Chapter 21: Breath of Deception

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A beautiful thing, crafted by you to fool another. Loosed to walk his wicked way and drawn back to you when it was done. But didn't you notice when you spun your web around me...you too were entwined?

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Tetsuya woke in the middle of the night and found that the regent had returned to their bed and wound himself around the young noble's body, resting his hand on the illusory bump on Tetsuya's abdomen.

It is lucky that his attachment is to the power he desires and not so much to me or there would be a greater risk of him sensing this deception.

He gazed out the open balcony doors, surprised that the regent had let down his guard so much, but then quickly spotted a sentry near the doors.

He is not going to take chances. After all, he is very invested in this child. His claim to leadership rests on this and he will defend it with everything he has...ruthlessly.

He shivered, thinking about the lengths to which the king had already gone to manipulate everyone involved, to set Aizen up to die and to erase the information that would incriminate him.

And suddenly, it occurred to him...

I remember!

Sousuke said that he could restore my memories...and it seems that as he helped me to bear our child, he also brought back what was stolen from me. And things are more clear now. I may have been Mitsuru once, but I am truly Tetsuya, even having evolved into transcendence. All that died was my shinigami body. My soul that had been born as Tetsuya survived the transcendence ritual. That is why when I transcended, the king had to conceal my face. He wants everyone, even me to believe that I am the Mitsuru of old, and that the child is his.

I must not interfere with his perception of that. In fact...I must let him believe that he has convinced me...

What then, will do that?

And what will make him give me the information I need about the king's prism?

The regent stirred softly, sliding his hand down to fondle Tetsuya's warm, flaccid privates.

There is no love in this man's touch...only possessiveness. Sousuke's hands are also possessive, but I feel the passion in them when he touches me. Even without words, I would know which man was truly my lover.

The thought comforted Tetsuya, even as he laid, wrapped in his enemy's arms. He took a steadying breath, thinking carefully and slowly forming a plan. He waited until the regent's sleep lightened, then closed his eyes and began to move uncomfortably in Toru's arms. The regent's eyes opened as Tetsuya's feverish voice rose up in fearful exclamation.

"L-let me go! Let me go, you monster!" he gasped shakenly, "I won't let you take it from him! N-no...no!"

He sat up suddenly, his blue eyes wide and filled with terror.

"Toru! Toru, help me!" he cried, senselessly.

"Mitsuru!" the regent exclaimed, sitting up and recapturing his shivering consort, "Mitsuru, it is all right. You were just dreaming. Lie down."

Tetsuya clung to the regent tightly, burying his face in the man's shoulder and shuddering. The hands holding him seemed to waver oddly for a moment, then gentled and became more comforting.

"There now, I've reassured you it is just a dream."

"I w-wasn't sure," Tetsuya said in a trembling voice as the regent captured his tearstained face and looked into his guileless expression, "It was him. He took hold of me and he said that he would kill me if I did not do as he said...that whether I remembered him or not, I belonged to him...and I would have to help him find...something! But...I don't know what he wants! Are you sure that it is not real? That he does not have some sort of connection with me, even now?"

Toru sighed softly, kissing his lips gently.

"Sousuke Aizen is dead," he said softly, "And even if he wasn't, he would not be able to take anything from us."

"B-but what would he have been after? What is it that...?"

"Hush now. Rest. You went through quite an ordeal, entering transcendence and becoming lost as you did, Mitsuru. But you are home now. Your home is here...in my arms, as it always has been. Sousuke Aizen is gone and we are going to rule the three worlds together as soon as this child you carry is born and legitimated."

Tetsuya sniffed softly, catching his breath as the regent's fingers brushed his tears away. Toru's mouth sought his again, and he brought Tetsuya down onto his back as they kissed. Tetsuya's heart pounded fitfully.

I cannot let him take me. There is no way that I could feign loving this man. I would never be able to live with myself...

What do I do?

Toru's mouth attacked his throat hungrily and his hands explored Tetsuya's body, again conveying a sense of him establishing dominance, rather than pleasuring.

"Mitsuru, my love, I know that you are not able to allow me to make love to you, but, darling, I need you! If only with the touch of your hand, could you return my affections?" he sighed.

Tetsuya shivered as his hand was captured and brought down to wrap around Toru's thick, damp erection. The regent groaned languidly at the touch of that soft, slender hand, and kept his own wrapped around it, seemingly content to direct and control, rather than seeking his willingness. Despite his resolve to help Aizen, Tetsuya's stomach quailed at being made to touch someone he did not love.

Kami, I do not have what it takes to be deceptive when it comes to love and lovemaking. What was I thinking?

What do I do?

How do I stop him?

He started to speak, but was stopped by a hot, thrusting tongue that plunged in between his lips and curled around his in that same, suffocating, possessive way. Tetsuya made a sound of discomfort, hoping that Toru would stop, but was shaken again as the regent continued the heavy kissing and thrust more eagerly into his stroking hand. Toru moaned into his mouth, panting harshly as his pleasure crested. He shifted suddenly, rising up over Tetsuya and letting his seed spill out onto the noble's bare chest and rounded belly. Then, he pulled away and bent over the stunned man and slowly licked his own release off of Tetsuya's skin.

"I wish that I could return the pleasure that you just gave me, my lovely Mitsuru, but your healer insists it would be dangerous to the baby to rile you. I apologize."

He lifted himself and started to move to kiss Tetsuya again, but was interrupted as the door flew open and Akira dashed into the room. He slid to a stop, meeting Tetsuya's relieved eyes for a moment and giving the faintest of nods.

"What do you want, you little roach!" snapped the regent.

"I-I am s-sorry, my lord!" Akira panted, "But I heard Lord Mitsuru making odd noises and his reiatsu felt disturbed. I only meant to..."

"He is fine," the regent said, waving off the rest of the youth's words.

Suddenly overcome by how close he had come to betraying Aizen with his enemy, Tetsuya felt illness finally take hold of him, and he turned and threw up into the trash can beside the bed. His body seized again, and he felt Toru's arm wrap around him, keeping him from falling onto the floor as he retched violently until he was seeing stars.

"I-I'm sorry!" he gasped, swaying dizzily.

I really cannot conceive of giving any part of myself to anyone but Sousuke. And to this man, least of all! He is horrid! That he put his hands on me...that he...ugh!

"Not to worry," said the regent, tolerantly, "You are with child and having strong symptoms. You should rest now. I must go."

He glared at Akira.

"This one has annoyed me and I owe him for the displeasure."

"M-my lord!" Tetsuya said, scrambling to the edge of the bed as the regent moved to rise, "Please, do not be harsh with him. He has...been very kind to me. I...do not think that I would have recovered so much if not for his attention to my care. I am sure he is sorry for annoying you...and that he will endeavor not to put you out of sorts again."

"Ah...very well," sighed Toru, dropping back down onto the bed, "If it pleases my Mitsuru, I will let his transgression go this time. Akira, take my consort and give him a warm bath."

"Y-yes, my lord!" Akira said, moving to the bed and helping Tetsuya to his feet.

The two left the bedroom and moved into the bathing room, where Akira paused for a moment, looking at Tetsuya.

"With your permission, sir."

"Of course," Tetsuya said, nodding.

Akira undressed Tetsuya, then himself, then tied a wrap around his waist and followed the consort out to the warm waterfall, where Tetsuya stood, washing the saliva and slight remains of Toru's seed from his skin and wishing he could remove the memory of being touched by the man. He flinched at first at even Akira's touch, but then quieted and let the youth wash him thoroughly from head to toe.

"Thank you for saving me from a beating," Akira said under his breath, "King Toru is very brutal."

"But why did you come back?" asked Tetsuya, "I thought that you were sent with Yuji Iitoku to care for our baby."

"Yuji realized that you had used Sousuke Aizen's power to slip away from us. He worried that you were planning to return to the king, and so he sent me back to inform Master Aizen of your plans."

Tetsuya swallowed hard.

"Is Sousuke very angry?" he asked softly.

"Erm...admittedly, yes," Akira said , shaking his head, "His reiatsu was almost crushing when I told him. And he sent me at once to make contact with you and to try to convince you to abandon your plans. But, seeing the amount of security around you...the precautions that King Toru is taking...I do not know that escape is possible. So I will stay close to you and help you as much as I can."

"Thank you, Akira," Tetsuya said gratefully, "I think you are right that his majesty will not take any chances of me wandering away again. So we will make the most of my being here."

"But...Master Tetsuya, it seems King Toru is...erm...rather persistent in pursuing intimacy with you. And when I entered the room, it seemed that you were not handling his advances so well."

"I will manage King Toru," Tetsuya insisted, "The healer has already impressed upon him that we should not have sexual intercourse until after the 'birth.' I am safe from that for now. And the rest, I shall simply have to endure as best I can. But you must be careful, Akira. I do not want him to become violent with you. He has proven now that he will not hesitate to kill anyone who crosses him. He won't kill me as long as he believes that I carry the heir..."

He broke off as the king entered the bathing room and walked to the edge of the water. Tetsuya forced a smile and returned to the water's edge, quietly accepting a deep, penetrating kiss from the man.

"I must attend a council meeting," Toru informed him, touching his face gently, "I will not be long, but will you wait for me in the gardens?"

"Y-yes, my lord," Tetsuya said, nodding briefly, "Of course."

The regent sank his fingers into Tetsuya's hair and kissed him more passionately.

"Hmmm, I do not know what it is, Mitsuru, but it seems that you are more attractive to me by the moment. It will be difficult, I think, holding back from making love to you until the baby comes...ah, but it seems I must persevere. Still, I am sure that we will manage."

"Yes, my lord," Tetsuya replied, blushing, "We will manage."

Toru's smile sent a chill through him.

"It is...good to see some of your old personality returning now, Mitsuru. Channeling that shinigami you were for a while, you were more annoying, but this...this more pliant...obedient person I remember. You are irresistible..."

Obedient? Ugh, this man is despicable...

Tetsuya smiled back at him sweetly.

"I will be waiting for you in the gardens, my lord."

"Very well," said the regent, giving him a last, lingering kiss, then releasing him, "I will see you there. We will see then if I can't dispel any remaining fears about Sousuke Aizen."

Tetsuya felt a shiver pass through him at the words.

Does he mean that he will try to reassure me, or is there something else he plans to do?

He started in surprise as Akira appeared in front of him and coaxed him into the dressing area, where he clothed the consort in a lovely blue yukata, then guided him out of the royal bedroom and through the palace hallways to the gardens. The youth walked with him to the healing pool, then took his leave of the noble.

"I must return to the others and let them know that I was successful in making contact with you. I am sure that Master Aizen is very worried about you and will be insufferable with the others until he is reassured of your safety. He is a very passionate man when it comes to you, ne?"

Tetsuya caught his breath softly, memories of their intense lovemaking returning to his recently restored mind.

He is a passionate man.

And unlike this regent, Sousuke's passions are a reflection of love. That love comes through, even when he riles me with the shocking actions he takes.

Sousuke...

"Master Tetsuya?"

"S-sorry," Tetsuya said, blinking, "I became distracted for a moment."

"It is all right," said Akira, "Things are in a chaotic state. But what I asked you was if there was any message I should give Master Aizen?"

Tetsuya considered the question for a moment.

"Tell him...I am grateful for his concern. And that I will not take any unnecessary risks."

Akira smiled.

"Of course, Master Tetsuya. I will tell him. And I will be back to deliver your dinner."

"Arigato, Akira," Tetsuya said, watching quietly as the youth flash stepped away.

He turned then to face the healing pool, listening to the soft fall of water and enjoying the scents of the flowers. But as he stood looking down into the water, a quiver passed through him.

That man has attacked me twice in this place...first, he killed Mitsuru and sent his soul...my soul...to the shinigami world to be reborn. Then, he used the king's prism to end my shinigami life and force me into transcendence. He tried to steal away my memory of who I have come to be. Yes, there is no mistaking it. Though I was Mitsuru once, I left that person behind when that life ended, and I am now a different person entirely. But as different as I became being reborn, my innate passion for Sousuke Aizen is nonetheless a constant. Even Mitsuru realized upon learning of Sousuke that his fate had been disrupted, and that our soul was meant for that man.

I know that my heart and soul belong to him...now, not just because we were fated to be together, but because he is the only one who could ignite the passions in me. I had a gentle, innocent romance with Naoki, but there is nothing innocent about what burns between Sousuke and me. As unpredictable as he can be, I always feel his love for me seething beneath it.

Tetsuya shivered again at the memory of the two 'deaths' he had suffered at the regent's hands and started to turn away from the place, when a strong arm wrapped around his waist and another covered his mouth. He felt the invocation of power and tried to struggle, then froze as he felt himself being turned, and his mouth was warmly invaded by the lover he had just been thinking about.

"S-sousuke!" he managed between the slow, almost scathing kisses, "His majesty will..."

"He will not see through my illusion."

The angry edge in his lover's voice made Tetsuya swallow hard and catch his breath softly as Aizen's eyes glared down into his.

"And how dare you refer to that man as though he was the rightful king. Have you forgotten again who I am?" the heir said mockingly, sinking deeply into Tetsuya's mouth again before the flustered noble could answer.

He pulled free of Tetsuya, frowning.

"What is it?" asked Tetsuya, "Is something wrong, Sousuke?"

"I can taste that man on your lips, Tetsuya," Aizen said, barely concealing a dangerous flare of anger, "I will have to kill him for putting his hands on you."

He stepped closer again, freezing Tetsuya in place with his powerful, almost accusing gaze.

"And you," he said in a voice that sounded calm, but sent shivers through the noble's young body from end to end, "You, I am afraid, must be punished. Your recklessness and your outright defiance of my will has put you...the one I love, in unnecessary danger."

"It is not unnecessary," said Tetsuya, forcing the words out, despite the heavy press of Aizen's reiatsu against his, "I am no longer with child and I am not weak."

"But I am your king and I did order you to remain under protection and let me handle this."

And as much as he knew Aizen was a powerful man, and that he was certainly capable of forcing his will on him, Tetsuya's eyes caught fire, and he answered his lover's anger with flares of his own heat.

"You may be my lover, and heir to that throne, but you are not king yet!" he hissed furiously, "And even when you are, I will defy you any time you try to tell me not to fight for the things that matter. I won't be shuffled off to safety like a child and told to sit quietly and let you manage everything alone! If you were meant to be alone and to do everything yourself, then fate wouldn't have put me in your path, Sousuke! So..."

His words disappeared into a storm of hot, melting kisses as Aizen's mouth reclaimed his, and ravished it furiously until Tetsuya was nearly dizzy with the force of it. And when Aizen pulled away again, Tetsuya was left reeling.

"Tetsuya Kuchiki," Aizen said, smirking, "You truly have come back to me, ne? Stubbornness and all, I see..."

"I am determined to help you," Tetsuya said petulantly.

"Yes, I see that," Aizen said, sounding more amused now, than angry, "However...you might want to consider exactly what that choice entails before plunging in so recklessly."

He turned Tetsuya's head, and the younger man inhaled sharply in surprise at seeing the king now reclining in the shallows of the healing pool, with an illusion of Tetsuya, on his knees between the regent's parted thighs and pleasuring him enthusiastically with his mouth.

"Ugh!" Tetsuya grunted, looking sick again.

"I feel your disgust," Aizen said sedately, "But if you will remember to employ Kyouka Suigetsu's illusions when that man tries to molest you, you may in fact, hold on to your virtue and incur less punishments from me later, when I am your king!"

Tetsuya's eyes widened.

"Th-then you...aren't going to force me to...?" he began.

Aizen smiled at him affectionately.

"Well, you seem so determined...and I know how persistent you can be when you put your mind to something. Yes, I will accept your assistance in procuring the king's prism and helping me to transcend. But you, in turn, will agree to accept my advice, and you will be exceedingly cautious in your dealings with him. I did not come this far, only to lose you now, Tetsuya."

Tetsuya felt a throb of guilt and lowered his eyes, his anger draining away as quickly as it had arisen.

"I am...sorry, Sousuke. I know that your mind would be eased if I did not choose to involve myself."

"Yes, well...despite my instinct to protect you, I must respect your fine fighting spirit. But you must remember that you have only recently passed over into transcendence and your body is still adjusting. Be cautious as you move forward. I do not want to lose you, Tetsuya."

Tetsuya smiled and sought his lover's arms, making a disgusted face as he again caught sight of his 'illusion self' pleasuring the regent only a few feet away.

"Now then," Aizen said, capturing Tetsuya's chin and looking down into his eyes, "since you have defied me and owe me something...and you have, in any case, aroused me, why don't we sink down into this lovely pool and indulge in each other for a bit?"

Tetsuya flushed instantly.

"I am not doing that...w-with him right there!" he objected.

"Well," said Aizen, smirking, "I did say that you deserved punishment..."