By Spunky0ne (Originally posted under Shadow-Eyes-01)
(This story continues where Sakura Tsuiraku ends and includes an mpreg, so if you don't like mpreg, don't read…If you do, get ready for some Aizen/Bya fun! These two are about to become parents!)
Chapter 1: Disillusioned
I had forgotten you…and it was as you wished it. But I felt the beating of your heart beneath my skin. I felt the weight of your eyes and the touch of your hand. Despite our best intentions, when your heart cried out, mine answered…and all of our illusions were shattered.
There were sharp, bony hands everywhere, holding on to him, carrying him suspended above the sand. The icy wind whipped around them, sending the sand stinging painfully against his skin. As he struggled, he could see the stars and the shine of the crescent moon. He twisted in their grasp, tearing free, falling onto the sand and rolling to his feet. But his power was sealed away. He couldn't flash step, couldn't release kido…
"Where do you think you're going?" hissed one of the Arrancars, "We're not finished with you yet, shinigami!"
There were too many and he couldn't run fast enough…not without his flash step. Still, he turned and fought them, hoping beyond hope that someone would come.
Who would come?
He was struck hard from behind and tumbled to the ground, rolling and kicking as he came to his feet. But several were waiting and struck at him all at once, sending him to the ground again. This time they fell with him, latching on to arms, legs, hands, feet, torso, throat and hair. He felt the claws rending the thin clothes he wore and felt icy breath on his skin. Sharp fingernails bit into the skin of his thighs and he gripped the hands that held his and kicked hard with his legs. An elbow was driven into his midsection and suddenly he couldn't breathe…he couldn't move…he couldn't resist. And as they closed in around him, he found himself unable to scream…
"No!" Kuchiki Byakuya gasped breathlessly, sitting up in his bed and staring into the darkness.
His pale skin had gone white and he panted softly as he waited for his heart to slow. Dizzy and nauseous, he climbed out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. He barely made it there before dropping to his knees and retching uncontrollably. He heard footsteps entering his room and someone was kneeling beside him.
"Kuchiki-sama, are you all right?"
He started to answer, but found himself surrounded by spots of light that blinded him and left him unable to answer.
"Let's get you back into bed," his attendant said softly, helping him to his feet.
He leaned heavily against the attendant as they made their way back to the bed. He fell onto the bed and his attendant helped him move so that he lay more comfortably against the pillows.
"Michio," he whispered, "arigato."
"It is nothing, Kuchiki-sama," his attendant said, washing his face with a cool, wet cloth, "I will make you some ginger tea. That should soothe your stomach. And I will have a healer come."
"No, Michio," Byakuya said, recovering himself somewhat, "just bring the tea. I need no healer. This is minor. I will be fine."
Michio gazed at him doubtfully.
"But sir, you still seem quite ill!" he objected.
"It will pass."
Michio frowned, but left to make the tea.
Byakuya leaned back against the pillows and closed his eyes. The discomfort was already easing…and a few hours later, he found himself feeling quite normal again.
Renji couldn't help stealing glances at Byakuya as he worked quietly at his desk. Not that there was anything unusual about Kuchiki taichou working late. He always seemed to. But lately, he seemed more intent than usual on not going home and not sleeping. Renji was becoming concerned that if his behavior continued on this way, he might collapse from overwork. It didn't help that Rukia also was worried…and Byakuya's own personal attendant, though very close mouthed about the particulars, had hinted to Rukia that something was not right with the noble.
He certainly had cause to feel and act a little differently. He had only recently returned from a long period of captivity in Las Noches. That, along with the fact that he had been in close contact with Aizen Sousuke for an extended period of time, left Renji less than surprised that he was having trouble sleeping and eating normally. Still…it didn't hurt to keep an eye on his taichou. In fact, it was his job to look out for Byakuya, and it was a job that Abarai Renji took very seriously.
"Abarai, I did say some time ago that you could go home," Byakuya commented, without lifting his eyes, "You have been here since quite early this morning. I want you to be well-rested for our trip to the Hueco Mundo outpost tomorrow."
"Damn," muttered Renji, "I hate that place, Taichou. Especially after we got ambushed there…and you ended up a guest in Las Noches."
"I am not fond of it either, Abarai fukutaichou, but if we were to allow Aizen Sousuke to overwhelm the base and shut it down, we would lose a good source of information and a place from which to attack. I assure you that holding that base, keeping it up and running is a worthwhile thing."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Now, as I said, you should go home, or at least retire to the fukutaichou's quarters."
Renji considered the second suggestion. If Byakuya planned to work much later, he wouldn't go back to the manor. So if Renji wanted to keep an eye on him, it made sense to remain in the fukutaichou's quarters.
"Hai, Taichou," he said, rising, "I'll see you in the morning."
He yawned and stretched and climbed to his feet. He stepped into the hallway and entered his quarters. A few minutes later, he was in his nightclothes and sitting near the door. After about half an hour, he heard Kuchiki taichou's chair slide away from his desk and the sound of his footsteps. The step was unnaturally fast for just going to bed. As he heard the door to the taichou's quarters open, he looked out into the hallway and saw Byakuya disappearing into his room. Not even closing the door, he flash stepped across the room. He paused halfway across the room and Renji could see that he was swaying. He flash stepped in, heedless of the fact that he had never set foot in the room without permission before and caught the Kuchiki clan leader as he collapsed. He swept Byakuya into his arms and carried him to the bed.
Setting him down, Renji loosened the tie at his waist and slipped the kenseiken out of his hair. He rubbed the pale wrists gently and called his taichou's name in a soft, persistent voice.
"Kuchiki taichou? Kuchiki taichou? Taichou, are you all right?"
Byakuya stirred softly, but did not wake.
"Okay," Renji said worriedly, "Enough is enough. We need to know why you're like this!"
He lifted Byakuya into his arms and carried him out of the room. He flash stepped to the front door and outside onto the street. He turned toward the fourth division and flash stepped all of the way.
So do you want me to stop, Kuchiki Byakuya?
No, I do not want you to stop, Aizen Sousuke.
Byakuya sat up suddenly, startling Rukia awake as well.
"Nii-sama, what is it?" she asked, noting the wildness in his eyes and his flustered expression.
With an effort, he slowed his breathing.
"I do not remember," he said softly, "But I am fine, Rukia."
Rukia looked at him with an expression that clearly stated that she didn't believe a word of what he said.
"Nii-sama, Unohana taichou said that…"
She was interrupted as the door opened and Unohana taichou entered the room with Renji a step behind. She gazed at Byakuya and smiled.
"So you have returned to us Kuchiki taichou?" she asked softly, "It seems that your tendency to overwork yourself and not sleep enough have caught up with you, ne?"
"I don't remember what happened," he admitted.
"What happened is that you were working late and you collapsed in Renji's arms. He brought you here."
Byakuya lifted his eyes to meet his fukutaichou's.
"Arigato, Renji. I apologize for the inconvenience."
"It's okay, Taichou," Renji assured him, "But you really must get more rest. You've been looking so tired lately…"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Byakuya replied, "I am fine."
"You are suffering from exhaustion," announced Unohana taichou, "You have overworked your poor body to the point of collapse. I did draw blood and reiatsu samples, but I am relatively certain that all you need to do is rest. So I am placing you on medical leave for one week."
"I cannot take a week of leave," objected Byakuya, "I was gone for over two months. I have far too much work to do to take yet another week of leave time!"
"Taichou, I kept up with all of the paperwork during your absence," said Renji, "We are not behind on anything. You can certainly spare some time for a week of medical leave. I promise you that I will keep up with everything."
"Please, Nii-sama," Rukia said pleadingly, "Unohana taichou is right. You must rest. You never really took any time to rest after you returned from Las Noches!"
"Not to worry, Kuchiki Rukia," Unohana assured the girl, "Kuchiki taichou will sleep tonight. I will keep him here until his test results are in tomorrow morning. Will that satisfy you and Renji for now?"
"I hardly see how that is necessary," said Byakuya, frowning, "I could sleep better at home and return tomorrow for the results."
"I would like you to remain here for observation. I need to see if you are sleeping comfortably when you do sleep. If not, I can certainly prescribe something to help you sleep."
"Nii-sama, please listen to Unohana taichou. She is only trying to make sure you are all right."
"Rukia is right, Taichou. You should stay tonight. I will go back and finish those last few reports before I go home."
"Oh…very well. I imagine there will be no harm in spending the rest of the night here. There isn't so much of it left anyway."
Rukia smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you for listening to Unohana taichou. She means well. We all do. We only bother you to stay here because we care about you."
"I understand, Rukia. And I thank you for your concern. I will be fine…but if it will make you less worried for me, then I will stay."
"And now the two of you must go and let Byakuya get some sleep."
She shooed Renji and Rukia from the room and turned back to Byakuya.
"Kuchiki taichou, please let a healer know if you need anything during the night. You only need to press the button beside you and a healer will come to you."
Byakuya nodded and settled back, closing his eyes. As tired as he was, it took very little time for him to drift off again.
"Relax," Aizen whispered, stopping for a moment and resting his head against the noble's heaving breast, listening to the fast beating of his heart, "just let yourself adjust."
"Aizen Sousuke," Byakuya whispered back, "if this is a lie…then you have perfected the art of deception. I won't be able to bear it if it is a lie, so if it is…just bury your blade in my body now. I don't want to feel this and have it be a lie."
The eyes that met Byakuya's were touched with regret and he returned to the noble's lips and caressed them into silence.
"Don't say such things, Byakuya. My heart is as open as yours right now. I am as capable of being hurt by this as you are. Just tell me if you can't go on and I will stop. But honestly, if we continue beyond this point, then there will be no turning back. So tell me, Kuchiki Byakuya, do you want me to stop?"
The dark eyes flickered with indecision and he shivered softly. Aizen waited wordlessly. He would not surrender to impatience and ruin this now. If he had to wait, then he could resign himself to it. He wanted Byakuya to give in to him, but he didn't want such a thing to be forced. No, if the noble wasn't ready, he would wait. He would make himself wait. He looked into the depths of the deep gray eyes and waited for an answer.
His patience was finally rewarded with a soft shake of his head and a barely audible answer.
"No, Sousuke, I do not want you to stop."
"Stop…stop…" moaned Byakuya, "Stop, Aizen Sousuke…I cannot fall in love with my enemy. I cannot…"
He drifted back to sleep.
"Use me as you will then, for I do not wish to become useless. If all I have left is the power to please you, then I would do that."
He sat up, wide eyed and tried to slow his heavy breathing and his racing heart. He felt sickness rising in his throat and slipped out of bed. He flash stepped to the bathroom and dropped to his knees, trembling.
"I cannot love my enemy," he panted softly, trying to fight down the feeling of sickness, "I cannot love my enemy…Kami, what's wrong with me?"
He heard footsteps and felt a cool hand touch his face. Unohana taichou's words sounded garbled and strange. He leaned forward and retched. Other voices sounded and someone lifted him and carried him back to bed. He heard Unohana speaking to him, but could no longer understand the words.
"Stop…" he moaned fitfully, "Stop!"
He lost awareness for a time and drifted on the edges of consciousness.
"Is it over?" he whispered.
"Yes," Aizen's voice responded quietly, "It is over."