The Battle Pit

(Bya/Ren Before the Kids Tales #1)

(This story takes place between Footsteps on Sand and Blood Red Fang. Enjoy!)

Chapter 1: Late Night Fireworks

If there was one thing Renji Abarai absolutely hated, it was paperwork. He hated it as much for the large amount of the time it claimed from his life as for the fact that it simply never seemed to end. Hour after hour, he sat across from his captain, poring over page after page, scribbling in short phrases…the shortest responses he could get away with…and hastily signing them before handing them off to his captain for final approval. It wasn't to say that he minded putting in a hard day's work, but there were so many better ways to spend his time…not the least of which was enjoying one on one time with his captain.

And ever since the time they spent together in Inuzuri…things had become interesting indeed. Because Byakuya Kuchiki was no longer simply Renji Abarai's captain, he was Renji's lover. He was a lesson in contrasts that left Renji wondering. How could he, on the one hand, be so stoic…his body so controlled and still, dark eyes tranquil and fixed on the papers that he held in those soft, graceful hands…full lips that moved as he read. How could he be like that here and so much more alive when they made love…when the dark gray eyes flared from within, the pale hands traveled his body, pleasuring as they went, his mouth open and searching as it explored Renji's skin. How?

"Abarai?"

Shit. Must have been staring at him again. Ever since Inuzuri!

"Hai, Captain," he replied, already sounding sheepish.

The dark eyes looked sleepy.

"Are this week's living world deployments posted?" he asked quietly.

"On the board, sir."

Renji was grateful for the fact that he hadn't asked for the next week's training schedule. There were still some scheduling issues to iron out.

"Next week's training schedule?" Byakuya asked.

Renji groaned inwardly.

"Almost done, sir. Just waiting for the Karakura detail to return to finalize it. They'll be in tomorrow afternoon."

"You should have sent a hell butterfly."

Of course he should have…would have if he'd thought of it before now…

"Hai, Captain. Sorry, sir."

"Renji, about the training program…"

Renji looked up at Byakuya questioningly.

"I was thinking that it is time that you and I started to consult about training. And perhaps I will attend some of the sessions."

"Captain?"

Byakuya had never paid any mind to the training of the squad members. It had always been left to the vice captain. But, then…he had spoken to Renji about making some changes. He'd said he wanted to strengthen the squad.

"Renji, if there is something I've learned from Sosuke Aizen's betrayal and the way he used all of us, it is that a well trained and prepared squad stands a better chance of repelling forces that threaten. Sooner or later, we will battle Sosuke Aizen and the hollows he commands. When we face them, we need to be at our best and strongest…all of us. We don't know when our squad will be called upon to defend against him and his horde. We must work toward battle readiness, and you and I must ensure that our squad members can work as a team."

The door suddenly banged open and Rikichi burst in, looking red-faced and flustered…and chasing a hell butterfly. Byakuya pretended not to notice, but Renji got up and caught the hell butterfly, then waved Rikichi on and turned back to Byakuya. The captain finished the sentence he was writing, then looked up. The head captain's voice rose up out of the hell butterfly.

Captain Kuchiki, I am sending you a new recruit to welcome into your squad. He is a strong fighter with good kido skills. We tried him out in the 11th, but Captain Zaraki thought he would fit better with your squad. His name is Masaru. He is qualified to take the fifth seat in your squad that was opened in the last round of promotions. I think he will be a good fit.

"Damn," muttered Renji.

Byakuya looked up in askance.

"What's wrong?"

"Oh," he said, catching himself, "it was nothing much…I just had someone in mind for that seat."

Byakuya rested his chin on his palm.

"Who?" he asked, glancing back at the report he had been working on.

Renji sat back down and busied himself with his paperwork.

"Oh…it was nothing. Forget it."

Byakuya's eyes narrowed.

"Renji, I asked you who you had in mind for fifth seat," Byakuya repeated.

"It was just someone you said I could work with, but…"

"Vice Captain," Byakuya said impatiently, "who are we talking about?"

Renji cringed.

"Rikichi," he said softly.

There was a long silence.

"I see."

If he didn't know his captain, if he hadn't watched him nearly every minute for years and years, he might have missed the look of amusement that Byakuya barely managed to hide.

"Look," he said in explanation, "I know he has trouble with hell butterflies, but he has some good qualities. Rikichi just needs some more training. Byakuya…"

The captain looked up at him sharply.

"Captain, I have a feeling about this kid. He needs training and he needs to be given a chance."

"And this has nothing to do with the fact that he practically worships you?" Byakuya asked pointedly.

"It's a feeling, Captain, an honest one."

Byakuya gazed at Renji for a long moment.

"Seventh Seat," he said quietly, "We have an opening for seventh seat because of a transfer. Rikichi may occupy that seat. But Renji…"

"Hai, Captain?"

"You are personally responsible for his training. Whatever he needs will be provided by you. And I want to see results…soon."

Renji's face lit up and Byakuya was more than a little entranced.

"Thank you, Captain! He's going to really surprise you, I promise!"

The door burst open again and Rikichi burst in, chasing another hell butterfly. He grabbed wildly at it and fell forward, crashing to the floor, knocking over Byakuya's trash bin and sending the contents flying. Renji rubbed his forehead with his hand and shook his head.

Byakuya gazed up at him with a little too much patience.

"I am certain he will," he said, turning back to his work as a red-faced Rikichi picked up the trash and placed it carefully back in the bin.

XXXXXXXXXX

"Would you like me to make some tea, Captain?" Renji asked.

"Yes, Arigato Renji," he replied, not looking up, "and Renji?"

"Hai, Captain?"

"It is after hours and everyone has gone home. You may call me by name now."

He was still getting used to switching back and forth.

"Hai, Byakuya," he said, smiling.

Byakuya paused for a moment and rubbed his hands over his face. The reports were almost finished, but his energy was fading. He sighed and leaned forward, resting his face in his hands to darken the space before his eyes. He heard Renji return and felt the warmth of the tea deposited near his elbow. He started to uncover his eyes, but then felt warm hands settle on his shoulders and start to massage the tense muscles. He sighed and let his head fall back against Renji's abdomen. Neck, shoulder and back muscles relaxed under Renji's ministrations and Byakuya felt himself drifting on the warm touches. He gazed up into Renji's calm expression and felt the tension drain out of his body. He loved that gentle expression…the way Renji touched him, soothed away the tension, surrounded him with love.

Byakuya felt the kenseiken slowly being removed, but didn't want to stop the comfortable touches. The haori slipped off of his shoulders and he told himself it was time to object, he still had a few pages left to read. But Renji held him spellbound and Byakuya found himself caring less and less about those last few pages.

The hands reached around his and tugged the tie at his waist. Now the dark eyes opened. Renji brushed them closed again.

"I locked the doors."

Byakuya suddenly realized that the lights had been extinguished and the room was bathed in soft candlelight.

"You don't want to go back to the manor?" Byakuya asked softly.

"No," Renji said, leaning close to his captain's ear, "I want you now…here."

He unwound the scarf at his captain's throat, then pulled back the curtain of raven black hair and brought his lips to the pale skin. Byakuya gave a small sigh and tilted his head, offering him better access. Renji opened his mouth and bit down gently, sucking softly and enjoying the sudden catch in Byakuya's breathing and the soft moan that broke from his lips as a hot tongue traveled up to catch an earlobe. This was taken into Renji's mouth and pleasured heatedly until Byakuya moaned softly again. The captain felt the top of his shihakushou slip down off of his shoulders and his throat was assaulted again. This time, warm hands reached around him and began to roam his body, following his arms down to his hands and slowly removing his gloves, then returning to massage his shoulders again as Renji's mouth continued to pleasure his neck. They slid down over his chest, pausing to lightly stroke the erect nipples before sliding slowly down his abdomen and slipping under the barely attached hakama to indulge in more intimate touches. The hands pulled away after a moment and worked the hakama downward until it dropped to the floor.

Byakuya opened his eyes and was graced with the fascinating sight of a somehow completely naked Renji moving around in front of him, pushing the chair back and dropping down at his feet. He stared, entranced by the candlelight that flickered against his dark skin and lit the black tribal markings that seemed to run everywhere.

His heart skipped as the rough-skinned hands returned and parted his thighs. Byakuya removed the hair tie from Renji's hair and watched it sweep down around his face and shoulders as his vice captain began to pleasure him.

He took a trembling breath, but kept his eyes open. He loved looking at the long red hair, sinking his hands deeply into it and drinking in the sight of Renji's skin. Even better was the sight of his blissful expression as his mouth lovingly treasured his captain's soft flesh until Byakuya felt himself growing breathless.

He placed a hand on Renji's cheek and brought him back up to meet his mouth for a series of deep kisses. He curled his tongue around the one that had so recently pleasured him and pulled Renji toward him. His vice captain rose to his full height and gazed down at his beautifully naked and very aroused captain, admiring the dark eyes and unbound hair before moving forward and lowering himself onto Byakuya's lap, slowly bringing their bodies together as he sank down. He found Byakuya's mouth again and latched onto it, plunging his tongue inside and plundering it heedlessly. Byakuya's hands clenched his hips almost pleadingly, the dark eyes silently begging for him to move. The redhead smiled and complied readily.

He moved slowly at first, wrapping his arms around his captain's shoulders and bringing their faces close together. As he began to move faster, Byakuya's mouth followed the markings on his face and throat with soft brushings of his lips and longer wet strokes of his tongue. One hand slipped down between them and took hold of Renji's hardness, and offering Renji a return of the warmth and love that he was giving.

Renji's head fell forward and he moaned and panted against his captain's throat and shoulder as his body rose and fell harder and faster. One of Byakuya's hands still pleasured Renji's throbbing arousal while the other moved up and wrapped around his neck, bringing him in for a torrent of seething kisses on his face and throat. The hand around his neck slid slowly down Renji's back and came to rest on the writhing hips that rose and fell madly now, bringing Byakuya to the heights of pleasure and sending him plunging over the edge into intense waves of absolute bliss. He pulled down on Renji's hips, thrusting upward and releasing. Renji's head lowered against Byakuya's shoulder as his body shuddered and its hot release spilled into the space between them. They rested against each other, catching their breath and treating each other's mouths to a tender sharing of warm, wet kisses.

Byakuya sighed softly as Renji pulled away and they cleaned away the sweet reminders of their lovemaking. Byakuya picked up the cup of now-cold tea and took a sip.

"Byakuya," Renji said, taking the cup from his hand, "you hate cold tea! Let me get you some hot tea."

Byakuya looked back at Renji with deeply sated eyes.

"I think you've put in enough hours here, Vice Captain," he said softly, "forget the tea and let's go home. I want to take a walk in the gardens with you and maybe sit under the stars for awhile."

"You haven't seen enough stars tonight, Captain?" Renji asked, smiling, "I must not be very competent at pleasing you!"

Byakuya narrowed his eyes reprovingly.

"Renji," he said with no trace of a smile, "I assure you, you are far more than competent. I am merely overly heated and I need to feel some cold air on my skin."

Now Renji laughed.

"Captain, did you just tell me that I make you hot?"

"Did I?" Byakuya asked, sitting up and slowly beginning to dress himself

He managed the shihakushou, gloves and haori, but slipped back into his chair and moved it closer to the desk as Renji left the room to take his cup into the kitchen area. When Renji returned, his captain was asleep at his desk, his scarf and kenseiken forgotten and his head rested gently on his arms. Renji kissed him awake and wound the scarf around his neck, then worked the kenseiken back into his somewhat tumbled hair. They left the office and made their way to the Kuchiki manor.

They passed through the gates and entry room, past the long walkway and across the garden, stopping to open the back gate. From there, they walked slowly up the forest trail and out to the sakura trees that overlooked the waterfall. Byakuya settled down with his back against one of the trees. Renji sat between his legs, leaned back against Byakuya's shoulder.

"All right," said Renji, "tell me about a constellation."

Byakuya nodded, staring upward.

"Hercules," Byakuya said, pointing, "He was the greatest, the strongest of the Greek heroes. He completed twelve impossible labors…and was only killed by trickery."

"How's that?" Renji asked, "It was a woman, wasn't it?"

Byakuya nodded.

"The woman was actually an innocent, used by a jealous man."

"That happens a lot in Greek mythology, doesn't it?"

Byakuya smiled.

"You noticed that, did you?"

"Yeah," said Renji, "but I think it's even more widespread than just in Greece."

"I think you're right," Byakuya agreed.

They sat under the stars for some time after, exchanging slow, deep kisses, before returning to the manor and indulging in another bout of lovemaking before surrendering to sleep in each other's arms.