(AN**This is an idea that kept getting in the way of my muse until I couldn't stand it anymore. Warning…contains references to non-con sex and the aftermath in the beginning.)
Chapter 1: The Promise
Byakuya looked into his dressing area mirror and slowly wound the ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu around his throat, then stepped back and examined himself to make sure everything was as it should be. Seeing nothing missing or out of place, he turned out of the dressing room, crossed his bedroom and walked out into the gardens. Rukia was already at the breakfast table, causing him to remember suddenly that she was going to the living world on assignment. She looked up and smiled as he sat down at the table.
"Good morning, Nii-sama," she said, "I hope you are well this morning."
It was the same greeting she had given him every day since he had taken her into the family.
"Good morning, Rukia," he said, nodding and accepting a cup of tea from an attendant, "I trust you are ready for your assignment?"
"Yes, Nii-sama," Rukia answered, "I have to leave right after breakfast."
A worried look crossed her face and Byakuya frowned thoughtfully.
"Is something wrong?" he asked.
"Well," Rukia said haltingly, "Nii-sama…I was supposed to meet Renji last night and he never showed up here."
"Hmmm," Byakuya said, thinking, "That is odd, because I excused him early so that the two of you would be able to visit before you left."
"You did?" Rukia asked, looking surprised, "That was very…nice of you, Nii-sama,"
"I was not being nice," the noble countered, "Abarai fukutaichou finished all of his work early, so I felt it was right to grant his request."
Rukia chuckled softly.
"Well, thank you anyway, Nii-sama. Anyway, I wanted to go and see him this morning and I sent a hell butterfly, but he's not answering. So…I was wondering…"
"You would like me to summon Renji and…give him a message?" Byakuya asked meaningfully.
"Would you, Nii-sama?" Rukia asked, looking so hopeful that Byakuya couldn't help but nod an affirmative.
"Thank you so much, Nii-sama!" Rukia said, jumping up and bowing in gratitude, "He has to respond if you summon him!"
"Yes," agreed Byakuya, "I do have something I wish to discuss with him anyway, but I will tell him you said goodbye."
"Again, thank you," Rukia said, smiling, "Well, I'm off, Nii-sama."
"I know you will complete your mission successfully and bring pride to our family. Do proceed with due caution. Ukitake taichou shared the information about the mission in our taichou's meeting and you will be in the territory of some tough hollows."
"I will be careful…and I will make you proud, Nii-sama," Rukia promised, then she flash stepped away.
Byakuya was surprised at how keenly he felt her departure, but that had been happening more and more often since her mission with Kurosaki Ichigo to save Inoue Orihime and to defeat Aizen's plans. There was still significant danger in the current missions to Hueco Mundo and he actually hated the thought of her going there, but since he had opened the proverbial 'can of worms' by authorizing Ukitake taichou to promote her as he saw fit, in light of her performance in Hueco Mundo, he couldn't demean her by standing in her way of doing the duties assigned to her. She had deserved the promotion, in any case, and it would have been too obvious he was holding her back if he did not agree to it. So really, he had been cornered. In any event, it was done and there was no taking it back.
He turned his attention instead to his fukutaichou's odd reaction to his commendation and recommendation for advancement.
"Taichou, I am grateful, of course for the commendation and the chance to advance, but I must decline the invitation to take the taichou's exam and promote."
Repeated discussions had yet to yield any information as to why, so Byakuya was left to wonder. He knew, of course, that Renji had a longstanding desire to surpass him, and although that mission had changed in that his fukutaichou sought his goal in a more respectful way, he still held it as a goal. It felt wrong that Renji would let something like that keep him from advancing, but then, the redhead had his own way of thinking. It wasn't for Byakuya to make the decision for him, and out of respect, he wouldn't try.
Byakuya shook his head and put the thought out of his mind. It did no good to dwell on it, as Renji had already declined the invitation. There was really not anything he could do about it. But he had been planning to talk to Renji to make sure that the next time he was offered advancement, he would promote.
Byakuya summoned a hell butterfly.
"Renji," he said quietly, "Please report to Kuchiki Manor as soon as possible to meet to me regarding several important matters."
He sent the butterfly winging away and set off on his way around the gardens. It being a day off, he was free to roam the gardens or walk out to the waterfall to relax beneath the sakura trees that grew there. He made a plan to indulge in both while he waited for Renji to arrive.
After a long walk through the gardens and a leisurely cup of green tea, he was frustrated to notice that Renji had neither arrived, nor returned his message. He sighed in frustration and opted to change tactics. He used his reiatsu to seek Renji's, but found that he could barely sense the redhead. Surprisingly, although it was a day off for both of them, he seemed to be at the sixth division and concealing his reiatsu.
"Hmmm…" the noble mused.
He left the gardens and walked out Kuchiki Manor and into the busy streets. As he walked, he wondered what would cause Renji to act so strangely…and not just to refuse to respond to his taichou's message, but to miss seeing Rukia before she left on her first mission to Hueco Mundo as a fukutaichou.
Truth be told, he was relatively certain that the Renji he knew, wouldn't neglect either of those things. And that made him flash step a bit faster and avoid people he would have greeted politely, had he not felt such urgency. He reached the division headquarters and found the front door locked.
Upon entering the office, he saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a closer examination of Renji's desk revealed an odd smear of blood, as though it had been on his hand and he had leaned on the desk as he passed it, on his way to his quarters. He found a few more blood spatters on the floor and wondered if the redhead had been sparring with Ikkaku, as he sometimes liked to, and perhaps had gotten beat up and a little drunk on the liquor that Ikakku always carried around. But he had warned Renji once before about coming to work drunk, and the redhead had never repeated the offense. It seemed odd that he would choose now to revert to that. Byakuya could think of no time recently that he had seen Renji depressed of angry. To the contrary, Aizen's capture had , if anything, made him harbor higher spirits. He couldn't think of any reason Renji would be depressed.
He moved out of the main office and into the hallway, listening for any odd noises coming from Renji's quarters. He still felt the slight touch of familiar reiatsu beneath the concealing kido. It might fool others, but Byakuya was powerful, and he had the added advantage of being Renji's taichou. So no concealing Renji could do would hide him from Byakuya.
The noble paused outside the redhead's door and listened. He thought he might have heard a soft groan, and he knocked, but there was no response. He knocked again and called out to his fukutaichou, but again received no response. Feeling that he had no other choice, Byakuya used a quick kido spell on the lock and the door popped open.
Byakuya opened the door slightly and said Renji's name again, but heard no response. He peeked around the partially opened door and caught his breath in surprise. Renji lay huddled in the middle of the floor, collapsed in a half-dressed heap with blood leaking from several places.
"Renji!" Byakuya exclaimed softly, dropping to his knees next to the redhead and quickly examining him.
He noticed immediately, the odd variance in Renji's reiatsu, indicating he had been drugged. It also made more sense that he hadn't responded to anything. If he wasn't cognizant, then he couldn't exactly respond. There were defensive cuts and bruises, as though he had been fighting someone who was holding him down. He caught his breath softly as he moved down the redhead's body, still looking for signs of damage, and found that his hakama had been hastily pulled up and improperly tied. And there was blood leaking through the fabric from between Renji's thighs.
Shaking his head, Byakuya started to lift the injured man to take him to the fourth divison, but as he did, Renji's eyes opened and met his dizzily.
"T-tai…chou," he mumbled, "Wh-wha? How did you…? Why are you here?"
"Be quiet, Abarai," Byakuya said calmly, "You have been injured. I am taking you to the fourth division for treatment."
Renji groaned and reached for his midsection. He said nothing more as Byakuya lifted him and started to carry him towards the door.
"Where are we goin' Taichou?" he mumbled.
"To the fourth divison," Byakuya answered quietly.
He was completely unprepared when the redhead reared up in his arms and twisted so that Byakuya simply dropped him. The redhead's body thumped to the floor and he made a deep, guttural exclamation of pain.
"N-no!" he groaned fitfully as Byakuya tried to collect him again.
"What do mean, no?" the noble asked, "You have been badly injured, Renji. You need a healer."
"NO!" the redhead shouted, tearing away and looking back at his taichou with oddly wild eyes, "You can't take me there, Taichou! Please…"
Byakuya frowned and his eyes widened.
Renji's eyes met his pleadingly.
"Taichou, please listen to me. I don't…know. I mean, I know what happened, but I don't remember anything!"
"You were drugged, Renji," Byakuya told him, "I sensed it in your reiatsu when I found you. You have to…"
"NO!" the redhead shouted, drowning him out and making himself double over in pain. Byakuya moved forward and dropped to his knees in front of him, meeting his eyes quietly in the darkness of the room. Renji's chest heaved softly as he caught his breath and went on, his voice choked with emotion.
"T-taichou, you know it will get around, and I…I don't want to have everyone know about it. You know what they'll think! You know!"
And thinking it through, Byakuya realized that Renji was right. Although there was certainly a protocol for the treatment of officers who suffered sexual assault, everyone knew stories of those who actually reported the crime…
"You do not have to go to the fourth division," Byakuya said finally, "but you will come with me now to Urahara Kisuke's shop. It is late and likely no one will see us arrive there."
"Okay," Renji sighed, sagging and almost falling before Byakuya moved forward and caught him, "But can I have a shower first? I want to…"
"No," Byakuya said firmly, but gently, "because if we are going to find out who did this to you, then we need to preserve evidence."
He paused as he realized that Renji was staring at him incredulously.
"What is it, Abarai?" he asked, blinking.
"Well," Renji said softly, "It's just that…you said…you said 'we.' Like…you were planning to help or something."
Byakuya met his eyes with unusual warmth.
"You are my fukutaichou and someone attacked you," he said simply.
He set Renji's uniform back in order and retied the belt at his waist. Renji stared down at Byakuya's hands as they worked, then looked up at him with gratitude in the heartbreakingly devastated eyes.
"Thanks, Taichou," he said softly, "Really, I mean it. You know, if you don't want to involve yourself…"
"Nonsense. As I said before, you are my fukutaichou…and you are also my sister's best friend. I will take you to Karakura Town and we will deal with this together."
"But…how? I mean, I don't remember what happened. If I don't remember what happened, then what can we do?"
Byakuya shook his head.
"Do not worry about that. We will deal with that when we reach Urahara-san's shop. Come, Renji."
He opened a private senkaimon, so that there would be no military record of Renji traveling there, then the two stepped into the precipice world and began traversing the distance to the shop. As they walked, Byakuya noticed the discomfort in Renji's step, and the way he winced every so often.
"Are you all right to walk?" Byakuya asked.
"I'll be okay, I think," Renji said, "Walking is just, sorta painful right now."
"That is understandable," Byakuya answered, "I can carry you if you prefer."
Renji gave a sad half-hearted chuckle.
"Yeah…well, I would, but, I think I want to hang on to what little dignity I have left."
Byakuya didn't know what to say, so he simply kept walking and gently urging Renji on. But a moment later, a sob escaped the redhead and he dropped to his knees.
"I'm sorry, Taichou," he moaned softly, "It's just…fuck, this hurts. It really fucking…hurts."
Byakuya looked down at the pained expression, the fury and discomfort in the lovely brown eyes and felt an ache inside. He approached Renji slowly and looked down at him in silence for a moment. Renji sniffed softly and brushed a tear away from his eyes. He got the surprise of his life as Byakuya moved closer and simply lifted the injured redhead into his arms. Renji tensed, ready to struggle, but was stopped and left breathless by his taichou's next words.
"Renji, please hold still. Let me take care of you."
Renji stared into the dark gray eyes of his taichou and found only concern there, not admonishment or criticism or anything like what he expected. That fact calmed him inside, and Renji relaxed in the noble's arms and let himself be carried through the precipice world and into Karakura Town. Byakuya dropped down into a park, then turned and flash stepped towards the shop. Renji was grateful for the fact that it was dark in Karakura Town and no one seemed to be around. He only hoped that Ururu and Jinta would have gone to bed when he arrived.
Renji gave a soft sigh of relief when Kisuke and Ichigo answered the door, both dressed in sleeping yukatas and yawning intermittently.
"Renji!" Ichigo said, his eyes widening as they took in the sight of the battered redhead, "What happened?"
Byakuya let Renji down onto his feet.
"Abarai fukutaichou was attacked," Byakuya stated carefully, "and he was not comfortable seeiking treatment in the Seireitei. I would consider it a personal favor if you were to examine him and to collect possible evidence so that we might pursue the one who committed this crime."
"Ah…I see," said Urahara, nodding, "Come this way. Ichigo will make us some tea while I see to Renji. Kuchiki taichou, you can stay with Ichi…"
"No," Renji said suddenly, his eyes filling with pain again, "I want Taichou with me."
Byakuya looked up at him in surprise.
"You…want me with you?" he repeated uncertainly.
"Y-yeah…if that's okay."
"Of course," Byakuya answered, "If that is what you want."
"Yeah," Renji said, blinking and sniffing softly, "I feel kinda sick."
"That's to be expected," Kisuke said bracingly, "Come with me, now."
He led Byakuya and a reluctant looking Renji down the hallway and into one of the bedrooms, where he instructed Renji to undress in the bathroom and to leave his clothes there.
"Don't shower or anything yet. I need to examine you first."
Renji nodded briefly and went into the bathroom, leaving Kisuke and Byakuya alone for a moment.
"It's bad, isn't it?" Kisuke asked softly.
"There was quite a bit of blood," Byakuya noted, "and signs of defensive wounds."
"He put up a good fight."
"Yes, but he was drugged and…"
"Yeah, I got that," Kisuke said, "And I know why you came to me. Don't worry, Kuchiki taichou, I will take good care of him. And no one will hear about this from me."
"Arigato," Byakuya said softly.
"No problem," Kisuke said as Renji returned, dressed in the yukata.
Kisuke directed Renji to lie down, then leaned over him.
"Are you comfortable?" he asked.
As Renji opened his mouth to answer, the shopkeeper sent a shock of kido through him, sending him off to sleep.
"I'll ask questions when he wakes," the shopkeeper told Byakuya, "But I didn't want him to be uncomfortable. And I wanted to ask you to be sure. Are you sure you don't want to go to the fourth division?"
"Renji wants to avoid this getting around. We figured that you would be discreet."
"And I will."
He went silent as he turned his attention to the unconscious man on the bed. He opened Renji's yukata and carefully examined him all over, taking a few images of the defensive wounds. He parted the redhead's thighs, wincing at the sight of a substantial amount of blood. He took samples of the blood, reiatsu and semen, then checked under his fingernails and examined the clothing he had left in the bathroom.
"I need to run this to my lab. You can wake him up if you want so that he can clean up. I have all I need to get started."
Byakuya watched in silence as Kisuke left the room. He gazed down at Renji's sleeping form for a moment, then lifted him and carried him to the bathroom. He carefully bathed the redhead, stopping to address Renji's wounds as he encountered them, then dressed him in a yukata and left him sleeping in the bed. He started to leave the room, but as he did, Renji's voice rose up in the darkness.
"Taichou? Do you mind…stayin' for a while?"
Byakuya turned back and settled quietly at Renji's side, saying nothing as the redhead drifted off to sleep. When he was sure Renji was not awake, he slipped a hand into the redhead's.
"Do not worry," he said, half to himself, "Tomorrow, we will begin the search for the one who did this to you!"