Petals and Sand

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(Thanks to Skele-gro and the others who asked for a fanfic devoted to Aizen/Bya. I used a scene from another of my works as a springboard for this story. I'm not sure how popular this pairing will be, but I will give this a shot and see how it goes. I thought it would be fun to create some tension by throwing Gin into the mix to stir up trouble. Please be sure to let me know what you think! If readers want to see more, I will be happy to continue the story. Thanks again to those who requested this! Luv, Spunky)

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Chapter 1: The Accidental Kiss

If there was one thing that Ichimaru Gin learned early, it was how to stay out of trouble. His slight build and quiet demeanor made it easy for him to slink around the Seireitei almost unnoticed. There was no shortage of young bullies roaming the streets near the Shinigami Academy…and they would see someone like him as a person to be tormented. Despite the fact that with his level of skill he could kill them all, he had been warned by Aizen Sosuke to keep a low profile. And until the day he saved Kuchiki Byakuya's life, he had managed to do just that.

He wasn't sure what made him peek out from behind the large brick building into the field at just that moment. Perhaps it was just dumb luck…or perhaps it was fate, but for whatever reason, he did look…and his eyes captured a very rare sight. The teen Kuchiki heir was surrounded by six rough looking male shingami from the academy…'Rukon Rats' who were eager to visit some pain and suffering on one of the stuck up nobles. And unfortunately for Byakuya, the young noble had ventured into the wrong area unarmed while engaged in a game of tag with Shihoin Yoruichi. Yoruichi was long gone, and the angry noble had just turned for home, when the harsh voices rose up around him and the noble found himself surrounded.

The ruffians knew who they were dealing with and acted quickly to take hold of his hands and stuff a gag in his mouth so that he could not use kido spells. He put up a very satisfying defense, Gin thought, but soon the weight of numbers and the fact that they all had use of sword and kido left young Byakuya on the receiving end of a very bad beating. Gin was relatively certain that if he merely stood by and watched anymore, the Kuchikis would be minus their handsome young heir. While he certainly held no great affection for the noble, some of these same bullies had annoyed him from time to time, so as they rained blows down on the young noble, he found himself edging closer. Byakuya was nearly unconscious and they were still hitting and kicking him. Gin shook his head. Slowly, he drew his zanpakuto.

The youths ahead of him heard a hiss of motion, and then each was soundly slashed as Shinzou curved around them. Gin made sure to slash them a second time as the blade retreated. The six dropped Byakuya and turned away, howling in pain and retreating swiftly. Gin stepped forward and approached the noble slowly, so as not to end up on the receiving end of Byakuya's anger. Byakuya remained on his knees, panting harshly and reaching up to tear the gag from his mouth.

"Are you all right?" he asked the young noble.

Byakuya glared up at him.

"Of course I'm all right, Gin," he snapped angrily, "They are nothing. Forget them."

"Easy Byakuya," Gin said, smiling, "I'm not the one who just beat you half to death."

Byakuya laughed sarcastically.

"Don't be dramatic. Those fools cannot hurt me."

He climbed to his feet and turned away from Gin. As he moved forward, his legs gave way underneath him and he dropped to his knees, gasping. Gin stepped forward.

"Just stay down, will you? At least let me heal some of this…before you flash step into something and kill yourself."

Byakuya pulled away and dragged himself to his feet, swaying.

"I'm fine, Gin," he managed, "I'll be fine."

"Sure you will," said Gin, taking hold of him, "and when you drop dead halfway home, I'll be left behind feeling guilty for not stopping you. Don't be such a bother, Byakuya."

Before the noble could object, he swept the injured youth up and flash stepped away. He carried the semi-conscious noble into the trees near the academy. When he was deep within them, he slowed and came to a stop, gently setting Byakuya back on his feet. The noble still looked somewhat angry, but he said nothing.

"This is it," Gin said, gesturing and smiling, "my hiding place. Sit down, Byakuya."

Byakuya sat down slowly, gingerly easing his bruised and sore body down onto a large rock. Gin moved to the youth's side, studying the cuts and bruises on his face and healing them quickly. He knew there were additional places that needed healing, but the noble was extremely proud. It wasn't likely he'd appreciate a request from Gin to disrobe, even in such a private location. Even so…he was pretty beat up.

"You know, Byakuya, you should really let me heal the other bad spots…"

"No," he said firmly, "That will not be necessary."

He stood and started to walk away, but a few steps later he started to sway and spots appeared before his eyes. Gin guided him back towards the rock and eased him to the ground next to it. Slowly, hoping the other youth wouldn't kill him, he began to loosen his clothes. He realized that it was a good thing he had. Byakuya's body was deeply bruised and there were several deep cuts as well. Gin hissed softly with discontent and started healing them as Byakuya lay somewhat senseless on the ground.

"They really worked you over," he commented as he healed the youth, "How many were there, Byakuya?"

"I don't know…six, I think. I managed to…Ow!"

"Sorry," Gin said softly, "That one looks bad, but there won't be a scar."

He leaned over Byakuya, getting close to study a deep bruise on his face. As he did so, his eyes locked on the noble's and both blinked in surprise. Gin drew back respectfully.

"Sorry," he mumbled, "I know you aren't…"

Byakuya lay frozen, his heart beating strangely fast. He knew Gin was into other boys, and Gin knew he was not. As a matter of fact, he just wasn't into the whole idea of dating and relationships anyway. It wasn't like he would be allowed to date anyone he wanted to. There were rules. And yet, rules were…meant to be broken. How was he to even know what he liked or didn't like if he never even…

While he was in the midst of thinking it through, Ichimaru Gin suddenly felt emboldened by the noble's hesitation and leaned forward, catching Byakuya's lips with his own. Byakuya froze again, surprised. It wasn't just that he wasn't expecting Gin to try kissing him. He was also surprised that he wasn't repulsed by it. He was admittedly not pleased that it was a boy who was kissing him…but lots of teens their age experimented with other boys first. He heard others talk about it. They were usually just curious about what kissing felt like…or they wanted to be good at it when they started dating, things like that. But Byakuya had no such reason. It was a mistake, right? But then, he had to ask himself why he was leaning into the kiss, why he was returning it. He figured he must still be half stunned from the beating he had taken. He felt the soft brush of Gin's tongue on his lips. He knew he should stop…if not because he wasn't allowed to engage in such things, then because Gin might be getting the wrong message. He actually sort of liked Ichimaru Gin, but not like that. He started to pull away, but Gin had let himself fall forward and he was now lying partially on top of him. In addition, his tongue was pressing against Byakuya's lips more hungrily now. He tried again to pull away and opened his mouth to protest, only to feel a hot tongue slip between his parted lips and steal his breath away. Gin's tongue moved slowly along his, sending a shiver through him. Then it explored his mouth with that same tantalizing slowness. And while his tongue kept Byakuya distracted, his hands were moving.

Realizing where things were swiftly going, Byakuya gave Gin a hard shove and the other boy drew back. It took Byakuya a moment to catch his breath and in that moment, Gin's face turned pink and his eyes grew panicked.

"Sorry!" he said, starting to climb to his feet, "I didn't mean to offend you."

"Sit down," Byakuya said, sounding annoyed, "You didn't offend me. I just…didn't want to give you the wrong idea."

Gin looked confused.

"I'm not into boys, Gin," he said, trying not to be too forceful, but yet being direct, "I've never even kissed anyone like that. It just took me by surprise."

"But it wasn't…a bad thing, right?" Gin asked softly.

Byakuya studied Gin's eyes. He was really unnerved. It wasn't completely surprising. Gin probably thought that kissing a noble might result in some harsh punishment. People always seemed to think odd things like that. They didn't realize that most often when nobles broke the rules, it was the nobles who were punished. There were higher expectations for them…

"I didn't think it was bad…and no one saw anything, right?" he assured the boy, "It was no big deal."

But Gin didn't answer. His eyes had gone as wide as saucers and he was staring in dismay at something behind Byakuya. Byakuya turned and golden light suddenly blinded him. He fell back to the ground, stunned. Gin stared up into the face of Aizen Sosuke, his heart pounding madly.

"What are you doing here…with him?" Sosuke asked in that calm, detached voice.

"Ah…" Gin said, jumping to his feet, "Some of the Rukon Rats saw him alone and jumped him. He actually did pretty well, considering the odds. I was healing him."

"Healing him?" Sosuke said softly, "Is that what you call it? I saw you. I saw your mouths plastered together, Gin."

"I…"

Aizen knelt next to Byakuya, who still lay there, stunned by Aizen's zanpakuto.

"I see the attraction, Gin. He is beautiful."

Gin paled.

"He's…he's not into boys," Gin stammered.

Sosuke touched Byakuya's face lingeringly.

"It didn't look like he had any problem with you kissing him. I wonder if he would mind if I kissed him."

He lifted the youth and brought him into a tight embrace, bringing his mouth down on the youth's and loosening the zanpakuto's hold on him. Byakuya stirred softly, then realizing his mouth was being invaded again…and by someone he barely even knew, he began to struggle. Aizen kept enough control over him so that he couldn't break away and deepened the kiss until Gin could see that Byakuya was very obviously suffering from a lack of oxygen. He struggled for some time, then weakened and slowly went limp in Aizen's arms. Sosuke finally pulled away and let Byakuya's motionless body fall to the ground. He smiled at Gin.

"That was a warning, Gin," he said, gazing down at Byakuya, "Don't let anything like this happen again…or I will end things with you. And I won't remain alone, Gin. I will take another lover…maybe someone as beautiful as him…maybe even him. You never know."

He whispered something to his zanpakuto and the golden light flashed around Byakuya again, then died. Sosuke looked up at Gin.

"He won't remember I was here," Sosuke said softly, "but you had better not forget."

He turned and stalked away, leaving Gin leaning over Byakuya, rubbing the youth's wrists and talking to him, trying to rouse him. Byakuya stirred softly and sat up slowly, looking confused.

"What happened?" he asked Gin.

"Oh nothing much," Gin said, "You were still a bit giddy from the fight. You'll be fine, now. Just watch out for that pack, Byakuya. They're a mean bunch."

Gin got up and started to walk away.

"Gin," Byakuya said quietly, "Thank you for healing me…and, don't worry about…the other thing. It was no bother."

Gin smiled nervously, backing away.

"That's good," he replied, "it was just a mistake. Let's forget about it, shall we?"

Byakuya nodded.

"Consider it forgotten."

The young noble flash stepped away, leaving Gin alone among the trees. He sighed softly, not looking forward to facing Sosuke's punishment. But he had overstepped. He had kissed Byakuya. He probably deserved what he was certainly going to receive.

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(Years Later)

Kuchiki Byakuya calmly examined the reiatsu signs that led out of the Seireitei and into Hueco Mundo. The scouts he and Abarai Renji were following had become aware of them and were making a desperate run for Las Noches. He wasn't about to allow them to escape, not with the information they had stolen.

"Taichou?" Renji queried softly.

"They entered Hueco Mundo…and I intend to follow them. Abarai fukutaichou, go to Yamamoto soutaichou and tell him that I tracked them into Hueco Mundo."

Renji shook his head.

"Taichou, you cannot mean to go into Hueco Mundo alone," he objected.

"There is little choice, Renji," Byakuya said, staring straight ahead, "If the messengers reach Las Noches, Aizen will learn of soutaichou's plans for stopping him. He will learn of our operatives who have infiltrated his fortress. I assure you, I would not enter this place alone if it wasn't necessary. Go to soutaichou and then wait for me at the Squad Six Office."

He looked into his fukutaichou's worried brown eyes.

"Renji…you must. Now go."

Renji nodded slowly.

"I will obey your order, Taichou," he said, turning away, "but if anything happens, I will come for you."

Byakuya regarded him calmly.

"If I am captured, Aizen will know I am too dangerous to leave alive and he will kill me. There will be nothing left to rescue, Renji."

He nodded again and turned away, but in his heart, Abarai Renji didn't believe it. If Aizen Sosuke got his hands on Kuchiki Taichou, he might, in the end, kill him, but Renji had to wonder what the traitor would do to him before that. As he flash stepped toward the First Division, Abarai Renji felt a chill pass through him.

Byakuya dropped onto the sands of Hueco Mundo and quickly located the reiatsu traces he had sensed before. The scouts were moving at top speed toward Las Noches, not even trying to conceal their passage from him. They knew he was coming and they were running for their lives now. But they were doomed from the outset. No one could move as quickly as Kuchiki Byakuya. Moving at top speed, he would reach them within moments. He flash stepped forward, the sand spinning madly around him. Soon, the two scouts appeared in the distance. He flash stepped toward them, certain they hadn't seen him yet. He was correct in that assumption. When he reached them, they cried out in fear and surprise. He knocked them unconscious and took the stolen files. Suddenly, he heard a sound behind him. He tensed, ready to fight, but relaxed again as Abarai Renji flash stepped into view.

"Abarai fukutaichou," he said sternly, "I ordered you to carry my message to soutaichou. Why are you here?"

"I passed the message to our third seat and came back for you, Taichou."

Byakuya started to reply that he had no need for rescue…that he could take care of himself, but something stopped him from saying the words. Before Aizen Sosuke's treachery, he would have said them easily, but having been played for a fool and used against his own sister and his fukutaichou, he found himself unable to treat Renji with the disdain he had before. Instead, he simply nodded.

"Very well, Abarai fukutaichou. I imagine that was probably a better decision than leaving my back unguarded."

Renji blinked. Had his taichou actually just admitted to Renji being right?

"Don't let it go to your head, fukutaichou," Byakuya went on, handing Renji the stolen files, "next time I won't go so easy on you."

Renji grinned and turned to follow as Byakuya started back across the darkening desert. They had only gone a few steps when hollows began to appear around them and a cero flashed toward them.

Byakuya pulled Senbonzakura free.

"Scatter, Senbonzakura."

The rising petal blades rose up and blocked the incoming cero. Beside Byakuya, Renji reached for Zabimaru.

"No!" Byakuya said sharply, "Those files cannot fall into their hands, "Get out of here. I will make sure you get a head start, then I will follow."

The tone in his taichou's voice told Renji to obey immediately. Despite his misgivings at having to leave his taichou's side again, he flash stepped away at top speed. As he disappeared, Byakuya raised Senbozakura and released it.

"Ban Kai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi."

The huge swords rose around him, then burst into an endless sea of pink petal blades. They soared out ahead of him, cutting into the enemies he faced and slashing at them from every conceivable angle. Seeing that some were still left standing, he loosed another attack. This time, when the petal blades settled, Kuchiki Byakuya found himself alone. But he sensed he would not be alone for very long. He was close to the enemy fortress, too close. And his zanpakuto release was well known to Aizen Sosuke. Byakuya knew it was best to escape quickly before the traitor appeared to deal with the intrusion himself. He quickly turned to follow in the direction Renji had gone.

"Going somewhere, Kuchiki Taichou?" said Gin's mocking voice.

He turned swiftly and managed to stop Shinzou from impaling him. He slashed at Gin, crossing swords with him several times before flash stepping away.

"Oh don't leave, Byakuya," Gin called, sending Shinzou after him again, "We have so much to catch up on!"

Hollows were appearing all around them now and the path before him was closing. Byakuya sent a blast of blue fire ahead of him and flash stepped, trying to break free. As he burst out of the closing circle of enemies, a dark form rose up in front of him. He only had time to register that it was an Espada, then ceros pounded him from several directions at once and a katana cut into him, taking him off his feet. Clawed hands took hold of him and he waited to be ripped to shreds, but suddenly a calm voice cut through everything, stopping the battle and leaving the desert ominously quiet. The claws holding Byakuya released and the noble fell to the ground, still somewhat stunned.

"Well, what have we here? Gin…you should have told me Byakuya was here to visit us. I would have prepared a room. Go ahead and prepare for us, Gin. We'll be there shortly."

The noble knew already that resistance was useless, but he fought them anyway, killing a number of them before Aizen Sosuke frowned and drew his zanpakuto. There was a flash of golden light, a searing pain that took hold of him, and then Kuchiki Byakuya felt himself falling. His last conscious thought was that he was glad Renji had gotten away with the stolen information. Despite his life being the most likely cost, he found himself smugly satisfied that he had denied Aizen Sosuke something important. It was a small victory, but it was a victory still…