Water Torture

There was something about the lines of Kuchiki Byakuya's back that woke every nerve in Renji's body. Particularly the lower part of Renji's body.

Kuchiki-taichou's coat had been tossed onto his desk, and clung to it in sodden folds of white silk. His scarf had been draped carefully over the back of a chair. His black outer jacket and white inner jacket were puddled on the ground by his feet.

His hakama fell to his ankles in a slow waterfall of black silk, peeling away from soaked legs in gently cascading ripples till they finally came to rest on the floor.

Kuchiki-taichou stepped out of them, standing there in loincloth and tabi. His hair clung wetly to his neck and back, smooth as ink. His body . . . His skin was pale as marble, and every muscle in his shoulders and back and legs begged, demanded that Renji touch them, that he warm them, that he run his hands over them and --

"Renji," Kuchiki-taichou said in tones of boredom, "you are standing there in your wet clothing. Do you have a head injury? Or do you simply intend to catch a cold?"

"Gwuh," Renji said. "Gwuh ungh."

Kuchiki-taichou frowned. He stepped closer, and laid the back of his hand against Renji's forehead. Renji could feel the delicate handbones, the muscle that overlaid them, the hectic temperature of Kuchiki-taichou's flesh. He was standing next to a nearly naked Kuchiki-taichou. He was looking Kuchiki-taichou in the eye. He was --

"You're running a temperature," Kuchiki-taichou diagnosed. "And I think that Hollow hit you harder than you realised. Can you make it to Fourth Division?"

Renji could smell Kuchiki-taichou, rain and flesh and sweat.

"Grwarh," he said. It had been meant to be of course, sir but for some reason it didn't come out properly.

Kuchiki-taichou sighed. "Clearly not. Come over to the brazier." He led the stumbling Renji across, one hand on Renji's shoulder, one firm, commanding, masterful, clasping hand that held Renji's shoulder with control, with possessive captainness, with . . .

"Now take your clothes off," Kuchiki-taichou said.

"Urk," Renji said. Clothes. Off. Him. There was something which ought to make logical sense about those three words, but his brain was refusing to cooperate, faced with the sight of a rain-wet Kuchiki-taichou whose loincloth clung damply to his . . . damply to his . . .

"Fourth," he mumbled.

"You're in no condition to go out like that," Kuchiki-taichou scolded. "You are hunching over in an undignified manner, Renji. Straighten your shoulders. Stand up. Do not cower like that as if you are trying to hide something from me."

"Argh . . ." Renji tried to think of excuses, especially ones about why he should avoid standing up straight and showing . . . Only one suggested itself. "My ink's running!" he blurted out.


"My tattoos! The ink's running! I have to get somewhere else -- I can't drip ink on your floor!" Renji bolted for the door.

He heard a trailing, "Renji . . ." behind him as he staggered out into the pouring rain. It could have been his imagination, but for a moment he almost thought it sounded wistful.