Chapter 8: The Bonding

"Thanks for coming, Byakuya-san," Kisuke said, motioning for the noble to join him at the kitchen table, "Ichigo will be back soon. He just went to pick up his grade report from the school. I thought it would be good if we talked before he got back."

Byakuya nodded briefly and sat down, then adjusted the front pack so that Hajime rested more comfortably in his arms.

"You said that it had something to do with your investigation of ways to allow for you and Ichigo to have a child. Does this mean that you have found a way to impregnate Ichigo?"

"Ah…uh, yeah," said Kisuke, scratching the back of his neck, "You could say that."

"I see," said the noble, "That is good news, ne?"

"Well, yeah, it is. Unfortunately, the way we found out was that Ichigo just…turned up pregnant, and I can't tell for the life of me why."

"Ichigo is pregnant?" Byakuya queried, an eyebrow arching questioningly, "I had thought that you did not want to impregnate the boy until you had a chance to work out his lingering concerns about it. That is what you said to me the last time we met to discuss the details of noble pregnancies."

"That's right. I did say that. And honestly, I wasn't trying to impregnate him. We had unprotected sex, but being that we're both male and neither of us is noble, we thought we were in the clear."

"And what was Ichigo's reaction when he found out?"

"Oh," said Kisuke, "He was smiling and he said all of the right things…"

"But?"

"But Ichigo always reacts well to things. That's not how you know what he's thinking. You have to look into his eyes and you'll see whether or not he's speaking from the heart."

Byakuya lowered his eyes to look down at Hajime.

"And what did his eyes tell you, Urahara-san?" he asked softly.

"Huh…" Kisuke said, his eyes clouding slightly, "I didn't look."

Byakuya looked up at the shopkeeper, but remained silent.

"I didn't have to," Kisuke went on, sadness rising in his eyes, "I've been around Ichigo long enough to know without even knowing how I know. It's just there. And I knew right then that Ichigo is really not ready for this. But what can we do, Byakuya-san? This is our child…and whether we are ready or not, our child needs parents to act as a guide."

"Then let me reassure you," said Byakuya calmly, "Kurosaki Ichigo may be young, but he takes care of those around him who are weaker than he is. I truly believe that his protective instincts are going to ease the way for him. And the love that the two of you feel for each other is going to see you through this."

A soft smirk rose on the noble's lips.

"Where you will be likely to encounter difficulty is when it comes to informing Kurosaki Isshin about exactly what you have been doing to his son."

Kisuke felt a soft, inward quiver and laughed nervously.

"Yeah…we haven't gone there yet. We're still adjusting to the shock ourselves. That's why I asked you to come. I thought that since you had been through this, you might be able to tell us some of what we can expect. Maybe hearing it out loud like that will get it to sink in so that we can really start making our plans."

He broke off as Ichigo opened the front door to the shop and said a quick hello to Tessai before turning towards the kitchen.

"Hey, Byakuya," he said, smiling casually, "What brings you here?"

He looked down at the sweetly cooing Hajime and smiled.

"Hey, Hajime," he said, tickling the baby's fingertips, "Gimmie five…"

"I asked Byakuya to come," Kisuke said, glancing at the noble, "Seeing as he's been through this, I thought we could ask some questions and get a little food for thought. I hope that's all right with you."

"Sure," said Ichigo, sitting down and accepting a cup of tea from the shopkeeper, "Hey, can you put in some more of that stuff you added before? My insides feel like they're twisted in knots!"

"Hmmm," said Kisuke, adding the some of the mixture to Ichigo's tea, "You're reiatsu's out of balance too."

"It doesn't feel low to me," said Ichigo, frowning.

"That is because the pregnancy does not lower your reiatsu," explained Byakuya, "It actually gradually increases it. But as it does, your reiatsu will have a tendency to fall out of balance, creating uncomfortable symptoms."

"Great," muttered Ichigo, "Isn't there something we can do about that?"

"Yes," replied Byakuya, nodding, "There is a practice that we use in the noble houses. Whether it is a heterosexual mating pair or a homosexual one, the procedure is the same. But to do this, the two of you will need to be in naked physical contact."

He smirked slightly at the blush that erupted onto Ichigo's face.

"Come again? I'm not getting naked in front of you!" the youth snapped.

"Relax," said Urahara, "We're all grown ups here. Just think of Byakuya-san as…a kind of therapist. It's not like he's going to try anything with you. I think our pal, Renji and I would have something to say if he did."

"Y-yeah," said Ichigo uncertainly, "I guess, but…hell, let's just get this over with, okay? I feel like I'm going to…"

He broke off and flash stepped away to the bathroom. Kisuke and Byakuya exchanged amused glances.

"It was like that for me too," Byakuya said, remembering, "Although, I must say that Ichigo has it somewhat easier than I did. I was still on reduced duty and had to work and attend to reports and taichou's meetings. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to kill Zaraki taichou for the hard time he gave me."

"I can imagine," said Kisuke, "Why don't you wait here, Byakuya-san. I'll go change and get Ichigo settled."

He left Byakuya sitting quietly at the table and feeding Hajime, then walked into the bedroom, where Ichigo was just emerging from the bathroom.

"Ugh…sorry," said the youth, "Didn't mean to run off and leave you there."

"No problem," said Kisuke, handing Ichigo a clean yukata, "Here, put this on."

He turned and slipped out of his clothes and reached for a second yukata he had taken out.

"Just wait here," he said, tying the belt at his waist, "I'll go and get Byakuya-san."

"Sure," said Ichigo, looking less than pleased, "But I'm telling you, I don't like the idea of…"

"Relax," said the shopkeeper, shaking his head, "I don't think Byakuya wants to get fresh with you or anything. This is purely instructional."

"Right," huffed Ichigo, dropping onto the bed and curling his legs beneath him.

Kisuke laughed and left the room, returning a few moments later with Byakuya.

"Where's Hajime?" asked the youth.

"Shihoin Yoruichi was kind enough to offer to feed him and put him down for his nap," said Byakuya, "That will give us sufficient time for me to explain the pair bonding you will need to engage in to keep your reiatsu in balance as your gestation moved forward."

"Great," muttered Ichigo, "Okay, let's just get this over with."

"Very well," said Byakuya, "Urahara-san, you will need to open your yukata, so that your skin will be in physical contact with his. And Ichigo, you will need to lower yours so that his body can touch yours."

"Okay, fine," Ichigo said, flushing more brightly as Kisuke opened his yukata, baring his muscled chest, slim torso and his already slightly aroused member.

He loosened the tie at the youth's waist and slid the yukata down so that it laid in a heap around him, hiding his genitalia from view as Ichigo blushed and fidgeted.

"There," Kisuke said, "We're ready."

"I will need to touch you, just on the abdomen, to instruct Urahara-san," Byakuya said to the flustered youth.

"You know, I think I prefer throwing up and being unbalanced," groaned Ichigo, flushing a deeper red as Byakuya's hand came to rest on his abdomen.

"Urahara-san, sit up against Ichigo's back and wrap your arms around him, placing your hands here, with mine."

Kisuke nodded and moved into position.

"Ichigo, you will need to relax against him. Close your eyes if it helps you to focus."

Ichigo let out an anxious breath, then sighed in resignation and relaxed against Kisuke. He nearly jumped out of his skin as golden light flared around Byakuya's hand, where it touched him, but a moment later, found himself unable to pull away as a feeling of deep connection formed between Kisuke's body and his.

"I have made the reiatsu connection, as it is the first time for you and might have been somewhat difficult for you since you are not used to it," the noble explained, "When you do this in the future, as soon as you position yourselves and make physical contact, your spirit ribbons will entwine on their own. Once they are entwined, there is nothing more to do, but enjoy the physical and spiritual closeness. Urahara-san's body will naturally respond to the imbalance in your reiatsu, and will stabilize you."

"That's all there is to it?" said Ichigo, his eyes blinking lazily at the soft, lovely hum of power that was moving between Kisuke and him, "That's not so bad. It actually feels really, really good."

Byakuya smiled.

"Then, I will excuse myself."

"You don't have to go on our account," said Kisuke.

"Hmmm," said the noble, a shine of affectionate memory in his dark eyes, "I think it would be inappropriate for me to stay, considering that the pair bonding ritual stimulates the pleasure centers in the body, often leading to rather enthusiastic lovemaking afterwards."

"What? Byakuya!" objected Ichigo.

"Take it easy," said Kisuke, tightening his arms around the youth and coaxing him into an over-the shoulder kiss, "Byakuya-san was just trying to help."

"Yeah well he could have given me a little more…"

Ichigo's eyes suddenly widened and began to glaze over.

"…w-warning," he finished weakly.

"That feel better now?" asked Kisuke, smiling as he fed Ichigo another slow kiss and gazed down at where his hands rested on the youth's glowing abdomen.

"Oh…" Ichigo moaned dazedly, "Oh…Kisuke. It's…it's…great."

"That's good to know," the shopkeeper said, smiling and resting the side of his face against the youth's, "So you're really okay with this now? No bullshit, now. I know you weren't really being honest with me before. You can tell me the truth."

Ichigo sighed and sank more deeply into his arms.

"I love you, Kisuke," he said calmly, "And even though I'm still kinda freaked out about having a kid…I think it will all be okay. I was scared when I first found out…and I think I'll feel that off and on as things go on, but…yeah, I'm really okay with having your kid…our kid."

Kisuke felt his knees weaken at the sincerity in the words and was inwardly glad he was sitting down.

"Good," he said meeting the youth for another tender kiss, "I would have understood you not being quite so settled about this, but…this is good…"

One of the shopkeeper's hands brushed against a sensitive place, and Ichigo groaned loudly.

"Sorry," said the shopkeeper, "Got a little clumsy…"

He would have said more, but found himself dragged down as Ichigo turned and tackled him. The youth's brown eyes were glazed over and filled with erotic flames that seemed to spark and flare, then sink beneath Kisuke's own skin, causing a deep reaction inside him. And suddenly, he couldn't feel close enough to the youth. He wanted to become a part of his lover's body, an extension of him. Just looking at Ichigo's soft skin, touching it lightly, sent throbs of arousal all through him.

"Kisuke…" Ichigo moaned, his voice filled with heady desire.

The shopkeeper forced the youth onto his back and pushed his legs open wide, then placed his hands on the white, inner thighs and lowered his head. Ichigo gave a hard, passionate cry as Kisuke began to pleasure him. His hips rose off the bed.

"Kisuke, don't tease!" he cried, "I can't take it right now. I have to…I want to…!"

He nearly launched off the bed as Kisuke's hand continued its manipulations and he forced the youth's legs farther apart, attacking his nether region enthusiastically.

"What are you…ah…ah…doing?" Ichigo gasped, "Do you have any idea what you are…hah…doing to me?"

"I've got…a pretty good idea," Kisuke said dizzily from between the youth's parted thighs.

The softness of the skin his hands were touching, Ichigo's youthful scent and the beautiful sight of him lying with his legs spread wide, his back arched and his hands clenching the sheets tightly enough to rip them send Kisuke's mind into a lovely, erotic spin, and before he quite realized what he was doing, he had mounted the writhing youth. He was worried about the less than gentle entrance and opened his mouth to apologize, but then gasped in surprise as Ichigo dragged him down and clamped down hard on his mouth, moaning loudly and gripping his yukata as he arched wantonly upward into the shopkeeper's thrusting body.

"Oh! Oh fuck…oh gods! K-kisuke!" Ichigo howled, bucking his hips upward, "Oh god! Oh god! Oh god! H-harder!"

The shopkeeper's body responded without conscious thought to the youth's continued cries of 'harder,' 'faster' and 'more!'

The reiatsu flared brightly around the two as the pleasure swelled inside them, making their minds disappear into the heat and beauty of the sensations. Kisuke's voice joined Ichigo's in hard, shuddering moans as their bodies thrust heavily against each other and their pleasure began to peak.

They sailed over a lovely pinnacle, the pleasure erupting through each of them from end to shaking end. They howled and panted hard as Kisuke's blazing seed filled Ichigo inside and the youth's spilled out onto their hot, sweaty skin. Kisuke collapsed onto the youth, still kissing him as dizziness swept over both of them and left them deliciously sated and unable to move.

"I guess Byakuya-san wasn't kidding when he said that it would lead to enthusiastic lovemaking," commented Kisuke, making a line of kisses up Ichigo's damp throat and nipping at the shell of an ear.

Ichigo laid still, with his legs still spread and his release cooling on their skin. He gave the shopkeeper a lazy smile.

"I guess there is something about being knocked up that I'm going to enjoy," he chuckled.

"I think we owe Byakuya-san a pretty big thank you, ne?"

"I think that can wait," Ichigo said, his mouth seeking the shopkeeper's again.