Chapter 2: We Meet Again
(Thanks to everyone reading and reviewing! Spunky loves ya! Enjoy the new chapter!)
Renji slipped an arm around Tetsuya as the two descended the stage steps, still somewhat breathless from their exertions during the impromptu performance.
"You're incredible!" Renji said appreciatively, "Tetsuya-san, you are amazing! It's a fucking crime that those old bastards have kept you under their thumb all of this time. But now that Byakuya paid your debt, you don't have to listen to them anymore."
"Well," sighed the younger man, "to some extent, but it isn't like they won't still find ways to make my life miserable."
"But why?" asked Renji, shaking his head, "You didn't do anything. You had nothing to say about who your father fell in love with. They had no right to blame you."
"But sometimes what is right does not influence what some powerful people will do. This is what has kept me under their control, and it is what caused Byakuya-sama and I to lose our fathers."
The volume of the music rose up again as the two reached the dance floor, and realizing that talking would likely be impossible, Renji spun Tetsuya onto the dance floor, keeping his arms around the younger man as they soaked in the heavy, rhythmic beat of the music and moved with it. Renji's lively red-brown eyes became affectionate as they took in the lovely and long awaited view of Tetsuya, his wavy hair loose and moving with him, bright sapphire eyes shining, his lips smiling shyly and his slender, shapely body held close to Renji's and moving freely to the scintillating beat of the music.
"Gods, Tetsuya," he sighed, glad for the loud music that made it necessary for him to nearly brush his lips against his beautiful date's ear as he spoke, "I could kill them for keeping a beauty like you locked away in that damned mansion and treated like a slave!"
"Renji-san..." Tetsuya said, gazing up into Renji's eyes, "It wasn't so bad, really. It is not like they abused me. And I wasn't lonely, because I always had Byakuya-sama to turn to. He is nineteen years older, but he always seemed like a big brother...and perhaps, a friend to me. He protected me as much as anyone could have. And now, he has gone to such lengths to free me from their control."
"Huh, yeah, he's great," Renji agreed, "But you should have been able to make your own choices about things. Tetsuya, there is a whole world out here that you have yet to experience. You've missed so much, growing up like you did!"
Tetsuya gave him a melting smile.
"I haven't missed so much. And what I have, Renji-san will make sure I experience with him, ne?"
Renji froze, staring raptly into Tetsuya's shining eyes and aching with pent up emotion.
Damn it...for how long have I wanted to be with him this way? To make him relax and let his hair down, to see him smile, sing, dance and enjoy life? And for how long have I wanted to hold him close...to kiss that pretty mouth...to love that sweet, sensuous body?
He barely realized he had closed the distance between them, when he felt his lips pressed warmly against someone else's, and he was shocked at feeling the other person's lips respond. The two stopped dancing and wrapped their arms around each other, exchanging several long, slow kisses before Tetsuya broke away, smiling and blushing cutely.
"Renji-san," he said shyly, "I don't know if we should do this. It is true that Byakuya-sama has freed me to some extent. But I am still a member of the family. And they reach their hands into all of our lives."
"Hell, except Byakuya's, right?" Renji chuckled, "He seems to be able to work them."
"To some extent," Tetsuya admitted, accepting Renji's arms as they wrapped around him and the two began dancing again, "But...even he knows that there are boundaries that the board will not allow to be crossed. I dare not take too many liberties, just because the rules have been eased for me."
Tetsuya caught his breath in surprise as a strong arm curled around his waist, and pulled him free of Renji. He was brought close to another young man, with shocking blue hair and eyes, a wide, toothy grin, slender body, and a wild, deeply masculine scent that piqued Tetsuya's senses almost alarmingly.
"Hey, what the hell do you think you're doing, Grimmjow?" Renji snapped, reaching for Tetsuya, "Let go of my date!"
Grimmjow laughed and spun Tetsuya away as two other men grabbed Renji's arms and restrained him.
"What are you doing? Let me go!" cried Tetsuya, trying to pull away.
"Easy, sweetheart," Grimmjow said, holding on to him tightly and turning him in Aizen's direction, "I just want a dance. I'll give you back when I'm done. Besides, my boss over there wants to talk to you for a minute."
"Your...boss?" Tetsuya said frowning.
He looked more closely at Grimmjow and inhaled sharply in surprise.
"You're Grimmjow Jaegerjaques!" he breathed in surprise.
"Yeah," said the blue-haired man, smiling in approval, "You recognize me now, ne?"
"I know of you, yes," said Tetsuya, shifting slightly in his grasp, "You are the lead singer of the group Espada. But I must warn you that I know all about you and that shark of a manager you have. I am not interested in you or in anything that Aizen Sousuke has to say!"
"Aww, don't get bitchy," complained Grimmjow, "Come on over and just talk to the man for a moment. He just saw you singing and thought that he might be able to give you a leg up...musically speaking, that is. If you're interested in other types of fun, I can certainly help you out..."
"Let go of me, you freaks!" Renji yelled, throwing off one of the men holding him.
Grimmjow turned his head slightly and laughed, then grunted in surprise and pain as Tetsuya's knee connected with his privates, and he doubled over, gasping. Tetsuya broke away and started towards Renji, but froze as a hand took hold of his shoulder and turned him around. He raised his hands to protect himself, but reeled as he found himself looking up into Aizen Sousuke's dark brown eyes. He swallowed hard, staring up at Aizen as the music stopped and the dancers froze.
"Will you come to my table for a moment?" Aizen asked, seeming not to notice the attention, "I only wish to speak to you briefly and then you may be on your way."
Not leaving time for an answer, he turned Tetsuya towards the table and guided him to a chair in the corner. He sat down next to Tetsuya on one side and a second large man sat down on the other side. Around them the music began to play again.
Aizen smiled enigmatically.
"Don't mind Yammy," he reassured the younger man, "He is just a bodyguard."
The two men holding Renji back, walked him to the table and shoved him into a chair.
"Why, hello, Renji," said Aizen, "It's been a while. How are you these days?"
"Fine, no thanks to you, you son of a bitch. It's because of you that I had to..."
"...leave your band and make a life as a poor studio musician. I remember," said Aizen, "You know, that whole mess was very avoidable. Had you not been so intractable, I would have..."
"I don't give a shit about that," Renji said hotly, "What do you want with my friend?"
Aizen turned his eye on Tetsuya and his smile returned.
"I couldn't help but notice that you have a lovely voice, and that you are quite a good dancer. Are you a professional?"
"I am someone who knows who you are and is not interested in anything you have to say, Aizen Sousuke!" he said firmly, "Renji and I came here to enjoy ourselves, not to be cornered by you and your band of ruffians."
"So...you know of me. How, exactly? Did you hear it from your boyfriend, Renji? I think his view of things is somewhat biased."
"Everyone in the music industry knows who you are," Tetsuya said, standing, "And we know what a snake you are too! You and those vipers, Gin and Tousen! You take advantage of anyone and everyone gullible enough to listen to your lies, but you'll not find one like that in me!"
Tetsuya caught his breath softly as Aizen's hand wrapped around his wrist and a recovered Grimmjow shoved him back into the chair. Grimmjow's hand tightened painfully and Tetsuya winced.
"You are...in the industry?" Aizen asked, "Who are you?"
"That is none of your concern," said a low, malevolent voice from behind Grimmjow.
The blue-haired man turned to face the one joining them, then released Tetsuya's wrist and doubled over, dropping to his knees as the newcomer drove a fist into his midsection, then quickly threw down the two other men who moved to attack him.
"Byakuya?" Aizen said, coming to his feet and staring at the lovely, raven-haired man as Yammy stepped in between them.
Aizen glanced up at the big man and motioned for him to sit back down. Yammy reclaimed his seat, but kept his eye on Byakuya, watching closely as Aizen went on.
"It has been...a very long time since I saw your beautiful face. How are you?"
"Much better for the lack of your interference in my life. And I will be better still when my cousin and I are no longer in your presence," Byakuya said, taking hold of Tetsuya and bringing him to his feet.
"Your cousin," said Aizen appreciatively, "No wonder then, ne? He is a Kuchiki, and so by definition born into this sort of thing. But...I don't remember ever hearing of him before...and believe me, I know all of your family's talented performers. I rarely miss a performance. But this young man has been carefully kept out of the public eye, hasn't he? I wonder why? And I wonder why he appears now, when your family's company is in such upheaval."
"None of that is any of your business," Byakuya said, frowning, "And neither my cousin, nor I have anything more to say to you. Stay away from Tetsuya and stay away from me! You have done all of the damage that you are going to do to us!"
He turned on his heel, dragging Tetsuya along with him as Renji surged out of his chair, glared furiously at Aizen, then followed. Aizen watched quietly as they left, his brown eyes contemplative.
"I ought to kick the shit out of that guy and his little bitch cousin too!" hissed Grimmjow.
"You are not to touch them," Aizen said warningly.
He nodded to the two men who had restrained Renji.
"Shawlong, Edrad," he went on, "I want you to follow them and watch them. Report in regularly."
He paused for a moment, gazing at Grimmjow's enraged face.
"And you," he said, narrowing his eyes, "I want you to prepare a song...a duet...for you and Kuchiki Tetsuya. Make it gold...no...platinum, Grimmjow."
The blue-haired man scowled, but knew better than to argue.
"And Grimmjow," Aizen continued, "Stay close to him. Break down his barriers. Be kind to him. I have a feeling that he is going to be made vulnerable soon. Be ready. Be there for him when his world crashes down around him."
Grimmjow laughed sarcastically.
"Like you were there for Byakuya?" he asked.
Aizen turned a warning eye on him.
"No," he said quietly, "I don't want this one ruined. I just want him to work for me. Reel him in carefully. I don't want him damaged."
"Whatever you say, boss. But...hey, if you want me to 'be there for him,' does that mean I can...you know, educate him?"
"You may seek whatever sexual pleasures you want with him. Just...make sure that his voice and body are suitable for performance."
"Should I offer him anything...'recreational?'
"No. No drugs. You know how I hate the way they come to interfere later on. Keep him clean and in working order."
"Okay, boss," Grimmjow laughed, "I think I can do that."
"Watch out for Abarai. Remember, he knows more than the usual outsider. And Byakuya seems to have placed him close to Tetsuya as a kind of 'protector.' So..."
"Don't worry about him," Grimmjow said with certainty, "I can handle it."
"See that you do," Aizen said, sighing, "We could make a lot of money if this goes well. So let's not make any mistakes this time."
He thought again of the lovely, raven-haired man and sighed again, closing his eyes.
"I hate seeing good things wasted..."
"I am...so sorry, Byakuya-sama!" Tetsuya said breathlessly as his cousin let go of his hand and he followed Byakuya to a waiting limousine, "I..."
"Come, Tetsuya," Byakuya said tersely, "We will talk on the way home."
He glanced back over his shoulder at Renji, who was running to catch up with them.
"I am disappointed in you, Abarai," the raven-haired CEO said in a low, angry tone, "When I said that it was acceptable for you and Tetsuya to go out to dinner, this is not what I had in mind. You should never have brought him here."
"Hey," Renji objected, "I'm sorry, really, Kuchiki-san. It's just a night club. I was only taking Tetsuya out for dinner and dancing. I didn't know that bastard was going to show up and ruin things."
"Aizen Sousuke is always looking for new musicians to exploit. And after your own experience with his methods, you should have gotten out of there the moment you saw him. You should, in fact, have never set foot in that place, knowing that it is a favorite destination for his employees."
"Yeah, it was stupid for me to come here. I admit it and I told you. I am sorry, Kuchiki-sama. Really."
"Renji didn't do anything wrong, Byakuya-sama," Tetsuya said, defensively, "We only sang and danced for a short time. We didn't..."
"You sang in public?" Byakuya said, stopping him, "Tetsuya despite the easing of the rules, you know that company employees are only supposed to sing after appropriate warmup and in the studio or onstage. Singing at a night club is not acceptable, under any circumstances! I know it seems harsh, but it really is important, especially now, when we are preparing to launch your musical career. Your entrance into the opera realm requires a certain reputation and aura...one that does not mesh well with singing and dancing in night clubs. I am sorry, but you have to understand...the field we are in..."
"I understand," Tetsuya said softly, "And again, I apologize. I will not act that way again in public. I assure you, Cousin."
"Very well," Byakuya said, his tone lightening somewhat, "Then, let us go home."
He glanced up at Renji dismissively.
"Good night, Renji. Do not be late tomorrow."
"Right," the redhead said, his eyes troubled, "Good night, Kuchiki-san, Tetsuya-san."
"Good night, Renji-san," Tetsuya said, slipping into the back of the limousine.
He remained silent as Byakuya slid in next to him and quietly directed the driver to take them home. Byakuya studied his downcast expression, hesitant to pursue his other concern, but without alternative.
"Tetsuya," he said, trying to keep his voice calm, "There is something else that we need to discuss."
The younger man looked up at him warily.
"Hai, Byakuya-sama," he said softly.
"You were seen kissing Abarai Renji."
Tetsuya's head lowered even more and he bit at his upper lip uncomfortably.
"You were having us watched?" he asked hesitantly.
"The family has all of us watched," Byakuya said, matter-of-factly, "You should know not to do such things publicly. It may be that right now, you are not under heavy scrutiny, but you will be soon. You...do not want to do anything...that may later be used against you."
"Are you forbidding me to see Renji-san?" Tetsuya asked, his voice shaking slightly, "Byakuya-sama, I thought that it was...all right with you."
"I assumed that the two of you were just friends. I did not realize that you were more."
"We only kissed for the first time today," Tetsuya said truthfully, "Although...Renji-san has long expressed interest in me. I was held back before by the rules. I had thought that when you freed me...it meant that...that I would have some choice about who I..."
"You do. However, you must be exceedingly careful, Tetsuya. If you wish to have a relationship with Renji, it must be kept private. The people in our field have to yield to a higher standard. You know this. I think that...in the first flushes of freedom, you only forgot for a moment. You were swept up in the lights and music...lured by someone colorful and inviting. But...you must remember. Such things don't always work out well. Before you decide to move forward in a relationship with Renji, you must consider that."
"You are speaking from experience, ne?" Tetsuya said, tears coming to his eyes, "This is why you have never joined the company and become a performer..."
Byakuya paused for a moment, his lips tightening, before yielding one hesitantly released word.
"He hurt you, somehow, didn't he?" Tetsuya queried tentatively, "Aizen Sousuke?"
The car came to a stop in front of Kuchiki estate.
"Come, Tetsuya," Byakuya said quietly, "Let's go."