When The Moon Howled
Chapter 1: It Wasn't Supposed To End Like This
(Happy New Year to all! Hope you enjoy this angsty piece inspired by requests from alabirdie and others. This one is a Bya/Ren and mpreg, but also includes some Byakuya/Tetsuya, Hollow king/Renji and Tetsuya/Rikichi. Enjoy!)
Oh my god, this can't be happening...
I can't be...
After what I said to him...the way I left things.
Please don't let me...
I can't leave things like this!
Taichou, I won't leave you!
"Byakuya-sama," Torio said quietly, bringing the noble out of a sound sleep.
"What is it?" Byakuya said, an odd ache rising up in his stomach.
He tried not to think about the dream he had been having...or about the argument that had preceded Renji's sudden departure from the division.
"Look, I understand what you're saying," Renji said, looking into the noble's dark eyes, "What happened between us was really, really wonderful. And I am flattered that you would go to such lengths to make a place for me in your life. But...you and me? We live in two different worlds. Come on, you know that!"
"Hisana and I came from two different worlds too," Byakuya said, frowning, "But when two people love each other, those boundaries fall away, and the two are able to become one. What is wrong with that?"
Renji let out an aggravated breath.
"But...you're making it sound like I agreed to marry you," he objected, "This is moving way too fast for me! I do really like being with you. I like working with you. And making love with you was amazing. But I didn't think you were expecting I would drop everything and move in with you. I happen to like where I live. I'm near my friends. I set my own hours. I just...I like my freedom. After spending all of those years fighting to survive in Inuzuri, I like having my life the way I want it."
Renji felt a jolt of regret at the pain that flashed in Byakuya's eyes, then disappeared.
"I see," said the noble, looking blankly down at the papers on his desk, "And...it seems that there is no place for me in your life."
"I didn't say that!" Renji insisted, shaking his head, "I just mean that...why can't we just see each other here? We're here together pretty much every day, right? I spend some nights here. We could spend those nights together...see where things lead. You may decide that you made a mistake going to bed with me."
"Is that what you think I did?" asked Byakuya, still looking down at his desk, "That I just...slept with you?"
Renji paused and let out a long breath.
"I don't think we were thinking that much," he said, a moment later, "I think we were caught up in the afterglow of catching Aizen...and we...just did this crazy, beautiful, unexpected thing."
Byakuya swallowed hard and blinked to clear his eyes.
"Renji, let me assure you, that I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn't just fall into bed with you. I had been trying to find a way to approach you for a very long time. I just didn't know how. At first, I just...tried to include you in more things, both in and out of work hours. I spent a lot of time thinking about how it could work, about how we could be together, and both of us could be content. I am not saying that we wouldn't have to make some sacrifices. But...people who love..."
Renji bit his lip gently and closed his eyes as realization spread across the noble's face and pain flashed in his eyes again.
"Oh," he said breathlessly, unbidden tears rising in his eyes, "You are trying to tell me...that you don't..."
Renji gave him a helpless look.
"I told you. I like being with you. You are beautiful...and no one has ever made me feel that good in bed before. I'm not saying it isn't love. I'm saying I don't know. Am I really supposed to know when we've just been to bed once like that?"
"I don't know," Byakuya whispered, his voice trembling, "It was my understanding that love was the only reason one would give himself to another sexually. It seems that you and I have different definitions of love. But...that being said, I think that we can conclude that what happened was a misunderstanding. My apologies. I will not trouble you anymore."
He rose quietly and started towards the door, then stopped as Renji's hand touched his shoulder.
"Abarai fukutaichou," he said in a dead calm voice, "You are dismissed."
"Remove your hand...now."
"You heard me. Go home, Renji. Just forget what happened. It was a mistake. I thought that what happened, took place because we had fallen in love...but apparently, it happened because I lowered my guard at the wrong time. I assure you, it won't happen again. Now, leave."
"I will," Renji answered, "but not before I tell you..."
He broke off as Byakuya's flash step sounded and the noble disappeared.
"Damn it," he muttered, shaking his head, "Good going, Abarai. You watch him for years, figure out everything about him...but you don't fucking understand him at all!"
He walked back to his desk and dropped into his chair, sighing in frustration. He thought back to the night they had spent together.
"He was unbelievable..." Renji mused, "And I felt something unlike anything I've felt before. Why did I get so scared? Why couldn't I tell him that I love him? Because I feel like I do. I just...got scared. Why did I get scared like that? He said he loved me...not that he will now, after what I just did. God, I'm a fucking idiot."
His eyes dropped and caught sight of a new mission roster.
"Yeah..." he said in a shaky voice, "Maybe a little time apart will be good...give us time to work things through in our heads. Or at least let us calm down and get rational again, right?"
He stared at the mission roster, then added his name and quietly placed it in his outbox. He sat at his desk for several minutes afterward, his mind replaying their joining, the surprise and genuine affection in those dark eyes, the honesty and intensity in the way Byakuya had touched him. He had sensed right away that the noble wasn't one who engaged in casual sex. And although Byakuya hadn't admitted it, he was sure now that he had only ever lain down with Hisana. Being more worldly than Byakuya, and because of his background, Renji had indulged in casual sex for the purpose of comfort on occasion...both with women and with men. He had always told himself it was okay as long as both parties understood its casual nature and no one got hurt.
"Well someone got hurt this time," he muttered, shaking his head.
Byakuya hadn't meant to mislead him, hadn't been unclear in his words and touches. But when Byakuya had touched him, the beauty of it, the intensity of it, the dangerously deep honesty of it had scared the living daylights out of him. Byakuya was a powerful man, who lived a very regimented life. And had he just moved in with the man, he was sure that the freedom in his existence would disappear. It reminded him of when he had been forced to have sex for money to keep Rukia and himself alive, and the man whom he had worked for had locked him up for months before he had escaped. It was the one secret he had ever kept from his very best friend...and the one terror that had never left him.
"But Byakuya isn't like that," Renji whispered, "He would never...so why did I react like that? Do I really fear guys with money and power? Do I really fear anyone who could cage me like that again? I thought I had grown strong enough not to need that fear anymore...and now, it's ruined the best thing that ever happened to me."
He let out a shuddering sigh.
"I wonder if he would understand if I told him why," Renji whispered, "But...it's over. You don't fuck Kuchiki Byakuya, dump him and figure he'll let you back into his head or bed again. Once that door closes, it's all over. I'm sorry, Taichou. If I could..."
He made himself stop, forced himself to his feet, then walked slowly to his quarters to change and pack for his mission.
Having left the division, Byakuya moved in blazing flash steps, hardly breathing and not daring to think as he closed the distance to Kuchiki Manor, passed through the entry and kept running. He crossed the lovely, fragrant gardens, flash stepped over the back gate and bolted down the forest path to the only place that could give him the peace of mind he sought. He slowed as he reached the sakura grove at the top of a large waterfall that fell down into a huge, blue lake in the meadow below him. He dropped to his knees, his shortened breaths hissing in the cold, and tried to force his mind away from what had happened.
"He doesn't love me," he told himself...aloud so that it might be more likely to seem real, "He slept with me because I offered myself and he desired momentary pleasure. He never promised me anything, and I never asked him to."
It was as though some part of him had sensed that Renji wasn't feeling the same thing he was, but he had just wanted so badly for the two of them to be together. He had acted without thought, and had paid for it with his heart. He hadn't thought his heart was so vulnerable, but being with Abarai Renji had shaken him.
"But I can make myself forget," he whispered, "It will be awkward for a time, but then, Renji is to promote soon. And after that, he'll probably avoid me. Except that we'll both be taichous..."
He left off thinking and knelt beneath a sakura tree near the edge of the cliff. He let his heart ache and bleed inside him, but held on to his dignity enough to not shed tears. He wasn't going to cry for Renji. His pride would not allow it. But holding the tears inside made him feel horridly cold, so cold it made him shiver. So cold that it startled him when a warm cloak dropped onto his shoulders and his cousin's warm body settled down beside him.
"Tetsuya," he said, hating the pain that escaped into his words.
His cousin's large, blue eyes met his bracingly and his hand sought Byakuya's supportively.
"I am sorry, Byakuya," Tetsuya said softly, "I know what hopes you had about him. And in my heart, I did long for you to know happiness again. And perhaps this is not over. Perhaps..."
Unable to listen to the words, Byakuya turned and claimed his cousin's mouth roughly. Tetsuya's dark blue eyes registered surprise at first, but then calm understanding. He let himself fall onto his back and did not resist as his body was bared and swiftly taken. He wanted to cry at the pain and desperation in Byakuya's needy, open-mouthed kisses, in the hands that roamed his body relentlessly, and the achingly heavy thrusting into Tetsuya's naked depths. He tried to remain silent as Byakuya penetrated him deeply, finding a place inside his gentle cousin that no one had ever touched, and striking it repeatedly as Tetsuya's hands tightened on him, but pleasure erupted and swept over him in a heady, crimson wave, and Tetsuya gave in to it, gasping out Byakuya's name as his cousin's seething essence suddenly filled him inside, shocking his untried body into orgasm. The younger noble's hot release splashed onto their bared flesh, and Tetsuya watched in stunned silence as his older cousin collapsed onto him, then returned to Tetsuya's warm mouth to share a soft swell of finishing kisses.
Tetsuya went quiet and still as Byakuya rested his head wearily on the younger man's shoulder, and left himself entrenched in Tetsuya's body as he drifted off into a troubled slumber. Tetsuya simply held his distraught cousin close, pulling his cloak over the two of them and looking calmly up into the emerging stars. He had no illusions about what they'd done, nor any regrets. Byakuya had given him everything that was good in his life...and whatever he asked for, Tetsuya would give, without hesitation. It wasn't romantic love, but complete and utter devotion.
Tetsuya sighed softly, catching a tear that escaped his sleeping cousin's eye and letting the moisture sink into his pale flesh.
"Do not despair, cousin," he whispered, "Love will find you again."
"Word has come from Hueco Mundo," said Torio, his voice shattering the memory, "The sixth division team sent to clear Las Noches was overrun."
"What?" Byakuya said, surging to his feet and hastily beginning to dress.
"Third seat, Rikichi sent the message from the recovery point. They were still in retreat, so the message was brief, but it was clear about one thing. Abarai Renji fell in the battle."
Byakuya's breath froze in his chest.
"They don't know for certain, Byakuya-sama, but his reiatsu has disappeared."
Byakuya didn't trust his voice to speak, but simply finished dressing and flash stepped out of his room. He ran to where Tetsuya waited astride Arashi and flew onto the tall stallion's back. He settled behind his cousin as Tetsuya's heels touched Arashi's sides and the black stallion charged into the senkaimon that opened for them. They raced through the precipice world, then into the living world, where Arashi came down in an empty park and spun towards Urahara's shop. The two men dismounted as they reached it and walked back to the secret entrance to the former taichou's hidden training grounds. They greeted Urahara and exchanged a few perfunctory words before reclaiming their places astride Arashi and dashing through the garganta Kisuke opened. Arashi flash stepped along the bright reiatsu trail his master provided, then emerged onto the cold, desert sands and ran towards Las Noches. They stopped short of the fortress, in a cluster of rocks, where the remains of their unit had entrenched themselves to address their comrades' injuries.
Byakuya slid down off of Arashi's back and flash stepped to Rikichi, who was in the midst of being bandaged by their attending healer, Hanatarou. He looked up with devastated eyes that haunted Byakuya as the youth shivered and gave his report.
"It was a very well-laid trap," he said in a shaky voice, "We didn't realize how fast the hollows would act to replace their monarchy. But from what we can tell, a member of the old hollow royal family emerged to claim the throne. It was kept very quiet, because they didn't want us to know. We were careful going in, but...Kuchiki taichou, they had prepared for our arrival and except for Renji...except for Abarai fukutaichou's quick action, we would all have been captured."
"What happened to Renji?" Byakuya asked, steeling himself.
Rikichi met his gaze with devastated eyes.
"We...don't know what they did to him. We still sensed him for a short time after, but then...all at once, his reiatsu suddenly disappeared. They may have masked it or..."
"Or they may have executed him," Byakuya finished.
He left Rikichi's side and walked to the edge of the cluster of rocks, looking out at Las Noches as Tetsuya stood quietly at his side, following the path of his eyes.
"Are we going to go after him?" Tetsuya asked softly.
Byakuya was quiet for a moment.
"Stay here, Cousin. I will have a look at things and be back shortly."
Tetsuya's lips tightened rebelliously, but he nodded briefly and held himself still until Byakuya was out of sight. Then he slipped out of the hidden camp and followed with silent steps, watching carefully as he moved closer to the fortress. He concealed himself behind a sand dune and watched as Byakuya searched the area where the battle had taken place. The sand in the area was scorched and still smelled of smoke. Tetsuya moved forward, brushing the soot from his leg, then tripped over something lodged in the sand and gasped in surprise. A hissing flash step sounded, and Byakuya brought him down in the sand as a light passed over where he had been. Byakuya waited until the light had passed, then released his cousin and watched questioningly as Tetsuya moved forward and took hold of something that had been partially buried in the sand. The younger noble flinched as the sharp edge cut into his hand, but held onto the item and returned to his waiting cousin. Byakuya took the metal bit from Tetsuya and turned it over, holding it where the moonlight could shine on it.
Both men froze, recognizing the bit of metal as a familiar metal fang.
"Zabimaru," Byakuya whispered.
There was a long moment of silence between the cousins, then a wave of shock as the bit of Zabimaru glinted oddly and slowly disappeared.
"Oh my god..." whispered Byakuya, body and mind going numb with realization, "Renji..."
Tears rose in Tetsuya's eyes as he studied Byakuya's fiercely controlled countenance. He felt the rage of pain that had opened up beneath the calm surface and felt frozen in place...uncertain what to do next. He wasn't sure how, in the end, he made himself move again, but he slipped a hand into Byakuya's and touched his face lightly, then coaxed him into walking long enough to return to the hidden camp.
"Did you find..." Rikichi began, then stopped, witnessing their shocked expressions.
Rikichi's eyes widened and his hands clenched.
"Renji?" he said in a quivering voice.
"His reiatsu has faded," said Byakuya in a low voice, "as has his Zanpakutou. Renji is..."
He stopped, his stomach clenching inside him, but then forced the words out.
"Renji was killed."
Byakuya watched in stoic silence as Rikichi collapsed in the sand and dissolved into tears.
I wish I could cry for you too, the noble thought, watching as Tetsuya knelt and pulled Rikichi close, But I have no right to mourn you that way. You were not my friend, nor my lover. We were a mistake, Renji. And because of that mistake, you took the steps that led you to your death. I am sorry. I cannot take it back. Just know...that no matter how many years pass and how far I move from this place...
I will never forgive myself.
He remained still and quiet, staring back at the scorched sand in the distance as the disheartened troops broke camp and prepared to leave. Tetsuya helped Rikichi to his feet, then coaxed him onto Arashi's back and turned towards the garganta that Byakuya opened for their return to Urahara's shop. One by one, the silent squad members stepped into the dark underground cavern. Tetsuya glanced back to make sure that Byakuya followed, then wrapped an arm around the distraught youth in front of him and nudged Arashi forward. Byakuya waited until all of the others had gone, then looked back one last time, his heart aching unbearably. He forced himself to turn and walk away, but felt, as he did, the large part of him that remained lost in that cold, dark desert behind him.
He didn't see the glowing eyes that watched him as he stepped into the garganta and closed it behind him.
The hollow slid noiselessly out of the shadows, his head aching furiously as he tried to remember how he knew the man he had seen.
He knew that man, he was sure of it...
He had been someone important.
The hollow suddenly screamed in pain and dropped onto the sand, clutching his head.
Who is that man?
What did he do to me?
He remained on the sand, writhing fitfully as calm, quiet footsteps approached him. He could barely see through his aching golden eyes as the hollow king approached him and stood, gazing quietly down at him.
"You have unresolved feelings for that man?" he asked, looking in the direction that the sixth division taichou had gone.
"Go then," he ordered the hollow, "Seek him out and make him pay for the pain he caused you. Kill him, then return to me."
He watched as the hollow stood and looked in the direction that the shinigamis had gone.
"You are conflicted?" the king asked softly.
"I...don't know," the hollow said, wrapping his arms around his aching midsection, "I am confused."
The hollow king smiled and slipped a hand into his.
"Come, then," he said gently, "Let me comfort you for a time. You should rest before you go after him. You will need all of your strength to kill him."
The hollow's golden eyes looked back at the king, flickering with indecision. The king moved closer, slipping his arms around the hollow and looking into his eyes.
"Do you trust me?" he asked, touching the ghostly, white face gently.
The large, golden eyes blinked.
"You are newly made over," said the king, "You are still in shock."
He traced his fingers over one of the lovely, black tattoos that decorated his pale skin. His hand cupped the new hollow's cheek and he offered the creature a tentative kiss. The hollow started to step back, but the king's hand wrapped around his wrist, and the odd, red-golden eyes ensnared him. He said nothing more as the king led him back into the fortress and to his bedroom.
He stood quietly in front of the hollow and studied him closely, before touching his chest and watching him fall onto the bed.
"I know you have questions," he said, peeling back the yukata the hollow wore, "And I will answer your questions. But what you need to know and fully understand is that you belong to this world now. You belong to me. I made you out of the wreckage of that shinigami. I saved your life by holding you back from death. You are only one step from being a full hollow. To finish your transformation, you must complete your first kill and draining. And the person you will kill, is that shinigami who hurt you."
He read the shiver of doubt in the hollow and smiled at him.
"But enough unpleasantness. You need comfort now. Let me offer you that comfort, and then you may be on your way."
He laid down on top of the lovely, tattooed hollow, admiring the long, red and white streaked lengths of his hair, the sharply contrasting markings and dangerous claws and teeth. He smiled more widely and let his fingers play over the mask that covered the left half of his face, then sank into the hollow's hot, red mouth, sending his reiatsu into the hollow's body and slowly stabilizing it. He prepared the creature swiftly and entered him roughly, then looked down into the still unclear eyes and began thrusting.
"Remember this," he breathed against the new hollow's lips, "Remember your master."
The hollow moaned fitfully and closed his eyes as the king's powerful member penetrated him deeply and the cold hands of the hollow monarch explored him. Dark reiatsu flared around the two and the hollow beneath the king cried out as it seemed to burn at his skin. The king pushed farther into him and held his body tightly against the other as his member twitched in release and sent hot pulses of seed into his new servant. He wrapped his hand around the other hollow's length and brought his body to climax, then pressed his lips to the creature's earlobe as he released, and repeated what he had said before.
"Remember your master...remember your master..."
Strangely, when he closed his eyes, all the new hollow could see was the beautiful shinigami he had been watching before...