Chapter 7: Flashes

Byakuya kept his eyes closed and barely responded as the man lying on his back, slowly prepared his already slicked entrance. His pale fingers curled, clenching the rumpled and bloodstained bed sheets as Aizen continued, working to reach the sensitive place inside him. He couldn't help but moan silently and pant as the odd mix of pleasure and pain mingled in his trapped body. He threw all of his effort into focusing on the red-haired man, as Aizen's fingers retreated, and the tyrant king positioned himself to enter his consort. The pain of being penetrated was less than it had been the first time, in his body…but the damage to his heart seemed unbearable.

R-ren…ji, his aching mind recalled as Aizen curled his fingers into Byakuya's long hair and tightened them.

His mind spun slowly into numb acceptance as Aizen's hardness penetrated him. Aizen's reiatsu thickened around them until Byakuya's trembling body had no choice but to respond to him. There was nothing he could do…yet. So he laid beneath the tyrant king and tried to ignore the disgusting abuse of his body.

It doesn't matter, as long as I remember his face, his voice, the feel of his hands…Renji. I don't know if he is real, but he feels real.

His thoughts left him for a moment as Aizen thrust deeply inside him, moaning and panting. Byakuya quivered at the feeling of the man's wicked heat blossoming inside him and the touch of hot breath on his shoulder. His head was dragged back and his mouth attacked with biting kisses. Then the other man rolled him onto his back and kneeled between his parted thighs. Byakuya tried to resist his manipulations, but found it impossible. Guilt welled up inside him, bringing tears to his eyes as his body refused to obey him, and instead, gave in to Aizen's insistent touches. Aizen smiled wickedly, looking into his eyes as Byakuya was helplessly undone.

A knock sounded on the door.

"Come in," said Aizen, not even bothering to cover their exposed bodies.

He kissed the noble as Grimmjow appeared in the doorway, realized what was happening and looked away.

"What is it?" he asked impatiently.

"Some remains of the king's guard," Grimmjow said, "They must have heard we were going to the Seireitei and decided to fuck with us. Ulquiorra is already down there and so is Tousen."

Aizen sighed in annoyance.

"Very well, I will be there in a moment."

Byakuya remained motionless on the bed as Aizen dressed and then left the room with Grimmjow. When the room was quiet, he lifted his head and looked around. He still sensed the shielding around the windows, but the door had been left ajar and the guards had moved down the hallway. He climbed out of bed, not bothering to close his yukata, and stole out into the hallway. He moved in the opposite direction of the guards and found himself at the far end, in front of a closed door. Hearing the guards walking in his direction, he opened the door and slipped inside, closing it behind him. He looked around the room and froze as he realized that there was someone lying on the bed in the room. Her hair was long, and a more orange color than the rich red of the man he remembered. And the person was female and young. She was alive, but frozen in place, a prisoner like him, though thankfully not so abused. She had not been harmed at all…only made to sleep and imprisoned.

Byakuya flinched uncomfortably as his hand touched her and a memory flashed in his mind.

"Run, Orihime!"

"But…Captain Kuchiki!"

"You heard me. Run!"

An explosion tore through the area, shattering his senkei and throwing them to the ground. He couldn't remember ever being stricken so hard by anything. His body struck the sand and froze there as someone walked slowly towards him. He turned his head aside as the garganta closed and the red-haired man disappeared.

"Renji!" he sobbed, his head spinning and his eyes going dim, "Renji…be…safe."

He stared down at the girl and touched the pendant at his throat. The memory passed through his mind again and he saw the pendant…dangling from a chain around Orihime's neck.

He said it was special to him…

"You shouldn't be in here."

Byakuya whirled and found himself facing a tall, silver-haired man.

"He doesn't let anyone see her."

Byakuya felt a chill inside as Gin moved closer, staring at his pale, bared body. He stared into the other man's eyes and held perfectly still as Gin approached him. The silver-haired man gazed back at him, lifting his hand and touching the pendant at his throat. And for some reason, it felt more invasive than if the man had touched him sexually. He drew back, pushing the man's hands away.

"A pretty token, ne?" said Gin, "Did he give that to you?"

Byakuya shivered and stared back at the man silently. Gin smiled and moved closer, reaching out again. He moved more slowly and took hold of the tie at Byakuya's waist.

"He's been enjoying you quite a bit, ne?" he commented, tying the noble's yukata back in place, "Bastard, isn't he? Takes what he wants and leaves the wreckage behind…"

He left off as Byakuya's hand gripped his and the noble's pleading eyes sought his. Byakuya touched his throat and Gin's eyes widened in realization. His fingers joined Byakuya's on the noble's throat and sent a pulse of kido into him. Byakuya gasped and tried several times to speak, emitting a few short, odd squeals of sound, then loosing a name.

"R-renji!"

Gin blinked.

"Your vice captain?" queried Gin, "Were you wondering if he was alive?"

He leaned closer.

"I heard he was among the ones who escaped Hueco Mundo. He's with the rebels now. Do you want me to give him a message?"

"Ah…" Byakuya said unsteadily, "Alive. Tell…him."

Gin nodded briefly.

"I will make sure he knows. But he's probably going to be in the Seireitei when Aizen takes you there today. But come now. Let's get out of here. He'll probably get angry and have us both punished if he finds us here."

"Ori-hime," he said, grabbing Gin's arm again.

Gin looked back at the girl and shrugged.

"She's fine. Just unconscious to keep her from causing trouble. It's a shame, though," he said, shaking his head, "She might know something about what he did."

Byakuya frowned and gazed at him questioningly.

"A lot of people think that he did something," Gin explained, "We don't know what exactly, but it involved her."

"Tell Renji."

"You want me to tell Renji that she is here too?"

"Y-yes."

"Okay, Byakuya," he said, giving the noble a familiar smirk, "I'll tell him for you. We have to go now. I think he's coming back."

He led the noble out of the room and closed the door behind them, then followed Byakuya back to Aizen's bedroom.

XXXXXXXXXX

Renji stood quietly, looking out across the small valley and remembering.

"There is nothing we can do…until the garganta opens for us," Byakuya said, opening his eyes and meeting the redhead's eyes again.

"Then," Renji said softly, "what can I do for my friend?"

Byakuya held perfectly still, made breathless by the fact that the line so carefully placed between them was about to disappear. He held Renji's gaze, watching with a melting heart, the way the redhead's expression changed as the noble abandoned the barriers he had long held between them and folded himself gently into Renji's surprised arms. A pale arm curled around the redhead and Byakuya brought his head to rest on Renji's shoulder. He closed his eyes against the very distinct possibility of rejection, and found his heart racing wildly as Renji's strong arms tightened around him in acceptance.

He opened his eyes and relaxed against Renji, breathing in his warm masculine scent and taking comfort in that they had, at least this one moment of being together this way…this way he had long desired, but never had the courage to ask for. Renji had been one who sought to surpass him…to pursue and conquer him in battle, but slowly, day by day as their swords crossed, as they fought alongside each other, as they lived their lives and endlessly pursued other things, they had slowly bound their hearts together. And, in that time, so slowly that neither had noticed until it was too late, the redhead had conquered his captain in an entirely different way. And only now, with Byakuya curled willingly into his arms, did he see how they had always been meant to find their way to each other.

Sensing that control had been placed in his hands, Renji let out a soft breath and slipped the fingers of one hand underneath the noble's chin, stroking it lightly as he raised it to bring their lips together. Byakuya's eyes opened and met his questioningly, then misted sweetly as their lips made contact.

"Damn it…" Renji muttered, closing his eyes.

"Renji," said Rukia, startling him.

The redhead glared at her in annoyance for a moment, then his eyes softened and his hand slipped into hers.

"We will get him back."

Renji sighed.

"Or what's left of him," he said, shaking his head, "You heard what the spies said."

"Yes…that my brother was taken to the spirit dimension and made Aizen's consort. And that he will be with the delegation coming to the Seireitei."

"And who knows how that damned freak has twisted him!" Renji said, looking disgusted, "I just keep thinking back to right before, you know? And it just…Rukia, I never saw him scared like that before. I never thought anything could scare him."

"Everyone was scared when it happened," Rukia said solemnly, "None of us expected things to go so wrong."

"And now what do we do? Aizen's made himself into a god. How the fuck are we going to fight a god?"

"I don't know," the violet-eyed girl admitted, "But we can't give up. We have to keep fighting Aizen. And we have to get my brother and Orihime back."

"We will," said Renji, squeezing his friend's hand, "I don't know how, but we will."

XXXXXXXXXX

Rikichi paused for a moment to take a quick drink at the stream he had found, then left the shade of the trees and flash stepped towards the meeting place for the rebels.

I hope Renji got there okay…

He had heard several accounts of Renji being among the rebels, but given the confusion in the aftermath of Aizen's victory, he couldn't be sure until he saw his superior with his own eyes. He flash stepped forward quickly now, eager to arrive at the meeting place. He was so intent on his path that he failed to see the dark form that emerged from the trees. He cried out in surprise and fear as a strong arm wrapped around him and the edge of a knife touched his throat.

"St-stop!" he gasped, "I don't have any money!"

"I don't want money," hissed a soft, low male voice, "I want information."

"O-okay," panted Rikichi, "Okay, fine."

The knife disappeared and Rikichi was turned and found himself stunned by the person who stood in front of him.

"C-captain K-uchiki?" he stammered.

Then, he saw that this man was younger, barely adult, his face more gentle than Byakuya's and his eyes a pretty sapphire blue.

"How do you know my cousin?" he asked.

"I…I am his subordinate. I'm fifth seat, Rikichi."

"You are from his squad?" the young man asked.

"Yes," said Rikichi, nodding, "I had to change clothes to escape the Seireitei. All seated officers are being arrested."

"I heard that," said the noble, "Are you with the rebels, then?"

"I am going to join them."

The noble nodded.

"I am, as well, but I wasn't sure where to find them."

"They are just beyond this valley, over the hill there. They will have raised a reiatsu cage, so we'll need to find a sentry and prove who we are."

"I'll take care of that," the noble said, smiling, "My apologies for frightening you. I didn't know if you were a friend or an enemy. I am Tetsuya Kuchiki. As I said, Lord Byakuya is my cousin."

Rikichi smiled shyly back at him.

"Oh…it's okay about before. No one really knows who's on which side. We all have to be careful."

"Yes, we do. Well, to make up for my rudeness, why don't you let Arashi and me accompany you to the base?"

"A-arashi?" queried Rikichi, staring as a tall black stallion emerged from the foliage.

"Arashi," Tetsuya said, "This is fifth seat Rikichi, from Lord Byakuya's division. He is a friend."

Rikichi caught his breath as the horse extended his nose and sniffed at the youth. Their eyes met for a moment, then Arashi suddenly blew out a loud puff of breath, startling the youth and making the horse emit a sound that was dangerously close to a laugh.

"Don't mind him," Tetsuya said, shaking his head and giving the horse a light smack on the shoulder, "He likes to tease sometimes. It means he likes you, Rikichi."

Rikichi found himself smiling. It felt strange to do so after all that had happened, but it left him feeling strangely hopeful.

"Come, Rikichi," Tetsuya said, bounding onto the stallion's back and extending a hand to help him up.

Rikichi's smile widened and he accepted the noble's hand. He climbed into place behind Tetsuya.

"Hold on with your legs, but feel free to hold on to me if you feel like you're going to fall."

"Okay," Rikichi said, gasping and grabbing Tetsuya around the waist as Arashi sprang forward.

The stallion glanced over his shoulder and gave an equine snicker.

"I don't know what's gotten into him," the noble said apologetically, "He must really like you."

"That means he likes me?" laughed Rikichi, "What would he do if he didn't like me?"

"Hmmm," said Tetsuya, "Let's just be glad he likes you, ne?"

"Okay," chuckled Rikichi, tightening his arms around Tetsuya as Arashi broke into a gallop.