Chapter 9: Precarious

(A/N** This is an all new chapter! Enjoy!)

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We know that safety is not something to be taken for granted, and though love is a sweet gift, it must be carefully sown. The footing around us is precarious now. We move forward slowly, knowing as we do that each step may be our last…

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Renji lifted an unconscious Byakuya into his arms and watched as Rukia lifted Hanatarou and moved to follow. They flash stepped to the door, masking their reiatsu carefully as they left the house. The streets had gone dark and the air around them chilled them. As they reached the end of the small neighborhood, they were met by Kuchiki Daiki.

"We sensed the hollow," he told them, "I am sorry it reached you. They actually sent several and that one broke through. Was Byakuya-sama injured?"

"No," Renji said quickly, "but Hanatarou said that his spirit centers had become compressed and the reiatsu of the baby must be shifted. Do you know anyone from your clan who can help?"

Daiki nodded.

"I can help to stabilize him. And there is a clan healer coming who can treat his condition and heal the injured boy. Come this way."

They followed the noble to another house within the neighborhood and set Byakuya and Hanatarou gently in bed. Renji and Rukia leaned over Hanatarou, healing the worst of his injuries as Daiki attended to the still unconscious, Byakuya. A short time after they arrived, a knock sounded on the door.

"I'll see who it is," Daiki said, rising.

He returned several minutes later with a second Kuchiki cousin. This noble had thick waves of long, black hair like Byakuya's, but was smaller and more slight. He had wide, blue starburst eyes and smiled more than most other Kuchikis that Renji had met.

"I am Kuchiki Tetsuya," the man told them, "I am the clan's healer, and I know the most of any of us about male pregnancies brought on by the True Resonance."

"He's this way," Daiki said, indicating the bedroom where Byakuya had been taken.

"You should know that the secret mobile corps has found the other house," Tetsuya warned them, "They are all over, but the shielding here is strong. We should stay until they leave the area, and then we should find a new place for him."

"As soon as we know that Taichou and Hanatarou are going to be all right, Rukia and I will take Hanatarou to Kisuke's shop and we'll have him arrange to move us to a new safe house."

Tetsuya nodded and placed his palms on Byakuya's abdomen, focusing his healing power.

"I have been assigned by the clan to accompany him wherever he goes, so he will have proper care. As he continues to progress, he will need to be carefully monitored."

"Is he going to be all right?" Rukia asked worriedly.

"Yes, do not worry, Rukia-san," he assured her, "I will be able to adjust the position of the baby's reiatsu so that his spirit centers will be able to function properly. He just needs to rest after that. Byakuya-sama will be fine."

"That's good to know," Renji sighed.

He watched closely as the healing continued. Tetsuya continued to work without looking up, and his voice startled Renji when he spoke next.

"Byakuya-sama is lucky to have such a dedicated fukutaichou," he commented, bringing a light flush to the redhead's face, "but I think what is between you is a bit stronger than that now, ne?"

"We are friends," Renji said firmly, "I don't just protect him because he's my taichou anymore. He saved Rukia…and he continues to protect her with all of his strength. I respect him for that. He protects her better than I could."

Tetsuya smiled.

"It used to be because of his promise to Hisana," the noble continued, "but with time, he grew to love Rukia as a true brother. Many of the council members have never understood…and they probably never will."

Renji's eyes narrowed.

"You sound like you don't agree with them," he suggested.

Tetsuya glanced up at him briefly, then looked back down at his cousin.

"He looks better," the noble said, nodding, "He just needs to rest."

Renji didn't miss the fact that Tetsuya had carefully avoided his question. He moved closer and sat down beside the noble, watching as he deepened Byakuya's sleep and checked the baby's reiatsu a final time.

"He's very active," Tetsuya said, taking Renji's hand and placing it on Byakuya's abdomen, "If you put your hand here, you can feel him move."

Renji felt a soft jolt of attraction at Tetsuya's closeness and warmth, at the touch of his hand, the soft scent of sakura that seemed to surround all of the Kuchiki relatives, and the touch of one intelligent blue eye that focused on him briefly, then looked away.

"That's…really amazing," Renji replied softly, smiling at the soft motion beneath his palm, "It's so hard to believe this…Taichou having a baby. I'm not thrilled it's his, but it's also Taichou's, which makes him special."

"The elders also are not pleased at Aizen Sousuke's resonance with our leader. But they understand that there are reasons why such things happen, and they are revealed as we make our choices and moved towards our fate. Resonance between souls is a complicated thing, Abarai-san. It is far more complicated than a case of mere attraction."

They broke off as a hell butterfly arrived for Tetsuya, and he left Renji sitting beside Byakuya and thinking about what the young noble had said. Renji thought again about how it had affected him being so close to Tetsuya, and he wondered how one told the difference between attraction and resonance.

"Abarai-san," said Tetsuya, from across the room, "The head elder wishes to know who will be accompanying Byakuya and me to the new safe house."

"Oh," said the redhead, "Kisuke said that since the Kuchiki family is providing security around the site, only one other person will go with you. He figures it will be easier to hide us that way."

"So who is the other?" asked the noble, summoning a return butterfly to carry his message.

"Me," Renji answered.

His pulse quickened at the pleased expression on the noble's handsome face at his words.

"I think the elders will approve," Tetsuya said quietly, "You are a powerful fighter…and you have been a good protector for our leader on his military missions. I am certain that we will be safe with you, Abarai-san."

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When Byakuya woke again, it was late at night, and he sensed immediately that he had been moved to a new safe house. He blinked his eyes and found himself looking up at his cousin, Tetsuya and Abarai Renji.

"You're finally awake!" Renji said, giving him a relieved smile.

"You gave your fukutaichou a pretty good scare," said Tetsuya, also looking relieved to finally see him wake.

"My baby?" he asked softly.

"Your baby is fine," Tetsuya assured him, "I repositioned him so that he wasn't interfering with your spirit centers and that eased the pressure inside you. I will stay with you to constantly monitor this condition as your pregnancy continues. But I do not anticipate there to be any other issues."

"That is good news," Byakuya said, his reiatsu calming.

He looked up at Renji.

"Did someone inform Sousuke what happened and where we are?" he asked.

"I sent a hell butterfly with the news of the attack. Really, I don't understand why he can't keep better control of his evil minions. They always seem to be annoying you, Taichou."

"Sousuke is dealing with a complicated situation," Byakuya explained.

"And you're not?" the redhead asked, frowning, "Taichou…"

"I have friends to turn to for support," Byakuya said, meeting Renji's eyes squarely, "Sousuke has only Gin and Tousen…other than the hollows."

"I know you really don't want to hear it, Taichou, but he did choose for it to be that way."

"You needn't remind me of that," the noble sighed, "Sousuke and I are well aware of the toll taken because of his choices. And while I do not agree with his way of dealing with the forces that worked against him and sent him on this path, we can only move forward from here. It is a waste of time to continue to look back. What matters now is keeping our child and ourselves alive."

"Well, Renji and I are going to see that no harm will come to you and the heir, Byakuya-sama," said Tetsuya, "I will manage your pregnancy, and the other relatives and Renji will keep the hollows and the secret mobile corps from finding you."

Byakuya sighed softly and nodded.

"I am sure you will do so capably."

He turned his head to look out the window, and Renji and Tetsuya both felt the turning of his mind towards his True Resonant.

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"What did you want, Sousuke?" asked Gin, stepping into the throne room.

The man seated on the throne, raised his eyes and gave Gin a probing look.

"I called you here to address the lack of wisdom in your choices as of late, my slippery friend," Aizen said in a tranquil voice, "And I will give you a warning."

"What are you talking about?" asked Gin, "You're not making any sense."

"That hollow attack in the living world today," Aizen said, his voice becoming ominously low and quiet, "I did not order it, nor did I approve it."

"But Tousen and I have clearance to initiate attacks on the living world without consulting with you," argued Gin, "You have never restricted us from doing so."

"As long as they furthered my plans," agreed Aizen, "But where you and I part on the issue is where you use such a means to attack Byakuya."

"Oh my," said Gin, looking surprised, "Well, not knowing where he was…"

Gin stopped speaking and took a hissing breath as the figure on the throne disappeared and Aizen reappeared with his zanpakutou's blade pressed to the silver-haired shinigami's throat.

"Do not waste my time with lies," Aizen said, his voice a soft growl, "We both know that you would kill Byakuya if you could, and we both know why. We both know that you ordered that attack…and we both know that it isn't the only time you've tried to attack him since he left here."

Gin looked as though he wanted to argue, but remained silent.

"Let me just fill you in on what I will do if there are any more questionable activities on your part…Gin."

He moved his lips close to Gin's ear, so that when he spoke, his breath teased the silver-haired shinigami's skin, sending hard chills down his spine.

"If there are any more unapproved hollow attacks anywhere near him…or if he should be detained unexpectedly in the precipice world, then I will forget my need for you…and find another way. Neither you, nor anyone here is not expendable, Gin. I had to make it that way, just in case something happened to you in the midst of our plans. So if I were you, I would busy myself here, and forget all about Aizen Byakuya. He belongs to me. And anyone who attempts to do him harm, will die painfully…and very, very slowly."

He released Gin, and the silver-haired shinigami backed away unsteadily. A moment later, he vanished from the throne room. Aizen Sousuke's lips quirked softly and he returned to his throne. As he did, a hell butterfly arrived.

"Aizen Sousuke," said Abarai Renji's voice, "We have moved Kuchiki taichou to a new safe house. If you wish to be led to where it is, come to Kisuke's shop in disguise and Rukia will lead you to our location. Taichou has been examined and suffered no injury from the hollow attack that I told you about in my earlier communication. A healer has also seen to the problem with his spirit centers I told you about before. He is expected to be fine now.

Aizen sighed softly in relief at the news, but remained concerned at the level of unrest in the hollows. He needed to do something to quell the restlessness…a step forward in his plans, or perhaps a show of his power as a warning. And as there was no way to move forward as of yet, he reasoned that it was necessary to show his teeth. He chose to do so by spending the next several hours stalking the hollows who had returned alive from the attack on Byakuya's safe house. He executed each meticulously, leaving traces of his reiatsu behind to make his point. He made no announcement and didn't mention Byakuya in any way for the next several days.

None of the hollows questioned the sudden deaths or his role in them. They knew better. And once he was sure that the message had been received, he left an illusory image of himself in the fortress and returned to the living world disguised as Sora. He walked into Kisuke's shop, looking like a regular customer, and within minutes, was on his way to Byakuya.

But as carefully as he had covered his tracks, Gin managed to follow them. He watched quietly and from a distance, waiting for the right opportunity.

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Byakuya felt his baby stir and looked down from the bright moon that shone outside his window.

"What is this?" he asked softly, "I have eaten and exercised. I have had plenty of fluids and rest. I have even sat beneath this lovely moon and told you stories. What riles you?"

Strong arms wrapped around him from behind, and warm lips touched a soft earlobe.

"Sousuke," he said, smiling, "I was worried."

"Don't be," the leader of the hollows assured him, "I apologize for not being here when you had problems with the baby's reiatsu. I was dealing with a difficult situation in Hueco Mundo and could not leave until it was resolved. But things are more settled now. All should be well."

"Gin was there…in the other neighborhood. He approached as I walked back after you left."

"I have dealt with Gin. And Byakuya," Aizen said, tightening his arms around the noble, "I told him that if he interfered with you again, he would die for the privilege. I believe I made myself clear to him. We should not have further problems with him, but it would still be good to keep your guard up…and tell me immediately if you sense him nearby."

"I will," Byakuya agreed, "But let us forget Gin for now. I have missed you. Our baby has missed you. As soon as you drew near, he began to move about."

Aizen's hands rubbed the noble's growing abdomen.

"He has grown significantly in just the last few days."

"He will grow faster now," Byakuya said, his hand joining Aizen's on his belly, "And soon enough, he will be born. Sousuke, I cannot wait to see him. I imagine all kinds of things about him…what he will look like, how his cries will sound, how soft his skin will be."

"I am excited too," Aizen said, smiling and continuing to rub Byakuya's abdomen, "And now that things are under control in Hueco Mundo, I look forward to spending more time with you here."

"Are you sure it is all right to be away from Las Noches so much?" the noble asked.

"I have a means of monitoring from here now, and will return if I need to. But I don't anticipate needing to. Things are quiet now."

"I shall hope they remain that way," said Byakuya softly.

"And I shall, as well," Aizen said, nodding and slipping a hand into the noble's.

He guided Byakuya to their bed and, looking into the noble's eyes, slowly undressed him, pausing to taste the soft expanses of skin as Byakuya's body was gradually revealed. He smiled as Byakuya's hands began to disrobe him and the noble's face burrowed into his throat near one shoulder…and Byakuya breathed his scent in deeply, releasing a soft, contented sigh as he breathed out again. They pressed their bared bodies together, enjoying the touching of their heated skin and the way the baby moved as Byakuya's body touched his. Their open mouths met and sucked languidly at each other, as Aizen's arms wrapped around Byakuya and lowered him onto his back on the bed. His hand continued to rub circles on the noble's abdomen as their kissing deepened.

Byakuya yielded a passionate, impatient moan and pushed his lover's head downward. Aizen smilingly yielded, tracing the lines of the noble's face and jawline with gentle kisses, then falling hungrily on the white flesh of his chest, pleasuring with strokes of his hands, and tasting with pleasant, hot sweeps of his tongue, drawing more soft sounds of delight from his noble counterpart and making his cock leak in anticipation. He blazed a line of kisses down chest and upper abdomen, then curved a hand around the growing bump beneath which their baby rested and offered their progeny a sweet and reverent kiss that took Byakuya's breath away.

The noble's usually stoic face lit with intense happiness, and his dark eyes glistened. Aizen smiled and rested his face against Byakuya's belly for a moment, then lifted it again and offered the happily squirming bump another soft kiss.

He moved downward again, pushing his lover's thighs open wide, kissing and nipping his way up one tender inner thigh, then the other. He slowly savored each side of the soft, warm sac, then ran his tongue up the noble's long, flushed shaft, and tasted the fluid that leaked from the already wet head. He ran his tongue around the edges of the head, teasing another moan from the noble, then milked more of the pearly fluid out and licked it away, making Byakuya's breath quicken and his hips rise off the bed. He sank down on the noble's thick length, sucking hard now and stroking heavily with his tongue as his fingers worked their way into his entrance, thrusting and probing, carefully stretching and preparing him. He hooked his fingers and sucked harder, making Byakuya gasp and writhe under him, making the lovely pale body seize with pleasure and causing him to release in long, seething pulses into his lover's mouth. Aizen fed hungrily on his Byakuya's essence, feeling as though he had been starving for too long since last lying down with his pretty lover.

He returned to Byakuya's mouth and indulged in slow, burning kisses as the noble recovered somewhat, then turned him onto his hands and knees and moved into position behind him. He lifted the long, black hair and let it tumble down again onto the noble's white back. He set his body over the noble's, letting his skin rub lightly against Byakuya's as he attacked the back of the long, graceful neck and ran his nails lightly down the straight spine.

Byakuya arched up into his body, rubbing against his husband's dripping cock until Aizen gave a low growl and shifted, wrapping his hand around his aching member and bringing it to Byakuya's waiting entrance. He teased the noble with slow, small thrusts, pushing in part of the way and making Byakuya pant and moan beneath him. Lifting himself slightly and taking hold of the noble's hip, he thrust in hard, dragging a gasp of mingled pain and pleasure from his lover. He wrapped a hand around Byakuya's swelling length and stroked it in time with their movements as he laid his chest against the noble's sweat misted back and began thrusting deep and fast. He nipped at Byakuya's shoulder and his sounds of arousal rose with the noble's until they were both gasping with pleasure, frozen in place as it raked their bodies and made them cry out together. He thrust in and held himself there, his hot release pulsing into the noble. He felt Byakuya's body tremble as he was filled, then he shook harder and released onto Aizen's hand, groaning with completion as they collapsed onto their sides on the bed.

Aizen curled around Byakuya's body, returning a hand to the noble's belly and drifting slowly off to sleep that way. The last thing he saw before he slept, was that Byakuya was wearing an enchanting, sleepy smile.

Byakuya laced his fingers into his lover's and let himself drop off, with Aizen's soft breaths tickling his throat and the soft, warm pressure of that loving hand against his belly.