Chapter 14: The Outpost

"I cannot believe that I let you talk me into this," Byakuya muses as we close in on the outpost near Las Noches, "It isn't just reckless because we have come so close to Las Noches alone. You are with child, and without your zanpakutou, and still healing."

"I'm gonna be fine," I assure him, "The baby's not due for quite a while and even though Zabimaru and I are still healing, I have you here to protect me."

He gives me a look somewhere between amusement and exasperation and now that I have privileges with the guy, I let myself react to how sexy I think it is when he gives me these cute little shows of emotion. I grab him and kiss him hard on the mouth in a way I would have been scared shitless to try before. He freezes because he's startled and a little annoyed, but he's not going to hit the guy who's having his baby, so he's cornered. Oh my god, I love this man!

"Abarai..."

"Just trust me, will you? This old listening post has been abandoned for so long that I think the sand it's on forgot it's there. It's probably a little messy, but once we clean it up, it will be perfect," I tell him.

He still looks unhappy and kinda unconvinced, but he sighs and follows. keeping his zanpakutou loose in its sheath.

"So," he goes on, "If this old outpost has been abandoned and forgotten, then how is it that you know about it, Abarai?"

I should have figured he'd want to know the story. Byakuya doesn't miss things like that. I blush a little, but give him what he wants...and I'm kinda glad he isn't one to show a lot of emotion, otherwise he'd laugh his ass off.

"Well," I begin, clearing my throat, "You remember when you got pissed at me for the time my kido exploded in my face while we were fighting some hollows and your scarf got torn when you had to save my ass?"

He arches an eyebrow.

Fucking cute...

"Which time?"

"What do you mean, 'which time?' The only time!" I object, "The other times your scarf didn't get..."

I stop talking for a moment because I see he's smirking. Who knew Byakuya had such a wicked little sense of humor? He isn't like that with most people. But he is with me and it's becoming a form of foreplay for the two of us...because he gives me that smirk and I have to kiss him a few more times before I can go on.

"Abarai," he says, pushing me away gently, "Are you going to get around to finishing your story, or are you simply going to leave us standing out here and let the hollows find us?"

"Right," I laugh, "Just a little farther. This way."

I finish the story as we walk.

"So, anyway, you stationed me on recon with that group from the eleventh. And of course, Ikkaku and Yumichika had themselves in trouble with Captain Zaraki too. We were out supposedly gathering intel, while also putting away a good bit of sake and laughing our asses off at shit that is only funny if you're drunk."

"I would not know," he says, sounding a little pissed that I'd misbehaved while being punished for misbehaving..."I have never been drunk."

"Huh, well, you were on painkillers after you took that shot, saving Rukia, ne?"

"I was."

"And so, it felt kinda like that."

"Ah," he says, frowning and still looking pissed at me, "I see."

"Anyway, we were just walking..."

"You mean, staggering," he injects dryly.

"Okay, staggering," I go on, "And all of a sudden, there was no fucking sand under my feet! The place was half buried, and I stepped on a weak spot the sand had covered and 'fell into' the place."

I'm laughing now and have to stop for a second to compose myself. Byakuya is shaking his head and looking at me like I've lost my mind.

"And?" he says patiently.

"And those stupid bastards, first, didn't realize for a while that I had disappeared and second, couldn't figure out where I'd gone. I passed out when I fell and a bunch of sand half covered me. It took me forever to dig myself out, but once I did, I realized that the place had potential."

"What?" he asks, still frowning.

"Well, it's private, out of the way and not somewhere anyone would go looking for me."

We reach the place and I show him the hidden entrance I made. He's starting to look a little impressed and he looks even more so when he gets inside and sees what I did with the place.

"Renji, this is..."

He can't find a word for it, so he stops there and lets his eyes run over the relatively clean and comfortably furnished (though dusty) little hideaway. I know it's not probably still a dump to this guy who lives at fucking Kuchiki Manor and has doilies that are worth more than I ever will be, but...

"Once we remove the six layers of dust, it will be perfect," he says, stunning me instantly, as though he'd just told me I'm beautiful.

Kami's grace...he likes the place!

He orders me outside and leaves the hidden opening uncovered. I start to ask what he's doing, then hear an odd swirling sound. A moment later, a bunch of petals erupt from the hideout, carrying with them, the gathered dust that was on everything. I get this odd vision of everything inside being cut, slashed, scored and annihilated, but touching one of the petal blades reveals that they are not edged. They are real flower petals. I grow a whole new level of appreciation for this man's control and for the fact that now we won't have to bust our asses, dusting the place. And sure enough, I go back inside and there's not a speck of dust left anywhere.

Byakuya Kuchiki dusting?

I can't breathe.

I start laughing and can't stop. He ignores me and unpacks the things we brought, and we settle into the place.

After a while, we sit down on the bed and try to connect again with Tetsuya. The view is different...not coming through his eyes, probably because he's asleep. It's outside his body, looking down at them from overhead. We see that he is still curled up in Sousuke Aizen's arms, and that Aizen is awake and gently kissing his fingertips and the top of his head. It scares me to see a frightening guy like that being affectionate with the sleeping, guard let down, vulnerable Tetsuya. But then...Aizen is in love with him. I have to wonder, though, how much safety that is. The guy is unpredictable.

"We should rest while they do," Byakuya suggests, lying down.

I start to lie down a little ways over from him...giving him some space. I mean, yeah, I'm having the guy's kid. But we really haven't had time to define exactly where we stand. He gives me my first clue, by catching me as I lie down and pulling me onto his chest. I stretch out along his side, letting my head fall onto a pillow of strong shoulder and soft, sakura scented hair, and I feel like I'm right back in heaven again. My eyes are closed, so I don't see him coming, but I feel the warmth of him as his head turns and his lips seek mine. His kisses are warm, firm and powerful, offered much more confidently than the few we exchanged in the hot tub before.

"Renji?"

"Hmmm?"

"Why did you do this?" he asks.

Huh?

"Why did I do what?"

"Why did you go to the trouble you did here? You obviously spent some time shoring it up, strengthening the ceiling and walls, and bringing things out here to make it comfortable. But...it looked as though you hadn't been here in a long time. Why?"

"I don't know," I answer, and I'm being honest.

I really don't know.

"I started out with the idea of it being, you know...a quiet place to go to when I wanted to be alone. Then, I thought of who I might share it with...thinking it could be a little hideaway for me and someone. But I never settled on anyone."

That was around the time I started to fall in love with him.

"But you went to all of this trouble, then...just abandoned it."

I fell in love with a guy I could never have...or so I thought. And coming here and thinking of how much I would love to be alone with him in our little hideaway, making love until exhausted, then just holding each other...

"I don't know," I say again, "I just...realized that the person I wanted to be alone and kinda 'stranded' with was unobtainable, off-limits...not a possibility."

He looks uncertain for a moment.

"And that person was...?"

Oh my god. Does he really think it was anyone other than him?

That's not just silly, but fucking adorable!

I'm smiling so big I think my face is gonna crack.

"Who the hell do you think it was, Byakuya?" I laugh, kissing him again, "I was thinking of you."

"But Renji, that was..."

He pauses, gazing at me with those pretty eyes, and I can see the pieces falling into place.

"You've been...desiring me for that long?" he asks.

"Oh...longer," I confess, "I think that...even when I hated you, I loved you, Byakuya."

I think that I understand now why they say that confession is good for the soul. I finally said it. I told Byakuya freaking Kuchiki that I have been in love with him forever! And he's not enraged, or pulling out his bankai and thrashing me with it. He's not beating me down for my stupidity in thinking that I would ever have a chance with a guy like him. He's looking at me in wonder and amusement, and he's moving in to kiss me again.

He turns so that he's lying partly on top of me, then while we kiss, we slowly undress each other and indulge in the stupid fantasy I had convinced myself could never be.

It's funny how it isn't stupid anymore, but real and moving and alive.

He stops for a minute, looking at my strangely pale and naked, unmarked skin.

"Close your eyes," he whispers.

Damn, it's really sexy when he does that. I feel a little quiver inside that turns into a full blown hard on as his fingers move over my body, starting over my eyes, where the most obvious of my tattoos would have been, and working his way downward. The way he touches me is the equivalent of that sexy, breathy whisper he used to make me close my eyes. I want to peek, to see the long strands of black silken hair that are tickling my body, to glimpse the perfect nose and pretty parted lips that loose soft, warm breath onto my skin. It takes a minute, but I realize suddenly, and he stops when he feels my body tense.

"Ah-ah, Abarai, keep your eyes closed, or I will stop," he warns me.

Oh gods!

I am NOT going to peek, no matter how much I want to look at that wicked little smirk he must be wearing right now. It's a sacrifice too, because the only ones who usually see that expression are the ones he's about to kill with an attack they are soooo not expecting. So, I have to wonder. What is he doing? His fingers move along the flesh of my chest, and I know I have to be blushing all over. And it comes back to me that his movements are extremely precise...and familiar. They move over my body like they know exactly where every black line, point and curve should be.

But...

He couldn't remember then from that time in the cave, although he did explore them then. He was hopped up on that drug. And when we were naked together at the hot springs with the other officers, he didn't appear to even notice me. Or so I thought. He's seen them other times when I was being healed or when the fucking A/C broke in the squad room in the middle of an August heat wave. But I didn't think he was looking that closely.

So how...?

"Byakuya?" I say, and I can feel my voice shaking.

Because I'm about to ask a pretty monumental question, here.

"Hmmm?"

"Erm...I can tell that you're, you know. touching where they should be. And I can understand how you'd know where the obvious ones were, but...how do you...know them like that."

"Like what?"

"Like that! So that it feels like you've run your eyes over them a million times. Like you've looked at them enough to memorize them."

"I...did memorize them," he admits softly, as the hellaciously sexy touching continues and I get even harder.

"Oh?"

My voice is choked, because he's really fucking getting to me, and his hands are moving over some really intimate areas I know I haven't shown off to anyone, not even at the hot springs...some you'd only see with me lying on my back, spread-legged and in full surrender. But he knows them too. And I am dying to know how.

"I am surprised that you need to ask me that," he says, his fingers touching my huge, probably purple erection.

Yeah...that's tattooed too.

Fucking prick Zabimaru...

"You, of all people, who has an intimate knowledge of my bankai."

"Huh?" I pant, barely able to think.

"Senbonzakura Kageyoshi," he breathes, tickling my skin, "Think of the way it moves."

In a swell of blades that extend from his hands in long, whiplike streams that grow and curl around his target...in large splashes...in a shroud around his body to defend him...or in a huge wall or sphere.

"Patterns..." I whisper back, curiously.

"Yes, Renji, patterns. I memorize patterns and use them in battle. And when what I have in my arsenal does not work on an enemy, I create a new pattern that does work. And because I work with those patterns all of the time, I memorize patterns very swiftly. With yours, I did not memorize them all at once...but in glimpses, over time. And I only recently finished my learning of them...the night you fell asleep in my bed. At one point, you rolled onto your back and spread out."

He was watching me while I slept?

My snoring was probably keeping him awake.

That's what it was, right?

"I apologize for taking advantage of the moment, but I...couldn't seem to turn my eyes away."

Okay, I know I'm blushing everywhere now...

"Don't worry about it. I told you I've loved you for a long time," I tell him, "I'm actually pretty damned flattered."

I stop and think for a moment. Yeah, I know, it's rare. But I do it now and loose a really telling question.

"How long have you been...you know...interested in me?"

It must be recent...like around the time that he admitted that he wanted to try kissing a guy.

"Honestly...Renji...?"

I feel something tugging at my heart, and then it just explodes as my ears pick up something that they can not have heard.

"I fell in love with you that first day."

What?

What first day?

The first day that I became his vice captain?

The first day we trained together?

The first time we...

"The day that I came to the academy," he says, shocking me so badly that I really can't move, "It was something I felt as I walked by you. It is...something that is a secret of the noble clans, and it is only spoken of when it is proven to be mutual."

"Wh-what?"

I don't have any idea what he's talking about. But that day...the day he first laid eyes on me...and he didn't even look directly? That day? The day I decided to pursue him...to surpass him? To defeat him and take Rukia back? That day? He fell in love with me at first sight?

"It is a well known fact that souls may resonate with each other," he explains, "We see this most clearly with our zanpakutou. But any souls can have resonance. And some resonance is stronger than others. Rarely, two souls complement each other perfectly, and together they form a 'true resonance,' a connection that is so powerful that within the clan, it supercedes all other connections. It is recorded in our history that when a true resonance occurs, it does so for a reason. And while I do not know the reason why...you and I have a true resonance."

I can't think of a thing to say...

"Open your eyes."

I open my eyes and I'm left speechless all over again. Because all over my body are the tattoos I lost when I was injured...every single one laid out precisely...perfectly where it was before.

Except...

My belly button has been made the center of a black tattooed sakura blossom.

There aren't many perfect moments in life, but this is one of them. I look up into those amazingly beautiful wide gray eyes and give him a smile I hope says everything my tied tongue can't right now. He seems to understand and he smiles too as he leans over me again and returns to kissing me.

I know that the markings on my body aren't the real ones, and that I'll have to heal more before they come back. But...what he did was better than any healer could do to cure me. I feel the reiatsu swell inside me, and I start to feel a lot less weak. And, if that isn't enough, I feel a twinge inside and the presence of my still injured and healing zanpakutou.

"Zabimaru..." I whisper.

I feel tears on my face and I hope he doesn't notice. I know he says that we shouldn't shed tears. But even though he sees them on my face, he only smiles very tolerantly and touches one with a pristine fingertip.

"S-sorry," I manage.

"Pregnancy," we say together, still looking into each other's eyes.

We know it's bullshit. But when you love someone and they show some emotion, you don't beat them up for it. And maybe it is the pregnancy, because I wouldn't have cried before. Not in front of him. But the walls have come crashing down and there's this new openness between us. I never knew love could be like this. But if what he's saying about our souls is true, then it has to be like he said.

True resonance.

What a beautiful thing...and it makes sense of everything we've been through to come together like we are.

All of a sudden, we feel Tetsuya's mind wake, and we see him lifting his head off the pillow and looking at Aizen, who seems to have fallen asleep again. Tetsuya just sits there, still as a stone, gazing at him with probably that saddest expression I've ever seen. You can tell he really had it bad for the guy because if he hadn't, he would not be looking at Aizen with anything but rage or pure hatred. But Tetsuya doesn't seem to know how to hate anyone...not even Aizen.

Then I get shocked with another truth.

"Tetsuya shares a true resonance with Sousuke Aizen," Byakuya says quietly.

Shit...

"It suggests that there is something that is meant to take place between them. And so, while they are together, Tetsuya will likely search for what their resonance means. For such a resonance is not always a romance as we define it, but a fate. When he first sensed their resonance, Tetsuya proceeded carefully. He was not allowed to reveal it to Aizen until such time as the meaning of their resonance was revealed to both of them. And before that could happen, Aizen betrayed us and left for Las Noches. Tetsuya was, of course, devastated at learning of Aizen's betrayal, but what was even more shattering was still being locked into this fated connection with him."

"You think that's why he let himself be caught?"

"I think it is part of the reason. And now that they are together, he will seek the answers he could not before."

I see the two of them in a very different light as Tetsuya's sapphire eyes remain fixed on Aizen's tranquil sleeping face, and he sits perfectly still...waiting.

"Do you think that Tetsuya will be the one to kill him?" I ask, trying to imagine how Tetsuya would stomach a fate like that.

"I do not know."

Fate can be a real bitch sometimes.

"But while we wait for their fate to play out, perhaps we can explore our own...in a bit more detail," he suggests.

I relax on the bed and spread out, and he lays down on top of me, letting that petal soft skin of his warm mine. His lips and mouth and tongue are all sweet and so inviting that I sink into them, never wanting to come out again. He moves on top of me, gently torturing my extremely aroused, leaking and sensitive cock with one that is equally wanting. We stay like that for awhile...just kissing and touching each other, our eyes half closed and our reiatsu flaring softly around us, our bodies rubbing hungrily against each other, and building up into something incredibly beautiful.

I wonder if I should expect he'll take me or if I should make a move to prepare him. God knows, I want the guy inside of me...like now! I'm good with taking him, too, and honestly, if it was anyone but Byakuya Kuchiki, I wouldn't let myself be taken. But he's got a special place, not just in my heart, but my soul.

He reads the emotion and in the midst of our heated rubbing, he positions his damp erection at my entrance...taking me so slowly and passionately that I can feel tears leak onto my face again. It isn't just him being inside me down there...it's Byakuya being inside my heart and making love to me like the rest of the world doesn't matter...like everything has disappeared but the two of us.

I'm thanking kami for the sandstorm that has whipped up outside, because I'm moaning so loudly as he fucks me that I probably would have attracted every damned hollow for miles. I see belatedly that he has enclosed the little outpost in a reiatsu chamber, so now I can moan and thrash and scream bloody murder all I want to, and no one will hear or come waltzing in and ruin the moment. So I give him everything. I let my pride fall away and leave my heart open wider than my legs. I look into his eyes so he can see how he has me completely at his mercy.

I'm a scary person sometimes, because I'm tall, dark-skinned, tattooed and I have a fucking big jagged sword and even bigger bankai. But I don't need to be intimidating here. And neither do I just lie there and let him do all of the work. My eyes are as fierce as if we were sparring, and the body that wraps around his, that envelops his thrusting cock is strong, despite my injuries. My skin is flushed and hot all over, and he is sweating just from being close to me. He's out of breath and hazy-eyed, thrusting hard and fast, his head bowing with the effort. I feel a heavy shudder shake his body, and he catches his breath raggedly, moaning in my ear and striking that place deep inside me that only he will ever touch again.

We careen into orgasm together, shaking the outpost with hard cries of pleasure while blazing hot seed explodes, filling me inside and painting our skin. leaving us a couple of heaving, panting wrecks tangled up on the bed.

I don't say anything and neither does he. What the fuck could we say that speaks louder than what we just did?

'Amazing' doesn't begin to cover it. Neither does 'earthshaking' or 'wonderful,' 'fantastic,' or 'perfect.' It leaves them all behind and leaves us both speechless...looking into each other's eyes and holding on tightly.

Because once you know that love like this exists, and that you've found it, you never want to let go...not ever.

But I get a little shiver of warning as Tetsuya's sad words come back to me.

"I will never love again," he said.

It's too sad that we're thinking the same thing, but I'm crying tears of joy, while he is holding back tears of devastation. But his fate hasn't played out yet. And maybe there's even hope for that angel and the devil he can't help loving.

I don't think that Tetsuya will kill Aizen.

And I don't think he's going to reform the guy.

But for some reason, I think their fate will take a turn that none of us are expecting.

Yeah, I do believe in miracles, big and small.

If I didn't, there's no way I'd be lying in Byakuya Kuchiki's arms right now.