Pairing: Byakuya/Renji
Warnings: Some bondage and dom/sub situations. (Comes into play after a couple of chapters.) These scenes will have been edited to fit rating standards on this site.
Disclaimer: Bleach is the property of Tite Kubo. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Post-Aizen storyline that will no doubt be considered AU by the time Tite Kubo wraps that arc up. The title is a Latin phrase meaning "at one's pleasure." All chapters will be varying lengths between 1000 and 2000 words. Written for Stages of Love on LJ, so to honor their posting schedule, this will post twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. Since I will be out of the country throughout July, the last four chapters will post in the last week of June (Monday through Thursday).

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A Bene Placito – Chapter I: Renji

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Renji wanted Byakuya from the moment he first met him. He could never explain why. Until Byakuya walked by him, not even casting him a glance, Renji never thought he would want a man so much.

Perhaps it was the confusion of the moment. He met Byakuya and lost Rukia in one fell swoop. His world crumbled away beneath his feet. He found it difficult to look at Rukia after that, knowing that she would no longer be part of his world.

Renji turned his attention to Byakuya. Not because he wanted Byakuya, he told himself, but because he wanted to be stronger than Byakuya. Until promoted to Division Six Lieutenant, Renji found it easy to think that his interest in Byakuya was limited to surpassing him. The moment Renji appeared in Byakuya's office, he knew that was not the case. Byakuya spoke to him without looking up from his paperwork, and Renji found it hard to rip his gaze off Byakuya's raven hair and pale skin.

Byakuya was not the only man who turned Renji's head, and Byakuya would not be the last, but Byakuya would be the man he could not forget. Renji had tried to rationalize that Byakuya possessed a woman's beauty. His black hair shone under light, and Renji had always liked black hair. His skin looked like cream, and Renji favored pale women. Renji liked small and slender women, and though Byakuya only stood a few inches shorter than he, he was more slender than his strength belied. Renji tried to pretend his attraction was some form of gender confusion and would fade with time.

Only it did not. Byakuya was no woman, and Renji never thought of him as such. Byakuya possessed a man's beauty and a man's grace. He was more of a man than even Captain Zaraki. While Zaraki's subordinates occasionally grumbled about his leadership in private, none dared speak Byakuya's name in anything more than a respectful whisper. When Byakuya gave an order, all snapped to do his bidding, Renji included. Until Byakuya refused to stop Rukia's execution, Renji did not think himself capable of disobeying Byakuya.

Renji could not sort out how he felt about Byakuya. He hated him, he loved him, he wanted him, he feared him, he competed with him, he never compared to him. One feeling blended into the next, the desire to please and the desire to hurt inseparable at times. When he dreamt of Byakuya, he dreamt in black and white—and red, for blood.

Renji thought he would stop wanting Byakuya when he tried to cut his way through Soul Society to save Rukia. He thought wrong. He could ignore his passing attractions to other men, but never Byakuya. Byakuya nearly killed Renji, but Renji's desire did not spill out with his blood onto the streets of Seireitei. Even when Renji held Rukia in his arms once again, he felt the press of Byakuya's ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu beneath his kimono. It had been used to bandage his wounds. Somehow this seemed right, that the first token that Byakuya gave Renji was soaked in Renji's blood.

The new friendships that arose after Aizen's betrayal proved no deterrent to Renji's fixation on Byakuya. Rukia was still not his, would never be his. It was not Byakuya's fault, but his own. Whatever chance he had with her, he had destroyed when he set her free to join the Kuchiki house. She belonged to herself, as she always had. Ichigo caught Renji's interest for a brief period, as did Urahara, but that too faded. Neither had any interest in him. Though Byakuya was no more attainable than any of them, the desire remained.

Renji did not understand it. No hollow, no arrancar, no Espada, and no Shinigami distracted Renji from his Captain. When the battles were over, when Los Noches was reduced to rubble, when Aizen burnt in the fires of Hell, the desire was still there. Renji simply accepted that his feelings for Byakuya would never disappear, even if he balked at the only word that described his emotions. He returned to Soul Society in the same state he had left it—in love with a man who barely acknowledged his existence.

Renji needed to talk about his feelings with someone who would understand. Rukia served Ukitake as his Lieutenant, but Ukitake's health had deteriorated since the battle with Aizen. Rukia, like Kaien before her, was practically Captain now, and she had no time to listen to Renji's muddled thoughts—thoughts that Renji was not sure if he should share with her in the first place. Renji could not talk to Kira or Shūhei—he did not even want to know what they would think if they found out Renji's type included arrogant noblemen. Renji had only one friend who understood what it was like to love a Captain that would never love her back.

"Hinamori," Renji said, sitting down on the chair beside her bed. She huddled against the wall with her back to him. Since Aizen's death, she had refused to speak or leave her bed. She only stared at the wall. Renji adjusted her blanket, wondering if Hitsugaya ever visited her. The moonlight pouring into her small room made her seem like a ghost.

"I'm sorry to bother you again, Hinamori, but you were always a good friend. A good listener." Renji sighed and steepled his hands between his knees. "I thought you might have some advice for me this time. They want to give me a captain's proficiency test."

Hinamori shivered, the only sign of life she had given in weeks. It was an improvement. Renji stroked her hair, wishing she would answer him, tell him to abandon all thoughts of Byakuya, become a Captain, and find some pretty girl in Rukongai to settle down with. But Hinamori only listened, never advised. For the moment, it was enough.

Renji did not know what he would do when it was no longer enough.

To be continued…