Nightmare in Red
Chapter 1: The Storm
(Warning…violence, suggestion of non-con sex)
"You have to get over this, Renji," Rukia said, firmly, "Holding on to this anger towards my brother is…"
She was interrupted by the approach of the waitress, who carried their plates. The young woman flinched and looked uncomfortable as she set the plates down.
"Renji," Rukia admonished him, "Your reiatsu is going to fry us. Take it down a notch, okay?"
"S-sorry," muttered the redhead, trying to relax and smiling apologetically at the waitress, "My boss…he's a real bastard. Sometimes he makes me so mad, I feel like he's going to drive me crazy!"
"I understand," said the girl, looking back at the restaurant manager, "I feel the same way sometimes…"
Rukia watched as the woman walked away, then frowned at the redhead.
"I know he isn't easy to get along with sometimes, but…"
"Sometimes?" Renji repeated disbelievingly, "Rukia, you have to take your head out of the hole you dug in the sand and pay attention. Taichou has been awful to me lately. I mean, I get that he is probably still pissed I raised a sword to him…and let's face it. He doesn't think I'm good enough to scrape the shit off his shoes! And I've tried to be good to him! I sat in that fucking healing center the whole time he was there after he got hurt rescuing you! I did everything I could to make things right. But it's like he doesn't see any of that. He just sits in that damned chair, filling out reports and fucking ignoring me! I think he's trying to make me ask for a transfer, but if that's what he wants, then why the hell doesn't he just come out and say it? Why the games?"
Rukia sighed softly and squeezed her friend's hand.
"Please listen to me," she said softly, "My brother went through a lot because of Aizen's betrayal. A man he trusted set me up to be executed, and set Byakuya up to go along with it. He set the two of you against each other. He manipulated all of us very badly. And my brother was injured worse by that than by Gin's blade! Think about it, Renji. He trusted Aizen and he got hurt."
Renji lowered his eyes.
"He trusted me too," the redhead said softly, "and I turned on him. That's what this about, isn't it."
"I think that's part of it. But Renji, there is something more."
Rukia bit her lip, wondering if it was all right to tell him what she knew. It was private, but her instincts told her that if Renji knew, it would help to cure him of his anger.
"What is it?" Renji asked, his eyes showing the slightest glimmer of hope.
"Well," Rukia said softly, "I have been…noticing some things…about Byakuya."
"Like what?" he asked, leaning forward onto his elbows and forgetting his food.
"Like…when he was in the healing center and you handed him his tea. Your hands touched and Byakuya blushed."
"Oh that?" Renji said, brushing it off, "He said it was overly warm in there. I remember it was."
"You were blushing too, Renji."
"I was not!" the redhead snapped.
"I saw," Rukia insisted, "And I also saw the way he looks at you when you leave the office, because a few times, I was there when you left. And I hear it in the way he says your name."
Renji shook his head.
"Okay, so you think Taichou wants me? Is that it? Because that is just the opposite of the way he acts towards me! The guy acts like he can't fucking stand to look at me!"
"He almost killed you, Renji!"
"Yeah, I remember," said the redhead, with an edge of sarcasm, "I was there."
"Shut up and stop being so stupid!" Rukia said reproachfully, "Don't you get it? Byakuya is attracted to you, but he is afraid that if you know, you will find a way to use it against him!"
"Because I already turned against him once…is that what you're saying?"
"That, and he trusted Aizen, and look what happened. Renji, I don't think he wants to hurt you, but if you feel something for my brother, then you have to work with him and try to break through…try to earn his trust again. You won't be sorry. I promise. Just…go back to work…and give him a chance. I know you two can get through this. You need each other, Renji. Whether you know it or not, you and Byakuya need to help each other get over what happened!"
Renji fell silent, thinking through what Rukia had said. He finished eating, saying little more, then paid the bill for their lunch (making sure to leave a good tip for the waitress he had intimidated). He returned to the sixth division, ready to try what Rukia suggested.
He walked into the division and greeted his taichou with a smile.
"Good afternoon, Taichou," he said, smiling.
"Hmmm," said Byakuya, not looking up.
Renji shrugged it off and walked down to the squad kitchen, where he made Byakuya's tea. He smiled and whistled as he worked, and was in a better mood as he walked back and placed it on the noble's desk.
"Here you go, Taichou," he said, smiling again.
"Hmmm," muttered the noble, still not looking up.
As the afternoon wore on and storm clouds gathered over the Seireitei, Renji tried to hold onto a positive attitude and to break through the stubborn noble's silence. But try as he might, he could not breach his taichou's tight defenses. And by evening, he was angry again, so angry that his reiatsu sounded in his ears like the thunder that boomed outside. He was furious inside at his inability to get any kind of response, and felt stupid for even listening to Rukia. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. He swept his arm across his desk and sent his paperwork flying.
"Pick that up and sort it at once, Abarai," Byakuya said solemnly.
Renji stood up so fast, his chair went crashing into the wall behind him.
"FUCK YOU!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, thankful that they were alone in the office, "I've had all I can take!"
He shoved his desk so that it overturned, then stomped over to the noble's desk and grabbed Byakuya's forearms, pressing them down on the armrests of his chair, and glaring into the noble's surprised eyes.
"STOP FUCKING IGNORING ME!" he yelled.
He saw anger flash in Byakuya's eyes and felt the noble's reiatsu rising. Knowing he was about to launch into a reprimand, the redhead leaned forward and fastened his lips on Byakuya's, silencing him. The noble froze as Renji's lips caressed his, and as his tongue invaded, teasing Byakuya's until he could feel the noble's body shiver. Byakuya shoved him away, suddenly, pushing him so that he lost his balance, his back struck the wall and he slid down and sat on the floor, looking up into Byakuya's deadly furious expression.
"Go ahead," he said defeatedly, "Throw me out of the squad if it makes you feel better, but you and I both know what's really going on. We both feel something, Taichou! And that's why you're doing this. That's why you're ignoring me. You don't want to see it. You don't want to know. And…I guess it doesn't matter what I do. You're just going to push me away…aren't you?"
The anger had left the noble's eyes and Byakuya stared back at him, pale faced and silent.
"I'm just some shitty peasant," Renji said in a low, trembling voice, "not good enough for someone like you. Of course you'd ignore me. If not because I'm a peasant, then because I turned against you."
"I know you're still pissed about that."
"I'm not angry."
Renji met the sad, gray eyes with tear-filled red-brown ones.
"But you can't stand to look at me," Renji whispered, blinking back the tears, "and you'll never trust me again. And that's why you're trying to get me so pissed that I'll leave. You don't want to be the bad guy, ne?"
He got up slowly and moved to the chair beside Byakuya's desk. He sat down and looked Byakuya in the eyes.
"Taichou, you and I both got completely screwed by Aizen. There's peobably not anyone in the Seireitei who didn't. The guy was a head case. But we don't have to let him break us down. If he makes us turn against each other, then he wins. I know you don't want that."
"And the way to 'screw' Aizen is to start a relationship with each other?" Byakuya asked suddenly.
"No," said Renji, more softly, reaching out and taking Byakuya's hands in his, "We only need to forgive each other. And once we've done that, then we can look and see where we are."
Byakuya gazed into Renji's eyes for several long minutes. And Renji could feel his mind turning over all that had passed between them. The dark eyes were still sad and stormy. As they sat in silence, rain began to pound down outside the sixth division office. Byakuya blinked slowly and his eyes registered an answer. He took a soft breath and broke eye contact.
"You are dismissed," he said quietly, "Go home, Abarai."
Renji loosed a soft sound of discomfort and stood. Not looking at Byakuya, he moved slowly back to his desk and began to pick up the papers he had thrown around.
"Leave it," Byakuya said sternly, "Go home, Renji."
Renji bit his lips hard and froze for a moment, then flash stepped across the room and disappeared out the door, slamming it loudly and leaving Byakuya behind in the devastated office.
The noble looked at the door for several minutes, then rose onto unsteady legs, studying the results of his fukutaichou's rage. He knew he should be angry at the redhead for such an outburst. He should have forced Renji to clean up the mess he'd made. But something inside him wouldn't let him be angry with Renji. Some part of him felt weighted down with guilt that he had been so remote with the redhead, that Renji had been driven to near violence. He shivered, feeling again the angry grip of Renji's hands on his arms. He could have fought back. He could have hurt the redhead for laying hands on him, but he couldn't bring himself to go through with it. Instead, he felt icy and frozen inside, unable to move towards Renji, but unable to walk away.
"No wonder he's so angry," Byakuya whispered, "I am driving him crazy. I have to find a way to fix this"
He broke off as thunder boomed outside, shaking the building and the lights flickered, then went out. Byakuya stood for a moment in the darkness, letting his eyes adjust, then sighed and decided to clean up in the morning before anyone came in. He started across the room, intending to stay in his quarters, rather than to brave the storm and walk home. Halfway to his room, he turned back, remembering that Renji had been too angry to lock the door on his way out. He turned back, and as he did, it struck him that the door was now open and banging against the wall.
"R-renji?" he said softly.
Thunder boomed and the rain pounded down outside the open door. Byakuya swallowed hard, then moved forward and closed and locked the door. A moment later, something struck his head from behind and he felt himself falling. He tried to release a quick kido spell, but something hit him in the face, making his head strike the ground and leaving him stunned. A silver band snapped shut around his wrist, sealing away his spirit energy. Through the spots that danced before his eyes, the noble saw a cloaked and hooded figure. The person leaned over him and began to bind his wrists and ankles with kido.
"Wh-what are you d-doing?" he gasped, "Who are you?"
He peered into the darkness, trying to make out the face, but could not focus properly. Rough hands took hold of the ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu. The person brought it to his nose and breathed in deeply, then a knife appeared in his hand and sliced through the expensive material.
"What do you want?" Byakuya asked, struggling against his bonds.
The person paused, holding up the knife so that the moonlight reflected on its surface.
"I want you to pay," hissed a male voice.
The voice was familiar, but had been obscured, just enough that he couldn't place it. He struggled wildly, then, as the man leaned over him and slowly opened his clothing, cutting away any pieces that got in the way. Within minutes, Byakuya was naked, lying on the remains of his clothes, and his attacker paused and gazed down at him.
"Do you know…I've watched you for a really long time?" the man asked in that same obscured whisper, "I've watched you very closely, Kuchiki Byakuya. And you didn't know it, but I saw you naked like this quite a few times. You have a lovely body…but unfortunately, I'm a peasant…too low, too beneath you to ever have a hope of touching you. But I will touch you now. I will touch you, and you will have no way to stop me."
Byakuya threw himself against the kido as the man's body came down on top of his.
"You can't stop me."
But the words didn't stop him from trying. Again and again, he threw his weight against the restraints as the man on top of him began the promised assault. After several tries, the kido shattered and Byakuya turned, throwing the man off of him. He dragged himself to his feet and staggered to the door, only to find it was securely locked and the key was in his clothes. He turned back, just in time to see the dark form rise up in front of him. The man's weight crashed into him, throwing him against the door and making light explode in his head. He slid down the door, darkness closing in around him. The one thing he found himself thankful for was that he wouldn't feel it when the man assaulted and killed him.
Renji was almost back to his apartment before he realized that he had left his keys behind. He felt lucky that he always kept a spare key hidden for just such times. He entered the apartment building and climbed the dark stairs, listening to his neighbors grumbling about the lack of power. Reaching the top of the stairs, he turned down the hallway and made his way to his apartment. He reached above the door and felt for the key, only to find that it was gone.
"Great," he muttered, then he froze for a moment as he noticed that the door was ajar.
He pushed it back slowly, remaining out in the hallway and peering inside. He didn't see anyone, so he moved through the door warily and looked around. He sighed in resignation, noting that someone had stolen his TV and entertainment system.
"Aww, damn it," he muttered, "That kind of shit doesn't usually happen here."
In fact, he didn't remember a single case of anyone in the building getting robbed. He shook his head and closed the door, then started to clean up the mess the thieves had left behind. Finishing that, he climbed into the shower, grateful that the hot water didn't depend on electricity to keep working. He stood under the steamy water, letting the events of his long day fall away and trying to forget what an ass he'd made of himself, trying to seduce his taichou.
"Shoulda known he'd blow me off," he muttered, sighing in resignation, "I'm such a fucking idiot…"
He finished his shower and slipped into a yukata, then he moved back through the darkness and climbed into his bed. Despite his depression, sleep fell over him quickly and soon he was snoring softly.
He never heard the gas that hissed in from under the door, and never felt the hands that lifted him and carried him off into the night.