Chapter 25: Blood Feud
(Thanks for waiting so patiently while I wrapped this up. This is the final chapter of this story, but another will follow! Thanks for reading and please review! I love hearing what you have to say and responding to your feedback…especially now while I am housebound with my second bout of flu this season and bored to death being cut off from everything! Argh! Enjoy!)
"Bya, I think we need to get out of here before everyone comes out," said Renji, looking anxiously back at the Central 46 building behind them.
Byakuya nodded and they flash stepped into a nearby grove of trees.
"Where should we go?" asked Byakuya, "The Division offices will probably be busy…and the manor is no longer standing."
"Hmm…" Renji said, thinking, "I can think of one place we could be alone for a bit."
"What about the children?" Byakuya asked, "I haven't even seen them since we returned from Las Noches."
"Hajime is still in the living world at Kisuke's and I sent a hell butterfly to the twins telling them to go there and wait for us," Renji explained.
Seeing Byakuya's confused expression, he went on.
"I knew that your release would cause some commotion. I thought it would be better if they weren't subjected to that."
"You're probably right," Byakuya commented, "So we'll go there as well?"
"We'll join them there in a bit. But first, let's go find a quiet place to stay until the excitement dies down."
Byakuya furrowed his brow.
"Follow me…shunpo speed."
He disappeared in a flash. Shaking his head, Byakuya flash stepped after him. He realized rather quickly that they were headed back in the direction of the manor, but noting that Renji seemed certain of himself, Byakuya simply followed. He was soon proven correct as the street gave way to where the fence line of the manor extended. Byakuya slowed, surprised at the fact that he was looking at a brand new fence. Renji stopped ahead of him, mystified as well. They walked up the fence line to the entry gate and stopped as a sentry appeared ahead of them.
"Lord Kuchiki!" he said in surprise, "I wasn't told you were coming here, sir. I'll inform the household staff."
"Household staff?" he asked, confused, "Why is there staff when there is no house?"
The sentry smiled.
"Well, sir," he explained, "We heard that you returned to the Seireitei…and that you would be on trial, sir, but none of us believed what that lying bastard said about you. So, while you were being held and tried, we came here and got to work on putting things back in order. We had the original plans from the manor as it was…and we cleared things out and started rebuilding. We've a lot yet to rebuild, but the main house is in pretty good order."
Byakuya glanced at Renji, then back at the sentry.
"I don't know what to say…Arigato, Riku. This is deeply appreciated," Byakuya said softly.
The sentry bowed.
"We all wanted to help you, sir," he said, "it was the least we could do considering how you honored us after the massacre. No one has forgotten what you did."
"Nor have I forgotten what you and the others have already done for me. You didn't have to do this…but…again, it is deeply appreciated."
"Arigato, Lord Kuchiki."
They opened the newly rebuilt entry door and found themselves in an entry room that looked almost as it had before. Except for sanding and finishing the floor and hanging the décor, the room was finished. They continued around the corner and found themselves on a mostly finished walkway. The rooms of the main building were finished, again except for the finish on the floors and decorations. They came abreast of the place where their bedroom had been and caught their breath. Unlike the others, this room was completely finished and decorated…ready to use. Outside the patio doors, new flowers and plants had been planted and the koi pond had been rebuilt, though it awaited its final seal and finish.
"Renji," Byakuya said softly, "Did you know they were doing this?"
Renji shook his head.
"But you led me here. This is where you intended to bring me…but if you didn't know about this…"
"I had another place in mind," Renji said, smiling, "We'll go there next."
The household staff had noticed them and stopped to welcome them. They embraced the two warmly, then bowed politely and returned to work.
"So where are we going?" Byakuya asked as they crossed the newly replanted garden and passed through the gate onto the forest trail.
He figured it out a moment later.
"Ah…the hot spring?" he asked.
Renji nodded. They continued through the forest and out again to the waterfall, where they dropped down onto the tiny trail that took them behind the waterfall. They slipped through the hidden opening and into the small cave that housed the hot spring and stood for a moment, allowing their eyes to adjust to the darkness. Byakuya caught his breath. The floor of the cave was covered in a thick blanket of sakura petals and a row of candles burned in holders mounted on the wall. The hot spring was lit from within and shifted slowly from one color to the next as Byakuya stared, rapt. Beside the hot spring were chilled champagne and strawberries.
"Renji…you said you didn't know what was going on up at the main house."
"I came here the other way, not by way of the house."
And how did you know I would be released? How…?" Byakuya.
"I came here during the break. I knew you were going to be found innocent! Anyone with half a brain would know that."
His questions were stopped by a heated body that threw itself against him, forcing him back against the wall. A hot mouth descended on his and an equally seething tongue thrust into his mouth, hungrily claiming his. Renji let the weight of his body fall against Byakuya, bringing him sliding slowly down the wall and onto his knees in a bed of sakura. The eager tanned hands deprived him quickly of kenseiken, scarf and gloves, then released the tie at his waist and pushed back the haori and shihakusho top, revealing the pale perfect skin of the noble's throat and chest. He fell upon the petal soft flesh, leading with lighter strokes of his fingertips and following with deeper strokes, with questing lips and tongue. Warm arms wrapped around the noble's slender body, lowering him until he rested on his back. Renji leaned over him, enjoying the sight of him surrounded by the sakura petals, eyes halfway closed and raven black hair spread out around his head.
Byakuya caught hold of the tie at Renji's waist, pulling it free, then watched with smoldering eyes as the redhead freed himself of haori and shihakusho leaving his tanned skin bared to the flickering candlelight.
Renji brought himself to rest on top of his lover, renewing his assault on the sensuous full lips, then kissing his way down the side of his face and capturing a sinfully soft earlobe. He nipped it gently and sucked lightly before releasing it in favor of the lovely pale skin of the noble's throat. He moved slowly down the length of the Byakuya's torso, pleasuring every inch with a torrent of kisses and leaving the noble moaning softly, and breathless beneath the powerful body of the red haired captain.
Renji slowed as he reached his dark haired lover's navel, teasing it with a hardened tongue and smiling as it caused Byakuya's breath to catch and his hips to thrust upward. He trailed a line of kisses downward, stopping as he reached the noble's thick arousal.
Reaching out, he poured a glass of champagne and brought it to his lips, taking a measure of the golden liquid in his mouth, then leaning over Byakuya again and pleasuring his noble lover. He slowly sucked away the liquid, making Byakuya moan and thrash heatedly.
He broke away for a moment to fill his mouth with champagne again, then returned to his lover's mouth, latching on and opening to let the liquid leak into the noble's mouth. Byakuya slowly drew the champagne from the redhead's mouth, stroking Renji's tongue with his and sucking deeply. Renji slipped a strawberry into his mouth, splitting it in two and feeding half to Byakuya. The noble accepted the soft fruit from his lover's mouth and enjoyed it slowly, then leaned forward to lick away the juice that remained on Renji's red stained lips. The redhead filled his mouth with champagne again and again shared it with his lover in a slow, sensuous kiss. One by one, they shared the strawberries, following each with shared mouthfuls of the golden liquid until the bowl and bottle stood empty next to the still kissing lovers.
Sated with the strawberries and warmed by the champagne, Renji caught Byakuya's hand and pulled him toward the hot spring. As they sank into the heated depths, Renji's arms wrapped warmly around Byakuya and lowered him onto the incline beneath the surface. The noble rested on the incline, gazing up into the redhead's eyes, the dark gray eyes hazy and inviting. Renji was more than eager to accept the invitation.
He attacked the noble's mouth hungrily, enjoying the sweetness left by the strawberries and champagne. One hand curled around the noble's head, the fingers sinking deeply into the soft raven strands, holding him tightly as the redhead's tongue thrust into his mouth and captured his, curling heatedly around it and teasing it into motion. His other hand slid down the noble's torso and took hold of his hardened member, moving up and down as he continued to plunder his lover's mouth.
Byakuya's hands slid slowly down the length of the redhead's water slicked back and took hold of the strong, writhing hips, pulling them into heavier contact as they ground into the noble's. Renji relinquished his hold on the noble and pushed himself upward slightly to grind harder into Byakuya's undulating body. The sight of the noble's blissful expression, his nearly closed eyes, the waves of black hair floating in the roiling water held Renji spellbound. He found himself wanting nothing more than to bury himself in that sleek, powerful body and to never release it.
Tearing himself away for a breathless moment, he repositioned himself at the noble's entrance, pushing his way inside and claiming his lover's body in a series of slow, deepening thrusts. Byakuya moved restlessly beneath him, moaning with delight, his body trembling softly with desire. When his full length was buried within his lover, he leaned down to kiss a softly fluttering eyelid, then found Byakuya's mouth and pleasured it with a rendering of warm, slow kisses. He began moving slowly, watching the pleasure overtaking the noble's usually stoic features and enjoying the deep friction of skin against skin.
Renji quickened and deepened his thrusts, biting down on the pale skin of the noble's throat. The water rippled and seethed around them adding to the already searing heat of their lovemaking. The redhead thrust deeply into his lover's body, watching intently as he struck the bundle of nerves deep inside him and his life partner arched his back, his features erupting with the intensity of the pleasure. He thrust into Byakuya's body one last time, emptying himself into his lover's depths and sinking down, coming to rest on the noble's muscular chest. He lay there enjoying the calm of post coital bliss and licking stray beads of water from his lover's chest and throat. The reiatsu around them slowly calmed.
"I love you, Renji," Byakuya breathed into the waves of red hair that touched his face.
Reni nuzzled more deeply into the noble's throat and shoulder, quietly returning the sentiment.
The candles had nearly burnt out when the two captains finally stepped out of the hot water, toweling themselves dry and reclaiming their clothing. They dressed slowly and stepped out into the fading light outside the cave, turning toward the senkaimon.
"I don't know about you, Byakuya," Renji said, slipping his arms around the noble from behind, "but I am really looking forward to life returning to some sense of normal around here."
Byakuya laughed softly.
"Renji, I don't think that you and I have ever had anything resembling a normal life," he commented, leaning back to rest against his lover's chest.
"Well, maybe we can now. Now that Sosuke Aizen's gotten you out of his system, we won't have to worry about you disappearing again. And since the head captain gave us both a few weeks leave, we can spend some real time together…no one running off on missions or being called away. I'm really looking forward to that."
"Me too, Renji. Even without Aizen's interference, we were away from each other so much with our divisions, I was wondering if I would forget what it felt like to wake up next to you."
"No way," Renji assured him warmly, "You know I'm never gonna let that happen!"
"Come Renji…" Byakuya said, pulling away, "it's getting late and I want to see the children."
Chisaki stood alone beneath a tree in front of Kisuke's shop, watching solemnly as the light faded. She sighed softly, wondering if she could ever feel happy inside again…the way she had before…Even at her young age, Chisaki was in the military. She was well trained in controlling her mind to mitigate losses. Losses were common when life was all about defending home and hearth. She knew all of that. But this loss was different. Even though it occurred in the heat of battle, the one she had lost was deeply significant. Akira was the first boy to ever look at her, not as Byakuya and Renji's daughter, a member of the Kuchiki clan, a member of the military, or a girl, but as a young woman. She wondered if she would ever feel that again. She told herself she would. Byakuya and Renji had both suffered equally painful losses, she knew. They faced the losses and they learned to move forward in spite of them. And if they had not done that, they would never have been able to find each other. And if the two had never found each other…she wouldn't have existed. She drew strength from that…the promise that even though some loves are lost, others are waiting to happen. Even as the darkness closed over the space around her and night fell, Chisaki was hopeful.
A hand settled on her shoulder and she turned, meeting her twin's eyes. Takeshi put an arm around her and stood with her under the rising moon. She leaned her head against his shoulder, enjoying a closeness with him that she had been so recently worried she would lose.
"Did you feel it?" he asked softly, "They're coming."
"It will be good to get home…even if we have to wait for the house to be rebuilt. I just want to walk in the forest or swim at the lake, something normal."
"We'll have plenty of time for normal stuff," he assured her, "the head captain gave all of us leave time. It will be nice to have both of our dads home at the same time."
"They need time together. Sosuke Aizen has really put them through a lot."
"They aren't the only ones he messed with," he said, squeezing his sister gently, "but I think we convinced Sosuke Aizen to leave us alone."
Chisaki swallowed hard, remembering.
"Yeah," she agreed, "we did."
They looked up as Byakuya and Renji appeared suddenly in front of the shop. There was a long moment of simply staring into each other's eyes and reconnecting, then the twins burst forward and welcomed their fathers with warm hugs. They turned toward the shop and started inside. As she followed, Chisaki was distracted by the fluttering of a hell butterfly and stopped to catch it. Her body tensed in disbelief at the soft voice that rose out of it.
Chisaki, I couldn't leave you thinking that I was dead. It wasn't right. I'll be honest with you. Who we are really dictates that we can't be together. Whatever we feel, my father tormented your family, especially Byakuya. I know I had nothing to do with what he did, but I won't allow my presence to be a constant reminder of what he suffered at my father's hands. Now that everyone thinks I'm dead, I can start a new life, not connected to him. I hope you understand why I have to do this. You are the best friend I have ever had and before I begin my new life, I want to see you one more time. I will meet you in the training room below Kisuke's shop so that we can say good-bye. Come there tonight at midnight. I will see you then.
She turned and realized that Renji and Takeshi were gone, but Byakuya stood nearby, gazing back at her questioningly. He had to have heard.
"He's alive," she said softly, her voice still filled with disbelief, "he's going to leave again, but he's alive…"
Chisaki looked into her father's dark eyes, looking for some hint of what he might be thinking, but Byakuya's eyes just stared back calmly.
"Is it okay for me to meet him?" she asked.
"Yes," Byakuya replied quietly, "but I will want a moment to speak with him before he leaves."
"You won't tell anyone?" she asked.
"Only Renji," he replied, "I don't keep anything from Renji."
Byakuya slipped an arm around his daughter's shoulders and turned her toward the shop. As they went inside, Gin watched from nearby, his eyes glinting.
"Interesting," he said softly, "very interesting."
Late that night, Chisaki followed Byakuya into the training room and called softly to Akira, to let him know it was safe to come out. There was a moment of hesitation, then he appeared from behind the rocks and approached the two that waited.
"Captain Kuchiki," he said quietly, "thank you for allowing me to say good-bye to her…and allowing me to leave in peace. I am sorry for what my father did to your family. I know I didn't make his choices for him…but we share the same blood. Despite wishing it was not so, we are connected."
Byakuya met his eyes calmly.
"You are not responsible for your father's actions, and your choice to leave is an indication that you are nothing like him. But that being said, I think that your decision to leave is wise. He would eventually sense your presence…and unfair as it is, others would mistrust you. The only way to avoid this is to reinvent yourself. To help you on your way, I had Kisuke prepare a gigai for you…and you will also find provisions and funds enough so that you can be comfortable. Akira…if you find yourself needing anything, you will find assistance here at the shop. Kisuke will provide anything you need with no questions asked."
Akira's eyes were filled with gratitude.
"I don't why you are being so kind to me, Captain, but I am grateful. Thank you, sir…for everything."
Byakuya nodded and stepped away.
"Chisaki," Akira said, approaching the girl, "thank you for being my friend. I wish I could stay here with you, but we both know I have to leave."
"I know," Chisaki agreed, moving forward and hugging him gently.
He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead, then on the lips.
"You will always be in my heart, Chisaki," he whispered.
"And you'll always be in mine," she whispered back.
He picked up the provisions Byakuya had given him and smiled back at her one last time. A flash step later, he was gone. Chisaki stared after him for a long moment, then turned and took Byakuya's hand and walked slowly towards the ladder.
Author's Note: I am leaving some loose ends here, but things will resolve themselves in the next story. Titled Mask of Illusion, it will play out Aizen's revenge against the Kuchiki family and their struggle to save Takeshi after he falls into Aizen's hands.