Chapter 31: What if…

Renji heard the soft tapping of rain on the windowpane and rested his chin on one hand as he scanned the report in front of him. Having had most of the day to adjust to the fact that it was their first day back at work since…since that day, the one that seemed like it had happened so long ago…like it had happened to another person, he managed to do an ample job of at least looking like he cared what he was reading. But really, he had been struggling all day to keep his eye from straying to the man at the other desk, the one who looked for all intents and purposes as though nothing had happened…as though it had all been a nightmare. And to some extent, it would have been better if it had simply been the result of him falling asleep at his desk.

Yes…even though it had brought the two of them together…and even though it gave them Beniko, Renji's heart ached for Byakuya. He wondered if he would ever be able to look at Kuchiki Byakuya without feeling that ache in his heart.

He became dimly aware of the last of the office personnel saying their good byes and heading out the door. The sun had gone down some time ago…and still, there was so much left to do. It would take them several days, if not a week or more, to catch up on the reports…and there was one report that would never be completed, one mission that would forever go unacknowledged…and it was ironic to Renji how much was both lost and gained in that mission.

He tried to imagine what it would have been like…if the king had not fallen that day…if he had tired of sitting so near his taichou and feeling like he was growing closer and not doing anything about it. He imagined that day as it was, then imagined that the alert had never sounded…and he imagined getting up from his chair, walking across the room and kissing Byakuya…just like that. And even though the noble, most likely would have reacted with some amount of violence, he would gladly have taken the pain on himself rather than to have Byakuya suffer so much.

"Abarai fukutaichou, is something wrong?"

So much like that day…but not…

"Sorry, Taichou, I was distracted by the rain."

"Hmm."

What if?

"Would you like me to make you some tea, Taichou?"

If we had it to do all over again…

"Yes, tea would be good, Abarai, arigato."

He rose from his chair and felt a shiver of memory pass through him as he reached the entrance to the hallway.

What if I could have just kept walking…and made his tea…and set it at his elbow like always…but this time…this time…this time…

He felt a pair of slender arms wrap around him from behind. Soft hair and warm, sweet breath tickled his skin. Renji felt the breath leave his body.

"Renji," the quiet, calm voice whispered, "Don't look back. If you keep stopping to look back and wonder 'what if,' then we can never move forward. And I want so much for us to move forward. We have each other. We have Beniko. We have a long, beautiful future together. Trust in our future…in our love. And if you want to ask 'what if,' then ask me…"

Renji closed his eyes.

"What if…"

"What if you turn in my arms right now and kiss me?"

Renji slowly turned and pressed his body against Byakuya's, then plunged into his hungry mouth, devouring his lips and capturing his tongue. He turned the noble and pushed him back against the door to the taichou's quarters, sinking deeper into his mouth and feeling the racing of their hearts beneath their skin. He broke away for a moment and brought his lips to Byakuya's ear.

"What if…"

"What if I allow us to abandon our paperwork for tonight, and if I open the door to this room, and invite you inside?"

The door he rested against, clicked and opened and Byakuya backed into the room, drawing Renji along with him. The door closed behind Renji and as he started forward, Byakuya shoved him back against the door and reached up near his shoulder to snap the lock into place.

"What if I cannot wait to get you into my bed, but I begin to take you, right here?"

And his mouth fastened on Renji's again, stealing the redhead's breath away, leaving him none to form the question and no way for his stunned mind to even consider…

One pale hand slipped around his head, holding him in place, while the noble continued to explore his mouth and the other hand released the ties at their waists. He slid his hands beneath their clothing, wrapped his arms around Renji and pressed forward, locking them together so tightly that Renji could feel the pulse of blood rushing in their veins. That wonderful mouth moved down the side of the redhead's face, and lips and tongue teased the skin of his throat in soft brushings and long licks, in scrapings of teeth and slow, sensuous suction.

Renji could feel himself growing hard…and he could feel through the fabric of their clothing that Byakuya was having an equally intense reaction. He couldn't help but push his hips forward, grinding them into the noble's until he was moaning and light-headed, and he could feel Byakuya's hot breath as he sighed against Renji's bare chest. Soft lips brushed an exposed nipple and Renji groaned impatiently, pressing harder into the body that held him trapped against the door. And Byakuya's hips were moving, grinding into his…and Renji felt his mind disappearing into the pleasure. Finally, he could take it no more. He wrapped his arms around the noble's shoulders and pulled him close, bringing his lips to Byakuya's ear.

"What if I can't take it anymore…and I take you off your feet and throw you down on your bed and make love to you, here and now?"

Byakuya's body tensed in reaction as Renji swept the noble into his arms and then flash stepped to the bed. He let go as Byakuya fell back onto the bed and let himself fall down on top of him. Two pairs of desperate hands quickly removed the rest of their clothing and Byakuya wrapped his legs firmly around his lover's golden torso, his hips thrusting upward, grinding heavily into Renji's.

Renji's mouth fastened on the noble's again, and he plunged deeply into that sweet place, moaning and thrusting into the hips that moved so heatedly against his. The delicious friction and heat made the redhead tear his mouth away from his lover's and left him trembling softly and panting against the soft skin of the noble's throat. He nipped sharply at the delicate skin, pulling his body away slightly, and slipping three fingers into Byakuya's mouth. The noble accepted them eagerly, stroking each warmly with a hungry tongue, bathing them in saliva. Renji pulled them free and reclaimed the noble's mouth, kissing him deeply, then falling on the sensitive skin of his throat and sucking hard, while his fingers slid down the length of Byakuya's body and slowly prepared him. He took his time, enjoying the feel of Byakuya's body beneath his and letting his hair trickle down onto the noble's skin, making him shiver softly and press into the fingers that probed him. Renji finally withdrew his fingers and repositioned himself at his lover's entrance, pushing slowly inside and watching the pleasure overtake the noble's usually calm features.

He paused for a moment, reaching down to pleasure his noble lover and drawing soft, delicious moans from Byakuya's lips. The sound was so beautiful and the feel of the noble's body under his was so perfect, he found that he simply couldn't hold himself still. He began a gentle thrusting, watching as the dark, smoky eyes widened and blackened with arousal. He lifted his body slightly and quickened his motions, penetrating more deeply and continuing to pleasure his reeling lover.

He lifted his upper body, changing the angle and thrusting harder, deeper and faster, until he found the center of pleasure deep inside his lover's body and struck it several times in quick succession. A gasp of pleasure broke from Byakuya's lips and his body shuddered beneath Renji's as the hot pulses of his release began. Renji fell onto the noble, holding their bodies tightly against each other as he emptied himself into his lover, at the same time, bathing Byakuya's mouth and throat in long, deep kisses.

He finally broke away and buried his face in a tumble of black, sakura scented hair and let the warm pulses of their heartbeats carry him towards sleep. As he drifted somewhere between wakefulness and dream, he heard his lover's soft voice rise up out of the darkness.

"What if I told you that I love you more deeply than I thought I could love anyone…and that I will never give that love to any other?"

Renji's lips curved into a smile and he nuzzled deeper into Byakuya's embrace.

"What if I told you that I feel exactly the same way about you?" he asked.

"What if?" Byakuya whispered.

XXXXXXXXXX

Renji woke to find himself alone in the bed and heard the sound of the shower. He climbed out of bed and walked to the bathroom door, opening it quietly and slipping inside. He paused for a moment, gazing through the shower door at the beautiful sight of his lover's bare body wrapped in hot mist. Then he opened the shower door and stepped inside, sliding his arms around that lovely body and realizing one moment later that Byakuya hadn't stiffened…and his breathing remained even and calm…and he sank back against Renji with a sigh of contentment.

He felt a burning in his eyes and closed them, thanking every star in the sky for that one, wonderful, powerful sign that healing was taking place, that he was moving beyond what had happened in the spirit dimension and living in the present again with a whole heart.

Renji was sure that there would be setbacks…for both of them, but that Byakuya had been right to remind him not to keep looking back and asking 'what if.' There was too much in the present that he would miss if he was constantly looking behind them.

And Abarai Renji wanted to enjoy everything about their life together.

Byakuya turned suddenly and shoved him back against the tiled wall, attacking his mouth with hard, penetrating kisses, then blazing a trail down the side of his face and his throat, sucking and licking the drops of water from his skin. Renji sank his fingers into the wet, black hair, encouraging him with softly shaking hands as he worked his way down the redhead's torso, pleasuring the skin with the warm motion of lips and tongue, with light nips and soft puffs of breath.

Pulling Renji's body closer, Byakuya sank his tongue into the wet navel, sucking indulgently until Renji's chest heaved with quickened breath and he couldn't help pushing forward with his hips. The hot water pounded against his skin, just adding to the haze of intense sensations as Byakuya's tongue left his navel and the noble kissed his way downward.

He paused and looked up at Renji…and Renji thought his expression looked enchanting, the way it did when he walked out into the gardens at night to look up and admire the moon and stars.

Am I that fucking beautiful to him? Could I be…?

And Byakuya's beautiful expression answered him.

Yes, I think you are more beautiful than moon and stars…

And the arms that pulled him closer told him.

There is no greater beauty than ours when we are like this…

And the gentle fingertips that stroked the most sensitive parts of him reminded him.

It isn't always in the obvious things, but it is obvious…

And the perfect mouth that wrapped around him, told him everything without speaking a word.

I want you…

I love you…

I treasure you…

And held by his lover's hands, loved with eyes, fingers, lips and tongue, Renji was overwhelmed. He surrendered to Byakuya's love wholeheartedly, moaning the noble's name as he released, stricken with pleasure so strong, he threw his head back and didn't even feel it strike the wall. All he knew was that everything disappeared into a blinding array of stars and suddenly, he was on his knees and their mouths were fastened together and they were slowly sinking to the floor together.

"Renji…Renji, are you all right?" Byakuya asked, sounding concerned.

He was lying on his back and Byakuya was leaning over him…and the water rained down all around them. Byakuya's fingers were sinking into his hair. The noble hissed discontentedly and Renji felt the warm flare of healing power.

"I'm f-fine…" he said dizzily and he laughed at the cute expression of gentle reproach that he received in return.

The laughter sent waves of dizziness through him and he couldn't help but laugh again at Byakuya's amused and sweetly affectionate smile.

"You're fine?" Byakuya chuckled, "Is that what you said? You really have taken leave of your senses, Abarai."

Renji blinked and stared up into his lover's dark eyes, drinking in the emotion he found there as though he simply couldn't get enough. He pulled Byakuya down on top of him and attacked his mouth with kisses. The noble tried to pull away, but was dragged down again.

"Abarai…I am not…finished…healing you yet…" he managed between kisses.

"I don't give a damn about healing…" Renji moaned, "I just want you, Byakuya…"

"Well, if you'll wait just a moment, I'll be…"

The words were swept away as Renji turned and came to his feet. He dragged the resisting noble into his arms, carried him out of the bathroom and threw him down onto the bed. He trapped the hot, wet body beneath his and sank down on Byakuya's thickened member, smiling at the sparking eyes and flustered expression as he placed his hands on the noble's chest and began to move.

"Say what you want," Renji said, grinning, "but you're as hard as I am right now."

"You really have lost your mind," Byakuya said in a fading voice as the pleasure washed over him, stealing away resistance, words…and finally conscious thought.

"Yeah?" Renji answered, "Well look who's talking!"

Byakuya stared quietly up at the beautiful sight of the black markings on golden, tanned skin, the laughing brown eyes and the lovely sway of Renji's body as he moved. He didn't think he had ever seen a sight more beautiful…and he was completely convinced that he never would again.

He reached down and wrapped his hands around the redhead's writhing hips, letting his head fall back and his eyes close as he was carried away on intense waves of absolute bliss. He felt the motion cease and the slow, delicious fall of a body onto his. He wrapped his arms around Renji and turned into the redhead's waiting arms, giving himself over readily to the love they offered.

And he knew that there would be no more looking back…