Chapter 8: Love Confession

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Always, I knew that love's path was a winding trail. Like ivy that bends around a wooden trellis, love needs a foundation on which to grow. My feet are firm in the ground, my arms stretched to the heavens. But only you, in your soft, eternal climb, can bridge the last of the distance between us.

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"Hey!" yelled Renji, dodging a furious hail of small, highly controlled kido blasts that emanated from the incensed noble's extended hand as Tetsuya took evasive action and the clan healer fled the room, "What the hell is wrong with you? I did exactly what you said. I went to Kuchiki Manor and Tetsuya helped me get the provisional marriage document. So, what's your problem now?"

Byakuya left off firing kido spells as two Central 46 guards entered the room with their weapons drawn.

"Is there a problem, Captain?" one asked sternly, "We heard..."

"My apologies," Byakuya said tersely, "I was disciplining my idiot subordinate."

"What?" objected Renji, "Would you leave off throwing shit at me and insulting me, and just tell me what the hell I did? Tetsuya wasn't even involved and you're throwing shit in his direction too! You've got no reason to..."

"Well," said the first guard, smirking and shaking his head, "If that is all, we will be on guard outside the door."

Renji waited as they exited, then sighed unhappily.

"Damn, do they honestly think that after turning yourself in you're going to run out on the charges?" he asked, scowling.

"I think they understand how dealing with an idiot like you would make one insane enough to become violent!" snapped the noble, looking around for something else to throw, "And as to the carrying out of my directives, yes, you did acquire the provisional marriage document, for which I am grateful, but what I am most certainly not grateful for is your lack of self control when we were together which put me in the very position I wanted to avoid by having you carry our child!"

"What are you talking about?" objected the redhead, "I am pregnant with your kid, just like you wanted! What's your goddamned problem with that?"

Byakuya's hand found several utensils he had overlooked, and he hurled them one by one as he spoke.

"You...IDIOT! I...AM...PREGNANT...TOO!" he yelled.

Tetsuya caught his breath in surprise and barely ducked the flying utensils as Renji sidestepped them easily and flash stepped to Byakuya's bedside. Byakuya paused with a butter knife poised in his hand as Renji grabbed his wrist to hold the knife away and kissed him happily.

"You're...you're really having my baby?" he said, his expression so beautifully pleased that the noble couldn't help but be taken aback, "Really, Taichou? I mean, I know you didn't mean for it to happen like that and, sure, there's a lot that we have to deal with, but...oh my god! You are going to be so damned cute all round bellied and waddling around like...whoa!"

Renji teetered, off balance for a moment as the noble tore his hand free, then his hand caught Byakuya's again just in time to stop him from plunging the knife into the redhead's body.

"How DARE YOU! I'll break you apart, you fool!" Byakuya snapped, surging to his feet and knocking the redhead backwards against the door, "Don't you EVER say such things to me again! ROUND-BELLIED? WADDLING? Are you insane? I cannot be seen like that! What were you thinking? How could you put me in this position, you stupid, beastly mongrel!"

"Hey, that's getting personal, Captain..." Renji said, looking offended.

"I'll show you personal, you idiot!" the noble said, throwing a punch that Tetsuya stopped just short of the redhead.

"Cousin," he said bracingly, "I know that you are angry with Renji, but...perhaps we should focus on other things that are more important. You have visitation now. And our elders are cooperating with the councilors of Central 46 to try to resolve things. But I think that yelling at and attacking your provisional husband is not likely to convince them of your innocence..."

Byakuya bit his lip and let out a frustrated breath, then turned and walked back to the bed. He sat down on the edge of the bed, looking down at his bare feet and agonizing inwardly.

"This is exactly what I didn't want," he said more softly, "Now, along with everything else I have to manage...I am with child."

Renji peeled himself off of the door and approached the noble cautiously. He sat down on the bed beside Byakuya and hesitantly slipped a hand into his. Byakuya looked quietly down at their joined hands, worry in his eyes.

"What if I am convicted of a capital crime...executed without being able to ever see my children draw breath? What if...?"

"Stop, okay?" Renji said bracingly, "Tetsuya said that the head captain is going to offer some kind of testimony that will be supported by something that will make those old farts stop and listen."

"Pardon me if I don't find myself overly optimistic. The Central 46 council is made up mostly of noble lords from many of the clans...and more than a few have strained relations with my clan. Some of them will jump at the chance to eliminate a strong rival clan leader."

"We're not gonna let that happen," Renji promised, "Look, you're not going to get convicted of anything. The head captain will..."

"You know that the head captain often clashes with the council. There is no guarantee that they will believe what he has to tell them. This has the potential to end very badly. And if it does, then it might not be just me who will suffer. They might just ignore the fact of the babies and execute me anyway."

"Aww, don't talk like that, Captain," Renji pleaded, "I don't think they're gonna...whoa, wait a sec! B-babies?"

Byakuya sighed resignedly.

"I did not know before," the noble admitted, "But as you have a two-spirit zanpakutou, you and I are going to deliver in multiples of two."

"Wh-what?" asked Renji, paling, "What did you say?"

"Is this true?" asked Tetsuya, "I did not know that..."

"It is true," Byakuya confirmed.

"Y-you said...multiples of two?" Renji asked weakly, "Does that mean that...there could be four?"

"Or six," said Byakuya, "or eight...or ten..."

"Oh my kami," said Renji, swaying dizzily.

"Abarai, are you all right?" asked Byakuya, actually managing to feel a jolt of concern through the dregs of his anger.

"Oh...oh Captain. Y'know, I don't know if I can..."

"Renji, breathe normally. You are going to hyperventilate," the noble warned the redhead.

"M-multiples of two?" Renji repeated feverishly, "Oh..."

He fell back onto the bed next to Byakuya, swooning.

"Renji!" cried Byakuya, "Renji, are you all right? Tetsuya, bring the clan healer back!"

"Ugh," groaned the redhead, "Multiples? Did you really say that, Captain?"

"Was I in some way unclear?" the noble said, frowning, "It is as I said. Because..."

"I heard. I heard," moaned Renji, looking sick to his stomach, "Gods, I hate Zabimaru even more now! Bastard..."

"Well," said Byakuya, collecting himself somewhat as the door opened and Michio returned, followed by a dour looking Central 46 councilor, "What's done is done, I suppose. We had best begin considering what to do next."

The councilor alongside the healer observed Byakuya for a moment, then shook his head.

"He does not look any too ill to me," he said, skeptically.

"Perhaps not on the surface," said the healer, "but you will notice that his reiatsu is definitely low. And when he arrived, he was hearing his enemy's voice in his mind, as though he was being attacked. We have not yet determined what is causing that effect. Captain Unohana has run additional tests and we do not feel comfortable releasing Captain Kuchiki until the results of those tests have come back."

"I do not see why he needs to be in the infirmary to wait," complained the councilor, "It is not as though he needs continuing treatment..."

"Actually," said Michio, "I am giving him periodic reiatsu infusions, and Lord Byakuya's provisional husband is assisting in his treatment. The infirmary is the most appropriate place for that to take place as it contains the necessary equipment to handle a sudden reiatsu flare of falloff, which as you know, could cause damage to whatever place he is in at the time."

"I suppose that is true," the councilor said unhappily, "Very well, then. I will relay the information to the council."

"And as Renji Abarai is involved in Lord Byakuya's treatment and has been accepted by the Kuchiki clan as our leader's provisional husband, we also expect that he will be allowed to come and go unrestricted, here in the infirmary and also to and from the cell Lord Byakuya is assigned to when the test results come and he is released to the holding area."

"You have the provisional document?" the councilor asked.

"I do," said Renji, sitting up and handing it to the councilor, who looked it over, then nodded and turned away.

"The council will restrain itself until the results of the medical tests are in and he is in a stable physical state."

The four men watched as the councilor left, then sat silently for a moment, gathering themselves.

"Well," said Michio, "I suppose I had best show the two of you the method for stabilizing each other's bodies should your reiatsu fall out of balance."

He moved closer to the hospital bed and directed Byakuya to kneel on the bed with Renji settled in front of him, with his back to the noble.

"Now then, wrap your arms around him and place your hands on his belly. Then, you just release a steady stream of stabilizing energy into the area. And when you are done, then you switch positions and repeat the procedure. You can do this nearly anywhere, and will probably need to do it a few times a day for the duration of the pregnancies...more often as you near your due dates."

"W-well, that doesn't sound too bad," said Renji, sighing.

Michio smiled.

"Oh, that will be the most pleasant part of the pregnancies...that closeness with your husband..."

"Yeah," Renji huffed, "As long as my husband doesn't just decide to strangle me while he's got me there with my back to him."

Byakuya let out a frustrated breath.

"Luckily for you, you are pregnant with my children, so I will forgo any violence towards you until you deliver."

Renji giggled.

"And then, you'll be huffing and puffing and having your own little group of rugrats, ne?"

Byakuya scowled.

"You do realize how badly you are going to pay for irritating me when this is over, do you not, you fool..."

"Eh," Renji said, surprising the noble with a quick, affectionate peck on his pouting lips, "I think I have a while before I have to worry about that."

"Well," said Tetsuya, "Now that the council has agreed not to interfere with you until after the medical reports come back, and they have granted Renji the right to stay with you, I will return to the manor to see to security issues there. But I will be close by and will come for any hearings."

"Arigatou, Tetsuya," Byakuya said, nodding as his cousin bowed briefly, then left the room.

"Well now," said Michio, "I will leave the two of you to your bonding."

He started to leave, but paused at the door.

"Erm...I will place a privacy seal on the door to alert you before anyone may enter, as the bonding has the tendency to um...stimulate certain physical responses."

Renji smirked.

"I think the good doctor is saying that it might give us a hard on."

"Yes, Renji, thank you for the translation," Byakuya said dryly, "Now, please shut up before I am forced to reconsider my policy of non-violence towards you during our pregnancies."

Renji chuckled again as the healer left the room, then settled with his back against Byakuya's chest and the noble's arms wrapped around him. He sighed happily as Byakuya's hands rubbed his abdomen, gently infusing the area with calming reiatsu. Byakuya bit at his lips as the physical contact with Renji's warm belly made his insides twinge softly.

"Oi, Captain, I think Michio was right," the redhead commented, "I can feel you're already hard and I am too, see?"

He captured one of the noble's hands and touched the fine fingertips to his enlarged member, then shivered and groaned softly.

"First of all," Byakuya said, loosing his hand and returning it to Renji's belly, "that will wait until we are both stabilized."

"But then, we can do something about it, right? Because if I'm like that too long, it starts to be pretty painful..."

"You forget," Byakuya breathed in the redhead's ear and making him catch his breath at the sweet internal jolt it sent through him, "Right now? I want to hurt you..."

"That's not nice, Captain," Renji said, frowning, "especially considering I am doing you one hell of a big favor."

"What? You mean, saying insulting things to me, calling me by my military designation when we are now considered married and taking reckless action that impregnated me?"

"Hey, I didn't hear you complaining at all when I took that reckless action," Renji reminded him saucily, "As a matter of fact, as I recall, you were making some really sexy noises and pretty much shredding the sheets...and you even said it was good."

Byakuya moved suddenly, and brought the redhead down onto his back on the bed, trapping him there and letting him feel the hot press of Byakuya's piqued member touching his through their clothes.

"So I did," he said icily, glaring down into the redhead's eyes in a way that made Renji's mouth go dry and his heart pound hard in his chest, "But you will remember that we were in a private, secluded place when that happened. Even with the seal on the door to this room, this is a place where we could possibly be observed and you will not overstep your boundaries with me while we are here."

Renji grinned up at him.

"But when you've been cleared and we get out of here and..."

Renji read the uncertainty in Byakuya's eyes and stopped.

"You still don't think they'll let you go, do you?"

Byakuya sighed.

"I do not know. I think, perhaps it is best to take things as they come, and to find solace in the little things."

Renji sat up and positioned himself behind the noble, sliding his hands down to rest on Byakuya's slim abdomen. He cleared his throat softly and tried to hide a smile as the rough touch of his hands on that soft skin made the noble blush, and made his piqued member twitch and leak warningly. He quieted then, contenting himself with the warm press of Byakuya's back against his front and the pleasant exchange of their blending energies. He left one hand on the noble's belly and let the other slide down to his inner thigh, prompting a look of warning out of the corner of one gray eye. Renji adjusted the blanket so that even if they were being watched, his movements would be less obvious, then he let his hand slide further down and wrap around Byakuya's swollen and damp erection. Byakuya's eyes closed and he rested his face against the redhead's cheek as Renji's hand slowly pleasured him beneath the covers.

The redhead caught his breath in surprise as Byakuya's hand crept around behind his back and wrapped around Renji's hungry arousal, offering him the same pleasure as he was receiving. The two went quiet, keeping their faces calm and peaceful as they completed their bonding and sought to relieve each other of the residual effects.

"I can't wait until we get out of this place and we can make love to each other like we did before," Renji sighed.

The memory of Renji's sudden overthrow and the rough taking of his body carried the noble off into pulses of pure bliss.

"You're thinking about it again, aren't you?" Renji asked, kissing his earlobe and sliding a finger down to tease Byakuya's entrance beneath the covers, "You thought about it and it made you climax, just thinking of it..."

"Renji..." the noble whispered, closing his eyes.

"As soon as you're free, we'll go somewhere where we can be alone, and I'll put myself inside you again like that and make love to you the way you like it, but you're too embarrassed to say out loud."

Byakuya's eyes opened and met Renji's over one shoulder.

"Is that a promise?" he asked softly.

"That's a promise," Renji said, meeting him with an over the shoulder kiss.

"Renji," said the noble, "despite the fact that I still want to hurt you for making me pregnant...I look forward to that."

"You do?" Renji asked, smirking.

"I do," the noble admitted, "Renji...I know I didn't say it before, but...I hope you know that...I love you."

Renji opened his mouth to answer, but was overtaken as he climaxed, and his hot seed pulsed out onto his belly, Byakuya's back and the noble's stroking hand. He collapsed against the back of Byakuya's shoulder, more giddy from the noble's words than from the sexual pleasure.

Byakuya loves me.

He said it out loud.

Why did I think that hell would freeze over and the worlds would end before he said it?

I can die happy now.

Byakuya Kuchiki loves me...