, Bya/Ichigo story set after the quincy war that begins with Byakuya rejecting Ichigo after being his first lover. So, here goes. This is a yaoi story with mpreg, so if you don't like that, don't read. It will include some non-graphic non-con sex in the early chapters, although everything that happens between Byakuya and Ichigo will be consensual. Enjoy, Picklez! *hugs*)
Chapter 1: The Ice Prince Melts
(In the royal realm, after Byakuya wakes)
Ichigo ran through the hallways of Tenjiro's palace, moving left or right to avoid colliding with a few attendants going about their duties. Each gazed quietly after him for a moment, before returning to their work. Ichigo managed a breathless apology as he passed them, but his mind remained focused on one thing and one thing alone. He hurried first, to the healing pools, dashing into the room and looking around, only to find the place deserted.
"Damn!" he huffed, panting to regain his breath.
The door to the chamber opened and a servant entered, bearing fresh towels to lay near the pools.
"Hey!" Ichigo shouted, biting his lip as the servant flinched and looked at him through widened brown eyes, "Sorry. I'm looking for Kuchiki Byakuya. I was at Ichibei's palace and I heard he woke up. Where is he?"
"Oh, K-kurosaki-sama!" the servant said, blinking, "I wasn't sure it was you."
"Sorry," Ichigo apologized again, giving the man a more sheepish look, "I was just trying to find my friend. Byakuya was badly hurt and he was dying when we got here. But I heard that the healing worked and he was awake. Please, do you know where I can find him?"
The young man nodded and smiled more warmly.
"Of course, Kurosaki-sama," he answered respectfully, "I will be glad to show you there. Come."
Ichigo fell in at the servant's side, giving him a look of gratitude.
"Miki," the young man answered.
"Thanks, Miki. I was really worried because it seemed pretty sure that Byakuya wouldn't make it. I'm glad that Tenjiro was able to keep him alive."
"I have heard that Kuchiki taicho is making a full recovery. He is resting now before he will be sent on to have his reiatsu strengthened and his sword reforged."
"Right," Ichigo sighed, remembering his own experiences in the other Squad Zero taichos' oddball palaces, "Then, he'll have to visit…her."
He gave a little shudder, remembering Senjumaru's palace and her invasive 'fitting' session with him.
"Ugh, well, I wanna see him before he leaves."
"He will be weak," the servant warned Ichigo, "but he should be able to talk to you for a little while."
"Great," Ichigo said, pausing as they reached the chamber door and Miki knocked softly.
The door opened and Tenjiro glared at the servant.
He stopped as he spotted Ichigo, then broke into a more welcoming grin.
"C'mon in," he invited Ichigo.
"Thanks!" Ichigo said, hurrying into the room.
His anxious eyes found Byakuya, dressed in a white yukata and sitting up in a comfortable looking bed, his dark eyes looking down at his folded hands. He flinched slightly as Tenjiro glanced back at him and huffed a short chuckle.
"Don't die when I turn my my back, okay?" he teased, "After all the trouble I went to, saving your sorry, noble ass."
Ichigo watched as he left, then turned and sat down at the solemn noble's bedside.
"Man," he sighed, "that guy can be a jerk. But, he is a good healer. You look a lot better."
"He was right to chastise me," Byakuya said quietly, not looking up at Ichigo.
"What kinda talk is that?" he asked, crossing his arms, "You didn't do anything wrong. You fought hard and you just lost. We all do that sometimes. You've seen me get my ass kicked a whole lotta times. You're no worse than anyone else."
"I am a noble son, given the responsibility to protect my family and Soul Society. That is my first, and most important task…and I…have failed to do that."
"So?" Ichigo said sternly, "Doesn't matter. You lived. You're being healed. You're going back, and this time, you won't lose. I know you won't. Besides, you should probably know that I am a…"
"Ichigo," Byakuya interrupted him, "I was not saying that I would not return and fight. I will. And, as you said, this time, I will not lose. But I must also take responsibility for what I've done."
The noble's eyes lifted and struck Ichigo's with the deep pain and humiliation that radiated in them.
"Byakuya!" the younger man exclaimed in a shocked tone.
His breath caught painfully at the sight of tears in the corners of the proud noble's eyes.
"I failed to protect those depending on me," Byakuya whispered, holding Ichigo's stunned gaze, "and I laid upon a very young man, a responsibility that was clearly mine. It was not fair to you."
"I don't care about that," Ichigo said, taking Byakuya's soft, surprisingly warm hand in his, "Look, you fought as hard as you could, and with only part of the power you have, because of their tricks."
"It does not matter why."
"It does. It matters that your strength was taken away, and that you thought you were dying. I mean, maybe you only confided in me because you thought you were dying and I was just the one who was there."
Ichigo shook his head to ward off Byakuya's words.
"The thing is…" Ichigo pressed on, his heart clenching strangely in his chest, "I wanted to be there for you. I wanted to help you. I was…touched when you asked me to protect everyone. But then, you always believe in me."
Byakuya let out a soft, resigned breath and lowered his gaze.
"You never disappoint me," he admitted, sliding his damp eyes closed, "I am sorry that I disappointed you, along with everyone else. I will…"
Byakuya stiffened and his eyes flew open at the warm, solid press of Ichigo's lips on his and the younger man leaned forward and impulsively kissed him. He started to object, only to be met with a longer, more passionate kiss that ended somehow with him hanging onto Ichigo's shoulders as the younger man tumbled onto the bed.
"Please don't say things like that," Ichigo said between hard, open-mouthed kisses, "You didn't disappoint me or anyone else. And you're going to be even stronger when you go home. Just…before we…"
"Ichigo!" Byakuya panted, struggling halfheartedly as Ichigo laced their fingers together and kissed him more ardently.
"I've fallen in love with you," Ichigo confessed, his fingers trembling as they touched Byakuya's lovely, confused looking face, "I know it isn't the place or the time, but after what happened, I have to tell you! You need to know."
Byakuya felt a lump in his throat and struggled to get his next words out.
"I…understand. It is a natural reaction to pick up a lost, broken thing that you've rescued and…"
"No!" Ichigo persisted, "It isn't that at all! I've been…feeling this way for a long time. I just, was afraid that you would…you know, that you would turn me down. I've never felt this way about anyone, Byakuya!"
"You have no idea what you are saying," Byakuya said incredulously, "You are just…"
"I love you!" Ichigo snapped, meeting him for a long, savage kiss, "I love you, Byakuya!"
Byakuya froze as Ichigo's hands tore at their clothing, and he realized suddenly that his own hands had joined them. They were bared and writhing wildly against each other in an instant, exchanging fierce kisses and rubbing sensuously against each other. Byakuya turned, rolling the ginger-haired man onto his back and wetting his fingers in Ichigo's biting mouth.
"No," Ichigo answered, blushing brightly, "I told you I never wanted anyone this way. B-but you were with Hisana, right?"
"Making love to another male is different," Byakuya managed, sliding his hand down Ichigo's sweat dampened body and seeking his virgin entrance, "I do not want to hurt you."
"You won't hurt me," Ichigo sighed, closing his eyes and raising his hips scandalously as Byakuya's fingers found the sensitive nerves inside him, "Oh my god! I feel like I'll die if you don't…if we don't…"
His words descended into incoherent moans, and the thrashed wildly as Byakuya's wetted fingers prepared him. He quivered and met Byakuya's lusty eyes as the noble paused and kissed him more tenderly.
"Tell me if it hurts," he whispered, positioning himself between Ichigo's parted thighs and beginning his entry.
"Oh!" Ichigo gasped, his legs shaking and his back arching as their bodies were slowly joined, "Oh god, Byakuya!"
We shouldn't be doing this, Ichigo's hazy mind registered, He's still recovering and I sort of sprang this on him all of a sudden. I just couldn't wait anymore. Byakuya is so beautiful! I love him and I almost lost him before I could tell him that. I'm not going to make a mistake like that again. I'm going to tell him every day how much I love him.
His mouth sought the noble's voraciously and his hips rose to meet each of Byakuya's firm, grinding thrusts. Ichigo felt a deep, powerful vibration that began in his core and expanded until his whole body stiffened and shuddered warningly. Byakuya's body quivered and Ichigo felt seething breath on his throat. They were held, suspended together for a long, beautiful moment, then their bodies tumbled heedlessly into release. Scathing heat filled his insides and Ichigo howled as he expelled his own seed onto their still writhing bodies. Byakuya collapsed and went still on top of him, and Ichigo panted and blinked, his ears ringing loudly and his vision dimming for a moment.
Seconds later, the door slammed open and Tenjiro glared in from the doorway. Ichigo scuttled out from beneath the limp and unresponsive noble, flushing all over.
"What the hell?" he demanded, "Have you ever heard of privacy?"
He moved quickly to cover Byakuya's bare bottom, then returned his glare to the hot spring demon.
"What the fuck did you two think you were doing?" Tenjiro yelled, "I just healed that man and you coulda killed him, doing that with him so soon!"
"Well, I…" Ichigo began.
His words skidded to a halt and he glowered at the other man.
"How the hell did you know what we were doing?" he demanded angrily.
"Well, you're not in a guest room, asshole," Tenjiro snapped, "This is a treatment room. A monitored treatment room. We were watching him to make sure his reiatsu stabilized fully before sending him on. He's weak as a kitten right now and not up to sex, especially with a guy whose reiatsu is as strong as yours is!"
"Well, you could've told us before we…"
"I didn't know you were going in there to get him to fuck you. I thought you were just friends!"
"We are!" Ichigo shouted back, "I mean, we were."
Tenjio huffed out a dismissive breath and he shook his head.
"Just get outta here and go do your training. Let me handle loverboy, here."
"Don't disrespect Byakuya!" Ichigo snapped.
"Huh," Tenjiro huffed, leaning over the noble and infusing his unconscious form with stabilizing reiatsu, "The guy screwed up and he admits it. He should be sorry. He's got more power than most of the past Kuchiki leaders put together, and he still didn't last five minutes…"
"Hardly anyone did!" Ichigo objected, "I got my bankai sliced in two like it was nothing! It's not surprising at all that Byakuya lost. Just you make sure that he's full power before you let him leave here. He may have lost before, but that was when the damned quincies stole his bankai, so he couldn't fight full strength. Any of the rest of you would have had a hard time too. Don't tell me that you wouldn't!"
"It ain't our job to protect Soul Society!" Tenjiro argued, "The Gotei 13 protects Soul Society. We protect the soul king."
Ichigo glared at the hot spring demon aggressively.
"What the hell good is a king if he doesn't have anyone in his kingdom?" he demanded.
Tenjiro seethed, but reined in his reaction.
"Get outta here, will you?" he said, off-handedly.
"I'll go," Ichigo said, wrangling his clothes back into place, "But you take care of Byakuya and don't you dare try to make him feel bad over his loss!"
"Hey, the scolding was for his own good. he ain't some weakling from the Rukongai. He's a noble prince! And a noble prince and clan leader's got to not lose."
Tenjiro's eyes narrowed.
"You might wanna remember that, Shiba Ichigo."
"Shut up!" Ichigo answered scathingly, " I know who I am."
"Heh," Tenjiro chuckled, "Did you tell him?"
"What?" Ichigo mused, "What difference does that make?"
The hot spring demon shrugged.
"None to me," he commented dismissively, "But his family may have a thing or two to say about it."
"Forget it. Get outta here!"
"Fine, just remember what I said," Ichigo steamed, heading out the door.
Tenjiro huffed out a sharper breath.
"Fucking kids," he muttered, his hands oddly gentle as they set Byakuya's clothing back in place, "Don't know what the hell you're doing. Probably didn't even use protection, did you?"
He looked down at Byakuya as the noble groaned uncomfortably and began to regain consciousness. He tried to sit up, only to be pushed down again.
"Where d'you think you're going?" Tenjiro scolded him, "You shouldn't be getting out of bed yet. I told you that you need to rest. What the fuck were you doing…erm…y'know, having sex with Ichigo when you're like this?"
"What?" Byakuya managed, giving him a stymied look, "What did you say?"
"I told you to rest and I come in here to find you passing out after taking the goddamned Shiba heir's virginity!"
Byakuya's eyes widened in distress.
"I thought it was a dream! I did not know he was really here. I thought it a hallucination!"
"Nope," Tenjiro sniffed, "It was real, all right. Damned real. You just poked Shiba Isshin's son."
Byakuya's already pale face went white.
"What? He didn't tell you that?" Tenjiro asked with an edge of sarcasm, "I guess there wasn't time with how fast you two got down to business. Really, Kuchiki, after mourning your dead wife this long, I didn't think you'd just go for it with Ichigo like that…still, can't say I blame you. He's…"
"Shut up!" Byakuya hissed furiously, "Don't you dare disrespect him! That man is the only reason we have any chance of beating these invaders, and you know it!"
"Yeah," Tenjiro agreed, "But I'm not going to thank him with quite the enthusiasm you just did. Jeezus! Were you thinking at all?"
"I told you, I was only partially aware. I could not tell the difference between reality and dream."
"Well, that was some hot dream," Tenjiro chuckled, "Hey, don't get your nose outta joint. It's all good, right? You can just…explain it to him when this is all over."
Byakuya sat up carefully and folded his hands in his lap again as the door opened and an attendant arrived with hot tea.
"I will not know where to begin," he confessed, "I am as much in love with Ichigo as he is with me. But where I understand the rules about the marriages of leaders and heirs, he does not. And, given his past behavior, I do not think this will be any different. Ichigo is going to hate me."
"Aww," Tenjiro drawled, "you never know. Although, preliminary reports say that the noble houses have taken heavy losses. Your own excepted."
"That is because of my cousin's intervention," Byakuya explained, "After Aizen's rampage, Tetsuya made a plan for further incursions into the Seireitei. At the first moment of the attack, he sprung into an evacuation plan that seems to have saved many lives."
"That's good. There'll be some strong people to marry off to revive the numbers of the other clans," Tenjiro commented, his eyes betraying a hint of sympathy, "But, unfortunately for you and Ichigo…"
"I know," Byakuya said in a devastated tone, "The ban on leaders and heirs marrying other leaders and heirs will be strictly enforced…and even if he hasn't yet been named heir, he will be. He is too powerful not to be."
"It's going to be up to you to explain all of that to him. But…I wouldn't do that now. Not while things are in such chaos."
"I agree," Byakuya said sadly, "I will wait until the war ends…and then I will tell him."