Chapter 10: The Escape

(Sorry about the confusion. I posted this chapter a while back, but was really not happy with it, so gave it some thought and here it is again. I like it much better this way, and I hope you will too. Thanks so much to everyone reading! Love, Spunky)

Byakuya rested quietly in Renji's arms, his eyes closed as the reiatsu flowed from the redhead's hands and into his pregnant abdomen.

"We're going to get out of this," Renji breathed in the noble's ear, "I'm going to speak to Yoruichi after this bonding, and we'll come up with a plan to get you free of that band on your wrist. We'll all be out of here in no time."

Byakuya bit softly at his lips and closed his eyes, nodding, but not answering aloud.

"And when Kisuke figures out how to make me a shinigami again, I'm going to spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you."

"Renji..." Byakuya whispered.

"I'm sorry I hurt you. I really am. And if you can forgive me, I swear, I will never, ever hurt you again."

"But you said..." Byakuya began.

Renji stopped him with a kiss.

"I told you before. I wasn't telling you everything. I lied to you...because I was afraid of how much you made me feel, Byakuya."

"But..."

"What I said...it was wrong."

"Renji, you do not have to apologize. You cannot force yourself to love someone."

"But I don't have to force myself," insisted the redhead, "I never did. I was really in love with you. I didn't give a shit about giving up my freedom, but..."

Byakuya sat very still, his eyes lowered and his eyes closed.

"Something...happened. In Inuzuri...before."

Byakuya's dark eyes opened and sought his questioningly.

"We'd had a hard winter...and Rukia and me, and the kids we were living with...we were out of food and desperate. So...there was this guy in town who I knew casually, who offered to help me out by having me do some work for him. But the thing is, what I didn't know..."

Renji paused, steeling himself.

"What he wanted was for me to serve as a prostitute."

Renji felt a catch in his heart at the sadness in Byakuya's eyes at hearing his admission.

"I went with him, not knowing what he really planned. I was only supposed to be there for a day or two, working odd jobs for him. But the bastard tricked me into drinking something that had been laced with a drug. While I was half out of it, he tied me up and raped me, then he locked me in a hidden room and wouldn't let me go. He drugged my food so I wouldn't resist. And when there were no customers, he would come and lie down with me, himself."

"Renji..."

"He kept me tied up a lot of the time. I was scared, but even worse, I didn't know what was happening with Rukia and that others. One day, while he was attacking me, I managed to break free and shoved him off of me. He fell and hit his head and I took the money, only what he had promised me and ran. I went back to the rest of the kids...and...I never told them. I found out later that the guy had died and I was scared to death that someone would figure out it was me who did it."

"But Renji, it was self defense. The man had assaulted and imprisoned you. He was in the midst of attacking you."

"I was a street kid," Renji said softly, "I didn't believe in justice or fairness. I didn't trust the authorities because most were not trustworthy. You've been there. You know."

Byakuya sighed and nodded silently.

Whenever I was with someone after that, I would go just so far...but when we reached the point of moving in together, I would get scared again, and I would always leave. When you and I were together, I felt different. I felt like I could put all of that behind me and I could really enjoy being with you. But...oh gods, don't take this personally, when we were together and you tied our hands together with your scarf..."

A look of guilt swept over the noble's face.

"Renji, I'm sorry..."

"I told you, it wasn't your fault. It was a gesture of love...a way to show me that you wanted me to be a part of your life. It was really a beautiful thing, making love with you with us bound together like that...but I had a really awful flashback. And instead of seeing you on top of me...I saw him. Instead of feeling how passionate you were, I felt the way he was so violent. I heard his voice..."

"Renji...! Kami, why didn't you tell me? Had you but said something then, you know that I would never have..."

"I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to give you up, but I was so scared!"

"But you know me, Renji...probably better than most other people do."

"Yeah, I do," said the redhead, blinking back tears, "but I was really screwed up inside. I still am. But...when we get out of here, I'm going to go to the fourth, and I'm going to do what I can to deal with this."

"Renji, you don't have to move in with me," said the noble, "We can do as you said...see each other at the division. I trust you."

Renji shook his head, a tear rolling down his cheek.

"You're the best thing that ever happened to me. And I want to be with you. I want that enough to do anything. And as much as I never wanted to face what happened, if I want to be with you, I'm going to have to do that. I will. I'll do anything to make things work for us. I love you that much."

"I love you too, Renji. And whatever will help you, I will do," the noble promised, "I know you think that I do not have to say it, but I am sorry that what I did hurt you. I never meant for that to happen."

"I know you didn't mean it to. Byakuya, nobody knew about what happened to me. Please don't blame yourself."

Byakuya let out a long sigh as Renji continued with the bonding.

"I am sorry for what happened to you, Renji," he said quietly, "It makes me sick inside to even think of it. And I am relieved to know you love me too."

"I know me refusing you like that...saying the things I did hurt you. I didn't mean to."

"I know. It is in the past, Renji. Let it go."

Renji's lips tightened, but he nodded and kissed the noble lightly on the mouth.

"It's good to get that off my chest...you know."

"It is not easy, bearing such a weight alone," said Byakuya.

"I'm not alone now," Renji said, smiling.

His smile faded as the reiatsu rose around him, and Byakuya began to shift uncomfortably under his hands. Renji captured the noble in his arms, holding him tightly as a flash of fear entered his eyes, and a red glow rose up inside them.

"Oh, gods, not again!" Byakuya gasped, closing his eyes against the pain of transformation.

He groaned against Renji's shoulder as the redhead held him and soothed him with words and kisses. But as his mask formed, he loosed an echoing screech of intense pain and tore at Renji with his sharp fangs and claws.

"It's okay...it's gonna be okay...it's okay," Renji whispered, grabbing his wrists and holding him down as Byakuya screamed and glared at him through hateful red eyes. Though the sight of Byakuya that way was terrifying, Renji didn't miss the fact of how beautiful he was, even as a hollow. He stared down at the lovely, enraged pale face, his panting white breast and perfectly formed hands.

"Damn, you're beautiful..." he whispered, leaning down to share a storm of biting kisses.

He caught his breath in surprise as someone pulled Byakuya from his arms and shoved him aside roughly.

"Hey! What the hell?" he yelled.

The hollow king glared at him and struck him across the face, then fired a binding cero that left him facedown on the bed. Renji struggled, but the king hissed at him warningly.

"Do not move...or I will kill him."

"What are you doing? Don't touch him! You don't have the right to touch him! I'll kill you!"

The hollow king glared into Byakuya's widened red eyes.

"Take him," said the king, "while he is bound. Make it hurt."

Byakuya's red eyes blinked, and the red glow flickered oddly. The king grabbed him by the throat.

"You do as I told you! Do it now!" he yelled, shoving the noble at Renji.

Byakuya fell onto his belly, next to the redhead, groaning and panting harshly. The king grabbed him roughly by the hair as Byakuya's mask shattered and the noble loosed a cry of pain.

"If you won't do what I said, then you can be the one tied down!"

Renji's eyes stared as the king forced Byakuya down and bound his hands to the bedpost. He forced the noble's thighs open and positioned himself to enter him. Byakuya's eyes closed and a look of fear and disbelief rose on his face.

For Renji, it was like going back in time. The memories of being tied down like that, of being drugged and assaulted raked themselves across his mind and threw him over the precipice from raw emotion into near madness. He shrieked in rage, shattering his bonds and rising up...throwing his body against the king as he moved to take the bound noble.

Byakuya sucked in a terrified breath, releasing Renji's name breathlessly as the incensed redhead attacked, throwing himself and the king off the bed and onto the floor. He watched, wide-eyed as the two slashed at each other, as ceros erupted around the two, lighting the room in red, shaking it, and passing dangerously close to where he still laid bound on the bed.

"Don't you dare put your hands on him!" roared the red haired hollow, "I'll kill you! I'll fucking kill you!"

Their claws slashed at each other, and crimson lines appeared on their entwined bodies as the two continued to struggle. Byakuya heard the sound of running feet and struggled wildly to free himself. But the door flew open and a group of hollow guards rushed into the room. Renji loosed a cero that enveloped three at once and vaporized them before they could scream. The others surrounded him and forced him down, holding him tightly in place as the king straightened and rose. He glared down at the redhead.

"How dare you attack your king!" he said savagely, "You may have been one of them, but you are mine now!"

"Fuck you! Let him go, you bastard! Let him go! You hurt him and I'll kill you! I'll fucking kill you!"

"Silence!" snapped the hollow king, slapping him hard across the face, "You insolent peasant! Do not move or I will kill this man. Receive your punishment quietly, or it is over for him."

The king moved back to where Byakuya laid bound on the bed, and laid himself across the noble's bared back. Byakuya's dark eyes met Renji's warningly, and he shook his head barely perceptibly.

"You make a very lovely hollow, Kuchiki Byakuya," the king breathed in the noble's ear, sending a chill down his spine, "Would you like me to make you one again?"

Byakuya swallowed hard, but said nothing.

"I said," said the king, grabbing the noble by the hair, and pressing his hardened member against the noble's entrance, "Would you like me to finish making you a hollow now?"

"N-no," Byakuya managed.

"Then...the next time I tell you to do something, you will do it...without hesitation."

"I will not hurt Renji, no matter what you do," Byakuya said calmly, "I love him, and I would rather die than to hurt him."

The king's reiatsu flared and he struck the noble hard and fired a jolt of power through his bound form. Byakuya groaned and collapsed, made nearly senseless as the king's claw wrapped around his neck from behind and tightened threateningly. Byakuya reeled, struggling to breathe as the king's hand tightened.

Renji roared in fury and struggled against the hands that held him, screaming the noble's name as Byakuya's eyes began to close.

But it was the king who froze in surprise as the redhead's mask shattered and Renji's body began to change. And when he tore free of the guards this time, the power that struck the king was kido, not cero.

"No!" raged the king, "You cannot fight my power! You are a lowly shinigami!"

"Get off of him, you bastard!"

"Renji,'" Byakuya whispered, beginning to lose consciousness.

Renji crashed into the stunned king and took him to the floor again. Kido and cero exploded around the two and enveloped the rest of the guards. Debris rained down as the room threatened to shake itself apart, under the clashing forces of the two. Renji turned suddenly and loosed a quick kido blast, freeing the noble from his bonds and giving him an opening to flee.

"RUN, BYAKUYA!" the redhead screamed, "GO! GET OUT OF HERE!"

Byakuya stared in dismay, unable to make himself move as the hollow king fired a cero and brought Renji to the floor again.

"What are you doing?" he yelled at the noble, "Get out of here! I'll find you. I'll get away and I'll find you. I promise! Now, go! I can't hold him off forever."

The king send heavy jolts of stunning power through his hands, into Renji's struggling body, finally bringing him down and binding him again.

"How did you break the mask?" demanded the king, "How?"

"Byakuya!" cried Renji, staring at the unmoving shinigami on the bed, "Byakuya!

He broke off and screamed in pain as hollow reiatsu flared around him, and his mask began to form again.

The king smiled viciously.

"That is better. Now..."

He broke off again as the bedroom shook wildly and the wall nearest the bed broke apart.

"What in hades...?" snapped the hollow king.

Byakuya's eyes went wide, then relief broke out across his face as Shihoin Yoruichi appeared, flanked by Tetsuya, and Rikichi. Yoruichi flash stepped to his side as the two male shinigamis fired heavy blasts of kido to force the hollow king away from Renji. Renji took advantage of the king's distraction to throw him off, then backed away as he rose, and the spiritual pressure in the room became crushing.

Rikichi made a sound of distress and sweat broke out on his forehead. Tetsuya's face betrayed discomfort and he backed away, shielding himself and Rikichi as the king gained his feet. On the bed, Yoruichi snapped the band on Byakuya's wrist and pulled him to his feet.

"Where do you think you're going?" he raged, raising his spiritual pressure until the room shook and more debris rained down, "You cannot escape me!"

"Oh, I beg to differ," said Yoruichi, shielding Renji and the others as they backed towards Byakuya and her, "You may think you're quite powerful, but your powers aren't enough to fight all of us at once. And we've taken out quite a few of your troops. Now, if you will excuse us, we are going to be on our way."

She opened a senkaimon and shielded the others as Rikichi guarded Renji while the redhead entered the precipice world, and Tetsuya did the same for Byakuya.

"What about Hanatarou and the horse?" Renji asked.

"Already went on ahead of us," Yoruichi assured him, shoving him the rest of the way through before flash stepping inside and closing the gate just as the king loosed a wicked cero at it.

Renji stumbled to Byakuya's side, slipping an arm around the unsteady noble and helping him through the dark corridors.

"You do not have to do that, Abarai," the noble said stubbornly, "I can manage. Besides, you were hurt as well."

"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine," Renji assured him, "I'm just glad we're out of there."

"We'll have you back in Karakura Town in no time," Yoruichi promised.

"And Urahara-san will find a way to help you regain your shinigami form," Byakuya said, looking up at the redhead.

"Yeah," he agreed, "Let's just hope he does that before..."

"It's best not to dwell on that, Renji," Byakuya said, leaning against him lightly and continuing on.

But even as happy as he was that they were free, the redhead couldn't be so sure.

There's got to be a way to fix this.

If anyone can figure it out, Kisuke can.

He has to...