The Doragon Tatsujin
(Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write a sequel to Building From Ashes. Byakuya and Renji are happily married, but their fun was interrupted by hollows, a fact that left some readers desiring a proper wedding night for these two. They will have that, after a short bit of weirdness…and then the true strangeness will begin! Enjoy…and don't forget to review. I want to hear your thoughts and ideas!)
Chapter 1: Awakening
"So, Taichou, do you think there will still be cake when we get back?" Abarai Renji asked, swinging Zabimaru in a long arc.
The zanpakutou's serrated edge slashed through a large group of hollows, destroying ten as it extended and another ten as it returned. Byakuya raked the field of hollows with petal blades.
"Though I'm not partial to sweets, I imagine there will be," Byakuya replied, sending a second wave of petal blades into the cloud of hollows, "But given the number of hollows here, we may not return in time for anything but the farewells."
"Yeah," Renji agreed, sending Zabimaru swinging away again, "It's like hollow soup out here! You take out ten and ten more appear. But these are small fries. I wonder what the big boys are up to while these guys are keeping us busy here!"
Byakuya's eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
"An insightful question, Abarai," he said, reaching out with his senses, "Keep them busy, if you will. I will be back."
"Taichou? Hey!" Renji objected as Byakuya flash stepped away, "Kami, I hate it when he does that!"
"Abarai fukutaichou! We're here to help!"
A wave of Squad Six shinigami charged ahead into the sea of hollows, zanpakutou blazing. Renji watched as they attacked, then flash stepped past them and spotted another group of hollows approaching, these stronger than the first. Shaking his head, he raised Zabimaru.
"Ban kai, Hihio Zabimaru!"
The skeletal snake shrieked and rose up into the air. Renji sent it crashing through the lead hollows, then directed it to turn.
"Hikotsu Taihou!" he cried.
Red fire flared in the mouth of the snake and its great head lifted. Turning in a slow arc, it raked the field with red fire, incinerating hollow after hollow as it blazed across the field. Renji heard the approach of the support fighters and scanned the field again, reaching out to sense where Byakuya had gone.
"Damn! I stink at reading reiatsu trails!" he muttered, frowning in annoyance as menos grande appeared ahead of him, "Where the hell did he disappear to?"
The skeletal snake turned and shot across the battlefield, firing red flame and shrieking madly. It tore into the nearest two enemies, then slashed another on its return. He sent the serpent across the battlefield again, destroying the last of the menos grande, then looked around, studying the area carefully. The other Squad Six fighters were finishing off the last of the hollows and Byakuya was still nowhere to be seen. He reached out with his senses again and felt the touch of strong reiatsu in the distance.
"There you are," he said softly, turning and flash stepping toward it.
Byakuya flash stepped past the sea of minor hollows and the stronger group behind them…then further past the group of menos grande, honing in on the strong reiatsu he had sensed. It pulsed enticingly in the distance and it did not elude Kuchiki Byakuya that whatever manner of creature was the source of it, the beast either wanted to attract attention or was powerful enough that it didn't concern itself with whom it might attract.
The reiatsu did not have the feel of a hollow or any sort of being he was familiar with. It waited in the distance, either unaware of the approach of the Gotei 13 taichou, or uncaring.
The idea that it might be the latter sent a feeling of warning through the noble. He drew down his own reiatsu and approach quietly, his eyes scanning the rocky landscape around him. He didn't feel the presence of the hollows anymore. He sensed the presence of the support troops and he felt Renji's reiatsu reaching out in search of him and missing him as it swept over. He sighed and shook his head. He was going to have to spend some time with Renji practicing reading reiatsu trails…soon.
He realized suddenly that he was not alone. A dark form had appeared on the trail ahead of him and stood as though waiting. He was tall and dark haired with piercing black eyes and sharp, angular features. His clothing was odd, reminding Byakuya of the old stories in the Kuchiki family archive…the oldest of the myths…and the most dangerous.
He felt an odd sensation pass through him and realized that the other was reading him, perhaps trying to gauge his ability. He stood quietly, waiting for the other to move or speak. But the man said nothing…only continued to stare at the shinigami on the trail before him.
"Why are you here?" Byakuya asked finally, "Are you with the hollows that attacked the town?"
The dark eyes looked deeply into his. A feeling of warning passed through Byakuya and although he remained calm on the surface, his body tensed inwardly in preparation for battle.
"I am not with the hollows," the other said quietly, "I was only using them to find you."
"You were looking for me?"
The other nodded.
"You opened a Spirit Link."
Byakuya's eyes narrowed.
"What has the Spirit Link to do with anything?"
"Obviously, your understanding of the Spirit Link is incomplete. But that will change. It will change when you learn who you are. I shall put you on the path," the man said, placing a hand on his weapon.
Senbonzakura was in his hand and releasing almost instantly, but even Kuchiki Byakuya's incredible speed was not fast enough. In a heartbeat, he stranger was inside his guard. Byakuya felt a shock of pain and looked down to meet the surreal sight of a blade buried deep in his body. The other was looking deeply into his shocked eyes. He placed his palm over the frozen shinigami's heart.
"Awaken," he said calmly, and he tore his weapon free.
The air around them flashed with power. It exploded through Byakuya, lighting his body from within. He staggered back, bringing up his weapon, but blinded by the blaze of power around him. He felt a change in his reiatsu that he couldn't begin to fathom. The dark eyes continued to burn through him…watching carefully as the power coalesced around him and Kuchiki Byakuya began to fall.
He had never encountered someone who moved so quickly…who attacked with such speed…who could overwhelm him in a single charge. He felt the eyes follow him as he dropped to the ground at his feet. As consciousness left him, he heard that voice again.
"We will meet again when you are ready, Kuchiki Byakuya."
The man disappeared and his reiatsu faded. Byakuya stared for a moment longer at the place he had stood on the trail, then his eyes closed and the darkness closed in.
Byakuya stirred softly.
"Byakuya…Byakuya, wake up."
His eyes opened and he struggled to focus on his surroundings. The bright light of the white walls and the feel of the bed he lay in told him he had been taken to the healing center. He moaned softly in protest and squinted, trying to bring Renji's face into focus. The brown eyes that looked into his were filled with concern.
"You're finally awake again!" Renji exclaimed, breaking into a relieved smile.
He tried to sit up and immediately regretted it as a wave of vertigo sent his head spinning painfully.
"Renji," he gasped softly, "How did I get here?"
"You don't remember?"
Byakuya shook his head, sending another wave of dizziness through him. Renji pushed him back down and gave him a warm kiss.
"Lie down, will you? You can't just jump out of bed after being unconscious for a week."
The noble's eyes widened.
"Hey…you look kind of pale. Lie down, Byakuya. I'll be back with some tea."
But his fukutaichou was already out the door.
Byakuya sat up slowly, trying to remember anything. He remembered the wedding…kissing Renji…the sounding of the alarm…
"Here, drink this," Renji said, reappearing with a cup of hot green tea.
He accepted the tea wordlessly and sipped at it, still trying to remember.
He looked up at Renji.
"You say I've…been here for seven days?" he asked softly.
"You remember anything about how you ended up unconscious?" he asked.
"Not really…no," he admitted, "I remember little beyond our wedding and the sounding of the alarms."
"We went to the West Rukon," Renji said, sipping his own tea, "We were pummeling some minor hollows and you left because you sensed something stronger ahead of us. After we finished off the hollows, I sent everyone back and I went looking for you. I found you unconscious with your zanpakutou drawn."
Byakuya felt a flash of pain through his midsection, a warm palm resting on his breast. He looked down and saw no sign of injury to his body.
"There was no…injury?" he asked.
His eye fell on a strange marking over his heart. There had been a scar there before…one left by Gin's blade as it nearly tore the life out of him. The scar, it seemed, had been replaced with a darker marking…He looked more closely and saw Renji leaning forward, staring as well.
"Byakuya?" he said questioningly, "Byakuya, what is that?"
He shook his head.
"I don't know," he admitted, studying it carefully, "I do know that it wasn't there before."
Renji leaned closer.
"It's a dragon," he said, reaching out to touch the small marking.
"Yes, I see that, Renji," Byakuya said with an edge of sarcasm in his voice, "what I don't know is how it got there."
"Being somewhat knowledgeable about your body, I can assure you that it wasn't there before the wedding," Renji said, stroking the marking with a fingertip.
"I am aware of that as well, Renji."
Renji gazed at him in confusion.
"So…you flash stepped off down that trail and you met someone who knocked you out and gave you a dragon tattoo?" he said, trying not to smile.
"Shut up, Abarai!" Byakuya snapped, pushing his hand away.
"Well," Renji went on, "what I object to is having to sit here for seven days, waiting for you to wake up. You scared the daylights out me, Byakuya! Not to mention, we've been married for a week and have never even been together as a married couple. I hear the reception was fun, though. Everyone had fun even though we were out destroying hollows. It's not fair, I tell you!"
Byakuya felt another wave of dizziness pass through him, He leaned forward and rested a hand over his eyes.
"You okay?" Renji asked quickly, "Should I call a healer?"
"No…I'm fine, Renji. I'm fine. I'm…just still getting my bearings."
"Rukia's been down here every day, coming to see you. And I've been buried in paperwork, thanks to you! It wasn't enough that the pre-wedding uproar kept us out of the office so much. I had to file all of your reports and mine…although…it felt kind of good, running things…"
"I scheduled and ran the training…drew up and posted the deployments…"
"managed a few hollow attacks, put in requisitions…"
Byakuya leaned forward and grabbed Renji, silencing him with a kiss. Renji looked back at him questioningly.
"Arigato…for keeping things in order while I was unconscious Renji…and…I'm sorry I worried you."
"I'm sorry I was talking your ear off, Byakuya," Renji said, resting his head on his taichou's shoulder, "I get like that…"
"When you are worried," Byakuya finished, "But you needn't worry. I am fine. I do want to get out of here."
He started to get up, but was pushed back again.
"Unohana taichou wants you to stay for one more night…for observation."
"They've had a week to observe me all they wanted," Byakuya said, trying to get up again.
"Hey, will you please just do what they tell you? For a change?"
He saw the worried look in Renji's eyes and nodded.
"Very well, then," he said, lying back against the pillows and closing his eyes.
He rested quietly, enjoying the feel of Renji's reiatsu brushing against his. Renji's head dropped onto his shoulder again and his hand slipped quietly into his taichou's.
"Renji," Byakuya said quietly, "It's wrong that you had to spend your wedding night alone…"
"I wasn't alone," Renji corrected him, "I was here, with you."
"That's not what I meant, Renji."
Renji chuckled softly.
"Well, there's plenty of time to make up for that when we go home. We'll have our wedding night…and our honeymoon," Renji said, his eyes blinking sleepily.
Byakuya found himself smiling at the thought.
"I look forward to that as well, Renji," he said, squeezing the hand that held his.