Chapter 15: The 'Cure'
(LOL, on the update list and the most requested of my updates! Enjoy!)
"Come again?" Renji managed in a stunned voice, "He's marrying...?"
"Masato," Wren said, shaking her head.
"What the hell?" Renji mused almost breathlessly, "What in the fucking hell does he think he's DOING? Is this, like revenge for me rejecting him or something? Now, he wants to fuck the guy who screwed us over? Is he out of his mind?"
"Oh, I think he's still sane," Wren said dryly, "And I do think he wants revenge, but not on you and me."
"Huh?" the redhead said, still trying to make sense of what he had learned.
"He's going to make Masato pay for hurting us by turning him into a submissive little clan wife. That's what he's going to do. And Masato really doesn't have a choice. The Kuchiki clan has higher status than his clan and his own clan wants the prestige the marriage would bring. This is going to happen, Renji. He's really going to marry that guy."
Renji thought for several long minutes, then sighed and lowered his eyes.
"It's his choice."
"What?" Wren asked, disbelievingly.
"I can't give him what he wants, Wren. You just said that he and you came to the same conclusion. I'm just not ready to be with him like that. And if that's the way it is, then I have no right to interfere in his decisions about who to love or marry. I don't!"
"Baka!" Wren exclaimed, slapping him on the back of the head and earning a string of blistering curses from her angry counterpart.
"Hey, would you fucking stop beating the shit outta me every time you disagree with me? This is ridiculous!"
"No, you're being ridiculous!" Wren yelled, "You'd rather let Byakuya be stuck with a disgusting pig like Masato for the rest of his life than to 'man up' and let him love you! Byakuya is nothing like Masato! Get over this already and stop being such a wimp! For how long are you going to go on letting what Masato did ruin the best thing that ever happened to us?"
Renji caught the infuriated woman's hand in mid-swing, glaring into her eyes as he yelled back at her.
"Damn it, quit that!" he roared, "You know, I don't hit women, but I am not above kicking my own ass, so fucking stop hitting me!"
"Finally, he starts to get a little backbone..." Wren muttered, backing away and crossing her arms, "You know, Renji, I don't want to think of what you would end up like if we weren't reintegrated. You'd spend the rest of your life alone and regretting being so stupid!"
"Shut up!" Renji snapped, "I'm not stupid! I just...got hurt is all."
"By a guy who was a complete psycho," Wren agreed, "Remember, I was there."
"The thing is," Renji said, grabbing her by the shoulders and glaring into her flashing eye, "You aren't in here now."
Wren went still, swallowing hard as she took in the words.
"Maybe...I could have handled it, once I understood that he loved me...not that we ever would have gotten there if it hadn't been for you getting broken off of me, but I'm not even a whole person right now, Wren. And as strong as you are, neither are you. We really can't be making these decisions and overcoming things while we're still in pieces. So, I'm going to ask Byakuya and I'm going to ask you...please, just, no more hasty decisions until we're back in one piece! You shouldn't pressure me to have a relationship with him and he shouldn't go running off trying to get revenge on Masato. I never asked him to do that!"
"Well," Wren said, with an edge of sarcasm in her voice, "you kinda lost the right to have a say in his life when you completely rejected him! And what chivalrous guy wouldn't go after someone who hurt their true love? It's like it became a sort of obligation, once he learned of it."
"Great!" Renji sighed, deflating and dropping into a chair, slamming his face down on the table, "Now I didn't just ruin our life. I fucking destroyed his too! What the hell is wrong with me! Tell you what, just...just run me through, okay? I am goddamned done with trying to deal with all of this!"
"Sorry," Wren said sardonically, "But as long as I'm a part of you, suicide is not an option!"
"Then, there's still time..." Renji muttered unhappily.
"Shut up, will you?" Wren said, less forcefully, "We have to figure a way out of this. We have to convince Byakuya not to marry that bastard. So, how're we going to do that?"
"I don't know," Renji said sarcastically, "How do you feel about earning a death sentence by abducting and hog tying him?"
"Be serious, will you?" Wren sighed disgustedly.
"I was serious," Renji said, scowling, "because once Captain makes up his mind, there's no getting him to change it. He wrote the book on stubborn!"
"Right," Wren said, glaring at him, "That's why he saw his way clear to fall in love with us, then found a way to make that son of a bitch, Masato, pay for what he did."
Renji started to say more, but was halted by the arrival of a hell butterfly.
Okay, kids, said Kisuke's voice, I think we have a possible fix for your splitting problem.
"Thank kami!" Renji and Wren said together.
Then, the two glanced at each other and chuckled softly, while Kisuke's voice went on.
I want you to come on back to my shop as soon as you can. I've already sent for Captain Kuchiki.
"Captain?"' Renji mused, "He just has to be involved, huh?"
"Whatever, let's go," Wren said tersely.
Renji started to follow, but paused as he noticed the barely concealed anxiety in his counterpart's shapely body.
"Hey, uh...you okay?" he asked, laying a hand on her arm.
"Yeah," Wren said nervously, "I just...it's strange, thinking we're going to be back in one body. It's a relief, but..."
"Wren," the redhead said, looking into her shadowed eyes and touching her face lightly, "I think things will be better when we're back the way we were. And maybe...having you there will help, you know? Maybe I'll be better able to work things out with Captain Kuchiki."
"I hope so," the young woman said with sincerity, "If you don't, I'm going to give you all kinds of headaches, stupid!"
"All right," Renji said, taking a steadying breath, "Come on."
"Ah, Captain Kuchiki, right on time," Kisuke said, smiling and indicating a chair at his kitchen table.
"Where are Wren and Renji?" the noble asked, looking around, "Shouldn't they be here by now?"
"Ah, you know them...fashionably late and all," Kisuke chuckled in an off-putting manner.
Byakuya gave him a less than pleased look.
"Sorry," the shopkeeper said, more seriously, "They are on the way, but they had farther to come than you did, and no access to a clan senkaimon."
Byakuya looked down into the tea that Kisuke set in front of him and studied it curiously.
"So," he said quietly, "Is this part of the cure for Renji's condition? You have me curious as to what role I will play in all of this."
"Come on, Captain," Kisuke said, eyeing him skeptically, "I think you already have an idea. I don't want to have to go through everything twice, but I will affirm that you will be needed in a sexual capacity."
"With Wren or Renji?" the Kuchiki heir asked, softly.
"With both," Kisuke said, watching the troubled look that passed over Byakuya's handsome face.
"I see. He is not going to be happy about this."
"No, but I think that, given that or remaining as he is and being powerless, as well as deteriorating slowly over time, he will see the sense of going along with this."
"And you are sure that it will work?" Byakuya asked darkly, "I do not want to put Renji through something like this unnecessarily."
"Huh," mused Kisuke, "I don't get it. I thought that you and Renji kinda liked each other anyway."
"What we feel is rather confused at the moment. I think that we cannot truly resolve our issues until Wren is reintegrated with Renji."
"Well, I can't promise that this will work, but I am reasonably sure that it will, or I wouldn't have called you all in to try it. Trust me, Captain Kuchiki, I will get your vice captain back to you the way he was."
"And he will be able to use Zabimaru?"
"Yeah. I think that the only reason he couldn't was because his soul was split, and therefore, he couldn't connect the necessary elements of body, mind and heart required to release his zanpakutou's power."
"I hope you are right."
"Yeah," Kisuke sighed meaningfully, "Me too."
Byakuya cleared his throat softly and met Kisuke's eyes again.
"Kisuke Urahara, there is one more thing I must ask you. You see, I have never been with another man before and I do not wish to hurt my partner."
He went silent, staring as Kisuke took hold of his hand and slipped a bottle of personal lubricant into it.
"Use a lot and use your fingers to stretch...erm...the area first."
"Ahm, I will," the noble said, blushing and slipping the small bottle into his uniform as Wren and Renji appeared in the doorway.
"Oh, good," Kisuke said, sounding relieved, "You're here. As you can see, Captain Kuchiki's all ready too."
"Great," said Renji, "but why is he here? How is this going to work? Do you even know for sure it will?"
"C'mon and sit down," Kisuke said, nudging the anxious redhead into a chair and pulling out another for Wren. Byakuya sipped quietly at the tea he had been given, watching Renji's face as Kisuke began his explanation.
"Well, it took a long time, and I wasn't sure that I could do it, but I finally figured out exactly what that hollow did to our pal, Renji. You see, this hollow is a kind of 'Splitter Hollow,' meaning that it reproduces without a partner by splitting in two and the two parts mating to make a new Splitter. It doesn't just use the splitting for reproduction. It also uses something like that as a means of attack. So, this is what it did to Renji. When it cut Renji, it released a soul splitting factor that entered through the cut and caused Renji's soul to split. If he had remained in a battle situation, he would have probably split sooner and been confused and weakened so that the hollow could have killed him. But he got away and he calmed down, so the split didn't happen for a while. He split into a male and a female, as the hollow would have, but a lot of things went wrong, because, simply put, he's not a hollow."
"I am glad you were here to point that out to us," Byakuya said dryly.
"Wait, wait wait a fucking minute!" Renji exclaimed, "Does that mean that Wren and I have to have sex? No way! No goddamned way we're doing that! That's just...too weird!"
"Well, if you were a splitter hollow, you would have to do it that way. But you are a shinigami. And shinigamis reproduce by sleeping with another shinigami. What you needed was a shinigami who resonated strongly enough with you to stimulate your body to begin the reproduction process."
"Wh-what? You mean, I am pregnant?" Wren said, looking down at her body quizzically, "But I don't...?"
"No," Kisuke corrected her, "You were the gatherer. Your body took in Byakuya's...erm...seed and reiatsu and rendered it. Then, it was attracted to a concave structure that formed in Renji's body."
"Oh," said Renji, going pale, "What the hell? You...you can't mean that I'm...?
"You're pregnant," Kisuke confirmed.
"Oh my god!" Renji gasped, clenching his midsection, "I think I'm gonna be sick!"
"But, you can't have the baby like you are," the shopkeeper went on, "You and Wren have to be reintegrated for it to work. Once you are, the baby's spirit chamber will form fully and the baby will have a safe place to grow."
"But...but I'm a guy!" Renji objected, "How in the hell am I going to...?"
"The chamber will hold the developing reiatsu, and after it's had time to mature, the area of your belly that is over the structure, will lose cohesion, so that the baby's reiatsu cluster can pass through. It will then solidify into a shinigami baby."
"So, to get turned back, we have to sleep with Captain Kuchiki?" Renji asked, his voice wavering slightly.
"Yes," Kisuke confirmed, "It was Byakuya's body that 'awakened' Wren's and your reproductive cycles, so he is the one who can bring you back together. If he makes love, first to Wren, while Renji is in physical contact with you, then to you, Renji, while Wren is touching you, then the hormones created in the reproduction will signal your bodies to reintegrate. The Splitter Hollow is reintegrated after the two parts have coitus. But, for you, you have to have the other shinigami in the mix for proper fertilization and stimulation of the reintegration hormone."
"Ah...okay," Renji said, looking unsettled, "I guess there's no avoiding it, so..."
He felt a guilty twinge inside at the hurt expression that crossed Byakuya's face for a moment at his words, then disappeared.
"S-sorry Captain," he said, bowing his head, "I didn't mean to..."
"It's fine," Byakuya said stiffly, "I understand that you do not have feelings for me that way, and that having my child is the last thing you would want to do."
"I didn't say that!" Renji exclaimed, "Look, this is just...it's a lot to handle, okay? I didn't say that I didn't...I mean I have to be honest and say that I do have feelings for you! I told you that! I just...I don't feel ready for this."
"Unfortunately, there is a window of opportunity," Kisuke explained, "because you are already pregnant. You need the chamber completed soon, or you and Wren are going to begin to fade."
"All right," Renji said, nodding, "Fine. Let's...let's go ahead with it. I'm not exactly ready, but it seems like we should do this now."
"I agree. The sooner the better," said Kisuke.
The two went silent, suddenly, realizing that, as they had been talking, tears had begun to roll down Wren's tattooed face, and Byakuya had moved forward to gently embrace her. Renji was jolted all over again by the tenderness in the noble's hands, in the way he looked so kindly into her eyes and kissed her reassuringly.
"It's going to be all right," he whispered, rubbing his face lightly against hers, "Don't be afraid."
"I love you," Wren sobbed softly, "I really love you, Byakuya!"
"I love you too," the noble whispered back, kissing her again.
"Let's just do this now...before I...before I can't," Wren said in a shaky voice.
Kisuke nodded and indicated one of the guest rooms, then watched as the three entered.
I hope this works...
"Are you going to be all right?" Byakuya asked, kneeling in front of Wren on the bed, as Renji took up a position behind her and slid his arms around her.
"I...I think so."
Wren caught her breath in surprise as Renji's voice sounded very softly in her ear.
"It'll be okay. I promise. I won't stop hearing you, just because you're inside me again. I will...really try to do the right thing."
"Thank you," Wren whispered back, reaching down to squeeze his hand.
She raised her eyes to meet Byakuya's and nodded.
"I'm okay now," she assured him, "Go ahead."
Renji watched, once again completely entranced at the gentleness in Byakuya's hands as they captured Wren's face and he kissed her several times, until her hands rose and set themselves on his shoulders. They bared each other slowly, exchanging kisses and longing touches, savoring the last moments of their love. Renji remained positioned behind her, his arms around her waist and his head rested on her shoulder. He tried to avoid his captain's dark, pained eyes, but couldn't help feeling inside just how badly the noble's sheltered heart was breaking. He coaxed Wren onto his lap, entering her in small, measured movements, then pausing with their bodies fully joined and kissing her again.
Renji's heart thudded in his chest as Byakuya's eyes caught his for a moment, and the noble seemed ready to speak. His lips trembled slightly, and he seemed to think better of it and closed his eyes, resting his head on Wren's other shoulder as he began to move again. His hands slid down Wren's long torso, caressing her back and sliding over Renji's arms, exciting soft chills on his vice captain's skin as he held onto Wren's soft bottom, encouraging her rise and fall on his hungry length. The two became quickly breathless, and surrendered after several minutes to the long, shuddering pulses of completion. They held each other tightly as they rested and their bodies calmed. Then, Byakuya kissed her a last time, lingeringly, before releasing her and watching as Renji switched places with her.
Renji noticed right away the differences...the heavier tension in the noble's slightly sweating body, the flutter in his reiatsu and the fact that Byakuya wasn't making any eye contact, even as he embraced Renji and waited quietly for him to make the first move.
"What are you doing?" Renji asked, "Why aren't you looking at me? Are you still angry?"
A moment later, his heart nearly leapt out of his chest as he realized that there were two escaped tears running down Byakuya's fine, pale cheeks.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, wrapping his arms around the noble and bringing his head to rest on a warm shoulder, "I know it's my fault. And the thing is...it isn't that I don't love you as much as Wren does. It's just that with the two of us separated, I haven't really been able to function."
"It doesn't mean we can't work things out. I don't know how I will feel, once this is over. But I can tell you right now that I will give this a lot of thought, okay? I swear I will."
"Thank you," Byakuya said solemnly, lifting his head and blinking as Wren's softer hands touched his face, brushing the tears away, then slid down his body and began to explore his nether region.
He sighed and closed his eyes, moving with her caresses as she slowly brought him back into a state of arousal. Renji shivered as the noble's hands slid down his back and over his bottom, then his fingers began to work their way gradually towards the redhead's entrance. Renji suffered a wickedly painful flash of memory at being touched there, and winced reflexively as Byakuya's warm, lubricated fingers touched him more intimately.
"Don't worry," Byakuya assured him, "I will be gentle with you."
"Huh, right," Renji mused, "You've never even done it with a guy before. How do you even know how to be gentle?"
"I am glad to see that your mixed feelings about this have not completely overcome your sense of humor, Renji," Byakuya commented, actually gaining a smile from both Renji and Wren, "And for your information, I consulted someone who would know to make sure that I would be properly prepared for this."
"Oh? Who? That bat-shit crazy scientist out there?" Renji mused, "He's probably watching us right now."
"No, I do not..."
The noble let out a piqued breath.
"Don't think about that," he said soothingly, as his fingers continued to prepare his vice captain, "Just think of this as...as training."
"Training? Really, Captain?" Renji asked sarcastically.
"Renji, please do not call me that while we are in bed together. It sounds obscene. It sounds like I am using my position to take advantage of you."
"Sorry, Cap...Byakuya," Renji apologized, letting his breath out and shivering slightly as Byakuya's fingers retreated and he slid forward onto the noble's lap, spreading his shaking legs.
He couldn't look into the noble's eyes as he settled onto Byakuya's aroused length, but was extremely aware of the close proximity of the man's slightly parted lips as their bodies were joined. Byakuya held perfectly still, allowing Renji to adjust, then lifted his eyes to meet the redhead's.
Renji froze, looking into those deep gray orbs and unable to miss the longing and deep sadness in them. And he wanted more than anything to make that sadness go away. He swallowed hard and leaned forward, breathing in the man's lovely sakura scent and wondering briefly how he could ever have thought Byakuya was anything like that other man. Everything about him was different. He pressed his lips gently to the noble's and Byakuya froze, staring into his eyes, then parted his lips and kissed Renji back. The redhead lifted his hips and moaned softly, his heart fluttering at being so intimately joined with Byakuya that way. And even though he still felt scared, the fear seemed more distant as he and Byakuya moved in faster, more urgent thrusts against each other. He could have spent forever, held so snugly in the noble's arms, breathing with him and moving together with him, as though they were only parts of the same person. Wren leaned against Renji's back, a smile rising on her lips at the sounds that were escaping the two men. The three seemed joined at the heart as Byakuya and Renji climaxed together, then the three collapsed onto the bed and swiftly lost consciousness. None of them were aware when their bodies began to glow with bright red light and Wren's body was slowly absorbed back into Renji's, leaving Byakuya and Renji in a tight embrace.
Kisuke slipped into the room as Wren disappeared and ran several quick tests, then sighed softly in relief.
"Okay," he said, nodding, "I think that did it. Now, we just have to get those two through the pregnancy."
He caught himself and laughed sarcastically.
"Oh yeah, a pregnant Renji Abarai? Right, Renji's going to love this..."