Chapter 17 - Mine

Saying goodbye to Byakuya and watching him leave behind the closing doors of the senkaimon was one of the hardest things Ichigo ever had to do. Byakuya hadn't even turned around once to look back at him, not once! Sigh. Departing didn't feel this hard after dealing with Zero, or when Byakuya's break was finished and Ichigo had to return to the human world, or even a month ago when he'd broken down in the middle of exam study in need to feel his shinigami lover and have him rock his world. Maybe it was harder this time because they parted not knowing when they'd see each other again, and with Ichigo still in an indeterminate state about their future. He didn't know it was going to hurt this much either. It didn't help that Byakuya was wearing that frosty look on his face as fiercely as ever before, but Ichigo knew by now that he was only putting on a brave front, once again safeguarding his vulnerabilities. Byakuya acted as if it was no big deal that he still hadn't made up his mind, but Ichigo knew he was bluffing. That look he saw when they said goodbye a week ago was heartbreaking...

A week! It already felt like months! Eons!

Ichigo was spiralling in a state of frustration and misery. He was conflicted about what he wanted. Ichigo knew that the only reason he felt this conflict was because he cared for Byakuya in a way he never cared for anyone else. Byakuya's happiness and his own for once, was actually important to him. The noble didn't want to pressure him, he knew that. But he also knew that the harder Byakuya tried to sound detached and uncaring, the more concerned he was about the situation that bothered him. Byakuya wouldn't admit that all he wanted was for them to be together. And somehow being together, but living apart, didn't seem like it was good enough to Ichigo. He was an honourable man. Ichigo couldn't help but feel guilty that Byakuya was putting his noble reputation on the line for him while he sat here and twiddled his thumbs.

Grr! Why was this so hard?

The vizard sighed as he lay on his bed in a pair of shorts and a white t-shirt with his hands fisted by his side, thinking about all of this. How long did he make Byakuya wait? And how long would Byakuya wait for him...?

Man... Was this what happened when you fell in love with someone? When all you wanted was to be with that person? Was it supposed to be this painful and frustrating?

Ichigo reached behind him and yanked his pillow out from under his head and threw it out of sheer frustration, which landed smack in his father's face.

"Hey!" whined Isshin Kurosaki, plucking the pillow from his face, "What was that for?"

Startled, Ichigo scrambled into a sitting position. "Dad? I didn't even know you came in. Why don't you try knocking?" he voiced grumpily.

Isshin frowned and threw the pillow back at Ichigo, only his son dodged it and it hit the wall and slid to the floor, "I did knock, but I guess someone is too busy in here," he said, pointing to his noggin with his index finger. "We've been calling you to come down for dinner. I came to see if you were actually home."

Oh. The sour look on Ichigo's face dissipated, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to actually throw the pillow at you. You just...got in the way."

Isshin stood there and crossed his arms across this yellow button-up shirt, "Come on. Come down for dinner."

"I'm not really hungry..." Ichigo grumbled and turned over to lie on his stomach, head resting on his arms without his pillow. He released another heavy sigh.

His father murmured, "I guess you leave me no choice then."

Ichigo didn't know what his father meant by that but he soon found out!

The old man sat on him!

The orange-haired shinigami wailed, "Get your old-man ass off of me!" He struggled, but his father was a hell of a lot stronger. Ichigo was pinned to the bed, with the weight of his father on his back.

"Nope, I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what your problem is," the older Kurosaki claimed calmly, one hand keeping Ichigo's head down on the bed.

Ichigo tried to struggle a bit more, but deemed it useless. He couldn't shake his father off. "Problem about what?" he charged. Of course he knew what his father was talking about, but he thought he wouldn't bother him about that unless he was really going to leave home for good.

"Oh, I'm sure you know, Ichigo. What? Did you forget that I can read spiritual pressure, too? I'm actually pretty good at it."

Ichigo sighed again.

"That's right, Ichigo," Isshin sing-songed. "So, what's your problem? Why all this mopping, and sighing, and groaning stuff? It's pathetic. You know I might be able to help, try me."

"You wouldn't understand," he muttered.

"I wouldn't, huh? I wouldn't know anything about love and sacrifice?" Isshin replied sarcastically.

It took a long time for Ichigo to respond to that. He knew his father had his own experience with something similar. But Ichigo was worried about letting his father down by actually admitting he was in love with a man. How does one tell that to a parent, exactly? "Aren't you upset with me? Disappointed?" he wondered before he could even think to trust seeking advice from his father.

"Remember that day at your mother's grave a long time ago? I told you to live to the fullest, and if possible, die with a smile. Have you forgotten all that? As long as you're happy my son, I'm happy!"

"Yeah... But you also told me to 'age to the fullest' and to die long after you. What I'm thinking about contradicts all those things!" he told his father exasperatedly.

"So you've entertained thoughts of flying the coop, huh? Thinking of leaving home?" Isshin expressed lightly, "Well, it's about time!"

"You're not helping, dad!" Ichigo complained discordantly.

Isshin just sat there complacently. He'd wait as long as it took until Ichigo spilled the beans.

Ichigo was getting irritated. "I'm in love with someone!" he finally confessed.

"Yeah...and?"

"He wants me to live with him..."

"So the problem is...?"

"It's in Soul Society you moron!"

"Hmm, I guess that means you'd have to make your own sacrifice," Isshin replied.

"Huh?"

His father sighed, "Ichigo, when I fell in love with your mother I knew that all my decisions thereafter were the right choices. And you know my story; you know I gave up being a shinigami for her. I became human! Do you know why it was so easy to do that? Because life would have meant absolutely nothing without her..."

Ichigo stayed silent.

"I told you that I want you to live the life that is destined for you, and that I would always be on your side. You can't worry about everyone else all the time or you'll end up miserable and alone. There's nothing wrong with seeking out your own happiness, Ichigo. You deserve to have that, too. But, what you have to ask yourself is, what would your life mean if you couldn't be with the person you love? Does that noble mean that much to you?"

The first thing that came to Ichigo's mind was what Byakuya said to him on the night they confessed feelings for each other on his rooftop, 'Until you came along…I was dead inside.' Then he thought of the final battle with Zero, where he'd almost lost Byakuya and it was his fault. Ichigo remembered that sickening feeling swirling in his stomach, that numbing panic he felt when he thought he might lose him. He went mad. If he'd lost Byakuya that night he was sure that all the life in him would have drained from his body and seeped into the earth under his feet. He'd be empty. He'd be the one that was dead inside.

"He does. I don't think my life would mean anything without him," Ichigo admitted to himself quietly.

Isshin gave an affirmative sound, "Well then, I think you've made your choice." He got off his son and stood up.

Ichigo groaned with relief and began to push himself up; only his father gave him a nice elbow between the shoulders blades. Ichigo writhed in pain, "Bastard!"

"You've finally gone and grown up on me. Never thought you'd move out," Isshin said in his fatherly way. "You see, you'll live much longer than me now, and that's good. I'm kind of jealous; it'll take quite some time for you to actually get a grey hair." He left the room peacefully, his laughter following him downstairs.

Ichigo made a thoughtful sound and whispered, "Thanks...Dad."


The Calligraphy Club was in full session one sunny, warm weekend afternoon in the Kuchiki manor.

Ukitake Jushiro, Unohana Retsu and Renji Abarai sat in a large bare room in front of their long sheet of mulberry paper, brushing a haiku that Byakuya had demonstrated for them in the more advanced style gyousho—semi-cursive script.

The haiku read...

To be a leader,
One must first dream then act out,
fulfillment is yours.

The room was quiet, except for a few low curses Renji muttered as he suffered through another session of calligraphy, but Byakuya didn't mind. At least his vice-captain, or soon to be Captain of the Third Division, gave a valiant effort. It was always calming to practice his calligraphy with people that were not only his comrades, but his friends. He looked over to watch everyone's efforts. Ukitake was nearly as good at this art as he was, given he'd been practicing much, much longer, but his style was much softer than his. His cursive was sometimes illegible, but it was pretty nonetheless, and it wasn't against the rules of the art. Unohana's script was feathery and almost dainty, but much more precise and legible. Renji, well...he was coming along, but his strokes were still too hard pressed for gyousho, he was much better at the kaisho style.

It was nearing break time; soon they would stop and have some tea while discussing more ideas for another haiku or a poem to create based on the theme today—leadership. Surprisingly, it was Renji that had suggested today's inspirational theme. Byakuya was really pleased. However, this haiku today was written with Ichigo in mind and his own personal experience. He knew now that following his dream made him an even stronger leader, because real leaders went by their instincts, their hearts, and he did. Only he wasn't quite sure if that dream was fulfilled yet, Ichigo was not here with him. Byakuya knew he'd acted, he'd done all that he was able to, but there was still a gap of uncertainty, that distance. The calligraphy group had no idea. Sure he'd heard the gossip going around Seireitei; sometimes it was painful and damn right irritating when he overheard whisperings about Ichigo forfeiting love and life in Soul Society with him in favour of his human life. He got a few more stares these days than usual, but Byakuya shut them all out. He was good at that.

However, there was a dull ache in his chest that wouldn't loosen its grip, a pang of longing. Sigh. Ichigo... When will I see you again?

Byakuya appeared to be watching his friends work peacefully, but behind his eyes he saw something else. Byakuya was remembering that day in Ichigo's art class, those mouthy girls making rude comments. Oh yes, he heard them but he couldn't be bothered with such nonsense. He knew why Ichigo had made a mess of his ink; he had been eavesdropping on those girls and not paying attention. Byakuya could still see the look on Ichigo's face when he realized he ruined his pool of ink. And his hands—ghastly purple...

Completely unaware, Byakuya gave a sniff of amusement.

Ukitake, Unohana and Renji looked up in unison from their assignment to glance curiously at their instructor. It didn't seem as if the captain had even noticed they were looking at him, he appeared to be elsewhere in mind.

Unohana smiled coyly to herself and went to continue her work, a little daydreaming was healthy, and she was sure she was knew who Byakuya daydreaming about. Everyone knew! HA! It was pleasant to see him this way, to see that impenetrable wall he'd built up around himself finally grow old and begin to crumble. Ukitake was no fool either and was reminded of how correct Shunsui was with his phenomenal romance radar skills. And let's just say Renji was getting used to his captain's faraway look lately.

Blinking himself back to the present, Byakuya realized he almost touched the wet end of his brush to his clothing. He would make the servant lady, Noriko-san, cross at him if she were to be handed an ink stain on his haori to deal with. She used to always be out of sorts with him, he recalled wryly. She'd been working at the Kuchiki manor since his youth, where he would receive tongue-clucks from her every time she gathered his dirty clothes that often had grass, mud, sap, burrs, even blood stains from vigorous training or horsing around with Yoruichi. He righted the brush in his hand.

"Don't tell me I'm late for my first lesson?"

Byakuya's head darted up in astonishment, subsequently dropping his brush on his white haori, which then landed with a tick to the floor when he saw who it was. So much for avoiding ink stains...

Everyone was mildly surprised to see Ichigo standing at the entrance of the room. He was dressed in his shinigami uniform, minus Zangetsu who was currently hanging out in the hallway with Kon, who had a big strip of duct tape over his mouth.

"Ichigo," Byakuya said pointedly.

"Hey there, Byakuya—guys," Ichigo said to everyone cheerfully, but settled affectionate eyes back on Byakuya. "Is this a bad time?" he asked, his face settling into a worried frown.

"No, we were about to take a break," Byakuya offered in his even way, "If you want you may join. Although, I suggest you observe the rest of this lesson...it might be a little advanced for you."

"No kidding..." Renji muttered dispiritedly under his breath.

Ichigo gave a tiny smirk at Renji's comment, "Alright, as long as you don't mind. I'm in no rush...I've got plenty of time."

Byakuya shot Ichigo a staggered look, cool grey eyes piercing.

Oh, that got his attention, Ichigo thought smugly. It was something Byakuya had said to him once, and the expression on his lover's face simply warmed the vizard's heart. He walked over, "Tsk, Byakuya. You're picking up my bad habits," Ichigo teased about the ink stain and picked the calligraphy brush up off the floor. He set it gently back on the inkstone next to Byakuya, and then he took a kneeling position opposite of the demonstration Byakuya created, across from Ukitake, Unohana and Renji.

"How nice of you to join us, Kurosaki-san," Unohana said pleasantly, and then cast a demure glance with her blue eyes at Byakuya. Was it her? Or did it seem as if there was more being said then what was actually being spoken out loud between them? What did it mean? She glanced over at Ukitake and he gave her a brilliant smile, his eyes alight with mirth and knowing.

"Are you just here for a visit?" Ukitake wondered easily, investigating his own suspicions.

Ichigo looked over at the gentle Captain of the Thirteenth Division. He answered, "Hmm, I think I might stay a while."

Renji's tattooed eyebrows rose at that. He knew the situation between Ichigo and his future brother-in-law. "Fantastic!" he exclaimed, "Isn't that great, Taicho?"

Byakuya didn't answer and brought his stare to his haiku poem, remaining silent.

An attendant entered the room and carried with him a tea service. From covert whispers passed on by the Kuchiki manor servants, he'd added an additional cup for Ichigo. Quietly, he set the tray down that was situated on a low-raised table and then he bowed, leaving the room just as silently.

Ichigo took charge of pouring the tea and passing it around.

He listened half-heartedly at the calligraphy discussion that ensued, periodically glancing over at Byakuya who seemed to find his composure, but he noticed he let the others do most of the talking. What a hard-ass, Ichigo thought with amusement. Byakuya really did have control of steel when he wanted to be professional and set his noble examples. Ichigo knew it was important to him because his calligraphy group was here. But there was a moment just before Byakuya began demonstrating again that his brush lightly trembled and he had to prop his wrist with his other hand before he could continue.

Ichigo caught a look of concern from Renji as he watched his captain carefully. The orange-haired shinigami then caught a quick glance from Byakuya who was trying to keep it together. He suddenly felt a really guilty for bursting in on his club with his startling revelation, not thinking that it was going to affect Byakuya so much. Ichigo had to do something and decided to help distract his partner to get his mind off personal issues and focus more on his meeting. He questioned, "This style looks different from the one you showed me before. What do you call it?"

"Gyousho," Byakuya told Ichigo without looking up. Then he gave a small explanation of the difference, and that this style was used more for poems and artistically appealing pieces rather than using it for documentation.

"It's hard to read," Ichigo admitted.

Byakuya nodded, "Yes, it can be." Then he explained that full cursive was even harder to read, nearly impossible sometimes.

Ichigo noticed that Byakuya was no longer holding his wrist and his brush was steady and sure as it should be. Mission accomplished. He watched on silently for the rest of the session, which seemed to take forever before his noble shinigami finally announced it over. He listened to him explain some details about their next meeting and wished everyone a pleasant day.

Ukitake and Unohana appeared to make haste to depart, but with pleasant farewells. It was clear they both knew something was up and that Byakuya needed to be alone with Ichigo.

Renji seemed ecstatic, he was being freed from calligraphy hell, "I guess I'll be seeing you around, Ichigo. Later, Taicho!" The spiky redhead gave Ichigo a friendly cuff to the shoulder on his way out.

When everyone was gone and the room was quiet, Ichigo looked over at Byakuya who sat there with his eyes shut. He sighed. "I'm sorry I disturbed you in the middle of your calligraphy meeting," he claimed honestly.

The noble set his grey eyes on Ichigo. "A challenge awaits no man. You are here to test me," Byakuya replied calmly.

"No...I'm not testing you."

Was Ichigo really serious? Byakuya wanted to believe it even more than his next breath. Settling cool eyes on his lover, he asked, "Are you sure about this?"

"Never been surer in my life," Ichigo told him directly, "Aren't you alright with that?"

"More than you know," the noble admitted softly, "What made you decide?"

Ichigo produced a thoughtful face, "A big oaf sat on me."

Frowning, Byakuya cast Ichigo a peculiar look.

The vizard chuckled, "I'm serious. Look, are you freaking out or something? Why are you acting all cold on me...?"

"I just want to assure..."

"...that I won't regret my decision, right?"

"Precisely," Byakuya stated.

Ichigo crawled over on his hands and knees, coming to kneel directly in front of his noble lover. He spoke with honesty, "Byakuya, I realize the sacrifices you are making for me, and that I have to make some for you. That's how these things are supposed to work, right? It has to balance. Anyways, I came to understand that. And I think...for the first time ever, I truly understand what it must have been like for you when you lost your wife, because I know from the second I thought Zero took you from me that my soul would have died along with you."

Byakuya simply stared at him. Such a powerful heart...

"Sure, I could have stayed in the human world, we could have had one of those long distance relationships—whatever that means, but neither of us would have been happy. Fate took me down this path and I intend to keep walking on it, proudly," he said without a doubt. Ichigo gently reached out and placed his hand to the side of Byakuya's face, brushing it over his ear and into his hair like he was touching the most delicate flower in existence.

Needing that tender touch, the noble softly closed his eyes and rest his head against Ichigo's hand.

"I...I just want to be with you," Ichigo rendered.

Byakuya whispered, "I want to be with you, too,"

"Well, here I am. And I don't intend on going anywhere," Ichigo stated astutely.

The coldness of trepidation Ichigo saw in his lover's eyes thawed into something loving and warm. The Byakuya Kuchiki he knew intimately, the man that could no longer hide behind his mask around him, gave him that sultry look that took his soul prisoner and threw away the key. Ichigo brought his body closer and Byakuya met him half way. With urgent intensity, they gathered each other in a devoted embrace, bringing their mouths together in a fervid, thirsty kiss. Resting up on their knees, bodies pressed up against one another, they held on fiercely.

"I'll never let you regret your decision, Ichigo," Byakuya declared eloquently over their kiss.

Ichigo sighed contently and then gave a soft chuckle. He pulled back from the kiss to look at Byakuya. He teased, "Oh, I don't know, Byakuya. If you make me sleep on the floor I might." An amused sniff from the man in his arms washed over his face.

"Are you telling me to acquire a modern bed?" the noble questioned.

"If you don't mind, and make it a big one. You my friend, like to spread out," Ichigo expressed affably.

"I do not."

"Do so."

Byakuya scoffed.

It was charming when Byakuya didn't get his way and subtly pouted, Ichigo realized with delight. He drew back from their warm hug. "I guess you're going to have to give me some one-on-one lessons in calligraphy, so next time I don't look like such a dumbass in front of your group," he told him somewhat seriously.

"You want to attend again?" Byakuya disclosed. He was sure after one session Ichigo would either claim illness or find somewhere to hide on Calligraphy Club days.

"I'm growing a fondness for the art," Ichigo said. But it was mainly for Byakuya's sake, "I wouldn't mind."

"I see," Byakuya claimed quietly as his eyes took on a beguiling state. Byakuya's lips made claim to Ichigo's strong jaw in which they kissed, making their way over to his ear where he murmured, "In that case, let's have our first lesson." Byakuya got to his feet and moved around behind Ichigo. He knelt by his demonstration calligraphy from earlier and removed the top layer bringing his leadership haiku back to the top. Then he moved the paperweights off to the side and came back to kneel in front of Ichigo again.

"What did you do that for?" Ichigo asked, puzzled.

"You were my inspiration for this poem today. And as the poem claims, I'm simply fulfilling another one of my dreams," the noble affirmed and placed his hands on Ichigo's chest, gently pushing him back, "Lay down."

A quirky, yet, unsure smirk danced over Ichigo's lips as he was urged to lie back on top of the haiku behind him, "What are you doing?"

"Teaching you a lesson..."

"Is that so? How is this a lesson, exactly?" Ichigo questioned amusedly even though his body was already beginning to respond in favour of Byakuya's little game.

"The kind you won't forget," assured the noble.

"Oh, I see how you work," the younger shinigami offered playfully, "But isn't your piece going to get ruined like this?"

"Impossible," Byakuya chided as he crawled over top of Ichigo, his knees on either side of Ichigo's right thigh and hands on the poem below on either side of the body under him.

Hovering over Ichigo as he lay there centered in the middle of his haiku, Byakuya took a moment to simply gaze down at the man that had ultimately sacrificed his human life to stay and be his lover, his partner, and his friend, his everything...forever and always. It shocked Byakuya's world so much that he felt a little numb. For so long all he wanted was a chance to feel Ichigo close to him, to kiss into his hair, to hear those words Ichigo spoke to him in dreams... He wanted to promise him love, devotion and to wake up each day beside him and not feel so alone anymore. Byakuya knew there was no one else between the realm of heaven and earth that could make him feel that way. To feel the way Hisana had made him feel once upon a time. It had seemed like such an impossible dream, such an impossible acquisition. He'd been so afraid of rejection, afraid of breaking rules that only dissolved with the growing affections in his heart. Some rules were meant to be broken. Or at least become non-existent, he thought with a haughty chuckle in his mind. Sure, he'd had to deal with plenty of unhappy clansmen about his latest life choices, but he wouldn't bend. And he'd promised, one last promise that this really was the last time he'd seriously break the rules. Hrmph... Their rules, not his own...

He briefly thought back to his final battle with Zero where he claimed that if he were to die, then it would have all been worth it because he'd been given the gift to feel love, twice. Perhaps he really was spoiled. But Byakuya knew right this instant that the part of him that died from the loss of his first love was given the breath of life again. It was like he had been given a second chance. Ichigo wanted to be here with him! He felt no more uncertainties about what would happen between him and Ichigo. There was no more waiting for answers—it had all been delivered in a cute package with wild tawny-coloured hair. And it was daunting, surreal and exhilarating!

Ichigo swallowed thickly, it was hard not to feel the intensity in the grey eyes that watched him, "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking that I am much too fortunate to have this, to have you. You humble me, Ichigo. Tell me that this is not a just another dream, and that I will wake up momentarily to find myself alone," Byakuya implored softly.

To hear such raw trepidation on Byakuya's voice made Ichigo's heart thud heavily against his chest. "I promise you that this is as real as it gets," he alleged seriously, brows furrowed.

A promise from Kurosaki Ichigo was all anyone needed to hear.

"Even if I wrote a thousand haiku's, it could never express how much you mean to me," Byakuya murmured as he leaned down to kiss and nuzzle beneath Ichigo's chin, "So, I will show you."

Sparks jolted haphazardly over the vizard's skin from the feel of Byakuya's lips on him, his touch and the way he spoke to him. He sighed and lifted his chin, submitting himself to the noble. "Ahh...Byakuya..." Ichigo sighed breathily, his eyes fluttering as that moist, warm mouth drifted over his throat, suckling, nibbling and licking languorously.

Moving his lips lower, Byakuya dropped a kiss where the protection talisman rest in the dip of Ichigo's collarboneand then down into the V of his kosode. "Mmm, say that again," the noble whispered deeply.

"Byakuya..." Ichigo said as he exhaled and improvised the request with his own provocative tenor, "My beautiful, Byakuya."

Oh yes. I am delightfully spoiled, Byakuya concluded with a throaty chuckle. He sat up with half his weight on Ichigo's leg, his bottom touching his thigh. Byakuya smoothed his hands over the fine material of Ichigo's uniform, exploring his hard body beneath the cloth. His fingers came to the sash that held everything together and untied it. Then, he spread the material away from Ichigo's chest and reached behind him for his calligraphy brush. Gently, Byakuya dipped the tip of his brush into the pool of ink and came back to face Ichigo. Amber eyes watched him closely as he brought the brush to the other man's skin and began to delicately inscribe on his chest.

Ichigo gasped when the cool tip touched him, the brush moving sensually over his skin. It caused ribbons of pleasure to ghost over his flesh, and it made him hard. He glanced across his chest trying to decipher what Byakuya wrote.

It read, 'Mine'.

"Are you staking your claim, Byakuya?" Ichigo mused.

The raven-haired man seemed unfazed, "It's in my nature."

"I see that," the younger shinigami said with beguilement. "So...this is how Kuchiki-taicho gives one-on-one calligraphy lessons."

Byakuya scoffed, "Only to the man I have sworn to love."

"That man would be me, right?" Ichigo gave Byakuya a mischievous smile.

"Need I even reply to such a ridiculous statement," the noble huffed, "Don't be silly."

Ichigo couldn't help but tease. "You know I'm messing with you."

"Yes. But teasing me too much could be dangerous to your health," roused the Kuchiki heir.

What a hot head. Ichigo wasn't thwarted, "How dangerous are we talking about?"

Byakuya levelled cool grey eyes on Ichigo, "Let's just say you may find it difficult to sit for an indefinite number of days."

Ichigo's cock was rock hard with the verbal foreplay. "You want to spank me!" he accused, aghast.

Byakuya only gave a tiny congenial smile.

"You really are something else. You know that?"

"We're not so different, you and I," the noble quipped coolly.

"Are you trying to call me a pervert, too?"

It was so easy to play along. Byakuya answered sincerely, "I apologize for ever doubting your level of intelligence, Ichigo."

Ichigo gave an incredulous chuff.

They stared at each other for a moment as if daring the other to continue.

Ichigo took the bait. "I'm a quick learner," he professed and removed the brush from of Byakuya's fingers. He sat up, urging Byakuya off his leg and then reached over and set the brush on the inkstone. Settled in front of Byakuya, Ichigo did the same as the man had done to him. He loosened his sash and opened the front of his kosode, taking a moment to touch his lover's skin with his hands. However, he removed Byakuya's already stained haori and threw it over his shoulder. It smacked into a wall behind him and slid to the floor in a heap. "Don't want to get that any dirtier than it already is," he told the captain, "I have a feeling this lesson is going to get kinda messy."

Byakuya's eyes went from his tossed haori to Ichigo's handsome face, "Hmm, yes...messier in more ways than one."

"I love it when you talk that way," Ichigo purred. He removed Byakuya's fancy scarf, too, sending it floating off in the same direction as the haori.

Reaching back over to the inkstone, Ichigo claimed the calligraphy brush again and dipped it lightly into the ink, careful not to load it too fully.

Byakuya felt a tremor quake throughout his body when the cool brush tip touched his hot skin; he closed his eyes to savour the sensation as Ichigo wrote on him. Mmm, Ichigo, such a willing participant, so vivacious and enjoyable. He didn't hold back, never treated him with aristocratic sensibilities and pretentious nonsense, not even from day one. Byakuya drank in that enthusiasm like a budding sakura blossom to spring's first warm sun. When the delicious tickle of the brush left him, he looked down. On the front of his left shoulder he read, 'Heart'.

"Why heart?" he wondered.

Ichigo looked at him thoughtfully, "Because my heart belongs with you."

How incredibly touching, Byakuya reached out and brushed the pad of his thumb over Ichigo's lips softly, "As does mine with you."

The vizard was breathless.

Byakuya claimed the calligraphy brush once more and set it aside on the inkstone. This time Ichigo lay back on the haiku on his own accord and Byakuya removed Ichigo's hakama and undergarments, but left him still wearing his kosode. He was sure to remove the socks and sandals as well.

Almost naked, Ichigo wondered what Byakuya was going to teach him next, a delighted, naughty smile on his face.

The noble picked up the brush again, swirling it daintily in the ink and settled himself in seiza between Ichigo's bare legs. He let his eyes roam over his lover's flesh and slid his free hand along his thigh, over his hip and up along the definitions of Ichigo's abdomen. Then, he moved his hand lower and palmed Ichigo's erect length that was hot and silky beneath his touch. Ichigo sucked in his breath sharply and settled heated eyes on him. Purr, Byakuya loved how those eyes felt on him. He wrote on the ridge of Ichigo's thigh, moving the brush skilfully, swiftly. When he finished, a collected drop of ink zigzagged down the younger man's leg, disappearing underneath his thigh.

Ichigo pushed himself up on his elbows. He tried to decipher the scripture. "Hmm...I can't make that out, what does it say?"

"Pride," Byakuya told him. His pride...

"Pride...?" Ichigo repeated.

"Yes," the noble answered thoughtfully, but gave no further explanation. He'd let Ichigo figure that one out for himself.

The erotic form of calligraphy didn't end there. Ichigo and Byakuya continued to take turns staining each other with affectionate words of devotion, dedication and love. Rivulets of ink marked their skin and dotted the haiku beneath them, even the floor that was sure to irk many Kuchiki servants. No longer able to resist the release that their tormented bodies desired, the calligraphy brush was forgotten and Ichigo found himself on his fours while Byakuya entered him from behind.

Ichigo gave a sharp grunt.

On his knees with his hakama lowered to mid thigh, Byakuya pushed himself deep inside with an enchanting groan. He held himself there, momentarily savouring the squeeze and heat of his eternal lover and removed his kosode that was preventing his own heat from escaping. Then without delay, he thrust into Ichigo without remorse.

His body rocking with every stroke, Ichigo dropped the upper half of his body down on the haiku, resting his forehead on his crossed wrists. He mewled and moaned with pleasure. Byakuya felt so good, "Harder," he demanded, wanting to push himself and this man to his limit.

"Ichigo," Byakuya panted, holding onto slender hips. He pumped into him even faster, hips and thighs smacking against Ichigo's ass.

They kept up that momentum until their bodies glistened with perspiration, the haiku beneath them shifting and strained.

He was going to come too fast like this, Byakuya slowed down and eventually stopped altogether.

Ichigo glanced behind him quickly to see why Byakuya had stopped; only the noble leaned into him and wrapped his arms around his torso, urging him back. "Ride me," he insisted in a low rumble, settling Ichigo on his lap, his cock still buried deep inside. Byakuya splayed his hands across Ichigo's chest, his breath rushing against the man's neck.

With a full view of the poem before him, Ichigo planted his feet on either side of Byakuya for balance and leaned back into the warm body behind him. Byakuya kissed into his orange hair as he began to ride him slowly.

On the floor inside the room Byakuya designated for his Calligraphy Club, they made love for the rest of the afternoon.


A few days later Ukitake and Shunsui were strolling through Seireitei when they happened upon Yachiru perched atop one of the Kuchiki manor walls. She was licking a giant lollipop and stifling back bouts of girlish giggles, she appeared to be highly entertained by whatever she was watching.

Ukitake arched a fine dark brow at this spectacle and questioned, "Yachiru, what are doing up there?"

Shunsui lifted lazy eyes up at the young vice-captain of the twelfth, holding his sakkat snug to his head, he sighed. "What could be so interesting in Kuchiki-taicho's yard? Are waves rippling on the pond? Are the ants working hard? Is his grass greener than ours? Don't you think the Shinigami Women's Association has done enough on the other side of that wall?" he murmured part sarcastically and teasingly.

The tiny pink-haired shinigami cast them both a bothersome frown.

The two captains balked and glanced at each other.

Yachiru held a finger to her mouth to silence them and pointed at something down below, on the other side of the wall.

Then Ukitake felt it. He began to chuckle, "I get it. Somewhere on the other side of the wall are Byakuya and Ichigo. Can't you feel that reiatsu, Shunsui?"

Shunsui focused on the spiritual particles flowing around them. One particular signature was flowing with the sweet swirl of romance. "That guy will never learn to control his reiatsu. You'd think he'd run out of it," he said, disbelievingly. But the Captain of the Eight stroked the stubble on his chin and mused, "Let's just take a peek, shall we?"

Ukitake's light brown eyes widened. "Oh no, we shouldn't do that."

"Do what?" boomed a voice behind them.

Yachiru chirped happily, "Kenny!" Then she quickly slapped a hand over her mouth, realizing she might give them all away. She whispered, "What are you doing here?"

Kenpachi looked at the other two captains briefly but said nothing. To Yachiru he claimed gruffly, "I was looking for you."

"Oh," Yachiru said quietly, "I was just here admiring the lovebirds. It's cute!"

Zaraki Kenpachi only grunted tiredly. "If they start fighting, then call me," he commented and wandered off.

In a flash Shunsui used his shunpo to reach the small arch of the clay-tiled wall top. He knelt and took a good look. A few yards away, under a now leafy cherry tree, the blooms past their prime, sat Ichigo with his back against the trunk and a recumbent Byakuya with his head on his lap. The noble captain was stretched out over the grass and using Ichigo's leg as a pillow, appearing content as the newly appointed Academy instructor laced his fingers around black tendrils of hair that decorated Byakuya's face. In a flash Ukitake joined Shunsui and smiled at what he saw.

"Who would have thought, hmm?" Ukitake whispered.

"What, that Byakuya has finally found something new and less depressing to obsess about?" Shunsui quipped in a good way, "See, I knew his trip to the real world would do him good. I mean look at that, he got a hell of a lot more than just colour on those cheeks."

Ukitake chuckled softly. "Yeah, he sure did."

"Ssssh!" demanded Yachiru, who zoned out the yappy captains and twittered girlishly again. She knew that since Ichigo was in the picture she had to re-invent new ways to torture Byakuya and the Kuchiki manor, and part of what she was doing now was a little reconnaissance. A wise warrior was always prepared for battle. Kenny taught her that.

FIN


A/N: Oh Yachiru...always up to mischief lol! Well that's all she wrote XD! In the end Ichigo's dad came in for him, Byakuya's dream came true and Ichigo fell in love. They fought an evil do'er and kicked some ass. I think I'm pretty happy with this fic in the end :) AND this final update took me extra long to post for many reasons 1: I worked 7 days in a row and only had yesterday off, 2: I had to revise this chapter and 3: I SPENT THAT ONE DAY OFF MAKING FANART FOR YOU! lulz! I think it's pretty damn hot :P I didn't want to post this last chapter without at least one piece of fanart.

I dedicate this piece of fanart to all of you that read this fic, left me wonderful comments, suggestions and insight. And to those that simply adore Byakuya and Ichigo! You can find the pic link in my profile titled "Let's Take a Peek" :) Or you can find it on my DeviantArt site which also can be found in my profile. I plan to do more fanart...check it out from time to time.

A few notes on this fic. The haiku that I used in this final chapter was NOT written by me it was written by Mrs. C Troop. I originally was googling for inspirational haiku's so I could write my own, until I came across this one. OMG! It was perfect. It had exactly the kind of message I wanted...so I used that haiku in this chapter. Also, the spanking joke in this final chapter was totally inspired by the reviewer kestrels :P Haha! Thank you! And I don't know if any of you noticed, but all the names of the teachers, the servant, Byakuya's mod soul etc. Those are names from another anime I also love called Gravitation. Har har! Done for shits and giggles.

As for future stories. I really hope to do more ByaxIchi...gawd they're hot! lulz! Thanks again for reading! Much love.

Reviewers: (A BIG thank you to all that fav'd, you guys rawk!)

Cap'n BlackRose - Thanks Captain for the wonderful comments! Haha! Yeah the whole idea with the mp3 player tickles me endlessly lol! I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter.

Totoromo - Yay! I'm glad you liked that idea about Ichigo and the teaching. Exactly, he's powerful and skilled, he's as good as any captain. More powerful, really! Lulz about the misread. Thanks so much for the comments!

Feregane - This is for both lovely reviews. First off, I'm so happy I was able to tickle you with humour, and glad I left a half naked Renji impression and an apron-donning Ichigo in your mind :P That certainly doesn't hurt lol! And yes. Exhibitionist Byakuya is hawt, eh? I love it too! I kind of figure in the privacy of his home he might show a more bolder side of himself, a more demanding side...I mean he used to be a real spoiled brat. Something tells me that's not all lost just because he grew up :P Hmm...I had no idea the servant Byakuya scene sounded rude. I had no intention of having it sound that way XD! Once again thanks for all your wonderful comments and insight! I always looked forward to your reviews my fellow Okiayu fangirl! -massive huggles and squees-

HaruHaruGD - Many, many thanks to you for following this fic and giving me many moments of relief when I began to doubt my story. It really meant a lot! -squish squish squish-

kestrels - Naw! -humps your leg* ...err I mean *huggles you* :P Lulz! Thanks so much hun for your comments. Yeah poor Renji...I really wanted him to have a little happiness, too. It's funny when I first started to watch Bleach I thought Ichigo and Rukia were a great pair. But later on in the Soul Society Arc it changed. I knew that Renji and Rukia were meant to be. So I gave him his princess. Then of course my yaoi fangs came out and after Byakuya and Ichigo's battle...I knew they were meant to be together XD! Haha! About the Harley's that's exactly what I thought. Men and their toys... Thanks again for following this fic and being oh-so awesome!