(Lovingly dedicated to Lightning the Flash and others who PMed to ask for this new and different pairing. Thanks to you all and I hope you enjoy and review in support of the story! :) Thanks! Love, Spunky)
Chapter 1: At First Sight
Renji rolled over in his bed, checked the time and groaned at how awfully early it was. But he dragged himself grudgingly out of bed and stumbled through his cold apartment to the bathroom. Thankfully, being up early meant that the water for his shower would be comfortably warm. He yawned widely and slipped out of his yukata, stopping to drop it into the clothesbasket. He had come a long way since the Rukongai, and he'd be damned, he thought, if he'd fail to appreciate having a space, any clean, neat space of his own. He kept his small apartment tidy, despite having grown up in a place where everything was dirty and food, water and shelter were luxuries.
He could have gotten a larger, and maybe nicer place, but even the relatively poor apartment was an upgrade from curling up in the corners of leaky, abandoned buildings and pissing in the bushes. And besides, his taichou's former fukutaichou charged an arm and a leg for the one extravagance that Renji allowed himself…sunglasses.
He shook his head and chuckled softly, wondering at himself. But he couldn't seem to help it. Ever since traveling to the living world and seeing the wildly different types they had there…
"Aw, hell," he sighed, sliding in under the hot spray and closing his eyes.
The water ran through his long, red hair and down the tanned and tattooed length of his athletic body. He felt the soft burn of Zabimaru in his mind as the nue began to wake as well.
"Up kinda early, ne Renji?" complained the baboon, "Snakey is still snoring…too damned loudly!"
"Ah, shut up," he thought back, frowning, "Taichou said we need to leave early. It's not every day we escort someone into the spirit dimension. And Taichou's getting married to a princess."
He'd been relieved to hear that the princess was a third child of the king, making it unnecessary for Byakuya to leave his home at Kuchiki Manor and his position in the Gotei 13. The princess, instead, would be moving to the Kuchiki estate and living there.
"So…why is he having us go with him?" asked the snake boy, sleepily.
"I thought you were asleep," Renji thought back.
"I couldn't sleep with you making such noise in the shower and the empress of big butts talking too much!" Snakey answered, yawning widely as he spoke.
"Well, you need to be on your toes, anyway, so wake up," Renji said shortly, "And will the two of you leave me alone while I'm showering?"
"What's the matter?" asked the baboon (Renji could feel her smile), "Are you going to masturbate?"
"Of course he is!" laughed Snakey, "Look how big…"
"Shut the hell up, will you?" Renji snapped, "and get the hell out of my head so I can shower in peace! You think fucking Senbonzakura torments Taichou while he's in the goddamned shower?"
He could almost see the two exchange an amused glance before descending into a fit of giggles and fading from his consciousness.
"Fucking perverts," he muttered aloud.
He glanced down and sighed, actually feeling more than a little aroused from the dream he'd been having before he woke up. He'd had the same dream for several nights running…about standing somewhere among a grove of trees, talking to Kuchiki taichou. That part was pretty normal. What wasn't normal, and what took him by surprise every time was the sudden approach of…someone. He never got a good look at the person, but whoever it was, seemed to strike at all of his senses at once. He'd wondered if it was a somewhat perverted dream about his 'almost sister' Rukia, or if he was attracted to Byakuya and afraid, even in his dreams to approach the Kuchiki clan leader. Because the person carried that soft sakura scent and also had silken black hair, but had smiling lips and wide, luminous blue eyes of a shade he'd never seen before. He couldn't tell if the person was male or female. All he knew was that, whoever it was, left his body aching to be touched and anxious for release. He sighed softly, closing his mind tightly to the interference of his zanpakutou, and sliding a hand down his wet abdomen. As his fingers wrapped around his erection, he emitted a soft sound of surrender and called that person back into his mind.
He could almost feel himself sinking deeply into an eager mouth that was soft and warm and slightly sweet. He could smell the scent of sakura that radiated around the person. He didn't need to imagine whether the person was male or female. That didn't mean shit, he thought, to someone like him. In the Rukongai, there were plenty of kids of the same gender, who bonded during the struggle to survive. And no one was going to begrudge them what pleasure they might find in what could be a shockingly short union. And same sex joinings were really a better option, considering that they had a hard time managing to keep themselves fed and didn't want to have to try to provide for babies. Babies didn't live long in a lot of cases. And Renji found that he would rather they not be born, than to see one lost to starvation or the violence that was rampant in the lower Rukongai, where he lived. Of course, occasionally, a little bit of noble blood would appear in a Rukon-born kid and even a guy could find himself in trouble.
He'd wanted to ask Kuchiki taichou how that noble ability worked, but even now that their efforts in the capture of Aizen Sousuke had eased the tension between him, Byakuya was still his taichou and Renji was still the man's subordinate. And he didn't know if he ever dared broach such a personal subject with someone so reserved. He'd asked Rukia once, but she had just hit him and told him to mind his own business. It wasn't like he'd ever have a noble boyfriend anyway. He figured it was her way of avoiding telling him she was too afraid to ask, even being part of the family.
Renji let out a long breath, going back to thinking about that dream, the sudden meeting of his red-brown eyes with those lovely blue ones, the sounding of a voice that, although clear in his dreams, could not be conjured in the daytime, the brush of soft skin under his rough hands, slender hands running down his strong chest, sliding down his abdomen and wrapping around his swollen cock as he and his dream lover exchanged hot, wet kisses. He felt warm lips traveling down his body, sucking hungrily at his skin, devouring the drops of moisture the shower had left there and tracing every inch of the black markings that covered his body, following their path down the back of his neck, over his muscled shoulders, down his chest and back, over his abdomen and down onto his thighs. And when he lowered his eyes, he could imagine a gently bowed head, long strands of black hair, and those sweet blue eyes rising to meet his as that ungodly, pretty mouth wrapped around his cock and began to suck. He could imagine sinking his fingers into the satiny hair and encouraging that mouth to move faster along his length as his hips moved and he fucked that oh, so wonderful mouth until his breath shortened, and his lover took him over the edges of bliss and into oblivion.
In his fantasy, his lover moaned around his cock, swallowing the sharp pulses of his release, then gently licking any stray bits from his pleasantly sated length. Then, they returned to a heady barrage of kisses and he moved to pleasure his lover.
He opened his eyes and watched as the water washed away the milky streams of his release. His head spun in the afterglow of orgasm and his heart pounded beneath his softly heaving breast. His mind wandered back to his ambiguous sexual orientation. And he still wasn't sure whether he favored a male or female partner. He didn't like the weak, needy type of woman, or the shrill, demanding ones. The flirty, busty type were good for a short term respite from loneliness, but usually flitted away before the bloom of first fuck had faded. It was difficult to find a woman strong enough to stand on her own, a little screwy in the head enough to be fun, who wouldn't obsess over every little thing and would be as good in a fight as in bed…one who didn't care so much whether he entered through the back door or front, but liked to be taken down suddenly and fucked a little bit roughly. Those were the characteristics most closely associated with survival in the Rukon, and they had certainly colored his vision.
When it came to men, he found himself equally choosy. His didn't enjoy a guy that acted like a woman or was overly moody, but he wasn't into crazy hardcore guys, like the ones in the eleventh…or even the full of themselves, and yet still kind of deadly ones like Yumichika. The guys he'd been to bed with were more the friendly comrade types like Shuuhei and Kira, who hooked up with him to ease their mutual loneliness as they waited longingly to be knocked off their feet by THE ONE.
Renji had to laugh at himself, being as worldly and wise as he was in other ways, but being so blatantly naïve about true love. That 'one' might well not exist, but he sought that person anyway and held up each lover to that high, and as of yet, unattained standard.
"Kami, I'm so stupid."
He kicked himself pretty often for not settling down with Shuuhei when he'd asked, but his heart, though having loved being with the squad nine fukutaichou as a 'friend with benefits,' had not been snared tightly enough for him to settle down at the time. Then, Shuuhei had hooked up with Kira and even the benefits ended. They were all still friends, but Renji was lonely and still no closer to being struck by love.
But he still had a pulse and he was still breathing, so there was still hope…
He blinked the water out of his eyes and realized that it was getting colder. And he washed his hair hurriedly before slipping out of the shower and dressing quickly. He left his apartment, ignoring the soft snickers as his mind opened to Zabimaru again.
"Oi, Renji," Snakey laughed, "Just come to your inner world and screw her! She just sits and plays with herself while you don't know she's watching you…"
His reiatsu burned softly in warning and the nue quieted. He flash stepped to the sixth division and arrived just as Byakuya did.
"Good morning Taichou," he greeted the noble, studying the beautiful formal kimono Byakuya wore, "You look great."
"Arigato, Renji," Byakuya said, not smiling, but his dark eyes revealing a hint of gratitude, "And thank you for being on time."
"Well," the redhead said, looking around expectantly, "wouldn't want to keep your pretty fiancée waiting, ne?"
"No," the noble agreed, "Although Kumi is quite patient, it is not right to keep her waiting longer than necessary."
"Right," said Renji, falling in with him as he entered the division office.
He waited for a few minutes, watching quietly as Byakuya finished a few last tasks and prepared to leave.
"Taichou," he said, as they walked back to the front door, "Would you mind if I asked you a question? It's, uh…kinda personal."
"Go ahead, Abarai," Byakuya said serenely, turning towards the edge of town and flash stepping forward.
"I was just wondering," he said, keeping step alongside the noble, "You put up such a fight against an arranged marriage before. Are you really okay with this? I mean, not to pry, but I think it would be sad to spend the rest of your life with someone you didn't love."
Byakuya let out an amused breath.
"I have been passionately in love, Abarai. It was a long time ago, yes, but I do remember. And it was a surprise when I was chosen to wed Kumi. But I traveled to the spirit dimension and I met her. And we got on pleasantly…and I do not wish to spend the rest of my life alone. So…I am accepting…even rather happy with the arrangement. And Kumi and I have something in common. She was actually engaged once before. Her husband to be died in a battle with a demon, hours before they were to take their vows. It was a union of choice, blessed by the king and she was understandably devastated. This common ground we have walked has given us a foundation to build upon. I would be lying if I said I knew what would happen. But I think that, for an arranged marriage, it bodes well for both of us."
"That's good, Taichou. I'm glad for you both."
Byakuya paused for a moment, meeting his eyes with gratitude.
"Arigato, Renji," he said, the ghost of a smile touching his fine lips.
"Say, uh…where's your noble entourage? I thought they'd be at the division."
"They are meeting us at the dimension wall," Byakuya said, flash stepping forward again.
"Ah," said Renji, following.
He managed to keep himself quiet for a few long minutes before a question occurred to him that had actually been bothering him ever since Byakuya had asked him to join the noble entourage traveling to the spirit dimension for the royal nuptials.
"Taichou," he said, before he could think better of it, "Why did you ask me along on this? I mean, I'm not a noble…"
"No," said Byakuya, observing him out of the corner of one gray eye, "but you are my fukutaichou…and you are a friend. And I think that among the royals, you will find less unpleasantness over class distinction than you will among the noble clans. There isn't the struggle for social position that usually gets in the way. That is not to say that you won't encounter some of that here, but it will likely come from among the nobles rather than the royals."
"Yeah?" grinned Renji, "Well both are considered steps above a lower Rukon-born like me, ne?"
Byakuya stopped again and met his eyes directly.
"I do not think of you that way, Renji. And I would like it if you would not think of yourself that way. We are all part of the three worlds…and our king created us all. We all have our place in those worlds and we serve our purposes. One is as important as the next, even if some are more lauded."
Renji chuckled good-naturedly.
"Rukia's going to be there?"
"Of course," said Byakuya, "She is family."
"Aha!" Renji laughed, "She put you up to this! She thought she'd feel out of place being the only peasant among the nobles and royals and she twisted your arm!"
"I beg your pardon," Byakuya said, a bit icily, "No one 'puts me up to' anything, Abarai. It is an important occasion to me and I would like for my family and friends to be present."
He fixed the redhead in place with a stern eye.
"Even the more troublesome ones."
"Troublesome?" Renji laughed, "Me? That's not nice, Taichou."
They flash stepped on down the trail together.
"So, are there any special rules I should follow?" asked Renji.
"Stay close to me, keep your mouth closed, no foul language, wash and dress properly and do not flirt with anyone, male or female," Byakuya said firmly, "I have had suitable attire sent ahead for us, so you will be properly turned out. But I cannot manage your behavior. It is up to you to do that. I am sure Rukia will remind you if you overstep."
"Great," sighed Renji, rolling his eyes.
They flash stepped out of the trees and spotted the entourage waiting. Byakuya moved to the front and approached a group of nobles that stood waiting. A slender, black-haired man dressed in the dark blue uniform of Byakuya's personal guard stood with his back to them, but turned and broke into a stunning smile as Byakuya approached him.
"Byakuya-sama," he said, bowing in greeting.
As he rose and looked up at them, his eyes struck Renji with the force of monsoon. The redhead swallowed hard as he fell into those lovely blue eyes that looked exactly like the ones he'd been seeing in his dreams.
"Tetsuya, I would like you to meet my fukutaichou, Abarai Renji," Byakuya said, nodding, "And Renji, this is my cousin and personal bodyguard, Kuchiki Tetsuya."
"Pleased to meet you, Abarai-san," Tetsuya said, extending a hand and meeting his eyes warmly, "My cousin has told me a lot about you."
"Y-yeah," Renji managed in a thick voice, taking hold of the noble's hand as a hard jolt left him almost breathless, "Nice to meet you."
Oh my kami…it's him!