Chapter 36: The Price for all of my Sins

(Yes, you have reached the last chapter, sorry though I am to see this story end. Thanks so much to all who read and reviewed. I am so grateful! As you will likely guess by the ending, I will be starting a sequel. I usually post the first chapter of the sequel along with the last of the prequel, but due to the fact I'm recovering from a really bad migraine, I'm working a bit slowly. I should have the first chapter of the sequel up in a day or two. Thanks again for reading and reviewing! Love, Spunky)

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I laid in darkness, cast down and stripped of power, blinded and bound…left to rot in payment for my wickedness. They did not understand. By feeding me only emptiness, they were feeding my hatred, my desire to be free again, my drive to overcome them. It wasn't until your hand loosed the bonds that restrained me, your vibrant presence chased away the emptiness and your heart filled mine that I felt the darkness melt away. I looked into eyes that understood my rage, and felt the anger transform itself into boundless passion. It was then that I realized that even being their pride and joy did not make you one of them. You shared the loneliness brought on by their rules and manipulations. And the joining of our hands was the pathway to sweet rebellion…

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Grimmjow stirred in his sleep and had the sense that someone was watching him. He opened his eyes and startled at the sight of Nel's body straddling his, her face leaning close to his and her shihakushou opening just enough to reveal more cleavage than he really wanted to see.

"Augh! Get off me!" he groaned, sitting up and pushing her away, "You know, I am here trying to recover from battle wounds and since you became a shinigami, you don't have your kid form anymore!"

"Are you calling me fat?" Nel said, her reiatsu flaring softly, "I only wanted to make sure you were all right. Orihime-chan said you were injured in a fight, and that you had been infected with a poison."

"Yeah, well, Byakuya, Kurosaki and I were only infected with one of the two compounds, so it was enough to be a pain in the gut, but not enough to kill us on its own. Urahara just wanted to make sure we didn't remain infected with that stuff."

"Yes," agreed Nel, "We heard about how the poison almost killed Aizen-sama, but Orihime-chan was able to counteract it. Then Byakuya-sama remained with him all night, and when he woke, they…"

"Whoa, Nel, don't need to hear the details," Grimmjow said, shaking his head, then regretting it as pain sliced through the area.

"Do you need more healing?" Nel asked, looking concerned.

"No, will you get out of here!" Grimmjow growled, "Kurosaki and I are trying to sleep!"

Nel blinked, then noticed the ginger-haired youth on the other bed in the room. She leaned closer.

"Have you confessed your love to him yet?" she asked softly.

She laughed at the flush that spread across the former Sexta Espada's face and throat.

"Will you shut up, please?" he pleaded softly, "Just zip it and get out of here! Go back and find those two idiots who worship you or something. Bug someone else…"

Nel only giggled and climbed to her feet, then flash stepped away, leaving him sighing and groaning at the aches and pains that flooded his body as he rose.

"Isn't it a little soon for you to be getting up?" Ichigo said, from his place on the other bed, "I'm sure I heard Urahara-san say that we shouldn't be up and around for a bit longer."

Grimmjow gave him a dismissive look.

"What are you? His lackey? His muscle? Shut up and go back to sleep yourself, Kurosaki!"

He tightened the belt at his waist and stumbled towards the bathroom.

"Where are you going?" asked Ichigo, sitting up and groaning softly.

Grimmjow gave him an annoyed glare.

"I want a shower. Is that okay with you or are you going to insist on coming along and making sure I don't slip in there?" he said off-handedly.

He wasn't prepared for Ichigo's flash step, or being trapped against the bathroom door.

"What the…?"

Ichigo's brown eyes transfixed him and he fell silent.

"Oh my kami!" Ichigo said softly, "She was right!"

"Huh?" said the startled former Espada.

"Nel," he said quietly, "She said that you liked me."

"She is an idiot," Grimmjow replied, looking away, "and anyone who listens to her is…"

He broke off, staring as the smiling brown eyes came closer and Ichigo's warm lips met his. He meant to push the kid away, but his warmth and scent, and the strength and promise in that kiss were too enticing.

"I didn't just take Nel's word for it," Ichigo said when he had released Grimmjow's lips, "I've been feeling something for a while now…actually, ever since you showed up with Byakuya."

"You mean…before I was even changed into being a shinigami?" the blue-haired man asked, looking surprised.

"Yeah," Ichigo said, chuckling, "You don't honestly think I just took Nel's word for it, right? What the hell does she know. She's cute, but she's a little 'out there,' ne?"

"A little?" Grimmjow said, raising an eyebrow, "She and those two morons are insane. You know that, don't you?"

"Aw, they're harmless, and I'm kinda grateful. After all, I wouldn't have gotten up the nerve to do this if I didn't really think you liked me too."

"Who says I like you?" Grimmjow muttered, "Maybe I'm just horny and you're here."

"I could leave," Ichigo said, releasing him and turning to go.

Grimmjow watched, his hands clenching and his back against the bathroom door.

"So go," he said, flippantly, "I'm not going to stop you."

He turned into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. He rested his back against it for a moment, reliving the feel of those warm, hungry lips on his. Then he shook his head and slipped his yukata off, then stepped into the shower. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, letting the hot water run through his hair and down his back. A moment later, he felt the Ichigo's presence again. He kept his eyes closed and sighed.

"What do you want, Kurosaki?" he asked, his voice barely audible above the rush of water, "You like window shopping or are you going to come in?"

"You won't stop me from staying, ne?" Ichigo asked in a seductive voice.

"Stay, go…take your pick. I don't give a…"

He froze as Ichigo stepped into the shower and closed in on him. He moved forward, bringing his body teasingly close to Grimmjow's and his lips to the former Sexta Espada's ear.

"You know," the youth breathed into his ear, sending a sweet shiver through him and making his cock harden instantly, "You really need to change your approach to seducing a lover."

His hand slid down Grimmjow's abdomen and wrapped around the blue-haired shinigami's length, making his breath hitch softly.

"Wh-why?" he managed as Ichigo's mouth fastened on his throat, "It worked, didn't it?"

Ichigo laughed softly and bit down harder, sucking on the former Espada's white skin.

"Only because this…" the youth answered, stroking his thickened member, "gave you away."

"Hmmm," Grimmjow said, pushing the youth back against the tiled wall and pressing his body hard against Ichigo's.

His hand wrapped around a soft buttock and slid downward, catching and lifting one of the youth's legs up, then smiling as it wrapped around his waist.

"So…" Ichigo said softly as Grimmjow's wet fingers touched his entrance and began to prepare him, "You thought about what you want to do…now that you're a shinigami? You going to join the Gotei 13?"

"Hell no," Grimmjow chuckled, pushing a finger inside and watching Ichigo's eyes dilate and begin to glaze over, "I don't have any desire to have their Soutaichou ordering me around."

"Well, you hardly want to go back to Las Noches, right?"

"Hardly," agreed the former Espada, nipping at Ichigo's lips and pushing a second finger inside him.

"You could stay here in Karakura Town. Kisuke'd be glad to put you up for a while, while you give it some thought. I think he's a little pissed at Aizen for just making you a shinigami without really asking if you wanted it."

"Well, yeah," Grimmjow admitted, "He should have asked, but who are we kidding, right? Who fucking wants to be a hollow?"

The two exchanged a bout of hard, open-mouthed kisses as Grimmjow thrust a third finger inside the youth and pushed in deeply. Ichigo took a shivering breath as the fingers inside him hooked and found a pleasure center. Grimmjow smiled at how the lithe, athletic body he held trembled and the youth's cock twitched and leaked. He plunged into Ichigo's mouth, devouring a hungry moan, then moved his hips forward and slowly claimed that perfect body as his own.

"Grimmjow," Ichigo moaned, panting softly as the former Espada began thrusting into him, "Just a warning…"

"Hmmm…" sighed Grimmjow, thrusting in harder.

"Well…you may not be a hollow anymore," the youth said, "but I've still got some hollow in me!"

Grimmjow's eyes opened and met Ichigo's as they suddenly went golden and more than a little wicked. The blue-haired shinigami smiled.

Oh shit, this is going to be fun…

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Byakuya stood quietly in the King's Garden, enjoying the pretty fall of sakura blossoms, the sweet smell of them mixing with scents of flowers, grass and fresh water. He gazed down into the healing pool and slowly dropped to his knees beside it, watching the breeze and the nearby waterfall as they disturbed the surface, making the water ripple. He felt a familiar reiatsu approaching and looked up with a contented expression.

"Grandfather," he said quietly, "It is good to see you again."

Ginrei nodded.

"It is good to see you fully restored," the old shinigami said, inclining his head, "You have done well, Byakuya. You have brought pride to our family's name."

Byakuya couldn't resist smiling.

"I have brought honor to our house," he mused, "by breaking the Seireitei's most dangerous criminal out of prison, allowing that criminal to loose the fury of the hougyoku again and placing that criminal on the throne? Really?"

"You have brought us honor by obeying the former king's orders, even though your heart rebelled, for facing the danger that the hougyoku posed to you, for giving everything, including your very life to place the true heir on the throne, and for seeing to the important duty of royal continuance. These are honorable things, though they were not easy things. But I do have a question for you."

"Yes?"

"Are you happy, Byakuya?"

The royal consort looked down at his reflection in the water, then reached out and touched the surface lightly, making a new ripple.

"I am quite content as things have resolved themselves, Grandfather," he said softly.

"Good," said Ginrei, nodding, "I was worried for you. I thought that it was reckless and quite selfish for him to bring you back as he did. There was no guarantee you would ever be fully restored, and in any case, he interfered with your choice to allow yourself to die for him."

"Yes," Byakuya said, looking up at the balcony of the room where Aizen Sousuke slept as he recovered from his injuries, "he was both reckless and selfish in denying me my right to freely choose my fate…and…he will pay."

The traces of a smile rose on Ginrei's lips.

"That is good to know, Byakuya."

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Aizen Sousuke woke from the restorative sleep he had been in to find himself extremely comfortable and lying in what he sensed was his own bed in the palace.

But something was wrong…

As much as he knew where he was and sensed that Byakuya was nearby, he was unable to move or even open his eyes. In fact, all of his senses seemed oddly distorted.

"Kyouka Suigetsu…you have become quite rebellious. We shall have to see that is dealt with swiftly and appropriately."

"Do not blame your zanpakutou," Byakuya's voice whispered in his mind, "As your soul bonded, I am able to command him, just as you are able to command my zanpakutou."

"Not that I wouldn't have helped him willingly after suffering what you put both Byakuya and me through," added the zanpakutou's spirit, "You have shown complete disregard for rights and choices of the people around you, and now it is time for you to endure the consequences of that."

"I see," said the king, smirking, "But if I also control both Senbonzakura and you, then I can command you to release me."

"You could if you could call your weapon to your hand," Byakuya's voice hissed softly, "But if your zanpakutou and mine have been placed in a protective sphere that I command, then they will respond to me and not to you, ne?"

"Ah, you have thought ahead, my sly little consort, but how well prepared are you?"

He could feel Byakuya's smile, even though he couldn't see it.

"I am sufficiently prepared to make you pay for your transgressions, Aizen Sousuke. I will lay out your sins, one by one, and then exact your punishment."

"You are going to punish me? I am almost intrigued enough to allow it."

"You have no choice, but to allow it," Byakuya said quietly, "You like taking people's choices away? Now, I will take yours away."

"Will you? You really believe that you can?"

He smiled at the soft laughter that rose up in his mind.

"Yes, I can."

He sensed Byakuya moving closer.

"Aizen Sousuke, you are guilty of plotting against the former king, your father."

"I am."

"You are guilty of enticing others into your wicked plans and using them for your own unlawful purposes."

"Yes."

"You, yourself, as you committed these crimes, did also create the hougyoku, loosing Diablo to wreak his havoc that could only be stopped at the cost of me dying."

"Sadly, I did."

"And when I came to you and released you from your bonds, and placed the soul bonding upon us, you took every opportunity after that to indulge in the sexual conquest of my body, whether or not I desired the attentions."

"It would have been a greater crime to have missed even one opportunity to claim what you and the king had so graciously offered me for my troubles, ne?"

Aizen took a surprised breath as a sharp jolt of pain registered, but he was unable to sense where or what manner of pain it was.

"You are guilty of betraying my trust."

"Repeatedly."

"And you left me behind, causing me to be injured and to lose our child when I was poisoned in my attempt to escape capture."

"Regrettably…yes."

"You restored the power of the hougyoku, which threatened me."

"Yes."

"And you pursued me with the intent of using me to kill your own father."

"I didn't actually know he was my father."

"You watched me lay down my life and die to help you defeat Diablo and gain the throne, but then you interfered with that choice by attempting to bring me back, nearly leaving me bereft of my memory, my true self."

"Are you really angry that I restored you to life?"

"No."

"Then why was it wrong for me to restore you?"

"It wasn't. It was only wrong in that you did not allow me to choose, any more than you allowed Grimmjow and the others to choose their fates."

"They didn't want to be hollows."

"You never asked them. Sousuke, part of being the leader of three worlds is knowing when to exert your power and when to allow others to use theirs. Much of what makes a person who he or she is, is what happens as they make their choices. As king, you must respect their choices."

"Even when to do so will cause them to suffer or die?"

"Even then. The voices of the ones you lead will reach you. They will ask for your intercession, and you must know when to intercede. You must weigh those decisions carefully, because they will balance or unbalance our worlds."

"As usual, my consort makes sense. You were a wise choice, ne Byakuya?"

"You chose me?"

"I could have chosen not to bring you back. I chose instead to restore you, despite not knowing if I could. I saw the wisdom in my father choosing you as my consort and honored his choice in making my own."

"But you failed to consider mine. The next time I die, you will consider my wishes."

"Of course. And then I will bring you back anyway. I will not let you die, Byakuya…not as long as I live."

"You are lucky that, that is also what I desire, Sousuke."

"Good, now let me loose so that I can indulge in the sexual conquest of your body…"

"No."

"Why not? Don't you want it?"

"You have not paid the price for your actions, Aizen Sousuke, for your wickedness, for your transgressions."

"And you are going to punish me?"

"Yes."

"How?"

He caught his breath softly as the confusion around his senses eased and he felt Byakuya's naked body settle on top of his. Cool fingers touched his face and brushed away the blindfold, revealing a sight that took his breath away. Byakuya rested on top of him, his body surrounded in soft, lovely pink light. And all around them, the room was hung with glowing sakura vines that turned and twisted until they came together all around his body, forming the bonds that held him in place.

"This is punishment?" Aizen asked, smirking.

"No," said his consort, shifting so that he could see the slender sakura vine that coiled around his awakening member, "But that is…"

"Ah, I see…you are still angry about that little interrogation, ne? You were withholding information. I only meant to extract it."

"And you are deserving of punishment. I only mean to exact it."

"Verbal foreplay…how charming, Byakuya."

He broke off speaking as the noble reclaimed his place atop the king's restrained form and his mouth fastened tightly on the king's. Byakuya's hot tongue invaded, and the noble's slender hands explored his body freely, while the sakura vines twisted and slid along their bare flesh, curling around here and there, and slowly binding their bodies together. Every now and then, he felt the ominous scrape of a petal blade, just enough to leave a tiny sting upon the skin and to enhance the feeling of danger in their joining. Aizen's mind spun in sweet, pleasant circles as he enjoyed the slow exploration of his body that began at his mouth and moved slowly downward until, with a shiver, he realized that Byakuya was lying between his parted thighs, narrowed eyes fastened on his king's leaking erection and a smug look on his face.

He tried to think of something to say, but for the first time Aizen Sousuke could remember, he was speechless with anticipation.

Byakuya leaned forward and, with his eyes on his lover's, he lowered his head slightly and wrapped his mouth around one side of the soft sac, applying gentle suction and stroking it teasingly with his tongue. He paused and smiled up at Aizen as the king's body twitched and he caught his breath. The noble's fingers slid along the soft, inner thighs of the restrained king, tightening so that the pearly nails dug lightly into the sensitive flesh and his mouth continued to pleasure, first one, then the other side of his sac. He flinched again and his reiatsu rose sharply as Byakuya's mouth moved down lower and began to tease his entrance. His heart skipped and pounded as the noble's tongue traced the puckered rim, then he shivered as the invading tongue hardened and pushed slightly inside. He groaned in something between protest and relief as the noble pulled away and returned to his sac, teasing it wickedly before moving upward. A warning puff of breath touched his length, sending an ache of longing all through his body…and he was tempted to shatter the bonds that held him, and to take that sweet, white body, then and there.

Because he realized he could have done so at any time…

He sensed the bluff from the beginning, but it left him curious, when Byakuya could likely have found a way to really restrain him…why he chose to leave a way out.

He was distracted from his thoughts as the tip of a sakura vine touched his entrance warningly, then had them completely derailed as the noble's soft, pink tongue slid up his throbbing length and probed the slit on the flushed head, tasting the fluid that had leaked out, then watching closely as the vine around his cock tightened, milking out more, to be swept away by the noble's tongue as it moved in and touched him again.

Aizen's eyes closed and he loosed a hungry sigh as Byakuya's mouth wrapped around his erection and sank down, sucking hard, then slid up the length and moved down again, his tongue stroking the long shaft, then lazily tormenting the head until the combination had left the king restless, sweating and panting with desire.

Again, he was tempted to break free. And this time, it was harder to hold back the instinct. As one who had always maintained control over others, it was odd and sweetly tempting to feel the force of another will working against his. But he had always loved feeling Byakuya's strength.

It became a battle of wills then, with Byakuya lustily attacking his nether region, that pretty mouth bringing him to the brink of release and the wicked sakura vine tightening just in time to pull him back. It was the most beautiful form of torture he could imagine, watching the noble's sly expression, feeling the approach of completion, only to be snatched away again a moment before.

"Are you…enjoying yourself?" he panted.

Byakuya paused in his ministrations and smiled at him.

"Immensely," he said, lowering his head to continue the torment, but keeping his eyes fixed on his lover's.

The noble went on the attack again, and it seemed that the damned sakura vines touched him everywhere now, sliding along his cheek, brushing against his throat, shamelessly teasing his nipples and inner thighs. He realized suddenly that he was holding his breath and bracing himself against the pleasure that continued to wrap itself around him and lure him in with its closeness, only to leave him again just as suddenly. He let out his breath in an unexpectedly wanton groan and saw Byakuya's lips quirk.

"You think you're getting the best of me, but think again. I will not…lose control."

And in this case, he could certainly turn the tables any time he chose.

He was sure he could.

He was positive he could, right up until the moment Byakuya's mouth left his cock and the noble's body dropped down on top of his again. The sakura bonds suddenly tightened and he gasped, his reiatsu rising and reflexively moving to shatter the sakura ropes as Byakuya's body shifted and the noble's cock lightly teased his entrance.

It was in that moment that he realized the level of intelligence his consort possessed.

The sakura vines exploded easily, but the stronger bonds the noble had hidden beneath them held firm. Aizen took a hissing breath and stared in surprise as Byakuya gazed at him quietly, then sat up and released him.

He regarded the noble's calm expression for several long moments before he found his voice.

"I thought you wished to punish me," he said softly, "You had me perfectly restrained. Why did you stop?"

Byakuya locked eyes with him and leaned forward to offer him a soft kiss on the throat, just beneath his ear, sending a shiver of desire through him again.

"I wanted to inflict wisdom, not pain," Byakuya breathed against his skin.

He pulled away and gazed into his lover's curious brown eyes.

"Sousuke, I stopped because some choices are sacred. Some choices are a wonderful gift. Do you understand?"

The king met his consort's wide, gray eyes warmly and smiled.

A breathless moment later, Byakuya lay on his back with his lover on top of him and the winding sakura vines wrapping around both of them. With his eyes still holding the noble's captive, Aizen straddled Byakuya's body and lowered himself slowly onto the noble's thick erection, taking him inside in slow, deepening thrusts until they were fully joined. Then he leaned down over Byakuya's softly heaving chest and kissed him lingeringly on the mouth.

"I understand," he whispered, "And I choose you, Kuchiki Byakuya. I choose you to be the only one to pass through all barriers, to claim what no one else ever has…or ever will."

"You do understand, at long last."

The king said no more, but communicated perfectly with the rise and fall of his body on his lover's, the feverish flush on his skin, the ever faster taking and releasing of breath, caressing hands and a storm of deep, wet kisses. Byakuya's body moved in perfect harmony, arching into his and falling away as the noble's mouth opened into lovely, moans of pleasure. His hand found his lover's riled length and wrapped around it, sliding up and down the long shaft as he thrust upward and deeper into the king's body, striking the pleasure center inside him and sending both tumbling in a headlong fall into bliss. Aizen's body shuddered and hot spurts of pearly fluid splashed onto their skin. Byakuya's hands wrapped around his lover's hips, holding him in place as his body quivered in release, filling and sating, and leaving both men breathless and smiling. They fell asleep, still entwined, with the glowing sakura vines wound around them.

When Aizen Sousuke woke next, he found that the sakura vines were gone and he was alone in his bed. He turned his head to look at the huge, full moon outside the open balcony doors and met with the enchanting sight of Byakuya's naked silhouette, cast against the brightness of the moon. The noble stood balanced atop the balcony rail, his head turned and his eyes fixed on his lover's.

"What is this?" Aizen asked, climbing out of bed and moving towards the noble.

Byakuya waited until Aizen's hand reached out to touch him, then flash stepped down from the rail and into the King's Gardens. Aizen followed, only to find that as he reached Byakuya, the noble flash stepped away from him again. And suddenly, he realized…

"Naked tag, ne Byakuya?" he laughed softly, "How provocative!"

And the game only grew more enchanting as he flash stepped at full speed, his reiatsu flaring around him, seeking the swift, moonlit form just ahead of him.

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A pair of red-gold eyes watched in silence from one of the trees, those eyes casting a reflection back to the creature's master, who also watched from her lair, as king and consort flash stepped through the gardens. She smiled as the king swept forward and brought his mate down in the grass, then plundered his lovely, pale body under the light of the full moon.

"Yes," she whispered softly, "Enjoy this night, Kuchiki Byakuya. You haven't so many left…until you return to me."

She reached into her tattered dress, past the hole where her heart had once been, her fingers finding the two vials filled with the blood and reiatsu she had collected. She gazed at them quietly, then loosed a low, menacing laugh.