Chapter 2: Not so Alone

Who would have thought that this would be so easy? Tsukishima thought, gazing quietly at Byakuya as the noble stood with his head bowed, listening to the words of blessing that were spoken over Hisana's unmoving form, You are reputed to be the strongest of the shinigamis, yet before my power, you are made defenseless. Look at you...

He watched the intensity rise in Byakuya's eyes as the blessing ended and Hisana's resting form shimmered, then slowly disappeared. Moving forward a step, he placed a hand on Byakuya's shoulder and felt the noble flinch uncomfortably.

You do still have some strength to resist, but you are no match for me. Now then...it really begins, Byakuya.

He waited as the mourners filed away and Byakuya exchanged a few words with his grandfather. Then Ginrei glanced briefly at Tsukishima and nodded, as if to say, 'I leave this to you, Tsukishima.' and he left the two standing alone before the memorial stone.

"We should go back to the gardens," Tsukishima suggested, "or perhaps take a walk."

"Actually, I think I will retire to my room for a while. I will meet with you later to discuss my return to training."

"Training can wait for now," Tsukishima said, slipping and arm around the noble.

Byakuya flinched again, but said nothing and did not push him away. They left the cemetery together and walked slowly back to the gardens.

You are quite tense inside," Tsukishima noted, "You will not be able to sleep well if you do not address the problem. I would be happy to indulge you in a deep massage."

"Actually, I have staff that can take care of that," Byakuya said quietly, "I am not up to company, Tsukishima."

"Company?" the other man queried, frowning, "Since when am I company? I was brought into the family to see to the full training of the heir. This falls under your training for the rigors of your future position in the family...managing the stress of it, you see..."

"This is not a family matter," Byakuya said softly, "Hisana was...was a...peasant. The household never wanted me to marry her. It is a personal loss that has no bearing on..."

Tsukishima stopped him, and Byakuya fell silent under his longtime mentor's glare.

"But don't you see?" the fullbringer went on, "Everything that affects you, affects the family, ne? You must learn to relax your mind and to allow yourself to be at peace. Come now, I will give you that massage."

"I...have to go to check in at the division. I am a vice captain. I would not want..."

"Your grandfather has already returned to the division. He doesn't expect you there. And he doesn't want you there while you are like this."

"I am fine," Byakuya said, breaking off and regretting the words, almost as he said them.

Tsukishima grabbed his hand and held it up, so that the shaking he was trying to hide was more obvious.

"You are not fine," said Tsukishima, pulling him close, and locking his eyes on Byakuya's widened ones, "But if you cease resisting me, I will help you."

Byakuya fell silent and relaxed against Tsukishima as they continued on to the main wing of the manor. They entered Byakuya's bedroom and Tsukishima closed the garden doors. The fullbringer issued a short directive to Byakuya's attendant to bring tea, then followed the noble into the dressing area. Byakuya stood quietly, his eyes distant, as Tsukishima's hands quickly removed his clothing and wrapped him in a comfortable yukata. He slipped into a yukata, himself, then followed Byakuya back to his bed. Torio returned with the tea and set it on the nightstand.

"Thank you, Torio," Tsukishima said, nodding, "You are dismissed until lunchtime. Please inform the rest of the staff that Byakuya is not to be disturbed until then."

"Hai," said the attendant, bowing and hastily exiting the room.

"Ah, that's better, isn't it?" Tsukishima said, blocking Byakuya's view of the tea cups and adding a small packet of powder to the noble's tea.

He took the cup and handed it to Byakuya, who sipped at it, then set it down again. Tsukishima moved closer, sliding his arms around the noble and holding him quietly for a moment, "You need some quiet time, I think...to work things through in your mind. I can feel how badly you ache inside."

Byakuya stiffened for a moment, but then relaxed against the other man.

"How do you do that?" Byakuya asked, "I can fool everyone but you."

"I have been with you all of your life, Byakuya," the fullbringer said, kissing his earlobe, his cheek, then turning him and sinking into his mouth.

"Tsukishima..." Byakuya said warningly, "N-not now...not today."

The fullbringer's eyes darkened for a moment, but he released the noble and watched with predatory eyes as Byakuya drank more of the tea and then climbed into his bed. He turned the noble onto his stomach and pulled the top of his yukata down to his waist, baring his back. Tsukishima knelt on the bed beside him and gathered the fall of raven black hair into his hand and bound it in a hair tie to keep it out of the way. He leaned over Byakuya's back and sprinkled a small amount of massage oil onto his skin.

The noble turned his head to the side and closed his eyes as Tsukishima's hands spread the warm oil around, then his fingers began to work themselves into his tense muscles.

"I understand that you are hurting over the loss of your wife," Tsukishima said quietly as his hands moved, chasing away some of the deep tension, "The more distressing part of this is your guilt over having indulged in those fantasies of being with me, even sharing stolen kisses. But the worst, of course, is how we gave in to our passions, the very day she died. And though I agree that it is an unbearable weight to have to bear upon your heart, you must forgive yourself. Things would have been much worse for your wife, had you left her because of me. And think of the scandal it would have caused. You were already outside of the rules by marrying a peasant. To callously leave her for a human, a male no less, even though he might be a man of great power...that would have been much worse. And to have anyone learn that we were together like we were..."

"Please, Tsukishima," Byakuya said, sitting up, "I would rather not think about this now. You said that I should attempt to relax and regain my center. I cannot do that while thinking about my transgressions."

"Of course," agreed the fullbringer, "though it is important not to simply bottle such things up. Guilt is an insidious thing, Byakuya. It will eat away at you."

The noble's eyes widened and his heart clenched inside him as Tsukishima looked deeply into his tormented eyes.

"Such guilt can break even one so strong as you, watashi no koi. So...put it aside for a time, if you must. But do find a way to deal with what happened. And you know that I am here for you. A balanced state of mind is crucial for your leadership of the clan..."

Byakuya laid down on his stomach, going quiet as Tsukishima finished massaging his back, then nudged him onto his back and relieving him of his yukata, baring his body before continuing. The noble tried to keep his eyes averted and distant, but Tsukishima's eyes sought and captured his, and several times his hands or fingers brushed the sensitive areas of Byakuya's body, setting of a reaction in his loins.

"Hmmm," said the fullbringer, "I know you are not of a mind to indulge in your carnal needs today, Byakuya, but someone seems to have forgotten to tell that to your body."

"Tsukishima," Byakuya protested as the other man, teased his hardened length with possessive fingertips, "Not today. Not...while I am mourning her."

He sat up and moved to the edge of the bed, lowering his eyes and keeping his back to the other man. Tsukishima moved closer and wrapped his arms around the noble from behind, teasing his aroused privates and breathing his next words in the shocked noble's blushing ear.

"You are such a wicked, deceptive creature, Byakuya," Tsukishima said, tracing a pale earlobe with a hot tongue, "I think you know that. And...I think that Hisana knew it too."

"What?" said the noble, looking alarmed, "you mean she figured out...?"

"No...no, of course not," the fullbringer assured him, kissing him at the juncture of throat and shoulder, "I didn't mean it like that. I mean that...she was a very perceptive and understanding person. She sensed your darkness, but she looked past it and loved you anyway. Even if she had found out about us, she wouldn't have been angry with you. She knew you, Byakuya, and she loved you, regardless of the demons that live inside you."

"Why do you say these things to me?" Byakuya asked softly, turning his head so that his lips were nearly touching the other man's, "It seems, at times, as though you enjoy my pain."

"What?" Tsukishima said softly, "Byakuya, how could you think that? You know how I feel about you. Why would you think for a moment that I would ever want to see you in pain? Was I not there to see you through the death of your father? The disappearance of your friend, Yoruichi?"

"That cat woman was..."

"She was your friend. You know that, though you wouldn't admit it to anyone. I know the pain you felt when she went missing. And I understand the pain you feel now."

"I will be fine," Byakuya said, blinking as an odd, light-headedness began to overtake him, "I just need to..."

Tsukishima stopped him with the gentlest of kisses and coaxed him into lying down. He opened his yukata and laid his slim body against the noble's, curling around him like a snake and offering chaste, gentle caresses as the drug he had placed in the tea overwhelmed the noble, and Byakuya drifted into senselessness. He remained semi-conscious, but unable to fully comprehend...aware to some extent, but deliciously helpless.

When Byakuya stopped responding, he turned and laid him on his back, attacking his mouth with hard, brutal kisses, exploring him roughly, with harsh, unforgiving hands as Byakuya moaned softly and did nothing to resist him. Knowing how the drug he had given the noble would open his mind to suggestion, Tsukishima hissed soft accusations in his ear, tormenting his mind and tearing at his heart as he continued to stimulate his body sexually.

The guilt and the physical sensations will become connected in his confused mind...and he will ache inside every time we are together...

"Byakuya..." he moaned hungrily, turning the noble onto his stomach.

Byakuya moaned softly in protest, but remained mindlessly compliant as Tsukishima positioned himself and entered him, unprepared. The noble made a deep sound of pain, and his hands clenched the bedding as the fullbringer continued the rough lovemaking. He lost himself in the lovely shinigami's perfect body, sinking his fingers into the long, silken strands of his hair and pulling his head back so that he could nip and suck at the noble's delicate, white throat. And despite his desire to drive the wounded noble into madness, he felt a warmth inside...a deep longing for Byakuya to return his love willingly.

It would never happen unless forced like this, the fullbringer reminded himself darkly, He is one of the elite and thinks that he is above me. But I will show him...him and all of the rest of them that I am greater than all of them put together!

He closed his eyes against his anger and loved the beautiful, pained body beneath his with relentless fervor...his own mind spinning as though he was the one drugged, aching at the fact that everything that was happening was a lie. It was a lie of his own making, and it would serve his purposes, of course. But there was a part of the man that felt the hurt and loneliness as much as the man beneath him, who ached inside as fiercely as he must, who only wanted to love sincerely and be loved in return.

But Byakuya would never love me if I didn't use my powers...

Damn him!

Damn them all!

He raked his fingernails down the noble's back and sides, needing in some horridly deep and confused place inside to expel the hurt, to place it somewhere, to share it openly. His eyes darkened, and his body shook with rage that he poured into the assault on Byakuya's slender body.

And if the man beneath him had been anyone with a whit less strength than Byakuya, Tsukishima would have killed him with his enraged affections. But Byakuya's pleasingly strong body shouldered his pain and the fullbringer's, shaking with the impact of Tsukishima's relentless fury and managing the weight with silent grace. The fit of emotion exploded from Tsukishima's body as he climaxed. The fullbringer gasped and panted as he fought down his emotions and collapsed onto Byakuya's back, breathing harshly. He rested more quietly as the anger drained from his body and left him with a dull, empty ache inside. He was too weary to revive the anger, so he remained where he was, still one with Byakuya's body.

He had nearly fallen asleep that way, when he felt Byakuya's body shiver, felt a slender hand clasp his and heard and soft sniff. Curious, he lifted himself off of the noble and pulled Byakuya into his arms. The noble's head fell against his shoulder, and he could see in the shinigami's dark, hazed eyes that he was still controlled by the drug. But Tsukishima was also aware that, while incapacitating him and affecting his memory of the sexual encounter, the drug had an additional effect in making the user speak openly, with full honesty. His insides clenched as he realized that there were tears on Byakuya's face, and that the tears and the pain driving them were very real. He knew Byakuya to be one resolved never to shed tears, so seeing him in such a weakened and vulnerable state was oddly enthralling.

"Tsukishima," the noble whispered, seemingly unaware of his own tears, "I think that something is very wrong with me."

"What is it, watashi no koi?" Tsukishima said gently, stunned at how Byakuya's vulnerability made him soften inside, instantly, "Why are you so upset?"

"It...was a dream, wasn't it?" Byakuya asked uncertainly.

"Was what a dream?"

"We were...having sex," Byakuya said hesitantly, "But, you were angry, enraged, violent. Your words and your every move brought me pain...and you were all too pleased to inflict it. Tsukishima...I have to know. Was that...real? Have I angered you?"

The fullbringer licked his lips and pulled back the curtain of silken black hair that hid part of the noble's lovely face. He placed a gentle kiss, careful not to touch the bruises that their coupling had left on the noble.

"I am not angry," he said softly, "And that was just a nightmare. Please sleep now, Byakuya. You are overwhelmed, and your guilt eats away at you. I have done what I can to relax you, but you must let go of your guilt. Let yourself relax, rest...sleep. The past months have been difficult for you. But now that it is safe for us to share in our affection for each other, things will be better. Trust me, watashi no koi, you will lose that sadness about you. I will stay with you. I will not hurt you. Now...will you try to sleep?"

"I am afraid to close my eyes," Byakuya whispered, "You will not leave?"

"I will not leave," Tsukishima promised.

Byakuya let out a long sigh and let himself rest against Tsukishima's shoulder. The fullbringer waited, watching the noble with oddly entranced eyes, then making sure that he was asleep before laying him on his pillow and carefully healing his injuries by going back and rewriting the place where they had been inflicted. It gave him some peace to make love to the noble more gently, to turn the horrifying encounter into the dream that he had told Byakuya it was, and to see that beautiful, glowing body clean and unblemished. Sleeping peacefully in his arms.

There is no need for such losses of control, even as I shatter his mind. I am lonely, as is he. And he can serve to cure that loneliness for the time we are together. I know what the future holds for us, how we must meet on that battlefield and I must kill him. But...I can bring him under my control and use him without so much torment, I suppose.

Though I had thought that the torment would be enjoyable.

It usually is.

Why is it painful for me when I hurt him?

Why?