Promotion to Lover [Chapter 1: His Confession]

Pairing: Byakuya Kuchiki x Renji Abarai

Rating: M (It'll get there, don't you worry!)

Disclaimer: I do NOT own any Bleach characters (which sucks)

As a light breeze drifted through the windows and Byakuya Kuchiki just had to sit back in his chair and enjoy the momentary serenity. There was no fight he was supposed to be taking part in, no urgent, life-threatening matters at hand or any kind of situation that required the aid of his Senbonzakura. At this very moment, his Zanpakutou was sheathed securely in its scabbard and attached to his waist.

Serenity never seemed to be in a constant state in Seretei these days. Of course bad things would happen from time to time, but since Ichigo Kurosaki appeared on the scene, it was like he was some kind of invitation for everything single bad occurrence that was ever going to happen to suddenly appear; Namely Sosuke Aizen's betrayal. Since then, everything had been in an uproar for months just trying to return things to normal. This was why Byakuya suddenly felt the need to make use of any quiet moment he got.

As if in defiance to his thoughts, heavy footfalls thundered down the hallway outside his office and the door swung open to reveal a familiar face, "Sorry I'm late, Captain! I swear it won't happen again..." Renji panted like he'd ran every step of the way, which he probably had.

Byakuya just sat silently and gave Renji a quick once over. His violently red hair was tied up messily with thick strands falling over his face and even his high ponytail was tied at a crooked angle as if done in a rush. His hakama was tied together messily with a knot that was threatening to come undone. The look Renji was giving him was almost an unspoken apology, knowing full well what his captain would say next.

Byakuya sighed and narrowed his eyes, "...Abarai,"

"Yes?" Renji winced in preparation for the impending lecture.

"You and I both know full well that this will happen again. Lucky for you, you've caught me in a good mood so I'm letting you get away with it this time. Next time, I will not be so forgiving. Fix yourself up immediately then greet me properly."

Renji bowed deeply and darted out of the office to fix up his hair and hakama. Catching his captain in a good mood was a rare occasion and downright out of the norm, not that he was complaining. Renji decided it must have something to do with the recent quietness. There were probably only a few people who knew Byakuya's personality back to front and Renji prided himself on being one of those few. He blushed lightly at the thought.

Byakuya waited patiently until Renji fixed himself up. He eventually came back through his office door and bowed, "Good Morning, Captain."

"Better." He raised his head and Byakuya continued, "There's paperwork I need you to fill out, afterwards I want you to take the division out for sparring practice and," He paused. "It's Friday today, isn't it?"

Renji nodded. On Friday afternoons, he and a few of the other lieutenants would meet and drink for a few hours in the lieutenants' room. It was pure luck that Byakuya let him leave early on Fridays but he had a slight inkling that he'd be late today as punishment for his tardiness. Because of the company of Matsumoto, they normally always went home totally wasted. On Saturdays, everyone would start later at lunch time, which gave the lieutenants enough time to look after their pulsing headaches and foul dispositions. Renji was always late as it was, but even he managed to get in by lunch time.

Byakuya handed Renji the necessary documents without even having to leave his chair. "Then that's all. You may leave."

Renji bowed swiftly again and departed.

Now, Byakuya could return to his brief relaxation. It was ever so casually interrupted every now and then by loud movements outside caused by Renji, but he was entirely accustomed to it – not that he would ever admit it to anyone. The advantages of having such a resigned facial expression meant that he could hide certain thoughts. Most of which he did when they were concerning his lieutenant.

The day moved on as slowly as humanly possible, but that was just perfect for Byakuya. The breeze coming from outside never got any stronger than the occasional gust and the sun shone brightly outside. As the random loud noises desisted, Byakuya assumed that Renji had gone out to spar with the division. Byakuya would normally lightly spar with them too, but today was turning out to be way to peaceful to bother. Still, Renji was certainly capable enough in his absence – not that he'd ever admit that either. There were still some personality traits that needed some fine-tuning, but otherwise he was a good lieutenant.

Before Byakuya even knew it, the day was coming to a close as the sun was slowly starting to make it's way over to the west. Just to say that he'd gotten out of his office at least once that day, Byakuya decided to get up and take a walk around.

The division bases were relatively quiet with the occasional Soul Reaper walking along a pathway. He walked past the buildings until he came to a large garden that sat behind the 4th Division's main building. A large Sakura tree stood in the corner and beside it was a small white marble bench that Unohana put there especially for him. She'd seen Byakuya sneaking off to see the tree when it was in bloom and quickly put in a seat for him. It was one of his favourite places to be when he needed to take a breather away from his post. It could never compare to the almost infinite Sakura Tree forest that stood behind the Kuchiki Main Household, but this singular tree stood with such a finesse and grandeur on its own, much like Byakuya himself. He sat there on that white marble bench for almost an hour undisturbed, watching the wind sway the plants in the large garden.

As the sun moved closer to the horizon, Byakuya slowly made his way back to his office in the 6th Division Sector along a familiar path that passed by the Lieutenants room. That room was almost a spare clubroom for the Lieutenants when they needed to organise separate meeting. It also served as a base for the women's club and sometimes for celebrations and gatherings. The lights were turned on and there was no doubt that Renji and his friends were still in there.

Suddenly, a round of loud, buoyant laughter radiated out from the Lieutenants room. He peered through the window to see Renji, Matsumoto, Kira and Hisagi gathered around a low table with shot glasses strewn over the top. The laughter was careless and hearty indicating their high levels of drunkenness. Byakuya's eyes focused on Renji's lively figure. This was the Renji that he never saw when he was on the job. Byakuya still saw a careless and clumsy side of him regularly, but certainly not to this extent - Expressions that he would only ever show friends whilst drunk on a Friday evening in the Lieutenants rooms.

He observed them intriguingly but not really following their conversation. It was easy to hear through the glass and Byakuya leaned in a little further, their words making their way outside for him to hear.

Inside, Matsumoto was leaning over onto the table, her voluptuous chest barely being contained by her kimono. "Captain Hitsugaya was such a meanie today! He found my liquor stash again and told me to throw it out! I even asked him if he wanted some!"

"I would've taken it! Captain Hitsugaya's a meanie!" Kira frowned dramatically, "That was good stuff!"

"You think you've got it hard!" Renji interrupted, lazily pointing his finger at Matsumoto, "If Captain Kuchiki ever and I mean ever, found me with anything like that; he'd go all Senbonzakura Bankai on my sorry ass and kill me!"

Hisagi set his glass down hard on the table, sending droplets of Sake over the already filthy table, "At least your captains didn't run off with that scumbag, Aizen. Now he's a big meanie!"

"Booooo! Aizen's a huge meanie!" Kira chimed in and they both attempted to try and high five, which missed each other entirely. Still, they all laughed and their trivial brooding was already forgotten.

Outside, Byakuya remained emotionless, but mentally took note of their behaviour. He knew that they got exceedingly drunk – as was obvious by Renji's bloodshot eyes every Saturday – but to talk about their captains behind their backs was taking it just a bit too far. Depending what came out of Renji's mouth next, he just might find himself cleaning the entire office with a toothbrush.

"While we're talking about the captains - how's it going with you and Byakuya anyway, eh Renji?" Matsumoto waggled her eyebrows suggestively, and to Byakuya's utter surprise, the redhead blushed.

"It's as bad as usual." Renji admitted.

"Well of course it is. He's as stoic as a marble statue." Hisagi frowned, "I still haven't a clue why you like him so much. It's bad enough that he's your captain, but to make matters worse he's probably colder than Captain Hitsugaya's Bankai!"

Byakuya's eyebrows twitched downwards in a brief frown. He'd be talking to Hisagi later.

"Oh, leave him alone." Matsumoto thumped his arm lightly, "But why do you like Captain Kuchiki anyway, Renji?" She giggled.

"I dunno... It's not just as simple as some specific reason." Renji mumbled, the blush on his face amplified by the influence of the alcohol. "He's so cool and strong and in control of every little detail no matter what. He's also one of the smartest people I've ever met... and well... I..."

This time, Byakuya was unable to hide his surprise. It would be understandable if Renji held some kind of admiration for his captain but did... did he hear correctly? Renji had a crush on him? The notion was having a hard time wrapping its way around his brain. Blinking away his stupor, Byakuya managed to continue following the conversation.

"And so respect turned into love." Hisagi sniggered and clapped Renji on the back making him jolt forwards. They both laughed heartily, showing that the alcohol was obviously doing its job.

Still giggling, Matsumoto piped up, "Have you tried saying something to him yet?"

"Yeah! I totally did when he was recovering from being stabbed by Gin, but fuck!" He banged his fist hard against the table, "Ichigo came shooting through the window and totally ruined what I was going to say!"

"Ooh, what was it!" Kira leaned forwards and almost put his arm in a puddle of spilt alcohol.

"... Actually, I can't even remember now." Renji chuckled drunkenly and the others broke out into yet another fit of uncontrollable giggles.

Byakuya could definitely still remember. He'd been injured intercepting Gin's Zanpakutou and was admitted into the 4th Division hospital. After he'd regained consciousness, Renji came to see him. Byakuya sat upright in his bed, the bandages reaching up to his neck. "You must be wondering why I'm still alive."

Renji leaned forwards in his chair, "Not at all. If you were dead, who would I compete with?"

Byakuya continued staring straight ahead with the usual emotionless face.

Renji looked at the floor, "Captain, I..." He'd begun to say but before he could finish, Ichigo hauled himself through the window, hollering Renji's name at the top of his voice, startling the both of them.

Renji never finished and as Byakuya thought about it now, he was never really sure of what his lieutenant was going to say. Was that what he was about to say? Was he just about to confess his feelings to his captain? That was just a little over a month now. Just how long had Renji thought about him like that? And now that he knew about it, what was Byakuya going to do?

He stepped away from the window and continued to walk back to his office, but this time, he had something to brood upon. This situation was something that Byakuya would've never expected in a million years. He thought back to all the times when Renji might've accidentally shown his feelings towards his captain. The random acts of closeness, the light blushes he passed off as anger, the lengthy, subtle glances his way – It slowly all added up. Now he was starting to regret stopping to hear their conversation. He would've never caught on about Renji's feelings otherwise.

It wasn't that Byakuya was generally oblivious to such things - it was just that the idea wasn't even fathomable to him just a few minutes ago. The first thought that came to mind was to refuse Renji's feelings straight away. They would only cause trouble later and there was no way that Byakuya could reciprocate them, could he?

Byakuya paused mid-step at the thought. A fluttery sensation filled his stomach making him frown in thought...

... Could he?

Chapter one of my new-er fanfiction! This one is going to be ultra lemony-licious ;D

Comments and reviews will be used to stock up on migrain pills for tomorrow (hangover ahoy!).